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.