Family time is a given when celebrating Thanksgiving. Yet, while it can be great to see your relatives, Thanksgiving is all about togetherness and being grateful for everyone and everything in your life.
This means your friends, too. Make way for the rise of “Friendsgiving,” a Thanksgiving celebration with your chosen family – your close friends. If this is the year for you to host a Friendsgiving celebration, take a look at our tips for how to host a frugal but fabulous dinner fit for a king.
Make It a Potluck
The easiest way to save on your Friendsgiving dinner is to have everyone bring a dish to pass around. This way you won’t have to go through the trouble and expense of buying and preparing everything yourself.
Instead, send out a guest list and when people confirm, ask them to bring a particular type of dish. Tia Chambers, a blogger at Financially Fit and Fab loves potluck-style Friendsgiving dinners because it helps everyone save money by splitting costs.
“I’ve participated in a few Friendsgivings before and they’ve all been potluck style where the host provides the main dish,” says Chambers.
Take Advantage of Food Discounts
Depending on how many people you’re having at your Friendsgiving dinner, food costs can still add up – even if you split your menu items with other people.
One thing you can do to stay within budget is take advantage of food discounts and deals around Thanksgiving. Start by saving coupons and comparing deals found in the local store circulars that come in the mail. You can also use apps like Flipp and GroceryIQ to find the best deals at stores in your neighborhood. Keep in mind that some grocery stores even offer BOGO deals on turkey and ham.
One year for Thanksgiving, for example, I was able to buy a turkey and get a whole ham for free. Of course, there were some weight and brand restrictions, but it was still a decent-sized turkey for the price (with a free ham to boot).
Another tip: If you are enrolled in a rewards program through your grocery store, see if you can get a free or discounted turkey or ham for Friendsgiving. For example, Weis Markets offers holiday rewards for Thanksgiving foods.
Send E-vites Instead of Printed Invitations
Unless it’s a wedding or baby shower, there’s really no reason to wow your friends with fancy paper invites. It takes time to design them, and money to print and ship them.
Instead, opt for free digital invitations that you can send via email or through social media This way, friends can easily respond or RSVP for the event. Facebook, for example, has a great events feature where you can create a custom private or public event and invite others.
Another thing you might want to do with your e-vite is include a sign-up sheet so guests can know which foods and items to bring to the potluck. This can help people avoid overspending or buying too much of the same thing.
“For my first Friendsgiving, we didn’t have a sign-up sheet so we ended up with four variations of mac and cheese,” Chambers cautions.
DIY Your Decor Using What You Have
If you want to decorate your home for the occasion, consider going the DIY route or just making use of items you already have on hand.
Financial writer Lindsay VanSomeren recalls when a friend of hers did this for her frugal Friendsgiving.
“My friend invited us to a Friendsgiving when I lived in Colorado. We were all students (or recent grads) who were broke, so we didn’t have much to spend. My friend got decorations from outside like pine needles, cool twigs, pine cones, etc. and used them to decorate the space. It was nice and festive for the gathering,” says VanSomeren.
For some decoration ideas, just look outside. Pine cones, for example, can be used to create beautiful table centerpieces and other decor for your Friendsgiving event.
Keep It Simple and Delegate
When it comes to your Friendsgiving, you don’t want to be the party host who is so overwhelmed that you can’t even enjoy your own event. So, keep things simple so that you can pull off a frugal Friendsgiving.
Cut yourself a break by delegating tasks to your friends (it is Friendsgiving, afterall). If each person has one dish to bring and one additional task to handle, you can focus on being the host with the most (or hostess with the mostess).
After you have a solid plan and budget set, focus on enjoying the evening with good food and great company. And just think: The money you’ve saved on your Friendsgiving feast can be added to your savings account for your Christmas spending. Now that’s worthy of a celebration!