Hosting Thanksgiving dinner could be viewed as a burden. The joy of the season might be dampened by concern for not exceeding a meager budget.
Don't allow money worries to inhibit your opportunity to have your loved ones over for a lovely dinner celebration. You can enjoy a respectable feast with some pre-planning and creative compromises.
Tips for preparing Thanksgiving dinner on a budget
You don't have to do it all. Confer with your extended family members about pooling resources, dividing up the menu and everyone contributing to the feast. This idea will salvage everyone's budget and produce a bountiful meal.
Buy in advance
Begin early to pick up non-perishables. Canned goods and cooking ingredients for the Thanksgiving feast can be purchased in increments and absorbed into your weekly food budget. By the time Thanksgiving arrives, you will not have to spend in excess to complete your holiday shopping list.
Take advantage of coupons, in-store specials and sale items. Store brands are noticeably less costly than famous name brands. Some stores offer two-for-one items leading up to the holidays so you can stock up early.
Even if you pride yourself on cooking everything from scratch, a pre-packaged item on sale might cost less than the price of all the ingredients to make it yourself. No one will care if your stuffing came from a box, as opposed to Grandma's famous recipe. On the other hand, some items, such as, cranberry sauce are more cost-effective made from scratch.
The object is to be flexible enough to make substitutions when it is to financial advantage, keeping in mind that gathering in a thankful spirit is the focus of the day, not what brand or method you used to produce the dinner.
Each year the price of turkeys rises. Opt for a smaller turkey and another meat choice, such as ham.
If your family has a favorite ethnic dish, serve that side by side with the turkey. Lasagna is often a favorite dish to serve at Thanksgiving.
Variety of desserts
When dessert time rolls around, serve buffet-style, allowing everyone to choose and help themselves. Pumpkin pie can be expensive to buy so make your own. Plus, other homemade desserts can stretch out to serve many people.
Here's some great dessert ideas that are on the healthier side:
Use hostess gifts
If guests bring an edible hostess gift, use them to add to the bounty. Wine can be opened and used for the toast. A box of chocolates can be laid out on the dessert table, as can homemade bread, or any other delicacy provided by a generous guest.
Create free ambiance
You don't have to purchase a fancy centerpiece. Gather colored leaves from the yard and spread them out in the center of the table, add a small basket of apples and a couple of candles. Float votive candles in a glass bowl filled with colored water.
Once you discard the notion that a centerpiece must come from the florist, you will be able to look around your home and come up with many creative ideas, using what you already have. For example, I have often used a colored, or pristine white, sheet as a tablecloth with great success.
If you have children, they can make name cards for the table from construction paper.
Host a Friendsgiving
If your budget doesn't allow for serving a meal (or two) for all of your friends, host a Friendsgiving after dinner and invite guests to join you then after the big meal. Games, crats, and leftovers are perfect for Friendsgiving. Here are some great Friendsgiving ideas.
Create a budget ahead of time
Even if you're approaching this Thanksgiving without a designated budget, it's the perfect time to start next year's budget. Keep track of what you're spending money on, how much it costs and you start in January to save for next year.
For example, if you spend $150 on meals and decor you can save $13 a month starting in January and you'll have the $150 to spend by November. This means even in October if you shop early you'll have money set aside.
These printable worksheets will help you plan your budget for this year and next! Grab them here:
Do not allow a tight budget to dampen your holiday spirit. Accept the challenge of preparing an outstanding Thanksgiving feast using some of these economical suggestions and your own creative imagination.
Have a blessed and bountiful Thanksgiving!