Sure, hosting a Thanksgiving dinner can be expensive and quite time-consuming.
Spending too much time and money on creating a great meal can significantly increase our stress and anxiety levels, causing our immune systems to worsen and increasing our risk of cavities and other oral-related issues.
Here’s how to have a more affordable Thanksgiving this year:
#1 Make everything (or almost everything) from scratch.
One way to save a lot of money this Thanksgiving is to make things from scratch rather than resorting to pre-made or already-cooked meals (although those can be less stressful). Prep the night before by skinning or chopping up your potatoes for your homemade potato salad or mashed potatoes, or start creating your homemade pie crust. This will alleviate stress and give you plenty of time to follow through with your made-from-scratch cooking.
Don’t forget to ask for help! Have family members and friends advise you in the kitchen, or even have them make some of the meals for you. Sometimes it does make a difference when you make everything homemade.
Your meal will be tastier and less expensive. Plus, since many are too busy and stressed out to cook everything from scratch for Thanksgiving, you’re likely to have a wide array of options to choose from when shopping for your ingredients and spices at your local grocery store while all the pre-made goodies are about sold out.
#2 Keep the decorations simple and rustic.
Decorations are essential for Thanksgiving, but this doesn’t mean you have to spend $100 on them. Opt for dollar store-type decorations, or choose decorations that can be used year after year without having to be thrown out afterward.
Decorations can be as simple as putting a few red candles in the center of the dinner table and putting fake, colorful leaves around them. Opt for a dinner cloth and table mats as well to give your dinner some extra flair.
If you want things to be simple and rustic, opt for a non-clothed table with a simple runner or just brown paper table cloths (great for the kids to color on!), fake or home-grow pumpkins to adorn the center of the table and mason jars for your guests’ cups. If you have extra sprigs of rosemary or a large rosemary plant at home, cut sprigs and place one in your guests’ napkin/utensil holders, or place a spring on your guests’ plate for decoration (or even to eat – yum!). Simple, country, affordable, and fun!
#3 Go cheap on the entertainment while still giving your guests a great time.
Many families go out together for a movie before or after Thanksgiving dinner. Many opt to go Black Friday shopping early. Instead, keep the entertainment affordable.
Watch football on TV with family, play sports in the backyard, go for a quick nature walk (if you’re having a Thanksgiving lunch – It may be too dark if you’re having a Thanksgiving dinner), and have fun crafts for the youngsters in the family. Have the kids make their handprint turkeys, make “Happy Thanksgiving” cards for their parents, or have them create homemade maracas with dried Indian corn inside.
#4 Make your dinner a potluck instead!
To reduce quite a bit of stress and to keep things very affordable, have your guests bring their dish. Have Aunt Betsy bring her beloved sweet potato casserole; Cousin Stacy brings her homemade rolls, Uncle Jonathan bring his apple cider and deviled eggs, and so on. This will bring a wide variety of delicious dishes while keeping things affordable for you and everyone else.