Thanksgiving is my favorite Holiday! I love the traditions, the family time, and, of course, the food! Hosting Thanksgiving can get expensive though, especially if you’re on a tight budget but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done, it will just take some planning. Here is a step by step plan for hosting a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner on a budget.
Figure out an exact guest list to know how many people you’re cooking for
Obviously the more people, the more food that’s needed, however it doesn’t mean you have to cook everything for all those people. More on that next.
Ask invited guests to bring something
This is huge. Even if they’re just bringing napkins it helps cut down on your costs and typically people want to know how they can help so when you’re talking about plans, ask if they’d be willing to bring something and find out what they’re bringing so you can account for it in your meal plan.
Since you’re hosting you will likely be making the turkey, but some other items your guests can bring to help might be: drinks, dinner rolls, pie, appetizers, a salad, utensils (if you’re doing disposable), side dishes, etc.
Start making a meal plan
Now that you know who’s bringing what, plan out what you’re going to make. Remember, keeping it simple is best when you’re on a budget. If someone is already bringing mashed potatoes, you don’t need to also make your Grandma’s traditional potato dish. The turkey is the star of the show, a handful of sides, and some type of dessert is a great Thanksgiving dinner. No need to stress yourself out and go over budget trying to do too much.
Make a plan for drinks
Drinks can be really pricey so decide ahead of time what you’re doing. If people ask what to bring, consider asking them to bring a bottle of wine. Or you can let everyone know it’s a BYOB situation and you can provide cider or something less expensive. If you have it in your budget you could also decide on a signature cocktail and just get the necessary ingredients for that drink so you’re not having to get multiple different drink options.
Decide on recipes you’re using
Most of the time homemade is going to be cheaper and oftentimes tastier but not always so keep in mind, certain things may make more sense to just buy store bought, but for the things you’re making from scratch, choose recipes wisely! If the recipe has a long ingredient list that will increase your budget real quick. Pinterest is a great place to search for recipes that have minimal ingredients. Also look for recipes that have ingredients you already have on hand so you’re not having to buy as much.
Start shopping for the best deals
With your shopping list in hand you can start shopping! You can shop for certain things early which gives you time to look for the best deals plus it spreads out your spending so you’re not paying for everything all at once.
Don’t forget to check savings apps too! I use Ibotta because they often have cash back rebates on store brands as well as fruits and veggies which you don’t normally see coupons for. It’s easy to use, just take a picture of your receipt to apply for the rebate, so it’s quick. If you’re not already signed up, sign up with this link to start saving before you start shopping . Just use the referral code rdgupxl when you sign up!
For decorations, use what you have or get creative
Decorations really can add up and, while they do add to the fun of the day, are probably not going to be the thing that people remember from their experience. Check to see what you already have. If you don’t have much or not enough, get creative! You could make your table look nice with a burlap runner (or any plain colored runner) and some pine cones. Or gather some small branches from outside to put in a vase. If you have children, you could have them do some fall crafts and use their work as your decorations.
Remember to enjoy the experience and make memories with your family
Try not to get so caught up in making sure the meal is worthy of Martha Stewart’s magazine that you forget to enjoy the day with your family. Part of the memories you’re making is the process of cooking with your family, not just the meal itself.
Nothing goes to waste
One of the best parts of Thanksgiving dinner is the leftovers! Have a plan for leftovers so nothing gets wasted. You may be eating for the next week afterwards. Pinterest has a lot of great ideas on how to re-purpose Thanksgiving leftovers if you get bored with the same meal over and over.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy this special day with your families! I’m thankful for you.