Written by Spotloan

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner consists of about ten different dishes, from the turkey and stuffing to the mashed potatoes and vegetables. And don’t forget everyone’s favorites - the piled-high casseroles and dinner rolls. 

With so many plates to prepare and put out, costs can add up quickly. It was no surprise when last year’s Lending Tree survey revealed that two in five hosts said hosting Thanksgiving is a financial strain. But don’t worry just yet; when you do it right, it doesn’t have to be. 

This same Lending Tree survey revealed that Americans spend an average of $475 to host Thanksgiving. We want to help drive this number down (and we mean way down.) Here’s our how-to guide for hosting an affordable Thanksgiving dinner this year:

Host an Affordable Potluck Thanksgiving 

One of the best ways to save while hosting any holiday is to make it a potluck party. Offer to cover the main dish, whether that’s turkey, ham, or lasagna, and a side or two. Then, ask others to bring the additional sides, drinks, or desserts. 

Check the Fine Print

Many grocery store chains, including ShopRite and Acme, have points programs that allow you to build toward rewards. A free turkey is one of those potential rewards. Remember to scan your card each time you go shopping and ask someone at customer service or check online to see what rewards you may be eligible for. 

Use Cash Back Apps 

Cashback apps are great to use for all grocery trips, shopping for gifts, and other errands. They allow you to earn cashback on everyday items like potatoes and paper towels. But one is pulling out all the stops this holiday season and offering an even better incentive. 

At select retailers and while supplies last, popular cashback app Ibotta is giving out free Thanksgiving meals. They’re offering 100% cashback on turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and more when you download their app and shop with a participating retailer. 

If this offer isn’t available at any retailers near you, or you need more items than the ones they’re currently offering, our other tips for putting on an affordable Thanksgiving can help round things out. 

Start Shopping Early

Getting one or two items at a time instead of buying everything all at once can help keep your spending in check. Not only are you less likely to go overboard this way, but you can also fit these smaller trips into your existing budget rather than feeling like you’ve taken a hit. 

Most pantry items last for a year or more before expiring, and more perishable items can be properly wrapped and frozen for several months before the holiday. Shopping early and a little bit at a time is an excellent saving strategy for any holiday or large gathering. 

And shopping early is a good idea for another reason this year. Supply chain slowdowns and labor shortages will likely equate to fewer options and price hikes as we approach the holiday season. Save yourself money, time, and stress by getting a headstart. 

Take Advantage of Discount and Dollar Stores 

Last but not least on our list is the humble dollar or discount store. Dollar stores offer more than holiday decor, gift bags, candy, and school supplies. Most of them also sell everyday grocery items that many of us wouldn’t think to look for if we didn’t know they were there. 

Items like boxed stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, and mashed potato mixes are incredibly affordable and easy to find in most dollar stores. This is also a great place to get disposable aluminum trays, spices, extra to-go containers or bags, and festive holiday cups to sip from.

And discount stores, including Sam’s Club, Costco, and BJs, offer competitive prices on items you need in larger quantities for the holiday crowd. From potluck parties to discount deals, a bit of extra effort can help you host Thanksgiving at a mere fraction of the average. 

Pick up some festive decorations while you’re at your local discount or dollar store, or continue the savings stacking by doing some fun and affordable harvest season craft projects.