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Trim the Budget, Not the Turkey: How to Host Thanksgiving on a Budget

Trim the Budget, Not the Turkey: How to Host Thanksgiving on a Budget

You’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year — hopefully with enthusiasm. However, your budget might not exactly align with your culinary aspirations for an indulgent feast. With a little bit of planning, resourcefulness, and financial savvy, you can entertain your friends and family for a memorable, wallet-friendly event.

Here’s how to save money on Thanksgiving without skimping on the turkey and set-up.

How to Decorate for Thanksgiving on a Budget

Though food is often the star of Turkey Day, you likely want to make your home feel special for the occasion. It’s important to remember not to put undue pressure on yourself while hosting Thanksgiving on a budget. Instead, save money and get creative when dressing up your space with these tips.

Set a budget and stick to it.

Decor shopping can be fun, but it can also be dangerous for your bank account. Have you ever excitedly filled your cart with festive dishes, napkins, candles, throw pillows, and tablecloths, only to have an existential crisis at checkout? (Seriously, it happens to the best of us!).

Don’t “wing it” at the store, and let your Pinterest aspirations get the best of you. Determine how much money you can comfortably and realistically spend. Then, hold yourself accountable. And remember: most decor is purely “extra.” This holiday is about spending time with the people you love, not running up your credit card to impress.

Borrow any extra tables and chairs you need.

If you need extra seating and table space for your Thanksgiving party, ask a trusted guest (or two) to bring over a table and chairs the day before. This will give you time to rearrange furniture as needed and make space for an expanded dining room.

DIY your decorations.

Instead of splurging on expensive decorations, get creative and make your own. Craft simple centerpieces using items like leaves, pinecones, or candles. These DIY decorations can add a personal touch to your gathering without breaking the bank.

Thrift your Thanksgiving decor.

Thrift stores are overflowing with festive decor during the holiday season, and things are typically priced to move so they aren’t stuck with out-of-season items later on. Check out your local dollar stores and second-hand retailers in the weeks leading up to the holiday. You’re sure to find some gems, from inexpensive Thanksgiving table decorations to one-of-a-kind vintage linens. An eclectic assortment of decor adds character, so don’t worry too much about making things “matchy-matchy!”

Enlist the help of a friend or family member.

You don’t have to pull off the perfect event alone. While you’re figuring out how to save money on Thanksgiving, don’t forget that there are always a few guests who jump at the chance to be helpful! Enlist a friend or relative to help you decorate, whether they bring over items they already have. You might be surprised by how eager people are to help and how much decor they have sitting in storage!

Get your home party-ready with upgraded, budget-friendly furniture.

You’ve been ready to make some upgrades in your home for a while, and hosting Thanksgiving is the perfect excuse to finally make it happen. With Rent-A-Center’s rent-to-own options, you can create the space you’ve always wanted without going over budget or breaking the bank with big, upfront costs.

From dining room and living room furniture to small kitchen appliances, Rent-A-Center has everything you need to revamp your space, serve a delicious meal, and entertain guests.

Create a cozy and celebratory ambiance with music and candles.

There’s more to setting the scene than themed decor and festive dishes. Tidy up your space and remove any clutter to make your home feel serene and calming. Create or find a playlist for the occasion and keep the tunes coming. Turn down the lights and light a few holiday-scented candles. Paying attention to the tiniest of details can transform a room without any elaborate decor.

How to Save Money on Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving dinner is the most important aspect of the day, but you don’t need a Michelin star to keep guests happy. There are a few ways to keep your spread cost-effective without it feeling skimpy.

Keep your guest list short.

By keeping your celebration intimate, you’ll minimize your stress and the amount of mouths you have to feed. After all, “the more the merrier” doesn’t take your bank account into consideration. Keep your guest list short, and you’ll spend much less on ingredients.

Host a potluck Thanksgiving.

You can cut your to-do list in half by asking all of your invitees to bring a dish for the meal. Assign guests different categories like appetizers, sides, and desserts to ensure you cover all your bases, or invite all guests to bring their favorite side dishes while you cover the Thanksgiving turkey. No matter how you delegate, you’ll ensure a table full of food with a fraction of the stress.

Pick simple recipes and make a shopping list.

If you’re planning on being chef for the day, do yourself a favor and keep your offerings simple. Look for recipes that use things you already have in your pantry, and avoid ones that require you to buy ingredients you’ll never use again.

Your guests will enjoy your three-ingredient buttered mashed potatoes just as much as your mascarpone whipped potatoes with rosemary butter. And cranberry sauce from a can is surprisingly delicious! Best of all, you won’t spend nearly as much at grocery stores. Once you’ve planned your recipes, make your full grocery list to avoid impulse buys that quickly take you over budget.

Hunt for coupons before heading to the store.

Join your grocery store’s mailing list, download their app, collect the mailers, and head to Google to find coupons before you shop. If you haven’t signed up for your store’s rewards program, now is the perfect time. By loading up on coupons and looking for members-only deals, you can squeeze more into your budget.

When shopping, stick to generic and store brands.

The price difference between brand-name items and their generic counterparts can be stark. Instead of mindlessly loading up your cart with everything on your list, take some time to comparison shop and get the most bang for your buck. A quarter here, a dime there… all of those savings add up!

Four letters: BYOB.

If you’re planning on serving alcohol, invite your guests to bring their own. Alcoholic beverages are pricey, and supplying the booze on top of the meal may be a bridge too far for your bank account. Tell invitees to bring their favorite drink or whip up a festive cocktail to make it a bit more fun.

Host on a Budget with Help from Rent-A-Center

Hosting a successful Thanksgiving doesn’t have to break the piggy bank. Whether you’re updating your dining room furniture, living space, or kitchen appliances for the event, Rent-A-Center makes the process affordable with flexible payment options. Choose what items and payment arrangements work for you by shopping online or at your nearest Rent-A-Center today. You’ll be grateful you did!

About Us

The good things in life don’t have to be out of reach. Rent-A-Center is here to make the things you want and need accessible, and Front & Center is your resource for living well on a budget.

Each week, we’ll bring you tips and tricks for infusing simplicity, style—even a little fun—into every aspect of your life and home. From decorating advice to money-saving strategies to opportunities to share with others like you, we’ll give you ideas that inspire. Live well, friends. And send your submissions, suggestions and questions for the blog to blog@rentacenter.com. For all customer service inquiries, please contact our Solution Center team at 1-800-422-8186.