How to Host a Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving

In case you forgot, Thanksgiving is this month. The holidays seem to come so fast every year, even though they come at the same time every year…

This year I’d like to help you prepare for Thanksgiving with tips for planning a meal that is budget-friendly. It gets expensive hosting a large meal like this but don’t let that scare you off from hosting! If you love blessing people with food and hospitality, don’t let money keep you from that!

If you’re keeping to a budget, you may need to give up some control over the meal, which is hard for me. But ultimately it will be so much more enjoyable if everything you picture having at the meal is there, even if it means letting other people bring food or even a tablecloth! People love helping and feeling like they are really a part of the holiday meal. With that in mind here are a few more tips for keeping your holiday meal a bit more inexpensive.

How to Host a Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving

1. Keep Things Simple

Don’t go crazy buying expensive decorations and rarely used ingredients, the meal can be just as delicious and memorable by keeping it a bit more low-key. A few things you can do to keep things simple but still awesome include:

- Use nature to decorate! Go outside and collect twigs to make cute decor like these or collect leaves to scatter down the table instead of a table runner. It’s a great time to test out your creativity skills!

- Go with recipes that use a few ingredients. Not only is it easier to keep track of what goes with what, it’s cheaper too! Use a turkey recipe that only has a few ingredients, like this one, and instead of a fancy vegetable side dish, simply steam the vegetables, they will be just as good without nine hundred ingredients melted on top!

- Make some things from scratch. Now, sometimes there are dishes that are actually a bit more expensive to make from scratch but things like pumpkin pie, apple pie, sweet potato pie, and fancy dinner rolls are almost always cheaper to make from scratch.

2. Shop Smart

This is the best way to save money, by being smart about how, where, and when you shop, you can save tons of money!

- Buy in bulk. I go to a local discount grocery store (ya know, the kind where you have to check expiration dates) that has a huge bulk baking section. Things like all-purpose flour, sugars, and nuts are great to purchase in bulk and whatever you don’t use at Thanksgiving, you will have no problem using later.

- Shop at Aldi. I am a recent Aldi convert. It’s pretty much the best! My grocery bill is cut in half and I still get the same amount of stuff by shopping at Aldi! I noticed the other week that the Aldi I shop at has frozen Butterball turkeys! Score!

- Make a grocery list. I always, always, always grocery shop with a grocery list because otherwise I buy way more than we need (and thus, spend way more money). For more about meal planning and making a grocery list, check out this post.

- Use coupons and rebate apps. Start picking up the Sunday paper to get coupons, or ask a family member to hold onto the coupon section for you if they aren’t using it. And use apps like Ibotta, Checkout51, SavingStar, Retail Me Not, and Target’s Cartwheel app to get rebates and discounts!

3. Go Potluck Style

I talked about this at the beginning of the post but it’s worth saying again. Asking others to bring parts of the meal is the best way to save money! I know it’s hard to give up complete control over your meal but your guests will love having a part in it. And you can go with all different dishes then, no need to worry about buying new serving dishes so that everything matches. Some dishes that are easy to ask others to bring, include:

- pies
- sweet potato casserole
- baked corn
- green bean casserole
- dinner rolls

You can also ask people to bring parts of the decor. Things like tablecloths, napkins, tea lights, pumpkins, etc. are easy for people to bring along with them. And they will feel ever more at home seeing familiar things around them.

How are you saving money this Thanksgiving? What are you planning on making?? For even more Thanksgiving inspiration, be sure to follow my Thanksgiving board on Pinterest, it’s got everything from recipes to printables to decor inspiration, and more!

Share photos of your Thanksgiving using #littlecitythanksgiving so that I can see your meal and I may just share my favorite shots on my Instagram account!