Wondering how you can have a happy Thanksgiving Day during this time of economic crisis in America? Although funds may be short, there are still creative ways for your homeschooling family to inexpensively enjoy this blessed holiday. For those homeschooling families who are struggling to make ends meet, here's a complete breakdown on a Thanksgiving holiday celebration that will make your family "give thanks":

Food - What would Thanksgiving Day be without all the fixings? Instead of trying to cook the entire meal yourself this year, mirror the Pilgrims' and Indians' first Thanksgiving meal and stretch your food budget by asking each of your guests to bring a salad, vegetable, or dessert. Not able to share your table with guests this year? No problem. Here's a complete breakdown* for a Thanksgiving feast that will feed a family of six for $60:

16 pound turkey  ($.89 per lb.)                            $14.24
Bread and chicken for sage stuffing                       7.00
Canned pumpkin pie mix (2) ($1.29 per can)           2.58
Condensed milk (2) ($1.39 per can)                         2.78
Pie shells (2 frozen)                                                 2.39
Potatoes, 10 lbs.                                                       5.00
Sweet potatoes, 3 lbs. ($.99 per lb.)                       2.97
Rolls (12)                                                                  2.00
Green beans (2, 16 oz. frozen) ($1.25 per bag)     2.50
Mushroom soup (2) ($1.19 per can)                        2.38
Dried onion rings                                                      3.19
Relish tray (carrots, celery, radishes)                     3.44
Milk, 1 gallon 2%                                                       3.25
Fresh cranberries, 12 oz. frozen                             2.29
Cream, ½ pint                                                             .89
Misc. ingredients (spices, onion, eggs, etc.)            3.10

                                                                  Total    $60.00

*Prices based on local Midwest grocery chain as of 10/31/08.

Save even more by shopping Thanksgiving grocery ad sales, avoiding convenience foods, and cooking from scratch.

To get the house cleaned and decorated and everything cooked with the least amount of stress, change your regular homeschool schedule for the week. Enjoy a week of home economics classes and have fun teaching your children how to make homemade bread, pies, and salads. For delicious, time-tested recipes, check out your church's cookbook or ask older women in the congregation for their Thanksgiving favorites. Save time and energy cooking by baking more than one thing at the same time. (Most pies, muffins, biscuits, and other freshly baked goods can stand some variation in temperature and still turn out fine!)

Decorations - Save money and decorate from nature. Instead of buying honeycomb paper turkeys, pilgrims, and Indians or an expensive arrangement from the flower shop, take a nature hike in your backyard, park, or local game reserve with your homeschoolers and find colorful leaves to press and scatter over the tablecloth. Pussy willows, cattails, milkweed pods, pampas grass, and even twigs look beautiful in a vase, especially if there are berries on the branches. When attractively arranged, a bowl of fruit, Indian corn, gourds, and pumpkins can also serve as your centerpiece. For a simple yet more sophisticated look, lay a plain center table runner in golden, ruby red, burnt orange, or russet fall colors. Strew the runner with acorn nuts, pine cones, or several small sprigs of dried herbs or fall flowers like sage and mums.

Have an extra children's table to decorate? Cover the whole table with white butcher paper and let your children draw their own Thanksgiving images with autumn-colored crayons and markers. You can also draw outlines of Thanksgiving items (leaves, pumpkins, etc.) and have your children color them. (You may want to use two layers of butcher paper in case markers bleed through).

Entertainment - Although football fans would argue the fact, there's more to do on Thanksgiving than just watching the NFL or a college football game. Turn off the TV and enjoy some old-fashioned, inexpensive fun playing games that make lasting memories with your children, such as:

Pin the gobbler on the turkey
Blindfold and spin each player several times. See who can pin the gobbler the closest on a turkey.

Arrange all the players in a circle and pass a handkerchief ("thankerchief") around as everyone recites this poem:

Thankerchief, thankerchief, around you go 
Where you'll stop, nobody knows.
But when you do, someone must say,
What they are thankful for this day.

The child left holding the "thankerchief" after the poem ends must say out loud one thing for which he is thankful. The game continues to be played until everyone gets a turn.

Where is Mr. Turkey? 
One child is the hunter and the other players are helpers. While the hunter leaves the room, the helpers hide a small, toy turkey. With a mission to find the turkey, the hunter then returns into the room . Helpers give clues to the turkey's location by "gobbling." If the hunter isn't close, the helpers gobble very quietly, but when the hunter gets closer, the helpers gobble more and more loudly until Mr. Turkey is found! You'll want to have the video camera for this game!

Thanksgiving Twenty Questions
Have fun and review your Thanksgiving history facts from Alpha Omega Publications' LIFEPAC 8th Grade History & Geography Unit 2 Worktext with this game. One player chooses someone or something related to Thanksgiving and says, "I am thinking of a person, place, or thing." The other players try to guess who or what it is by asking the first player no more than twenty questions that can only be answered by "yes," "no," or "I don't know." 

Thanksgiving Day Word Find
Using a related Thanksgiving word like "Cornucopia," "Mayflower," or "Thanksgiving," find as many smaller words as possible within a set amount of time. Example: Mayflower - fear, ear, owe, fly, flow, flare, lay, low; Cornucopia - cop, corn, pin, no, arc, car, nip.

Do you know of other ways to make Thanksgiving Day more affordable and fun? We'd love to hear about them. Please comment below and share your ideas. Help other homeschooling families think of cost-saving, fun-filled traditions that will make 2008 the best Thanksgiving ever!