Thanksgiving on a Budget

Is this your year where you are going to pull out all the stops and host Thanksgiving? If so, you probably have a million things to consider like how will you prepare your home, have enough seating, provide entertainment, and how to do it all on a budget. The biggest items on your budget will, of course, be food, but how will you do it? Here is how you can host Thanksgiving on a budget. 

Look at Your Finances First

Before you even consider the types of dishes you anticipate making, you must focus on your budget first and foremost. What do your finances look like for the month of November and how much can you truly afford? You must sort out your budget before moving on. 

Your next step should be making a guest list. This will determine how big of a bird you need to buy. Your budget and guest list can then determine your menu. For most families, people know they need to bring a dish to serve for Thanksgiving so do not hesitate to ask guests to bring something with them. It could even go beyond side dishes and they could bring plasticware, appetizers, desserts, or drinks. Asking for help with food from your guests will be a huge help on your budget. 

Do Your Grocery Shopping Research

Lots of grocery stores will have all your Thanksgiving essentials on sale, but it doesn’t hurt to shop the flyers, loyalty programs, and coupons. You may even want to check prices on birds weeks prior to Thanksgiving. Since they store easily you could grab an early deal and rest easier knowing the hard part is done. 

In addition to grocery shopping research, you might want to consider if your kitchen has all the utensils, pots, pans, and baking ware to cook everything on the big day. You might find that you are short on a turkey pan or a baking dish. In any case, it is better to ask to borrow a dish or item from your family than to have to buy it outright. 


Perhaps the priciest item on any Thanksgiving list, alcohol can surely crash your budget. This is an item you can choose to leave completely off your list altogether. However, if your family likes to party it up, perhaps they can share in the expense. Alcohol is definitely a treat and most people wouldn’t bat an eye if they were told to bring their own drinks. 

Snacks and Appetizers

Again, you can suggest that guests help fill in the day by bringing some snacks and appetizers to feast on before the big meal. As the host, you do not want to bother with too many appetizers. Not only can they be time-consuming to make and add to your budget, but it is just another thing to clean up and store afterward. 


On top of having a great spread of Thanksgiving food, you want your house to look good too. This means having some great decorations that scream fall and Thanksgiving. This is again something you can perhaps ask a friend or family member to borrow if you are short on festive props. You may also find some great deals at thrift stores or yard sales. A nice tablecloth, with cloth napkins and a few vases, can do the trick. 

You can also create your own tablescape with a few pinecones, candles, and other decorations from the dollar store. For more cheap, DIY tablescape ideas, check this out. Even a fall centerpiece can come together as a DIY project from the dollar store. 

Make the Most Out of Leftovers

Another way to save big this Thanksgiving is to make sure you make enough food to have leftovers. Turkey meat can be made into turkey sandwiches and your side dishes should be good for days. You likely won’t want to do much cooking after creating your large feast, so leftovers will ensure you spend little time in the kitchen after Thanksgiving Day. Some dishes are even good to freeze, making them last even longer. 

Final Thoughts

The cost of hosting Thanksgiving at your home should not deter you from opening your doors to friends and family. You can cut corners and budget wisely this holiday season by being prepared to take advantage of sales and help from others. Your guests should feel comfortable coming prepared to help and leaving with a full belly.