Money-Saving Tips for Your Thanksgiving Dinner

by Jacob Dayan


It’s no secret that the holiday season can get expensive—especially Thanksgiving. Between all the food, decorations, and entertainment, the bill for this fun tradition can quickly add up. To help keep your spending to a minimum, try out these five Turkey Day tips to throw the perfect feast.

Make It a Potluck

Thanksgiving is all about gathering around the table with people you love. So why place the burden on cooking a huge meal entirely on yourself when it’s a communal experience? Ask guests to bring a side dish or dessert so you can cut the costs—and chaos—in your own kitchen.

While you work on the turkey, your aunt can bring the mashed potatoes, and your brother has a handle on the pumpkin pie. Not only is this a great way to stick to a tight budget, but it brings everyone closer together through sharing their own recipes.

Want to spice things up? Turn the potluck into a competition. Have everyone at the table vote on their favorite dish and offer a prize to the lucky winner. Whether it’s the first pick of the turkey meat or an I.O.U for a favor in the future, a little friendly competition never hurts.

Don’t Feel Constrained by Tradition

If you and your family don’t love all the traditional Thanksgiving food, don’t make it! Nothing is a bigger strain on your wallet than groceries that go uneaten. Tired of always throwing out the cranberry sauce? Skip it! Your taste buds and your bank account will thank you.

Don’t be afraid to branch away from the typical turkey and stuffing as well. Incorporate dishes and flavors from other cultures to create a beautiful new tradition of your own. Maybe you want to make paella to pay homage to your ancestry, or perhaps you decide to whip up some tacos simply because you love them. Whatever food you choose, make sure everyone around the table is excited to eat it.

DIY Decor

Skip the store-bought pumpkins and flower centerpieces to cut down on excessive spending. To get your space ready for the party, try creating decorations with whatever is already available to you. Gather pretty fallen leaves and scattered them down the center of the table, or use brown paper grocery bags to create cute turkey cut-outs. The personal touch you add to the decor will create a cozy vibe that is bound to make guests smile.

If you absolutely love going all-out with the decorations, try gathering supplies from a dollar store instead of a specialty craft store. Not only will this save you loads of money, but you’ll probably be able to find unique items that make for a fun DIY challenge.

Spice Up Cheap Wine

Alcohol can be a big ticket item for any meal, but especially so on Thanksgiving. Bring down the cost of your libations by using cheap red wine to create mulled wine. If you’ve never had this delicious drink, it originally comes from Germany and is known as glühwein. Orange, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, lemon, and a dash of sugar combine with the wine to create an irresistible fall beverage.

Grab a few bottles of two buck chuck from the discount grocery store or even get some boxed wine. As long as you start with a hearty flavor, the shortcomings of the cheapest red wine will be masked by the other delicious ingredients. Serve warm in a mug!

Use Leftover Halloween Candy in the Dessert

Even though pumpkin pie is the standard Thanksgiving dessert, don’t let tradition squash your creativity. Instead of grabbing a store bought sweet (which can often double your dessert budget), opt for a homemade creation that incorporates the leftover Halloween candy you’ve stashed away.

From a chocolate Snickers pie to M&M fudge bars, the possibilities of incorporating your favorite sweets into the last course are endless. If you aren’t sure where to start, pick a candy and think about what other flavors it would go well with. Fruit? Meringue? Peanut butter? Research recipes or start whipping up your own concoction in the kitchen for a completely unique Turkey Day dessert.

This holiday season, give thanks for the three F’s: friends, family, and a full wallet.