How to Host Thanksgiving When You’re on a Budget



Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that’s ridiculously expensive to host, no matter how you look at it. Not only do you have to decorate the house, but, if you’re hosting, you’re generally expected to cook a massive meal that includes a whole turkey (and, for some families, more meat than that), potatoes, bread, and any other various assorted sides that are traditional to your home. If money’s tight, this can be really tricky. If you’re cooking for a crowd this Thanksgiving, but you’re also trying to save money, don’t worry. It’s completely possible to host this holiday on a budget. Here’s a few ways to manage this huge task without overspending.

Make Fewer Items

Let’s face it. If you’re on a budget, you might not be able to make a turkey plus a million side dishes. Instead, prioritize what traditional dishes you need to have on your table in order to successfully make it feel like the holiday. Whether that’s turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce, bread, pumpkin pie…that’s your choice. Choose a couple. Keep it simple. You’ll have a much easier time.

Do it Like Your Grandma Did

If you have any pre-made items on your grocery list, nix them and find a recipe to make it from scratch yourself. Making items from scratch is often much more affordable than buying anything pre-made. This includes store-bought pumpkin pie, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, instant mashed potatoes, and seasoning packets. These items can easily be made at home. You can buy a bag of potatoes on the cheap, peel them, boil them, mash them up and mix them with butter, milk, and sour cream for some killer mashed potatoes that will taste so much better than the boxed thing. You can make your own stuffing using old bread. A can of pumpkin puree, some condensed milk, and the few small ingredients it takes to make a perfect pie crust cost next to nothing and will give you a gorgeous pie.

Of course, you’ll spend a little bit more time this way, but if you’re sticking to a few, core items on your menu, you won’t feel quite so overwhelmed. The savings might not seem like much up front, but at the end of it all, you could end up saving several dollars that could be put toward something else, like Christmas gifts.

Get Back to Basics

We’ve talked about creating a simple menu. That goes for decorations, too. You don’t have to do anything crazy for Thanksgiving, and besides, buying Thanksgiving decorations can be a dangerous path. Once you buy a few, you’re going to want to buy just a few more, and then a few more, and then a few more, in hopes of getting that perfect look. Instead, decorate with what you have. Mother Nature proves a host of beautiful leaves and herbs this time of year. Create your own beautiful Thanksgiving centerpiece, light some candles, and you’re good to go. You don’t really need much more than that. Let the food be the star of the evening.

Accept Help

There’s nothing wrong with accepting a little help with your menu this time of year. In fact, Thanksgiving, at the start, began with a potluck between the Pilgrims and Native Americans. So, instead of stressing about making all the of the dishes yourself, ask your guests to bring something in the true spirit of the holiday. Maybe one person can bring the potatoes, and another the drinks, and another dessert, and you can provide the main dish since you’re hosting. That way, you only have to worry about one or two dishes, rather than six or seven. This will drastically cut your Thanksgiving costs down and leave a little extra money left over for your savings, or even for another holiday.

Thanksgiving, at its heart, is a holiday meant to be about being thankful for what you have. No matter how much, or how little you have to work with, with a little help and a bit of elbow-grease, you can still have an amazing holiday.