Don’t hate me for mentioning Thanksgiving before we’ve even passed Halloween, but you do need to start making your holiday plans, especially if they include that most miserable of experiences: Thanksgiving travel. Even if you’re staying home, you need to do a little prep work now. You don’t have to drag out the pie pans, but here are a few things you should do now to prepare for the festival of food.
Book Thanksgiving Flights in Early September
Recently I attended a party where someone said she was considering flying home for Thanksgiving, but wanted to see if airfares would come down. I advised her to book now. I flew home for several Thanksgivings and know the prices will only go up. To get the best price, you probably should have booked your ticket in August, but you can still get a good deal in September. Don’t wait until October or November. If you can even find a flight, it’s guaranteed to cost both arms and legs. Use these tips to save money on holiday travel and find travel deals.
Reserve a Hotel
If you can’t stay with friends or family, then book a hotel now. You’ll have a wider range of options in your budget and more flexibility in dates if you make a reservation in September.
Set Your Thanksgiving Budget
What? A budget for Thanksgiving? Yes, if you plan to travel, host a dinner, or go out to dinner, then you need to set a budget. That will help down the road when you’re tempted to order the Thanksgiving cornucopia and fall flower extravaganza as a centerpiece, but only have room in the budget for a large gourd because you decided to serve 15 side dishes and an organic kosher free range pre-prined turkey.
Consider Who You’ll Invite
If you’re hosting a dinner, figure out how many people you can invite within your budget. It’s fairly traditional to ask people to contribute dishes, so that may make it easier to invite more people. However, if more people requires renting tables, chairs, or serveware, then you need to factor that into the budget.
Consider the Menu
Again, you should consider your menu when creating your budget. Although you’ll save some money by having friends or relatives contribute, you’ll at least be on the hook for the turkey and some wine. Having a menu in mind will also make it easier to divvy up the remaining responsibilities.
Review Restaurant Options
If you like to eat out for Thanksgiving, you should start looking for a restaurant now. Compare prices and again review your budget. Will eating out at the five-star restaurant blow your Christmas budget? Although you don’t have to make your dinner reservations now, you should make them by early November at the latest unless you enjoy eating at 11 AM or 10 PM. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to supply a credit card to reserve your table.
Other than booking your travel arrangements now, you don’t have to go to major effort to plan for Thanksgiving. Thirty minutes of quality time with a pen and paper or restaurant review site should be all you need to set your budget and at least form a general plan for the biggest eating day of the year. Remember, also, that you don’t need to plan the feast of a lifetime. This is a day for family and friends, not for fancy recipes. As long as you have turkey, potatoes, and a can of jelly cranberry sauce (with ridges), your guests will be content. They probably won’t remember anything other than that anyway.