4 Tips for a Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving

by Maurie Backman | Published on Nov. 1, 2021

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A smiling family sitting around a Thanksgiving table full of food.

Image source: Getty Images

Here's how to host Thanksgiving dinner without breaking the bank.

Thanksgiving is a day to express gratitude and acknowledge our blessings. It's also a day to stuff ourselves silly while indulging in food we don't normally get to eat.

If you're hosting Thanksgiving this year, you may be a bit stressed about the prospect. Not only can preparing Thanksgiving dinner be a lot of work, but it can also cost a lot of money. If you're on a budget, you may need to approach this year's Thanksgiving gathering more strategically. Here are a few things you can do to pull off Thanksgiving without causing yourself an undue financial strain.

1. Keep your Thanksgiving guest list to a minimum

As nice as it may be to offer up your home to extended family and friends, if money is tight this year, you may need to trim your Thanksgiving guest list. Given there's still a pandemic, that's hardly a socially unacceptable thing to do. Rather than cram 20 people into your home, consider limiting your invitation to your closest family members.

2. Skip the bakery goods

Planning to hit the local bakery for some fresh Thanksgiving cakes and pies? You may want to rethink that. You can probably whip up your own desserts at home for a fraction of the cost. Even if you're not a baking wiz, there are plenty of simple recipes you can access online. Besides, by the time you get around to dessert, your guests might be too full to really want platefuls of gourmet cake anyway.

3. Let your guests bring things

How many times have Thanksgiving guests of yours offered to bring something for your meal, only for you to turn them down? If you really need to stick to a budget this year, graciously accept those offers to provide a side dish, salad, or dessert. You can even ask some guests to bring beverages to limit your grocery bill. Besides, if you don't tell guests what to bring, you might inadvertently wind up with six pumpkin pies, five of which will never make it out of your fridge.

4. Buy your ingredients in advance

This year, the cost of food and other essentials is up, due in part to supply chain issues. This November more so than ever, it's a good idea to purchase your non-perishable Thanksgiving meal ingredients in advance. Doing so will give you an opportunity to compare prices and potentially pay less for some of the things you need. If you wait too long and supermarkets jack up their prices for the holiday, you'll be stuck paying more.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday to celebrate, but the last thing you want is for it to be a source of credit card debt for you. If rethinking your meal helps you avoid that fate, all the better.

Remember, at the end of the day, Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what we have and enjoying time with loved ones.

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