Hosting Thanksgiving at your home can be nerve-wracking, especially if money is tight. However, there are many ways to put on a nice Thanksgiving dinner for family and friends without breaking the bank. After all, gathering for the holidays is about fun, fellowship, and sharing a meal, not about impressing the neighbors or your attendees. Here are six great tips to help you host a memorable Thanksgiving dinner on a budget.
1. Make a Plan
If you decide to host Thanksgiving dinner at your home, the first thing you should do is make a plan. Doing so will help take much of the stress and uncertainty out of what should be a fun afternoon. You’ll also figure out how much you’ll have to spend. First, determine exactly whom you’re going to invite to Thanksgiving. Then, once you have a general headcount, you can plan the menu. Turkey is the primary dinner item on most Thanksgiving menus; for planning purposes, you can use 1½ pounds of uncooked turkey per person to estimate the size of the bird you’ll need. Additionally, you’ll have to determine the amount of hors d’oeuvres, side dishes, and desserts you’ll need for your guests. Once you’ve completed your initial plan, you can make a general budget to guide you through Thanksgiving shopping, food preparation, and the dinner itself.
2. Shop Smart
Shopping smart is crucial to hosting a Thanksgiving dinner on a budget. Fortunately, there are many ways to save money on Thanksgiving food purchases. For example, shopping early for many key Thanksgiving dinner items will allow you to spread the cost of the dinner out over several weeks, keeping your financial stress level low. Using coupons and grocery discount apps and watching for sales at your local supermarkets will also help you host Thanksgiving on a modest budget. Before you even begin to shop, however, you should check your pantry to make sure you’re not buying ingredients you already have. Also, check your spice cabinet. Spices are expensive and many times bought for the preparation of a particular dish, only to be put in the cabinet and forgotten. A quick search of your spice rack might save you a few dollars this fall.
3. Make Your Meal from Scratch
In addition to shopping smart, you can save money this Thanksgiving by shopping for fresh produce. Cooking from scratch is always less expensive than buying pre-prepared, packaged foods, and your dishes will taste better as well. The basic staples of a traditional Thanksgiving meal, such as turkey, potatoes, vegetables, cranberries, bread, and herbs for seasoning, are relatively less costly when purchased fresh and unprocessed. For inexpensive fresh vegetables, shop your local farmer’s markets and roadside vegetable stands. You can often find fresh, organic foods there that are heavily discounted. You may even be able to purchase a freshly processed turkey from a nearby farm for a low price. Overall, buying food fresh and then taking the time to prepare the dishes at home is a great way to host your Thanksgiving dinner on a budget.
4. Ask for Help
When it comes to hosting a stress-free Thanksgiving dinner on a budget, don’t go it alone. You should accept any offers from guests to bring side plates, drinks, or desserts. Additionally, if you need assistance with any other items for the Thanksgiving meal, you should be willing to ask your guests for help. The food and drinks your guests bring will make Thanksgiving better for everyone; additionally, a little support from family and friends with the dinner will help keep you well within your Thanksgiving budget. Make sure you keep track of any food or drink items that guests agree to bring, and adjust your Thanksgiving dinner budget and cooking plan accordingly.
5. Plan Your Drink Menu
If you’re not careful, you’ll blow your Thanksgiving dinner budget on the alcohol you purchase for it. Beer, wine, and hard liquor are expensive, so they need to be a key part of your budget. To keep alcohol costs under control this Thanksgiving, try to make a deliberate plan for what you’re going to serve. Buying a few larger bottles of wine is a good way to cut down on expenditures. Additionally, making a spiked punch, sangria, or planning for 1-2 types of cocktails can help keep liquor costs under control. Finally, when guests offer to bring anything to your home for Thanksgiving dinner, you can suggest they bring a bottle of something, too.
6. Don’t Bust the Budget with Decorations
While you want your home to look festive this Thanksgiving, make sure you don’t overdo it with the decorations. To help keep decorating costs under control, take stock of what you already have on hand in your attic or garage, and see what you can reuse this year. If you still feel you need more, explore the decorating sections of the wholesale clubs and outlets to see what they may have on discount. Many times, you’ll see these fall-themed items go on sale right after Halloween. Remember, just a few decorations can create a clean and sophisticated look. Don’t end up spending a small fortune on decorative items, only to leave your house cluttered and your guests overwhelmed.
You can host a fun, festive Thanksgiving dinner this fall without spending a fortune. Just follow these great tips, and you’ll be ready to host a low-stress Thanksgiving on a budget that your guests will remember for years to come!