12 Thrifty & Helpful Tips for First-Time Thanksgiving Hosts

Hosting Thanksgiving? Instead of becoming overwhelmed, follow these hosting tricks and tips.

Elizabeth Hoyt

November 08, 2016

12 Thrifty & Helpful Tips for First-Time Thanksgiving Hosts

Thanksgiving is a great holiday that many people enjoy. Who doesn’t love a good excuse for gluttony?

But, for the person hosting Thanksgiving dinner, it can become quite stressful – and expensive.

Do yourself a favor (or 12) by taking on these tips to help you host a smooth, simple and, of course, delicious Thanksgiving meal without breaking the bank.

1. Use Recipes with Common Ingredients

Taking on a complete Thanksgiving meal can become pricey. You can cut costs, though, by utilizing recipes that have ingredients in common. That way, you won’t have ingredients go to waste. For example, milk and butter are common in several traditional Thanksgiving recipes like mashed potatoes, casseroles and desserts – buy those items in bulk and save.

2. Keep Your Menu Simple (but Traditional)

Some people try to get a little too fancy with their dishes. And, normally, that would be impressive. But, on Thanksgiving, most people are used to the basics. In this case, sticking with tradition is usually much simpler and will keep everyone satisfied. There’s no need to go gourmet when everyone expects (and loves) simple home cooking.

3. Let Guests Bring Something

Most guests invited to a Thanksgiving dinner (or, at least, those that are polite) will offer to bring something. Take them up on it! You can save on costs by asking each guest to bring a bottle of wine (just one per guest, don’t ask one person to bring beverages for everyone – that’s too much!), an appetizer or dessert to share.

4. Unless You LOVE Baking, Buy the Pie

If you don’t enjoy baking, save yourself a lot of time and effort and buy your Thanksgiving pies. Pies are complicated and tough to master and that’s on a regular day! But on Thanksgiving, that effort is in addition to an entire dinner. If you really want to bake pies, give yourself a head start and bake a day or two in advance. Or, perhaps someone attending Thanksgiving dinner enjoys baking and would love to take on the task!

5. Utilize Thanksgiving Specials & Coupons

Many stores have sales and specials and they’re featuring them earlier every year. Obviously, fresh ingredients need to be purchased around the date but for non-perishable items, keep an eye out for specials, coupons and savings throughout the month of November.

6. Turn Down the Thermostat

When hosting Thanksgiving, you’re likely to have a full house. Add the heat from the oven and you’ve got a heatwave! You can save by turning down the thermostat – your guests will be much more comfortable in their autumn outfits.

7. Decorate the Tree as a Group Activity

Decorating a Christmas tree can actually take a lot of time and effort. It can also be difficult to gather the family and coordinate schedules. If everyone is already together for Thanksgiving, why not take advantage of it and make decorating the tree a family tradition? It would be best to have the tree set up and lit prior to the dinner, since that’s a one or two person job. But, when it comes to decorating the tree, it can be fun for family to reminisce over ornaments that you’ve collected throughout the years.

8. Decorate with Nature

Why waste your money on decorations when you have the beauty of nature right outside your door? Go for a long walk (you can even ask the kids in the family to help!) and gather items from nature like pinecones, branches and acorns to put in a vase. It’s seasonally appropriate and looks festive.

9. Borrow Items You Need

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving and do not have enough place settings, a gravy boat or tablecloths, borrow specific items you need from a friend, neighbor or family member. You won’t use most of these items any other time of year so it’s a waste to spend money on them and store them year-round. Borrow what you need for a day – if they aren’t using it, they won’t miss it!

10. Plan Ahead for Leftovers

You can do a lot with Thanksgiving leftovers. Turkey soup and sandwiches are amongst the more popular items to make with traditional Thanksgiving leftovers. Keep this in mind when shopping for your ingredients, adding additional recipe items you’ll need to make your leftovers last longer. Items like mustard, cheese and bread are cheap and will give you additional options for lunches.

11. Be Prepared to Make Doggy Bags for Guests

If you’re not into cooking more than you have to with the leftovers, buy some take-away storage containers in bulk and send each of your guests home with some goodies from the delicious meal they just had. They’ll appreciate it and you won’t be stuck with a fridge full of food that’s going to go to waste. You should, of course, save some for the people living in your household but, most likely, there will be more than enough to share.

12. Create a Signature Drink

Having a complete bar for all of your guests can be one of the biggest costs associated with a Thanksgiving meal. While you do want your guests to have festive beverages, you don’t want to go broke. Instead of having a free-for-all bar, consider a signature drink, think: holiday punch.

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