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<< Holidays & Special Coverage << Thanksgiving

5 Ways to Cut Costs and Stay Grateful This Thanksgiving

  • Debra Fileta
  • 2014 24 Nov
5 Ways to Cut Costs and Stay Grateful This Thanksgiving

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year….” Or is it?

Often times the hustle, bustle and financial cost of this time of year can rob us of the joys of the holidays. I recently talked to a woman from church who responded to my inquiry regarding what she was doing for Thanksgiving by saying, “Don’t remind me! I have so much left to do!!”.

Instead of welcoming the deep traditions and embracing the spirit of the season, many are left feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and wondering how they will pay for it all. Under the pressure of our societal traditions, there is a tendency to get caught up by focusing on what we don’t yet have rather than on what we do have.

My husband and I are celebrating a different kind of Thanksgiving this year. Having recently made a big move 1,000 miles away from our closest friends and family, we decided it would be financially wise to save some money by staying “home for the holidays," celebrating with just a couple new friends we’ve made.

So with an attitude of frugalness and a heart of gratitude, we’ve been looking for some ways to save this Thanksgiving. No matter what you’re doing to celebrate this week, here are a few things you can do to cut out the costs, the pressure, and the stress:

Share the load: One thing I love about Thanksgiving in particular is the coming together of community. Whether friends, family, or even neighbors, it’s the time of year where we connect with the people we care for. So draw on the blessing of community, by asking others to be a part of the celebration. Delegate different tasks, or invite others to bring a dish to the meal. Growing up in my family, Thanksgiving was always a pot-luck affair. All 50 of us would gather together and enjoy each other’s company but also each other’s food! It was always fun trying new twists on traditional foods, as each person had their own way of making it. Cut costs and stress this year by sharing the load.

Simplify the menu: While it’s fun to get fancy every now and again, if you ask me, the best part about the Thanksgiving menu is the tradition! There’s nothing better than the basics, with a new twist here or there for creativity (like my slow-cooker Turkey breast this year!). But as we’re looking to cut costs, one thing we’re mindful of is that it’s not about the amount of food, but rather, the ability to enjoy it together. Don’t feel obligated to make every single side-dish, or to provide every variety of pie for dessert. A turkey, a few favorite sides, and one dessert is more than enough for a Thanksgiving meal. While we all enjoy leftovers, the joy usually only lasts a day and then gets thrown in the trash. Instead of making too much this year, why not try to make just enough?

Do-it-yourself decor: I had fun with decor-on-a-budget this year, by enlisting the help of my preschoolers. With some construction paper and a cardboard box, we cut out a “Thanksgiving Tree” and filled it with homemade fall-colored leaves that tell the story of all the things we’re thankful for. I had my kids help me cut out the leaves, and then asked them to tell me what to write on their leaves. I got some responses that melted my heart (my favorite was my 4-year old’s leaf which said she’s thankful for “mommy’s smell”) and others that simply made me laugh. It hangs on our wall and is a good reminder of all that we have to be thankful for. Whether making a your own Thanksgiving tree, decorating with beautiful leaves from the yard, or even just putting out the Christmas-decor a few days earlier than usual, make it meaningful by doing it together. Not only will you have more money, but you’ll have created memories.

Skip the shopping: My inbox is already flooded with all the black-friday sales calling my name. And if you can’t wait for Friday, you don’t have to, because in many places the shopping starts before you’ve even had a chance to digest your Thanksgiving meal. But thankfully, I don’t even have to consider the temptation this year because we’ve decided to skip the shopping, and instead, stay home and decorate our Christmas tree! Instead of getting caught up on what we don’t have, we’re choosing to focus on what we do have- a couple adorable kids, a happy marriage, some hot chocolate, and a whole lot of Christmas ornaments that need hanging. So why not skip the shopping this year, and do something meaningful like a family service project, or starting a new family tradition? Because truly, there are some things that money just can’t buy.

Remember the meaning: Like I said, it’s easy to get fixated on everything we “need to do”, instead of sitting back and enjoying all that’s already been done for us. We serve an amazing God who gave the life his one and only Son so that we could have life abundant. Rather than get caught up with everything we don’t have, what if we took the time - really took the time - to celebrate all that we’ve been given by saying “thank you,” and displaying a heart of joy and contentment during this season of gratitude and thanksgiving.

Let’s not miss the moment, because no matter what the budget is this year, we always have much to be thankful for.

Debra Fileta is a professional counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. She’s also the creator of the True Love Dates Blog. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!

Publication date: November 24, 2014