Written by Spotloan

The holidays can be incredible occasions. Full days to rest, relax, and eat to your heart’s content. But when you’re on a budget, the holidays can also feel a bit overwhelming. For a holiday that typically features a full week’s worth of meals in one day, celebrating Thanksgiving on a budget can be tricky. 

What if we told you that there’s a way to feed your family an incredible meal, decorate your home, and enjoy your Thanksgiving Day – all without the side of financial guilt?

How to Have a Happy and Whole Thanksgiving on a Budget

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget

While some holidays are centered around giving and receiving, Thanksgiving tends to lean more toward family meals, gatherings of friends, story swapping, comradery, and quality time. An average of 82% of total Thanksgiving costs in the United States goes to food. Naturally, the biggest portion of your Thanksgiving budget will likely be allotted to the meal. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner on a budget is achievable in a few different ways.

First, if you plan on cooking everything yourself for just your family at home, make a list and work on prioritizing to see if you can cut anything out. Most of us cook Thanksgiving meals for 14 when we’re only feeding four. Is there a dish you make every year that doesn’t get gobbled up as quickly as all of the others? Consider cutting this one out. Or opt for four dessert choices instead of eight. If you’re hesitant about cutting full portions of the meal out, opt for budget-friendly Thanksgiving recipes to replace some of the more expensive ones instead.

You can cut the costs in half and still have the same amount of food on the table. Whichever method you land on, be sure to dig through your pantry first and make a shopping list to stick to. These are two great methods for keeping your grocery budget in check. A mindful and lovingly created meal is more valuable than one that clutters up the table, stretching you and your budget thin in the process.

Hosting Thanksgiving on a Budget

Now, if you plan on hosting Thanksgiving on a budget, it may not be as easy as prioritizing and cutting out a few sides and desserts. But it can still be done. Rather than taking on every appetizer, main dish, side, and dessert yourself, let your guests know that this year’s Thanksgiving celebration will be potluck style. Make a sign-up sheet or ask each guest to pick something in a different category. Some can bring an appetizer or side, others can contribute a dessert or a drink option; whatever works best with you and your guest list.

Most of us are on a tighter budget this year due to the pandemic, so this not only helps you stay on track with your spending, but it also serves as a fun way to get your family members involved. When all of the adults in the family contribute something, it feels much more like a family meal than it does when one person is stuck toiling away in the kitchen alone. Plus, this is a great way to try different dishes, swap delicious recipes, and start a conversation that doesn’t involve politics or focuses on the lingering pandemic.

Decorating for Thanksgiving on a Budget

Whether you’re hosting an extended family of 10 or home with your family of four, fun and frugal decorations can help make your home and table more festive. If you’re wondering how to decorate a Thanksgiving table on a budget, Pinterest has the answer. From budget-friendly fall décor finds (that local dollar store is a goldmine) to handmade place settings and crafts, there are endless possibilities. If you have young kids, get them involved and start a fun new holiday tradition.

Craft pumpkin pie slices out of orange and tan felt that can be strung up around the house or written on and distributed for adorable and memorable place settings or dish labels. Craft pumpkins and leaves out of construction paper or make turkeys out of paper plates, construction paper, and a bit of paint. Thanksgiving does not have to be over-the-top or expensive to be a beautiful and meaningful day. Enjoy the moment and the meal with your loved ones. Have a happy and healthy holiday season.