How to host Thanksgiving dinner without breaking the bank

It’s Friday and time to flash back. In honor of Thanksgiving, here are 5 ways to save money on turkey day.


Turkey day is almost here! Time to relax with family, watch some football, and eat…and eat. I’m one of the lucky ones (in my opinion) because I don’t have to cook. But I do know that it can be expensive to host Thanksgiving, especially if you have a large circle of friends and family. So here are 5 easy ways to save money this year if you’re hosting.

Make a classic dinner.

You might want to try making a fancy trifle for dessert, for example, but pumpkin pie is much cheaper and many, many people look forward to having it every year. If you do want something fancy, search online for recipes that add new flavors to your usual dishes, instead of expensive ingredients.

Host a B.Y.O.D. Thanksgiving.

Talk to your family and friends about each of them bringing a dish to share. This spreads the wealth quite a bit and will save you as the host a lot of time and money.

Plan for leftovers.

There are a lot of different leftover recipes, but one that goes the farthest is making soup stock from the turkey carcass. (Yep, it’s a gross word, but it makes delicious soup.) There is always the usual turkey sandwiches, but this year the Thanksgiving burrito is all the rage. Grab a tortilla shell and throw in all of the ingredients of your choice. I can’t wait to try it! Save Money on Thanksgiving Dinner

Keep the decor simple.

See if any children in the family want to make a centerpiece or just use gourds and/or branches for a natural look. A great idea for name place cards is putting a piece of paper with each person’s name in a pine cone. It’s cheap, simple, and looks great.

Don’t be the bartender, too.

While I’m sure people will drink complicated alcoholic beverages, keep it simple and cheaper with wine – either bottled or boxed. Or if you’re taking care of all of the food, suggest that guests bring a beverage of their choice. Truly no one will notice if you don’t serve something extravagant to drink.

This year, don’t break the bank just to cook a dinner for your friends and family. Take it from a person who attends multiple Thanksgiving dinners every year: potluck dinners are becoming the norm and guests appreciate whatever is provided. So keep it simple, save money, and make the most of the time you have with your loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving!

For more personal finance tips, check out The holidays are coming: are you ready? and How can I save money right now?.

Author Elaina Johannessen is a Program Director with LSS Financial Counseling.

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