Don’t Break the Bank on Thanksgiving

by Tracy · 0 comments

Last year, Target ran a commercial featuring a young wife who was getting ready to host her family for Thanksgiving for the first time. I was a bit dumbfounded to find out all of the things that are “necessary” to host a dinner! Who knew you needed so many decorative bowls?

The key to being a great host or hostess is making your guests feel welcome and comfortable. Sure, it’s nice if you can pull out all of the stops, but the truth is, almost nobody would expect you to spend more than you can afford and as long as you are relaxed and happy, your guests will be, too.

This goes double at Thanksgiving, as pretty much everyone you invite will be close friends and family. Chances are high that they’ll want to help and there is no shame in taking it. The idea is to spend time together, enjoying each other’s company and reflecting on all that you have to be grateful for. So there is no need to stress over decorative linens and centerpieces.

The Food

Luckily for us the Pilgrims dined on relatively inexpensive turkey instead of tenderloin and foie gras. Even still, it’s expensive to put on a meal for several extra people, so here are a few tips to keep costs affordable.

  • Spread the cost of groceries over several weeks. You can start buying non-perishables and food items with a long shelf life 3-4 weeks before Thanksgiving. Make a master list of everything you’ll need for your feast now and divide up the shopping so that every week you are buying a few things. If you’re really ambitious, you can consult a coupon site to try and match store sales with manufacturers coupons, but don’t stress about it if you don’t have time. Sometimes your sanity is more important than saving money.
  • Keep the menu relatively simple. This will save you money as well as time and stress in the kitchen.  Don’t go overboard with side dishes or feel like you have to have a stellar, stand out recipe for each one. Most people enjoy having old, familiar favorites at Thanksgiving. Perhaps try one new, “fancy” recipe and stick with the tried and true for everything else.
  • If others offer to bring things, let them! Desserts, relish trays and drinks are all easy to transport and won’t require much attention once they are in your house.
  • Wine can be a major expense; on a day that’s not busy, stop into your local liquor store and ask the staff what they can recommend for your budget. A good shop will want to make outstanding recommendations for your budget because they are more interested in making you a regular customer instead of getting one quick up-sell.


Don’t feel bad if your home is not decorator showcase quality and you don’t have fine china and crystal stemware or seasonal table linens.  I think the media has us convinced that it’s “normal” for even those just starting out to have perfectly polished homes, but the reality is that most of our parents, grandparents and older friends have spent a lifetime accumulating serving platters and tablecloths.

You will need certain items to host a large meal, but don’t go all out and buy everything new in one go.

  • Ask around and find out what you can borrow, if you’re in the same area as your extended family and friends, chances are good they’ll be able to lend you everything from extra plates to chairs to serving platters to roasting pans. Label each one with a small piece of masking tape on the bottom and be sure to return them in great condition. It’s not necessary, but giving a small batch of homemade cookies or other small treat when you return the items is always welcome.
  • Restaurant supply stores are a great way to stock up a kitchen for less. Look for high quality flatware, plates, glassware/stemware for a fraction of the price along with cloth napkins, serving items, pans, storage containers and more.  There won’t be a large selection of colors and patterns, but then again, you can’t go wrong with plain, classic tableware that will suit any occasion.
  • If there is time, scour thrift stores, yard sales and estate sales for pieces that you might need. This can be a great way to get a few unique pieces that will really make your home pop.
  • For those with children, homemade centerpieces and other little decorations are incredibly charming. This is also a good way to keep them busy in the morning while you are cooking.

Don’t let being intimidated by the cost or effort stop you from hosting Thanksgiving in your home. The most important thing is to make sure your guests feel welcomed and that you take the time to enjoy their company instead of being stressed out. A simple dinner with relaxed hosts in a comfortable home is preferable to a fancy dinner in a picture perfect house with anxious, uptight hosts.

Bonus Tip:

Another way to save on your monthly Internet and TV costs is to find a current ATT U-Verse coupon code or at least a promotion to knock down your home service bill.

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