Planning a budget-friendly Thanksgiving dinner

How to Host Thanksgiving Dinner on a Tight Budget

Hosting a holiday at your place is a lot of pressure, especially if you have to do Thanksgiving dinner on a tight budget! After all, you can’t skimp on the food, since good grub is the main attraction of the day. It takes a lot of planning and prep to pull off a holiday, but you can definitely do it on a dime.

Here are some easy ways to host an amazing Thanksgiving dinner on a tight budget, without looking cheap:

Plan a basic, budget-friendly Thanksgiving menu

Stick to a simple, basic menu if you have to cook. Start with the main dish, likely turkey, and then choose a few side dishes. Look for deals and discounts on a turkey that is offered by supermarkets before the holiday.

Be sure you have an accurate headcount so you know how many guests you’ll be feeding. When you know how many servings of turkey you’ll need, it’ll help you choose the right size when you shop. Check out this guide to be sure you buy a big enough bird.

For side dishes, stick with the basics to simplify the purchasing and preparation. Thanksgiving favorites include:

  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Stuffing
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Corn
  • Gravy

Simple dishes for Thanksgiving dinner

Host a potluck style meal

Are you happy to host the turkey day get-together at your place but worried about the cost of all that food? Do a potluck style dinner where guests each bring a dish. You can supply the roast turkey, and everyone else can help to fill in the rest, from savory side dishes to delicious desserts.

As you invite friends and family to your Thanksgiving gathering, ask if they would be willing and able to bring a dish. Keep track of who offers to prepare and bring what food items so that you don’t end up with duplicate dishes. Potluck style holidays are a great way for everyone to get involved and contribute something to such a special celebration.

Related Post: How to Have a Christmas Budget When You’re Broke


Holiday gatherings tend to come with expectations of an open bar, but not everyone can afford to stock up for so many guests. Don’t feel bad about it if you don’t want to be the bartender at the dinner. If you aren’t able to afford to supply alcoholic drinks for the adult guests, make it a BYOB holiday. This way guests can bring their own beverages of choice, like a 6 pack of beer, or a bottle of wine to share with the table.

Do plan to provide ice for cocktails. Have a few coolers stocked with ice so that your guests can pop their bottles and cans inside to keep cold.

Natural decor for thanksgiving

Keep decor simple & natural

As the Thanksgiving holiday host, you want your home to have those cozy, autumnal vibes. Decor can get costly, so to save some cash, keep it simple and natural.

Use pumpkins and mums for the entryway or front porch and hang a seasonal wreath to greet your Thanksgiving guests at the door. Real Simple offers some beautiful ideas for natural decor that can easily elevate your home for the holiday without costing you much.

Look for tablescape ideas that include natural elements like tiny pumpkins, freshly fallen leaves (free of bugs, of course!) acorns, pinecones, etc. A few little touches of decor here and there can make a big impact on the table, so there’s no need to cover every surface with fall decorations. Choose focal points and keep in mind that sometimes less is more.

Read More: Fall Farmhouse Decor on a Budget

Don’t use disposable products

Disposable plates and flatware make clean up super simple, but convenience comes at a cost. Instead of buying disposable products, work with what you have.

You can do a shabby-chic, creative look by mixing up the plates, glasses, and dishes you use. Set the table with the mismatched items and add little decor touches to give it a one-of-a-kind style! Guests will appreciate your ingenuity, and you’ll be doing the environment a favor too! It’s a win-win.

If you prefer a more uniform look for your table settings, check out the dollar store. They sell stylish dinnerware and often have seasonal items that let you dress up your dinner party for pennies.

Hosting the Thanksgiving holiday takes a lot of effort and planning. You may think it costs a lot of money, too, but it doesn’t have to! With these simple tips in mind, you can easily host Thanksgiving dinner on a tight budget.