Hosting family and friends for the holidays can be an expensive proposition. Here are five ways to serve up a low-cost Thanksgiving feast without breaking the bank.

While Thanksgiving isn’t about over-the-top gift giving, it is about all-day feasting for a larger-than-average group of family and friends. It’s a time when people plan and look forward to splurging on food and drink.

I think we can all agree, though, that the day can be quite expensive. From turkey to trimmings, the celebration can quickly gobble its allotted budget. Here are a few ways to serve up a low-cost Thanksgiving feast.

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It can be daunting to create a menu that allows you to entertain and still stay within a reasonable budget. That doesn’t mean that your Thanksgiving has to be just another ordinary meal. Nor, does it mean that you have to spend hundreds of dollars prepping and planning for perfection.
Here are five ways to host the holiday meal without spending a small fortune:

  1. Choose fewer options. What do you typically serve for the main entrée? Do you traditionally serve ham and turkey? Maybe it’s time to shake things up and just serve one. Mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole? Not this year. One dish will have to wait until Christmas.
    Family traditions are important, but is all that food really necessary? Can you scale back on the number of appetizers or desserts? Prioritize the dishes you love the most and simply make less food. Believe us, no one will leave wishing they had just one more serving of green bean casserole. In fact, they’ll probably wish they had exercised a little more restraint!
  2. Make it a potluck. This is the perfect holiday to show how grateful you are for your friends and family and accept some help. Everyone has their favorite dish and a recipe that they love to make. They also understand that shouldering the cost of hosting Thanksgiving is a big expense. That may be why they haven’t volunteered to host it themselves. With a potluck, it’s less about the stress of entertaining. The holiday turns into more about family and friends gathering to enjoy a meal together.
  3. Do some smart shopping. If you’re set on preparing the traditional turkey dinner, complete with all the trimmings, you can cut costs. Simply start planning a few weeks in advance. Most all grocery stores have sales on turkeys before the holiday. The sooner you plan your menu; the sooner you can begin clipping coupons. Choose simple dishes with fewer ingredients and inexpensive recipes like casseroles. If you have a warehouse membership, take advantage of their attractively priced, pre-made items sold in bulk.
  4. Scale back the alcohol. Alcohol can be one of the most expensive parts of the holiday celebration. A simple way to reduce the cost is to create a themed mixed drink. Try a sparkling pomegranate punch or a citrus-cinnamon punch. It’s seasonal, fun, and much more affordable than stocking the bar. You can even substitute middle-shelf brands for more expensive top-shelf ones.
  5. spending time with family over Thanksgiving is what the holidays are really all aboutSkip tradition. Who says Thanksgiving has to be a traditional day? Why not grab a few friends, a couple of pizzas, and binge watch your favorite series on Netflix. Do what’s meaningful to you, with the people you’re grateful for, and whatever fits into your budget. It’s not about the food. It’s about the company, spending quality time together, and making memories.

Thanksgiving is a day to be grateful for your many blessings. Regardless of what you do, how much you spend, and whether traditional or not, be sure to enjoy the day. Have fun. Appreciate every moment. And, remember to gobble, gobble!