Every year the holiday season sneaks up on us. Maybe we are having too much fun celebrating summer, but come October, we always have to frantically scramble for plane tickets home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

While we save throughout the year for holiday presents, we forget to factor in the unavoidable traveling that comes with the festive season. Somehow the expenses have to come out of a different section of our budget, and as always, it is our already tiny entertaining budget.

As most of our friends have not begun to have children of their own, it is inevitable that most of us will be returning to either our parents' or our partner's parents' homes for Thanksgiving. As a result, we try to have a Thanksgiving meal with our friends before we all leave for the long weekend.

Over the years, as our lives have become busy with husbands and wives and long hours at work, this event has turned from a raucous dinner party to a time to reconnect with old friends. It has also become increasingly expensive to host!

I have discovered a few money-saving tips throughout the years that help me keep the costs manageable. 

1. No matter how informal the gathering, I always try to use reusable plates. They can be china or durable plastic, just as long as they are not one-use only. It may be slightly more work to clean up, but I would literally be throwing money away if I used disposable plates and cutlery. If you do not have enough of your own plates, ask to borrow some from friends. Mixed plates can lend a cozy feel to a meal and using ceramic or china can make any occasion more special.

2. I make my own decorations. The decor has been as simple as one large centerpiece pumpkin and some tea lights or as elaborate as a display of homemade pine cones sprayed with gold paint. I used the pumpkin to make a risotto, a soup, and some pumpkin mousse, making it the perfect money saver. The mark-ups for items specific to holidays are not budget friendly. Make a night of it and have friends come over to help you with a 'cocktail and crafts' party!

3. Ask your guests to bring sides, desserts, cheeses, and wine. By spreading the cost slightly you can focus on the main course and a few little touches to make it a memorable meal. Also, don't be afraid to ask guests to help with tasks around the house, such as taking coats and pouring drinks, which will also leave you with more time to focus on the food.

With these, and a few other money-saving tactics, I try to stay on target for our monthly budget. Both my husband and I know that the holiday season is an expensive one, so we try to reign in as much as we can while still remembering to have fun with friends and family at this special time of year 

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Vienna Nowell

Vienna currently resides in New York City, but is originally from London. She is a contributing writer under Married & Starting Out. She and her husband are recently married and they are contemplating taking the big step of buying their first home.  Still working their way through the processes of buying an apartment, she and her husband are learning as they go.  Vienna also writes a food blog, www.TinyTestKitchen.com, and is a freelance writer, chef and food stylist.  She is looking forward to sharing her experiences and any tips she picks up along the way during their house buying endeavor. Compensated CareOne Blogger

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