5 Tips for Creating a Festive but Frugal Thanksgiving Get Together

thanksgiving dinnerFor our family, Thanksgiving has always been a fairly small ordeal. Growing up it was just my mom and me and whatever pets we happened to own at the time. Nowadays, we generally celebrate turkey day with my husband’s family – still not super large – although sometimes it winds up just being the four of us.

But what about for those of you celebrating with large families? Thanksgiving can often seem more overwhelming than anything when the guest list tops over a dozen people.

If you find you are in charge of creating a Thanksgiving day meal for a large group while working on a limited budget, consider these money-saving ideas.

  1. Assign a Dish. Who says the hostess has to do all of the work? If you are cooking a turkey large enough it requires its own seat at the table, why not ask guests to sign up for a side dish? This allows everyone to get involved and it alleviates a lot of the pressure and cost for you. Lisa Reynolds, RedPlum Mom Saver-in-Chief, writes, “Just because you are hosting the dinner at your house, doesn’t mean you need to provide absolutely everything for the meal.”
  2.  Reconsider Thanksgiving dinner. Reynolds goes on to say that you may want to reconsider the traditional sit-down turkey dinner, especially for large groups. Instead, host a wine and cheese party or an hors’d oeuvres tasting for game time. “If you want to keep your dinner an intimate affair with just your immediate family, think about hosting a dessert party that evening for a larger group.” Again, if you do something like this, you might ask your friends and family to bring their favorite dishes; make it even more fun by requesting that each person bring a written recipe of the dish for each attending guest.
  3. Think Traditional. Rather than create a large variety of dishes that have a ton of recipes, choose one or two fancy dishes and go fairly simple with the rest. For example, if you plan to make a fancy stuffing dish and a homemade pie, consider serving simple steamed green beans rather than a bean casserole. Cutting out a few fancy dishes will save time and money.
  4. Let the Kids Decorate. Let the kids get creative by making decorations, table name places, and paper napkin rings. Purchase construction paper and other art supplies at the dollar store or a craft shop (don’t forget to use a coupon!) and let the little ones go to town. In our area, the leaves are still changing and dropping; have the kids collect a few and scatter them on a plate, and then place a candle in a glass holder in the center. Or gather fresh pinecones and saturate them with a cinnamon spray scent.
  5. Borrow What You Need. Why go out and purchase extra place settings, pitchers, and dishes for one event? Reynolds suggests asking those invited if you can borrow some of their entertaining goods, like serving platters. “Your guests will appreciate your creativity and resourcefulness and you’ll appreciate the cost savings!”

Image via Flickr/Selena N. B. H.