Once a year, Americans gather around the table to celebrate family, turkey, and football. Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is no frugal affair, however. Turkeys aren’t cheap, nor are all of the fixings and the décor. It also seems like there’s never enough time to get everything done, entertain family and friends, and also enjoy the holiday for yourself. So how can you manage this event without busting your budget and your sanity?
Delegate Thanksgiving Duties
One way to keep stress and costs down is to spread the responsibilities around. Ask family and friends to bring a single side dish or salad, taking some of the cooking duties off of your plate. You’ll pay for fewer groceries this way, as you’ll only need to buy the turkey. It’s also a great way to blend family traditions – ask your guests to bring a dish that they loved growing up so that you can get a taste of their childhoods.
Take Inventory of Ingredients
If you’re cooking the bulk of the meal, first take inventory of what you already have in your pantry. You don’t want to buy something that you already own, like maybe dried herbs that you bought for last year’s turkey. Do some research, check sales, and see what kind of swaps would be cheaper at the grocery store. For example, perhaps frozen green beans would be cheaper than canned, or a store-brand turkey might be cheaper than a more expensive brand.
Only Buy What You Need
Another way to keep food costs down is to make sure you only buy what you need. If you’re only cooking for a few people, you don’t need an entire turkey. Buy just the breast instead, and as an extra bonus, it won’t take as long to cook. With only a few people at the dinner table, you won’t need more than a few sides to feed everyone. Stick to the basics – mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and an easy vegetable like roasted carrots.
Borrow Supplies From Friends
Don’t go out and buy furniture or dishware for the event. Instead, turn to friends and neighbors and see what you can borrow. Friends who are going out of town are an excellent source of borrowed goods, as you know they won’t be home or need anything on Thanksgiving Day. For a cohesive theme, ask to borrow only white dishes and serving platters, keeping the dining table monochromatic and elegant. Just make sure you thoroughly clean and return everything in a prompt manner.
Create a Signature Thanksgiving Cocktail
Instead of spending money on lots of liquor options, create one specialty cocktail that you can make ahead of time. Sangria or alcoholic punch is easy and affordable. You can also serve one red wine and one white wine only – you want your guests to enjoy their meal, and not get too tipsy. An even better budget bonus, any unopened bottles can be given as gifts for the upcoming holidays. Buying wines in bulk can also be cheaper than buying single bottles at a time – check with your local liquor store to see if they offer any discounts.
Use Your Thanksgiving Leftovers
If you’re hosting guests overnight, Thanksgiving dinner leftovers can be transformed to a chic and delicious post-Turkey Day brunch that’s also easy on the wallet. Use cold mashed potatoes to make potato pancakes or gnocchi. Turkey can be diced and combined with leftover roasted potatoes and onions for a satisfying turkey hash. Leftover sweet potatoes can be blended with chicken broth and cream for a luxurious sweet potato bisque. Cube up leftover dinner rolls and turn into a savory or sweet bread pudding. Are there carrots and celery left from the veggie tray? Chop the remaining crudité and transform into a tasty stir fry. The possibilities are endless!
Most importantly, this is a day to reflect and be thankful for what you have. Struggling with debt can put a damper on the holiday season, but taking steps to reduce credit card debt can relieve stress and make this time of year much easier on you and your family.