Hosting Thanksgiving on a Budget

Thanksgiving can be one of the most exciting holidays of the year. It is also one of the most stressful times if you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner.

Creating a Thanksgiving feast is not only a major investment in time, it can also empty your wallet quicker than you think. The good news is that there are several proven ways to host a Thanksgiving dinner on a budget.

Here are some proven steps that can help you save more during your next Thanksgiving celebration.

Thanksgiving on a budget

Start Planning Today

When you have a plan, you can find many simple ways to keep the costs down. For instance, you can buy your items earlier before supermarkets raise prices.

If you wait until the last minute to do your Thanksgiving shopping, you will find that many items such as the Turkey, stuffing, desserts, and decor may cost you more and may have limited stock available.

Even if it is a couple of weeks or days until Thanksgiving, it does not hurt to start planning today. Here is what you can do today:

  1. Create your shopping list
  2. See which utensils you will need
  3. Begin to save up money for all your Thanksgiving costs
  4. Create a list of Thanksgiving guests

Set Your Thanksgiving Budget

Figure out how much you want to spend on your Thanksgiving dinner and stick to that budget. It is easy to spend more than you would expect when you do not set a budget.

A great way to set your budget is to make a list and estimate the price of each item. If the total is over your estimate, then begin to make cuts in your budget.

Save on Your Turkey - Buy It as Early as Possible

Since everyone pretty much buys a Turkey for Thanksgiving, supermarkets often charge a premium for this dish. However, you can save big by purchasing your turkey a couple of weeks early and freezing it.

Be sure to estimate how much Turkey you will need. It is better to have a little more because you can always make use of the leftovers.

Make Dishes from Scratch

When it comes to prepared dishes, you pay a premium for the convenience. Therefore, you can save big when you make your dishes from scratch.

Here are some dishes that you can make from scratch:

  • Stuffing
  • Gravy
  • Soup
  • Salad
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Pie, including the crust
  • Cake
  • Green bean casserole

Encourage Guests to Bring Their Own Dishes and Beverages

For some, it is a tradition for guests to bring their own dishes to a Thanksgiving dinner, it adds variety to the meal and the host doesn’t have to make as much food. In fact, many guests love to show off their favorite dishes.

To help you save, also encourage your guests to bring drinks. Alcoholic drinks can be one of the largest expenses in a Thanksgiving dinner.

If possible, ask your guests to let you know what dishes they plan on bringing with them. This will help you better organize which dishes you will be preparing yourself.

Accept Help from Friends and Family

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, your friends and family may ask what they can do to help. Do not be afraid to accept this assistance.

Here are some of the tasks that you can ask your friends and family to assist you with:

  • Shopping
  • Setting up decor
  • Preparing dishes
  • Communicating with guests
  • Setting up the dining room
  • Clean up

Review Your Dishes

It is a good idea to review all the dishes that you and your guests will be preparing. You will want to make sure you have enough food for everyone.

Also, you will want to make sure that you have a well-rounded out table. Check to see if you have enough main entrees, vegetables, desserts, and appetizers.

By reviewing your dishes as early as possible, you will save yourself the stress and the cost of having to buy a last-minute, prepared entree.

Take Advantage of Stores That Sell Items For A Dollar

Dollar stores are a great place to save on everything from ingredients to decor and utensils. Stores such as

Even if you don’t have an emergency savings fund yet, Dollar Tree sell all their items for just $1.

Here is a look at some of the items that you can find at a dollar store:

  • Dining utensils (forks/knives/spoons)
  • Cooking utensils (tongs/slotted spoon/greater/can opener/rolling pin/spatula/bread knife)
  • Table mats
  • Tablecloths
  • Decor
  • Gravy boat
  • Food ingredients 
  • Napkins
  • Napkin holders
  • Food storage containers

Spread Out Your Schedule

You do not want to overwhelm yourself with trying to do everything at the last minute. You will end up paying more for the convenience of getting things done faster.

Instead, spread out your schedule to allow you the time to get everything done. That includes everything from shopping early to creating pies, casseroles, and gravy a day or two in advance.

Here is a sample schedule that can help you get everything done with less stress: 

  • 4 weeks before: Make your guest list, create your shopping list, and check to see what extra utensils and storage containers you need.
  • 3 weeks before: Confirm which dishes and drinks your guests will bring and purchase utensils, storage containers & decor.
  • 2 weeks before: Purchase the turkey and ingredients.
  • 7 days before: Enlist friends and family members to help you prepare Thanksgiving hosting duties.
  • 2 days before: Make pies, casseroles, and desserts.
  • 1 day before: Set up decor, confirm guests and their dishes, and set-up the dining room table. Also, make salads, gravy, and vegetable dishes.
  • Day of Thanksgiving: Cook turkey, make biscuits & rolls, and set-up table. 

Make Use of Leftovers

Leftovers will save you money and time on preparing future meals. Be sure to gather up all the leftovers and store them in containers.

Hosting Thanksgiving for Less

You will be surprised how much you can save, on your Thanksgiving hosting duties, when you plan ahead. Be sure to give yourself enough time, shop wisely, and enlist the help of friends and family.

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