Hosting Thanksgiving? How To Have A Great Dinner On A Budget


Turkey Day doesn't have to break the bank.

How many couples out there are freaking out? Are you finally considered a "real couple" and now you're expected to host Thanksgiving? Although many families go without, most of us in the United States are blessed with a day of gratitude filled with friends, family and yummy treats. So how can we host 25 people without a panic attack or breaking the bank? The trick is to be a smart shopper, prepare early and keep it simple.

Have An Elegant Theme

A lot depends on whether you are having just close family, or whether you are extending your invitations to include dates, friends, and acquaintances or business associates, so our theme should be universal, elegant, yet down to earth. Proper etiquette dictates not to ask anyone to bring a dish, but if they offer to bring something, have a plan! If you have a list of items you have or don’t have, it will make things much easier.

At our Thanksgiving dinner one year, we had an awesome 21 pound bird, green salad, green bean casserole, stuffing, cranberry relish, brown rice, beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, empanadas, wine, sodas, chips and salsa, cake, and pie.

Don't Be Afraid To Rent Seating 

As the host family that year, we thought it best to ensure all our guests had a comfortable place to sit. We were able to rent three six-foot tables and 16 chairs at a local party rental place that delivered them and picked them up without a glitch. We decided to go with a family style serving. Therefore set-up time and clean-up were made much easier.

At our home, we have a china setting for 8, so we went to Costco and bought plastic wear to match the color scheme, and with less than $12 had service for 25. Our local supermarket offered the turkey at $0.49/lb if we bought $25 in groceries, so our bird was less than $11.

The Dollar Tree store has awesome deals on plastic tablecloths in Thanksgiving colors, and napkins to match. The main table was set with a golden vintage linen tablecloth I picked up years ago, and secondary tables in matching plastic ones. They also carry golden candles, silk flowers in autumn colors and crystal vases to place them in for $1 a piece!

Take Advantage Of Sales 

All in all, even with the table rentals, wine and dessert, our expense came in under $250.00, but if you have left over plastic wear from July 4th, extra seating in the garage or patio tables and chairs, everything can be used to assist with seating. All our food was homemade, which saved us considerably. Our wine came from BevMo, where we were able to take advantage of a two for one sale the previous month, but they frequently run Thanksgiving sales also.

Lastly, it's important to remember that even the host needs to be grateful, and not resentful, so engage all your family's help. In our case, I was up at 6:30AM, and done by 3:00PM., which allowed me enough time to take a nap, a hot bath, and then get all dressed-up just in time to greet our guests.

Enjoy with gratitude your blessings!

Here is the breakdown of expenses:

  • Turkey: $11
  • Tables/Chairs: $50
  • 6 bottles of wine: $86
  • Beans: $3
  • Rice: $5
  • Sweet Potatoes: $5
  • Empanadas: $10
  • Green Salad: $5
  • Green Bean Casserole: $15
  • Stuffing: $4
  • Cake: $5
  • Pie: $5
  • Sodas: (6 -2 liter bottles) $6
  • Plastic wear: $12
  • Plastic tablecloths: $3
  • Flower arrangements: $9
  • Chips & Salsa: $8
  • Mashed Potatoes: $6
  • Gravy: $1


Explore YourTango