Hosting Thanksgiving on the Cheap

Well I’m doing my best to avoid hosting Thanksgiving this year, but for those of you that are thinking about hosting it I’ll offer the following suggestions to cut down your costs and keep your stress level down.  After all, what’s the point of hosting if you don’t enjoy yourself a bit.

  1. Get a Free Turkey.  Yes that’s right.  Superstore currently has a flier that if you do you usual grocery run for a month you might get a free turkey out of the deal.
  2. If not Free, Then Go Utility Grade.  It might be missing a wing or something, but really you likely won’t notice the difference in taste.  Also don’t overestimate the amount of meat people will eat.  I typically see lots of leftovers at most dinners because people buy too big of a turkey.  If you are going to have a very small group consider just buying turkey breasts and skip the entire bird.
  3. Delegate Cool Items.  If possible get your guests to each bring a salad, buns, dessert item or a wine.  Cut down your cooking work and save yourself the stress especially when cooking for a large group.  You can even delegate hot items if you have a place to heat them up (oven or slow cooker).
  4. Keep it Simple.  Don’t have too many dishes.  Keep it easy for yourself and do the basic: turkey, potato, gravy and stuffing if you are delegating cooking.  If you are cooking everything then just add in perhaps two salads you can do in advance.  For truly great potatoes try adding a bit of buttermilk or sour cream when you mash them.  Also keep any seasonal decorating in the house to a dead minimum.
  5. Pre-Plan.  Do as much work as possible before your guests arrive.  Avoid recipes that you have to do at the last minute.  It’s possible to have a great meal with you only making gravy after your guests arrive.
  6. Accept Help.  If someone offers to help serve, clean up, take coats or just about anything: take it!  Especially when hosting a large group, the clean up is a pain and can take a while.
  7. Cheat.  You don’t have to make everything from scratch, especially if you are not a great cook.  I never make buns from scratch for a big gathering, it’s too much work given the cost to buy some.  Also consider borrowing items that you might find useful like an extra coffee thermos or slow cooker to keep things warm.
  8. Relax.  At some point make sure to sit down for a while and just enjoy everyone being there.  The dishes can wait a few minutes and you will at least feel like it was worth it.

Well that’s my brief guide to a cheaper and stress reduced holiday.  What’s worked for you?  If you have an idea please share.