Nerdy Mamma

7 Tricks for Serving Thanksgiving on a Budget

Thank you for sharing!

(Inside: Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be a little daunting–especially when you whip-up a budget and see all those dollar signs for ONE MEAL. But it doesn’t have to be that bad. Here’s 7 Tricks for Serving Thanksgiving on a Budget that really will bring down that bottom line.)

If you plan on serving Thanksgiving dinner this year, you probably have a lot of mixed feelings.

I know I always do.

First, whether you’re serving dinner to just immediate family or everyone in a 50-mile radius, you’re probably thrilled. Who wouldn’t want to host the most important family meal of the year?

Second, maybe you’re a little overwhelmed. Hosting Thanksgiving dinner is great, but it’s a lot of work.

Third, once you add Thanksgiving dinner into your holiday budget, chances are you’re experiencing sticker shock.

For real, I know in my case I could easily blow a week’s worth of grocery budget on that single meal.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Here’s 7 Tricks I figured out to serve up Thanksgiving on a budget.

7 Tricks for Serving Thanksgiving on a Budget

  1. Get a free turkey.
    Lots of supermarkets run programs that allow you to get a free turkey after spending a certain amount of money. You’ve got to buy groceries anyway, so this can be a great incentive! Do your research, though – a lot of times stores will increase the prices of their merchandise to make up the difference.
  2. Go small.
    Figure about a pound to a pound and a half of turkey for each person. That means if you’ve got 10 people for dinner, you only need a 10-15 lb turkey and not a 20-lb turkey. Your guests will fill up on all the side dishes anyway. The exception to this is that bigger birds means more leftovers. Leftovers can be very budget friendly, assuming you got a great price on the turkey.
  3. Shop sales and use coupons.
    Around the holidays, you can find coupons and sales for every single holiday dinner staple. You may have to visit two or three separate stores to do that, though, so weigh out the benefits vs. time invested. Time is money too. Also, visit the brand’s websites. If you only like one brand of cranberry sauce, visit their site to see if a coupon is available. You may even try to call the company’s customer service number and ask for a coupon. Many times they’re happy to send you a few!
  4. Check local farmer’s markets.
    If you live in a warmer climate, you can probably still find fresh vegetables and fruits for a great price at farm stands and farmer’s markets. And they might even be running sales on their end-of-season goods, since it’s getting toward the colder months. You can even ask for “culls” of things like tomatoes and potatoes for which you can often save a ton…that’s some serious Thanksgiving on a budget. 
  5. Consider asking family and friends to bring something.
    If your cousin Mary makes the best apple pie on the planet, don’t be too proud to ask her to bring one! She’ll be flattered that you asked and your guests will really enjoy dessert. Your budget will thank you. As well as your back when you’re about at the end of your ability to bend over the counter to cook.
  6. Don’t forget the thrift store.
    Things like tablecloths, napkins, placemats, and decorations are abundant at thrift and secondhand stores during the holiday season. Check out the selection before you buy those items somewhere else. Even the dollar store can’t beat some of the deals you’ll find at the thrift store.
  7. Keep it natural.
    Some of the prettiest Thanksgiving centerpieces come from items you’ll find in your own yard. Fill a basket with pinecones or sticks with fall-shades of leaves still attached for a frugal yet beautiful table decoration.


If you just want a done-for-you shopping list and set of recipes to make your Thanksgiving so easy it’s not even funny, check this out:

Easy Thanksgiving Dinner and Shopping List

You’re welcome.

But, honestly, my best advice for hosting Thanksgiving on a budget is to not go overboard.

Say it with me: DON’T GO OVERBOARD.

Yes, it’s a special dinner, and yes, serving a big dinner will cost a little extra.

However, the entire purpose of Thanksgiving is to be thankful.

Your guests will remember your hospitality more than they’ll remember what was on their plates.

They’re thankful to spend time with you – not for how much money you spend.

(Unless it’s Aunt Gerty, but she’s just there to gripe about anything, no matter how overboard you go, so stop trying to please her.)

If you enjoyed these little 7 Tricks for Serving Thanksgiving on a Budget, be sure to pin it so you remember next year, too…

Thank you for sharing!



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