Since Thanksgiving is such a huge holiday for traveling, there are many ways to celebrate that won’t require you to wait in long lines at the airport or get stuck in traffic on the highway. Many of us aren’t always able to make it home for every holiday, whether it be not enough vacation time left at work or just a lack of funds. However, this shouldn’t stop you from still enjoying the holidays with people you love. Thankfully, both of us are lucky enough to live in the same state as our families but we still like to celebrate the holidays with friends, since they, too, are family… and really we don’t see anything wrong with having two Thanksgivings! Here are some simple ways to enjoy the holiday with friends on a budget.
• If you’re hosting, plan to take care of the larger picture. It’s typically helpful if the host is the one in charge of the turkey, just because it would be quite difficult for someone else to transport it! If you’re hosting a smaller group, maybe even think about purchasing a whole turkey breast if you’re worried having too many leftovers. Also, if you’re hosting, think of making a big batch of your favorite seasonal beverage. A nice hot cider or something along those lines would be a great way to warm everyone up. A lot of times, your guests will bring a bottle of wine as a hosting gift, but it’s a nice touch to have a beverage ready to go as guests arrive. Don’t forget; if you host the Thanksgiving, you get the leftovers!
• Have each guest bring their favorite side dish. What we normally like to do when hosting dinners is make a list with the following categories: Appetizers, Dinner Course, Dessert, Beverages, etc. As each guest tells you what they plan to bring, write their dish down under the corresponding category. This way, when someone asks you “is there anything else you need?” or “what can I bring?” you can quickly and easily refer to your list to see what categories are falling short. It’s also a great way to keep yourself organized in the planning process so you’ll be able to visualize what types of serving platters you’ll need or how much space to reserve in your refrigerator.
• Decorate your home or apartment. There are a plethora of discount craft stores that sell seasonal decorations. For Thanksgiving, think autumn colors, leaves, pumpkins, and scents that remind you of this time of year. Fill some inexpensive clear vases with a couple of handfuls of acorns you find in your yard or at the park and use them as centerpieces on your dinner table, or even buy an inexpensive pumpkin scented candle for your bathroom. Lots of craft stores sell seasonal garland with leaves that you could also drape on a table. Also, don’t forget about the other details such as napkins and dinnerware. Try to purchase some cloth napkins instead of using paper ones, or if you chose to use paper ones, purchase them in a nice warm fall color. It’s little touches like this that can make a space feel so much more warm and homey.
• Don’t worry about having a table big enough for everyone. All that really matters is that everyone is together, enjoying good food. We generally have our Thanksgivings with friends sitting on couches, hanging out in the kitchen, and standing around the living room. It’s a good idea to get some extra folding chairs (ask friends to bring some if you don’t have enough), but you don’t need a formal living room table in order to have a Thanksgiving feast!
Gathering your friends for any holiday is always fun, especially for Thanksgiving since there is so much food to be shared and so many fun stories to be told. If you’re really trying to maintain a strict budget, always keep an eye out for the sales at some of your favorite stores. We have purchased some really great seasonal dinnerware, platters, and decorations all on sale that we can use year after year. At the end of the holiday, take a peek in home good stores since the retailers are typically trying to sell the product to gear up for Christmas. It’s a great time to stock up for the following Thanksgiving!