Your secret weapon for holiday savings

If you're entertaining over the holidays, make sure you save yourself some money by following these simple money saving tips inspired by Jeannette Pavini, the Household Savings Expert of

Simplify Your Ingredients: If a recipe this Thanksgiving calls for creme fraiche, use Greek yogurt instead. Take a look at your menu to see what simpler, more affordable ingredients you can sub in for the fancier stuff. Instead of serving the entire bird, save money by serving turkey breasts. This will also save you money on your energy bill, since it takes less time to cook, and it saves you from all those turkey leftovers. Don't forget to ask for day-old-bread -- you'll get a deep discount on the price and it's just as good if you warm it in the oven or use it for making croutons.

Serve and Mask Inexpensive Wine: Buy less expensive wine and buy it in bulk. There are plenty of sites that let you shop by price. If you're afraid of label snobs at your table, serve your wine in a simple decanter you can pick up at a thrift or department store, even Wal-Mart.

Shop with Cash: Shopping with cash, as we always say here on WalletPop, helps you control your spending. Plus, you're forced to go to the bank/ATM and see how much money you actually have, reminding you how much you can afford to spend. Stay away from the plastic, unless your credit card company gives you special perks that can help you save or get bonus perks that save you money in the long-run. (Shopping in cash also helps you resist those oh-so-cute holiday decorations they always display at the check-out counters.)

Potluck It!: Potlucks are easy ways for the host to save money and have their guests get creative in the kitchen by chipping in. They're a great way to take the burden off of you while also engaging the inner-chefs of your family and friends.

Decorations: Don't throw money away on decorations, Pavini advises. Get the kids involved and get creative! Go on a nature walk, collect dead leaves, pine cones, and other fauna and arrange them nicely in a basket or bowl as a centerpiece. You can also buy those plain white foam place mats and have your children turn them into works of art, sharing the meaning of Thanksgiving.
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