4 Ways to Keep Your Big Thanksgiving Meal Affordable

For years, my husband and I have hosted Thanksgiving dinner for our family. And while we enjoy doing it, I can admit that it’s a lot of work — and also a lot of money.

In 2022, the average Thanksgiving dinner for 10 cost $64.05, according to the Farm Bureau. But my husband and I spent a lot more than that in recent years. I don’t have an exact credit card tab because I didn’t keep my grocery store receipts, but I’d estimate that we spent over $200 on last year’s feast.

This year, however, we’re hoping to keep our costs down a bit. And here’s how you can do the same.

1. Don’t be shy about asking guests for specific items

My husband and I enjoy welcoming family into our home and never want to ask people to bring a specific item. But even though we’ve said “just bring your appetite” in the past, inevitably, family members of mine show up with extra desserts, appetizers, and so forth.

So this year, we’ve decided that instead of saying we’re good and having people show up with random foods, we intend to ask people to bring specific dishes so we don’t have to buy them. And you can do the same. Ask one guest to bring a fruit platter, have another bring a salad, and have a third pick up a couple of pies.

People don’t like to show up empty-handed. Giving them something specific to bring makes things easier on everyone.

2. Don’t go high end on all of your food purchases

I like to put out some appetizers before the main meal on Thanksgiving, and I’ve been known to splurge on fancy cheese and crackers. I’m not doing that this year.

The way I see it, if I’m serving a meal with eight different side dishes and then a full-blown dessert course, I don’t need fancy appetizers on top of that. So my plan is to put out some chips and dips and call it a day until we’re ready to serve the main meal. You might free up more money for your savings account by going light on appetizers, too.

3. Skip the alcohol or make it a BYOB affair

My family members aren’t particularly big drinkers, so usually, a couple of bottles of wine will suffice at my Thanksgiving dinner. But if you’re someone who normally picks up a case of wine, that could easily add to your costs. You may want to consider making this year’s Thanksgiving a BYOB affair.

There’s nothing wrong with asking people to bring a bottle of their favorite beverage — whether it’s wine, sparkling cider, or even soda or juice. And if you don’t feel comfortable asking people to bring a beverage, just send a note saying that you’re skipping the booze this year. From there, people can choose to bring a bottle or not.

4. Don’t assume you need two of each side dish

In the past, my husband and I have served multiple trays of each side we’ve prepared because we’re worried about popular ones running out. And without fail, year after year, we’ve found ourselves with full trays of leftover food.

This year, we’re making one tray of each side dish and hoping for the best. We’ve realized that means there may not be seconds of every single thing, but we don’t want to wind up with an excessive amount of leftovers we struggle to eat.

If you’ve been known to overcook for Thanksgiving in the past, set a limit this year. If anything, make a second dish of your most popular side, but leave it at that.

Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to break the bank if you’re careful with your approach. You may want to follow these tips to spend less while still pulling off a fantastic meal.

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