15 Easy Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving on a Budget

November 22, 2019


Thanksgiving means gathering with loved ones, remembering everything you have to be grateful for and — of course — eating yourself into a food coma. From mouth-watering mashed potatoes and buttermilk biscuits to the piece de resistance, the turkey, there are many delightful dishes to stuff yourself with this November 28.

While enjoying a Thanksgiving meal with friends and family is something we look forward to all fall, it can also be a lot of hard work — and cost a lot of money — especially if you’re the host.

From buying all the ingredients for your special dish to purchasing the festive decorations, things start to add up. If you don’t have a plan to tackle this busy holiday there’s no need to worry. We have a few tips that will make this Thanksgiving holiday easier (and cheaper) than last year.

To help your Thanksgiving run as smoothly as possible and still have enough money for elaborate Christmas gifts, follow this guide on how to host Thanksgiving without breaking the bank — and ensure nothing goes to waste without printable leftover labels.

15 Easy Ways to Host Thanksgiving on a Budget


#1: Do A Thorough Inventory of Your Pantry

There’s nothing worse than spending money on products you already have. Before you start shopping, do an inventory check on your pantry. Depending on what you plan to cook, double-checking for ingredients that you already have on hand can save you time and money.

Budget Tips:

  • Spices can last from 2–3 years, so double-check for any you may still have on hand from last Thanksgiving.
  • Take inventory of baking ingredients, like flour and butter, that may already be stocked.

#2: Borrow What You Can

It’s unlikely that you have all the supplies to host a Thanksgiving party. Don’t hesitate to ask family and friends if they have certain things such as a turkey roaster or dinnerware. This will help you save money on items that you’d probably only use once or twice a year. If you prefer to have your own supplies, don’t forget to use these Kitchen Aid coupons to save money.

Budget Tip:

  • If you insist on having your own cookware be sure to use Sur la Table coupons when you can so you can save as much money as possible.

#3: Create a Menu

Creating a menu and sticking to it will help you stop overshopping and save you money. If you don’t know what your menu should consist of, ask your guests what they’d like to eat. This will help you craft a menu and ensure you don’t miss foods your guests would like to enjoy!

Budget Tip:

  • Create a Thanksgiving shopping list or Google doc that your guests can add to so you can access this list on the go and have everyone’s preference in one place. This will help you not to stray from the list and buy the items you don’t need.

#4: Avoid Name Brands

Don’t be afraid to go generic. Many people have a difficult time telling the difference between certain items. So save a few cents — or even dollars — with generic brands.

Budget Tip:

  • When shopping the brand name items are going to be at eye level. So look high and low for similar foods from non-brand name companies.

#5: Shop Ahead of Time

Beat the holiday traffic and shop ahead of time. Picking up shelf-stable products when they go on sale will save you money and precious time in the store. However, do not buy fresh produce too far in advance or it may go bad.

Budget Tip:

  • Shop for shelf-stable products (country hams, canned/bottled foods, sugar and spices, etc.) before the prices begin to rise and before ingredients become scarce.

#6: Take Advantage of Holiday Promotions

As Thanksgiving approaches, supermarkets offer promotions toward the end of October. We recommend you constantly check coupons online or in the mail to ensure that you aren’t overspending.

Budget Tip:

  • Be on the lookout for Thanksgiving promotions on cookware, decorations or anything fall-related that can save you money for your Thanksgiving party.

#7: Shop for Seasonal Produce

Produce such as potatoes, carrots, cranberries, apples and squash are very affordable this time of year. Crafting dishes around seasonal produce can make the meal preparation easier.

Budget Tip:

  • Be sure to check your local store coupons for produce sales. This will help you save money and add healthier food options that your guests can choose from as well.

#8: Make Dishes from Scratch

While you may not be the best cook, buying ingredients and making dishes from scratch can save you a tremendous amount of money. Not only will you have more ingredients than needed, you’ll also be able to make extra!

Budget Tip:

  • Buy in bulk so you don’t have to make extra trips to the grocery store. Make more than you need for a particular dish as well so you can save money.

#9: Exclude Specialty Ingredients

Specialty ingredients can make Thanksgiving expensive. Buying ingredients such as sauces, nuts, bacon, sausage, etc. can and will add up. To cut costs, keep things simple and avoid expensive specialty items.

Budget Tip:

  • Focusing on in-season produce, such as sweet potatoes, onions, herbs, etc., will add plenty of color, taste and texture to the meal and this produce will add a healthier flare to your dishes.

#10: Substitute the Turkey

Yes, the turkey is the centerpiece of the feast, but if you don’t want to spend the money on the bird there are plenty of alternatives. You can easily delegate to a friend or family member, which will remove the task from your plate and save you cash. Or, skip the turkey altogether and consider roasting a chicken instead — it’s cheaper and easier to cook.

Budget Tips:

  • If you want a turkey but don’t want to buy the whole bird, you can buy parts of Turkey, such as the breasts and legs. This eliminates the dreaded carving process and saves you a mess. Buying just the parts is also much cheaper than buying the entire bird!

#11: Have Guests Pitch In

There’s no reason why you should take the full brunt of the Thanksgiving feast. Ask your guests to pitch in. If you don’t have the expertise of cooking a certain dish or don’t have the best wine selection, ask a family member or friend to pick up the slack. Not only will this save you time, but it will save you money as well.

Budget Tip:

  • Instead of just having your guests help with food and drinks, they can also help you set up decorating and getting your house ready for the Thanksgiving party too.

#12: Think About a Thanksgiving Potluck

Doing all the cooking on Thanksgiving can certainly drain all your energy and your wallet too. Think about opening this feast up to the whole family and allow them to bring in their own dish.

Budget Tip:

  • When assigning certain dishes to family members, consider their cooking abilities. There’s nothing worse than finding out that the turkey was under or overcooked once it reaches the table. This will save you a lot of money and allow you to clean and prepare your house to host your family.

#13: Leave the Alcohol Out

Accommodating for your guest’s alcohol preferences can be expensive, and it definitely will put a dent in your wallet, especially if you plan to host Thanksgiving.

Budget Tip:

  • Shop at stores that sell in bulk (Costco or Sam’s Club) to save money.
  • BYOB! Have your guests bring their favorite liquor, beer or wine so you aren’t stuck with the expensive bill.

#14: Use Disposable Leftover Containers

If you do have leftovers, be sure to buy extra containers to ensure that your personal Tupperware doesn’t go missing. Replacing Tupperware can definitely add up, so purchasing leftover containers or doggie bags using these Container Store coupons will save you money.

Budget Tip:

  • Ask your Thanksgiving guests to bring their own Tupperware if they would like to take leftovers home.

#15: Where to Purchase Thanksgiving Decorations

There is nothing worse than a Thanksgiving without all the Thanksgiving decorations. Instead of going to stores such as HomeGoods, Crate and Barrel, World Market or other expensive stores for your Fall decor, be sure to check out Hobby Lobby, the Dollar Store or these Target coupons for your Thanksgiving decoration needs. This will definitely help you save money for the upcoming holiday!

Budget Tips:

  • Go DIY! Feel free to create your own Thanksgiving decorations and crafts so you can save money and these crafts can serve as a fun activity for friends and family.

Thanksgiving Leftover Labels and Printables


Thanksgiving food the day of is amazing, but having Thanksgiving leftovers for the rest of the week is another reason why people love Thanksgiving so much. To get the most out of your holiday, use these festive leftover printables so you can enjoy Thanksgiving even when it’s over.

Let’s Talk Turkey

Couldn’t finish all your turkey in one sitting? There’s no need to worry. Take it home and enjoy a turkey sandwich for lunch tomorrow.

Download your let’s talk turkey printables here

Pie is Life

Not only did you have enough at the party, but you wanted to make sure you had enough for the rest of the week too.

Download your pie is life printables here

Stuffed on Stuffing

Feeling stuffed? Use this stuffing label to make sure you know what food is what after you wake up from your food coma.

Download your stuffed on stuffing printables here

Thankful for Leftovers

There are so many things to be thankful for on Thanksgiving — including leftovers! Print out this label and stick it to your to-go containers. You’ll be grateful tomorrow!

Download your thankful for leftovers printables here

Custom Label

Use this blank label to write what’s in the box or who this leftover is for. You can also use this blank label for people who weren’t able to attend the party.

Download your custom label printables here

Use our guide to save money and streamline your Thanksgiving holiday this November 28th. Instead of worrying about having enough money for the upcoming holiday, take advantage of these Etsy party supply coupons to make sure your hard-earned money is spent in the right place and that you spend as much time with family and friends as possible.


MarketWatch | Self | Love To Frugal