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Multi-generational enjoys fun and affordable Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving is once again upon us! Every year at the Atlas Credit blog, we love looking at new and interesting ways to save money and maximize your holiday cheer.

Of course, the most cost-effective and enjoyable method of spending Thanksgiving every year is to not host your own gathering. When it's the responsibility of a family member or friend to supply the location and much of the food, you can usually sit back and enjoy the day.

If this is not an option for you, read on. Here are a few simple tricks to shrink your costs and increase the fun and fulfillment you experience this Thanksgiving!

Plan Ahead

First things first, if you don't have anywhere else to go for Thanksgiving celebrations and know you'll have people over at your place, find out exactly how many guests are showing up.

Then, have a loosely structured itinerary. That means you need to know when everyone is arriving, when the food should be ready, and exactly what food and beverages you need to keep your guests happy.

Planning ahead allows you to use that oh-so-important Thanksgiving budget we discussed last year to the best of your abilities, and lets you squeeze in some fun extras you may not have been able to otherwise. Structure also keeps all the kiddos occupied at all times, allowing the adults to truly relax and appreciate the thankful holiday spirit.

Use What You Have

One of the biggest expenses of any holiday gathering is the paper plates, plastic silverware, napkins, etc. While these may seem on the cheap side compared to absolute necessities like Thanksgiving turkeys and other mainstays of the holiday dinner table, their costs really do add up.

That's why you should insist on using your own dishes and hand towels. If you find you are short for the number of guests you will receive, ask some of them to bring their dishes along. They may be somewhat perplexed at the request at first, but everyone understands the desire to save a few bucks where money doesn't have to be spent.

And before you go to the grocery store to buy everything you need, make sure you don't already have some of the ingredients, seasonings, decorations and more that are necessary for a successful Thanksgiving celebration. You can also ask your guests to supply some of these!

Serve a Simple Menu

You don't need to make 10 side dishes. Choose a budget Thanksgiving menu that emphasizes quality over quantity. For example, if you only make two vegetables instead of four, you can afford to invest in better ingredients, like organic carrots or green beans, and you'll still spend less. 

Save Money at the Store

Base your menu around that week's specials at your favorite grocery store. For instance, if stuffing is on sale but potatoes aren't, skip the mashed potatoes this year and make an extra box of stuffing. Your guests will be so busy enjoying the extra carbs, they won't even notice you served a cheap Thanksgiving dinner.

Also, select generic ingredients at the store. You will pay less for off-brand cream cheese, for instance, but it will still taste the same as the name brand when you make your cheesecake. 

Don't Make a Turkey

Yes, the very idea of Thanksgiving without turkey may sound blasphemous, but hear us out. Turkeys are expensive this time of year because everyone wants one. They take forever to cook. You end up with pounds and pounds of leftovers. And everyone knows the real stars of the meal are the side dishes. So cook Thanksgiving dinner on a budget this year and skip the turkey.

Instead, serve a main dish that appeals to everyone, such as macaroni and cheese with squash or a festive ham. As an added bonus, if you have any vegetarians attending your Thanksgiving, they will appreciate you foregoing the turkey. And you will have a much easier time getting all the leftovers cleaned up without a turkey to break down. 

Make It BYOB

While this may not apply to every Thanksgiving Day get-together in Longview, Houston, or elsewhere in the state of Texas, many parties with adults feature alcohol. Alcohol expenses can very quickly add up -- that's why it is so important that you as the host are not footing the entire bill.

Where dinner itself might be filling, once people are stuffed on food, they aren't as likely to go back for thirds and fourths (unless it's just that good!). Alcohol, on the other hand, can be consumed in even greater and more costly quantities the more people drink it. Be sure to ask all of your guests to bring whatever they plan on drinking this Thanksgiving. 

Apply For a Personal Loan Online

Now you have the inside scoop on how to host a successful and frugal Thanksgiving dinner. If you aren't certain you'll have enough money to cover your Thanksgiving expenses this year, contact Atlas Credit today. We can provide a quick and easy online application for a personal loan of up to $1,400 that you can pay back on your own schedule. You can also apply at one of our Oklahoma or Texas locations. Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers!

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