Gina Jacobs November 7, 2017 at 12:59 PM

Hosting Thanksgiving – without blowing your budget

A few years ago, right after my husband and I became homeowners, we started to pick up some of the holiday hosting responsibilities. At first it was a simple, after-the-gift-extravaganza brunch on Christmas morning, but we’ve since graduated to hosting Thanksgiving. Last year was our first foray in prepping a meal for 12+ people, with several foodies – including one former chef – on the guest list. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a teensy bit stressed about it. More specifically, I was worried that I’d screw up the turkey (a.k.a., the star of the show).

Thankfully, I didn’t screw up the turkey (with the help of said chef) and the meal was very well received. That was the only thing that eased the sting when I sat down to total up all our Thanksgiving costs. In sticker shock, I promised myself that I’d find more cost savings measures for Thanksgiving 2017. These are some of the new tactics I plan to employ this time around:

  • Making it a potluck. We’ll be providing a festive gathering location, as well as preparing the turkey, stuffing, gravy, and drinks. Our guests will be bringing the side dishes. So we’ll still have the full spread – mashed potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin pie, oh my! – without a bulk of the expense.
  • Limiting the drink options. Last year, we went out of our way to make sure we had the fixings for everyone’s favorite drink, as well as several non-alcoholic options. And you know what most of the adults chose to drink? A simple glass of wine. This year, we’re scaling way back and only offering one or two options that we know will be crowd pleasers.
  • Shopping ahead. A neighbor shared this tip with me. Rather than heading to the store a few days before Thanksgiving with a long list – paying premium prices AND fighting the crowds – I’m going to pick up a few items that I need for the feast every time I go to the store over the next few weeks. Spices keep for ages, as does chicken stock. Butter can be frozen in advance and thawed while the turkey thaws. Yes, this means I need to finalize my menu and grocery list ASAP, but the potential cost savings make it oh-so-worth-it.
  • Simplifying the decorations. Last year, I painstakingly decorated our holiday table … and it was immediately dismantled as soon as dinner was served. No one really got to enjoy it, so it was a waste of time and money. I’m taking a new, more natural approach in 2017. On a recent family trip the pumpkin patch, I picked up a few mini pumpkins for just a few bucks and already stowed them in a cool, dry place. I’ll add those to the table, along with inexpensive votive candles I already have on-hand and a few colorful leaves my daughter likes to collect. I think that’ll be more than enough considering the focus will be on food and family. Right?

I hope some of these tips will help you host a truly memorable feast – on a reasonable budget. Have a great tip that I didn’t touch on? Feel free to share it in a comment below.


Gina Jacobs

Gina Jacobs loves to write – which is why she’s been doing it professionally for more than a decade. As the work team lead of the SAFE Credit Union communications team, she helps shapes all internal and external marketing efforts. She spends her free time chasing after her rambunctious toddler and Shih Tzu. Her husband of seven years also keeps her on her toes.