Squash Thanksgiving Over-Spending

Dried Corn

It may be the biggest budget buster this time of year: Food.

After hosting one dinner party last week, and planning for Thanksgiving next week, I’ve realized two things:

  • Don’t ignore your swelling grocery bill during the holidays, because “it’s tradition,” “this isn’t the time to skimp!” or “I can’t show up empty-handed.”
  • Hosting a holiday bash, of any size, brings out the Inner Martha. And she must be stopped.

I found myself eyeing the overpriced dried corn and colorful gourds at the local farmer’s market and envisioning all the cheery holiday decorations I could make. If I had an extra $50 and 17 hours.

Fortunately, a little prep (and having an Inner Martha smackdown) has helped me to rein in my Thanksgiving budget to about $120 for nine people. My own method:

  • Strategize. That’s code for: Map it out, girl! Are you really shelling out for an organic turkey? Are you really making an extra pie, when your aunt is bringing two? Down, Martha, down!
  • Scale back. The holidays bring out some crazy fantasy of abundance—five courses of appetizers! Braised lamb shanks as a side dish! What? Feel those feelings, but don’t let them near your wallet.

And then admit that while you will go over-budget—and I will end up buying decorations, since my Inner Martha is now comatose—you can spend with genuine joy and abundance, but not totally lose your mind.

Next year, however, I will set up a mini-budget just for eats.

Chow down. How do you cope with extra food costs this time of year?