10 Things You'll Waste Money on This Thanksgiving

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10 Things You'll Waste Money on This Thanksgiving

Don't roast your budget with these holiday pitfalls.


Serving a Thanksgiving feast on a budget is like performing a magic trick. It takes a lot of money to buy the large quantities of food to fill the bellies of all your Turkey Day guests. But it helps to know what people usually end up wasting money on, before forming your feast menu. If you're the host, here are 10 ways to stay on track and not blow your Thanksgiving grocery budget.

See Also on Kiplinger: 15 Things You Should Never Buy During the Holidays

1. Buying Expensive Centerpieces

Have you priced formal floral Thanksgiving centerpieces, lately? Your basic cornucopia number runs around $50. Ouch! No need to engage a florist. Try your own hand at tablescaping. Here are simple, beautiful ideas using items you may already own, or that are easily found outdoors.

2. Serving Food Nobody Really Likes

Yes, Aunt Peggy's wiggly molded red Jell-O may be traditional, but does anyone really like it? Take a hard look at your menu. It may be time to ax the dishes you think you ought to make in favor of ones that people actually enjoy. Why waste time, money, and energy on food that is going to sit in the fridge for weeks?


3. Making Too Much Food

One of my grandmothers always worried about not having everyone's favorites, so she made it all. We really did not need both a turkey and a ham, or sweet potatoes fixed two ways. Even when everyone took leftovers home, her refrigerator was still difficult to close. Learn from my grandma: Stop overspending and also cut back on your food waste.

4. Only Buying Name Brands

Per pound, turkey is pretty inexpensive, unless you decide you need a pasture-raised one, which will cost you more. Big-box stores now offer organic products, too, so do your homework before you buy.

5. Not Asking for Help

One of the inevitable questions from your guests will be, "What can I bring?" Take them up on that! Hate peeling potatoes? Ask someone to bring the mashed potatoes. My mother couldn't make gravy without lumps, so she'd ask a friend to bring that. My daughter, who doesn't cook, can be depended upon to bring wine. There is nothing wrong with taking people up on their offers of help, and it will keep your costs down.

See Also on Kiplinger: 13 Ways to Waste Money During the Holidays


6. Serving Elaborate Hors d'Oeuvres

Spending loads of time on dinner? There's not much sense in your guests filling up on snacks ahead of time, and ruining their appetites. Instead of yet another hot appetizer that takes up space in the oven, try serving some inexpensive raw vegetables and spicy nuts that you can make ahead of time.

7. Using Fancy China

As someone who has multiple sets of china, I'm going to give you the straight scoop: I rarely use it. While I found the pretty flowers and silver bands on the rims just enchanting at age 20, now, I wish I had registered for a plain, good quality pattern. White, or off-white, is a lot more versatile, and a good quality plate is more useful than a highly decorative one.

8. Making Multiple Trips to the Store

Five years, ago, I found myself making a third trip to the supermarket when I realized I only had one type of cranberry sauce. What a waste of gas! How to avoid this? Make a list. Get out each and every recipe and make sure you either have the ingredient on hand, or that it is on your shopping list.

9. Creating Elaborate Place-Settings

I'm all for proper use of silverware, but you really don't need to go out and buy it all. It's no fun for my guests if they have anxiety about which fork to use first, or they don't know which bread plate is theirs. Here are some excellent photos and tips about which silverware to put where, ensuring that your guests don't stress.


See Also on Kiplinger: 8 Things Not to Keep in Your Wallet During the Holidays

10. Presenting Over-the-Top House Decor

Guests want to feel relaxed, welcomed, and comfortable. If you hang a wreath on your door, fine. But piles of pumpkins, huge hurricanes with candles, or hay bales at the front door are really unnecessary, and the cost adds up. What are you going to do with all this decor when Thanksgiving is over? Think ahead, and only buy the stuff you need and will use again.

This article is from Marla Walters of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website.

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This article is from Wise Bread, not the Kiplinger editorial staff.