If you’re anything like me, the Thanksgiving stress is kicking in right about now. What will you serve? Who will you invite? How will you afford it? All of these questions are ones that I know have gone through my mind in the past few days. And I’m guessing they may have gone through your mind as well. Thankfully, our friend Stephanie from Spaceships and Laser Beams is coming to the rescue with tips to help us all plan a budget-friendly Thanksgiving! I know these tips are taking the stress out of my planning and I hope they do the same for you!
Food, folks, fun and giving thanks—that’s what Thanksgiving is all about, right? With all that goes into planning a Thanksgiving feast, it’s easy to get carried away with spending. But, I’m here to tell you that giving thanks doesn’t require breaking the bank. I’m sharing a few practical ideas for coordinating a budget-friendly Thanksgiving that still focuses on all of the important elements.
#1- Take inventory and use items you have on hand. Borrow the rest. Before worrying about all of the things you don’t have and think you need to purchase, take inventory! You may be surprised what you already have. Pull out linens, tableware (plates, glasses and utensils), candles, serving dishes, pots, pans and any potential décor. Determine what you still need, and make a wish list. Check with family and friends to see what items you can borrow.
#2- Keep place settings simple. Even white linens and dishes, when neatly set, can look classy and beautiful. Consider checking your local dollar store for inexpensive extras like chargers or placemats if budget allows. Add a pop of color with paper napkins if cloth napkins are not an option. Even inexpensive themed paper plates can look festive when layered on a charger.
#3- Create simple tabletop décor. Centerpieces and tabletop embellishments do not have to be elaborate. Tree branches can be fastened into lovely garlands or spray painted to be used as a “gratitude tree” centerpiece. Leaves can function as table scatter. Pinecones can be transformed into place cards. Leftover pumpkins and gourds can be combined with other harvest bounty, like ears of corn and apples, to create a beautiful display. A touch of metallic spray paint can transform the ordinary into the elegant. Add tea lights, votive and pillar candles to your tabletop. You can display candles on plates, in jars or on candlesticks (these can be purchased inexpensively from dollar stores if you don’t already have some at home).
#4- Celebrate Thanksgiving potluck style. The harsh reality is that even after using coupons and shopping sales, food is expensive. Keep your menu streamlined focusing on traditional favorites and ask guests to bring a side dish and dessert or two to share. Not only does this cut down on your food expenses and prep time, but it also allows guests to share some of their favorite dishes and traditions. Take the sharing a step further and invite guests to bring copies of the recipes to share. Send every guest home with a compilation of the recipes as a simple, but thoughtful take home favor.
#5- Don’t blow your budget on expensive beverages. Whether you like to serve alcohol or not, the cost of beverages can eat a chunk of your entertainment budget. Consider serving one signature cocktail/mocktail and lemon water. Guests can be invited to bring a favorite beverage to share as well. Our personal family favorite is Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider.
Executing a budget-friendly Thanksgiving doesn’t mean doing without the things you love. It just requires a little forethought and ingenuity—and the day after Thanksgiving you’ll feel thankful about what’s still left in your wallet!