Seven Ways to Host Thanksgiving on a Budget

This year many of us are feeling the pinch of the economy and trying to scale down our Thanksgiving dinners.  I would urge everyone not to cut down on their guest list, but to rethink the true meaning of Thanksgiving.  Your friends and family are coming to your home to be with you, not your grandmother’s green bean casserole.

So how do you reconcile hosting a gathering and your shrinking budget?

1. To save this Thanksgiving, check your local grocery store for Butterball’s holiday promotions as well as for money-saving coupons.  If your local grocery store has a program where you can earn a free turkey by spending money at their store during the month leading up to Thanksgiving make sure you select a Butterball so your turkey will turn out picture-perfect! 

2. Shop well ahead of time for your non perishable food items.  Adding some canned cranberry sauce to your cart one month and stuffing mix the next won’t make as much of an impact on your overall budget as if you wait until the last minute to do all of your shopping. 

3. Think back to the first Thanksgiving and simplify your meal.  Instead of elaborate side dishes, serve things like roasted vegetables, corn on the cob, baked potatoes.

4. Give yourself a budget and think outside the box.  There is no reason to be locked into the same menu every year just because that is the way it has always been done.  This is especially true if there are items that on your menu that no one even likes, green bean casserole I am looking at you!

5. Shop in your pantry.  I am looking in my pantry right now and I have a huge bag of basmati rice.  Who says that rice can’t be a side dish?  A baked pasta dish is also economical, filling, and can feed many people.  If your family is Italian, like mine, you probably already have pasta as a staple at all holidays anyway. 

6. Don’t be afraid to ask your guests to bring a side dish.  I am sure that most of them would welcome the idea of bringing one of their favorites to share.  Perhaps your sister in law is a superb baker, why not ask her to supply desserts.  No sense in taking on more than you can handle, both financially and mentally.

7.  Skip the expensive cornucopia centerpieces for your table.  Decorate with items that you already own.     

Thanksgiving should be a time to reflect on all the blessings that we have, not worry about how we are going to pay for it.



  1. Posted November 4, 2009 at 8:51 am | Permalink | Reply

    terrific tips!!

    for a centerpiece, i take a clear bowl, fill it with water and cranberries and add a few floating candles. everyone raved how cute it was and it was much cheaper than fresh flowers!! (and it wasn’t blocking anyone’s view across the table!)

  2. Posted November 4, 2009 at 9:48 am | Permalink | Reply

    Winter squash are cheaper than bananas right now and are easy and versitile veggies. Roasted butternut & red onions always gets rave reviews and feeds a lot for a little.

  3. Annabanana
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 10:46 am | Permalink | Reply

    I use pumpkins and winter squashes as a centerpiece, then after Thanksgiving use them for soup or roast them with root vegetables.

  4. Mandy
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 11:02 am | Permalink | Reply

    Great tips and I like the idea of the cranberries and floating candles. I also use berry garland I have had forever with votive candles. It’s simple and also low for conversation and passing dishes around.

    I love this Butterball blog!

  5. Posted November 4, 2009 at 11:20 am | Permalink | Reply

    I would give up my Thanksgiving if a soldier in Afghanistan could have real turkey and not processed turkey.

    Just saying :0) Oh and PS love your writing.

  6. amanda
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 12:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    the soldiers can have my turkey too!

  7. Stephanie
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hey now, some of us love green bean casserole!

  8. Posted November 4, 2009 at 2:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I totally agree with you about shopping out of your pantry! I use lots of coupons and buy when things are on sale. And anything with a long expiration date, I stock up on so it will last a good long while and I won’t have to pay full price down the road. Today I bought 32 oz cartons of chicken and beef broth for just 50 cents each, and got 4 cans of cream soups for free after coupons. I also tend to buy for our Christmas meal when I’m shopping for Thanksgiving, since we generally eat pretty much the same meal at both holidays. Saves on the hassle of shopping at the grocery store around Christmas too.

  9. Posted November 4, 2009 at 4:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I love the ‘shop in your pantry’ idea as well as buying one thing each week to reducte the burdon later on. We do turkey for Christmas dinner here in Australia and it’s usually a huge menu with soups and entres as well as cheese and fruit platters so getting things now will help a lot. Thanks Chris, great list.

  10. lucy
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 6:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Chris, since you mentioned having a big bag of rice in your pantry, my mom makes stuffing with rice instead of bread! It’s amazing.

  11. Posted November 4, 2009 at 8:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    You could do what we’re doing and go to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving! We’re going to my mom’s house this year, which also involves a trip from CT to FL, but we’re taking time off from work and turning it into a real vacation. We did the same thing last year and turkey in a sundress and flipflops is much yummier than turkey in a sweater! But since we are on a tighter budget this year we’re driving down to FL instead of flying and we’re not going to eat out as much as we usually do on vacation. But I am donating a frozen turkey to my local foodbank before we leave because there are a lot of people out there who can’t afford the traditional dinner this year.

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