Host a lavish Thanksgiving without breaking the bank

Thanksgiving can be a great holiday filled with family, friends and laughter – or a stressful and expensive 12 hours of cooking, cleaning and decorating. The difference between the two often rests on whether you’re hosting or attending Thanksgiving dinner. Luckily, there are a million ways to put on a frugal and elegant dinner party that will leave your guests amazed and your finances intact.

  • Be creative
    This is your Thanksgiving meal, so make it your own and be creative. Scrap the traditional turkey and mashed potatoes and make a meal that means something to you. Do a quick inventory of your cabinets and use items you already have to make a new appetizer or side dish. Or, avoid the hassle altogether and make your feast a pot luck dinner. Whatever you decide to do, making your own traditions can make your holiday more meaningful to you and your guests and help you stick to a reasonable budget.
  • The early bird gets the worm
    First things first: plan your feast in advance. The actual meal will be the largest expense so start with a list of what you plan on cooking and check out discounts and coupons early on. Long gone are the days when you were forced to look through the newspaper for hours carefully clipping coupons – now, your phone does it for you! Download free money saving apps on your Smartphone and seek out the best deals on turkeys, vegetables and dessert ingredients.
  • Go natural
    Any woman who has ever hosted a dinner party, holiday feast, or brunch knows that half of the work goes into the meal and the other half goes into decorating. But instead of spending a fortune on centerpieces and floral arrangements, look no further than your backyard. Gather leaves, pine cones, acorns and twigs to arrange into a vase as the centerpiece. You can also set a cozy, intimate mood with candles and festive music.

  • Have fun
    The holidays are meant to be a stress-free time to enjoy friends and family, not worrying over how you’re going to pay for the meal. So when you’re stressing over whether to buy the generic or brand-name cranberry sauce, remember that your loved ones are eager to spend time with you, not scrutinize your Stouffer’s stuffing.