Some are holding potluck dinners instead of springing for the entire feast. Others are staying home rather than flying. And a few are skipping the turkey altogether.
On this the fourth Thanksgiving since the economy sank, prices for everything from airline flights to groceries are going up, and some Americans are scaling back. Yet in many households, the occasion is too important to skimp on. Said one mother: "I don't have much to give, but I'll be cooking, and the door will be open."
Thanksgiving airfares are up 20 percent this year, and the average price of a gallon of gas has risen almost 20 percent, according to travel tracker AAA. Rail travelers were also affected, with fares on most one-way Amtrak tickets up 2 to 5 percent.
Still, about 42.5 million people are expected to travel, the highest number since the start of the recession.
But even those who choose to stay home and cook for themselves will probably spend more. A 16-pound turkey and all the trimmings will cost an average of $49.20, a 13 percent jump from last year, or about $5.73 more, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, which says grocers have raised prices to keep pace with higher-priced commodities.
In Pawtucket, R.I., Jackie Galinis was among those looking for help to put a proper meal on the table. She stopped at a community center this week seeking a donated food basket. But by the time she arrived, all 300 turkeys had been claimed.
So Galinis, an unemployed retail worker, will make do with what's in her apartment. "We'll have to eat whatever I've got, so I'm thinking chicken," she said.
Then her eyes lit up. "Actually, I think I've got red meat in the freezer, some corned beef. We could do a boiled dinner."