Every year, around Thanksgiving, people can be seen running around like chickens with their heads cut off, completely frazzled. Now, I realize there are a few different components at work here, but money is usually the root cause of this behavior. Where to find the money to pay for all of that food is really the kicker. But, this is something that we can resolve by creating a change with how and what we spend our money on.
A few years ago, my parents mentioned how stressed out they were about how to fund everything for Thanksgiving, as this was an irregular expenditure that they had a hard time budgeting for. This turned into a bigger conversation about how we could remedy this ongoing issue. You see, our family had been growing. There were now spouses and children that weren’t there before. So our family of 5 had grown to a family of 12, which was a lot. Although, now we are a family of 18, so it is a really good thing that we figured it out back then!
The long and short of it is that my parents were buying all of the food for Thanksgiving, and cooking it. They had been doing it this way for years and weren’t thinking that change was an option. As soon as they said it though, it got me thinking about how we could change this to make it less stressful for them and more equitable for everybody. After all, the whole point is to get together and be thankful for all that we have and spending time with family. But if my parents weren’t enjoying the time because they were stressed out about money and all of the work involved, then we were missing the mark. Enter change!
A new leaf
Since I had been a broke single parent for a couple of years, at this point, I had become pretty darn good at stretching a dollar as far as it could possibly go. Along these same lines, I had picked up some tricks and figured out ways to still spend time with friends that didn’t cost me much. Having potlucks was one of the ways I did this.
When my friends wanted to get together for dinner, I would suggest a potluck at my house (or theirs) instead. This was much more cost effective and we got to be creative about what we brought. With this in mind, I proposed the idea to my parents about us all bringing dishes instead of them covering everything. They liked the idea because it would make things easier for them from a labor perspective, plus they wouldn’t be paying an arm and a leg for food.
The idea was proposed to my brothers and their spouses, and everyone agreed that this change was needed and were all on board. The next step was to decide what we wanted to have for our Thanksgiving dinner and who should bring what. This actually worked out pretty well because we can all cook, and some of us really enjoy getting creative in the kitchen as an outlet. Since there are certain dishes that some of us make that are continually requested, meal planning was simplified.
For example, I am relegated to bring my toffee every year, to every event, and they destroy it every time. I have just been informed that my potato salad is another favorite that is going to be requested this year. My mom makes fantastic pies, so that is her arena. Green bean casserole is fought over every year by both of my brothers, so that is a given. It is a good thing that both my mother and one of my sister-in-law’s make this dish exceptionally well!
Overall, you get the idea. We figured out what we all like and how to make it work so that we are all having fun with it and contributing. The costs associated are split up among the families and we all contribute with the cleaning. This way, everybody gets to enjoy the time together and we always have a TON of leftovers. This is also great for the budget.
Now if only we could get all of our children to start cleaning up the dishes without leaving food particles behind, we would have it made!