WSVN — For Leanette Fernandez, the holidays are a family affair.

Leanette Fernandez: “We average about 15 people minimum at our house Thanksgiving.”

Overspending on the Thanksgiving feast is easy to do, especially with a big crowd. The average cost of Thanksgiving dinner is about $50, but most of us spend way more than that.

Leanette says the key to saving is planning early.

Leanette Fernandez: “Compare prices at different stores, unless of course, you have a store that will do price matching.”

She actually shops for Thanksgiving a year ahead.

Leanette Fernandez: “What I like to do too is, after the holidays are over, I’ll see what items are on sale or on clearance, like canned goods, and I’ll stock up on those.”

Just make sure they don’t expire before the next holiday. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, nail down your head count.

Leanette Fernandez: “I like to have enough leftovers for the next day, but I don’t want enough where I’m wasting food.”

And don’t be afraid to ask guests to get involved in making the meal.

Leanette Fernandez: “I also ask my guests to contribute items, so that it all doesn’t fall on me, like the burden of actually preparing it and also having to pay for all of those items as well.”

When shopping day approaches, make a list, check it twice.

Leanette Fernandez: “So, whatever you’re going to need, make a list of it so that you’re not going to the store assuming what you do have and what you don’t have .”

Buying items you don’t need can make the bill add up quick. The turkey is your biggest expense. How about getting one free?

Leanette Fernandez: “When it comes to possibly getting a free turkey, blogs are a great resource to find out what deals are going on. So, for example on teachme2save we’ll post, if you go to such and such store, if you buy these particular items, you’ll walk away with a free turkey.”

If you end up having to buy that bird, go for a frozen one. The price is going to be a lot lower. Another savings tip: Buy store brand foods rather than the national brands.

Leanette Fernandez: “You may also want to skip out on making appetizers. You spend all that money making those items or preparing those dishes, they get full on that and they’re not eating the actual meal.”

And what’s a party without the decorations?

Leanette Fernandez: “Go to the Dollar Tree or a dollar store to find your decorations, so you’re not spending a ton of money on those.”

Most importantly, keep it simple.

Leanette Fernandez: “It’s nice to go all out, but really, Thanksgiving is about spending time with one another.”

Leanette also suggests keeping track of what your family likes to eat and how much they eat. That way you don’t buy too much. The Teach Me 2 Save website has more tips and coupons.

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