Thanksgiving can be one of the most expensive dinners of the year, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
Enter DIY guru Brit Morin, the founder and CEO of Brit + Co, who shared her top tips to hosting a Thanksgiving or “Friendsgiving” gathering on a budget.
“Good Morning America” challenged Morin to pull together a Thanksgiving meal, including decor, on a budget of $75.
This budget-friendly dinner doesn’t skimp out on feast favorites and has been decorated to everyone’s Instagram photo-worthy desires, Morin said.
Read on for Morin’s tips and ideas for hosting Thanksgiving on a dime.
Thanksgiving dinner shopping list
When shopping around for Thanksgiving groceries and decor items, remember to shave off those extra pennies by buying generic food brands and save on decor items with last-minute craft store sales, dollar store finds, or even upcycling some of the things you already have at home.
Turkey breast – $10-$12 – 3 lbs
Stock – $4
Crescent rolls – $2
Butter – $3
Potatoes – $5
1 quart heavy whipping cream – $5
Canned green beans – $1
Cream of mushroom soup – $2
French’s Fried Onions -$4
Graham cracker crust – $2
1 can pumpkin – $4
Cream cheese – $2
Flour – pantry staple
Minced garlic – pantry staple
Dried herbs – pantry staple
Soy sauce – pantry staple
Sugar – pantry staple
Pumpkin pie spice/ ground cinnamon – pantry staple
For a less expensive option, opt for a cut of meat, like breast only for $10-12 versus a whole bird. This will save you between $10 to $40! The turkey breast is about 3 pounds and will serve six to eight people. You can get the same flavor of a whole turkey by roasting it with herbs, butter and lemon.
Homemade pan gravy is simple to make and you can likely make it with pantry staples. All you really need is the turkey drippings, about 1/2 cup of flour, a few cups of stock (enough to give it the smooth, spoonable consistency), and a splash of wine or lemon juice if it needs a little acid. If your budget is looking a little tight, opt for bouillon instead of stock, this will help you save more pennies.
Crescent rolls with garlicky butter
A can of freshly baked crescent rolls is always a crowdpleaser. Brush the rolls with butter and sprinkle on herbs and garlic to give it the perfect upgrade. Pro tip: Reserve leftover garlic butter to season the mashed potatoes!
What we love most about potatoes is that they are cheap and don’t need to be dressed up much to make them taste good. Use the reserved garlicky butter from the crescent rolls to enhance the flavor. Your potatoes won’t take up all of that whipping cream, save the rest for the no-bake pumpkin pie.
Green bean casserole
Green bean casserole — it’s a classic, don’t mess with it. Rather than using fresh, save some pennies and opt for frozen or canned green beans. The store-bought fried onions can be on the pricey side, so get creative with what you have in your pantry for a topping. Some of our favorites are crumbled chips, toasted nuts or even caramelizing a diced onion over the stovetop. Soy sauce is a secret key to making your casserole taste great — instead of buying a whole bottle of soy sauce, see if you have any of those little packets from your last take-out order. Winning!
No-bake pumpkin cheesecake
Homemade crust is the way to go, but if you don’t have time or energy for that, graham cracker crusts are always a favorite. Thanksgiving Day means scarce space in the oven, so consider making a no-bake pie by whipping together canned pumpkin, cream cheese, sugar, whipped cream and cinnamon. Whip the remaining heavy cream until soft peaks form and dollop on top of the pie when serving.
Thanksgiving decor shopping list
Brown kraft paper – $1
2″ pumpkins – $4
4″ pumpkins – $8
Paint – $10
Silver + gold paint pen – $7
9” pumpkin – $2
14” serving tray – $1
Tea candles – $1
Tissue paper – $1
Votives – household items
Popcorn kernels – household items
The sale aisle and dollar store will be your savior for decorating on a budget. Fun tip: Most craft stores have their fall decor on sale the week before Thanksgiving.
Brown paper placements
Pick up a roll of brown kraft paper from Amazon, the craft store or the dollar store to create custom placemats for your Thanksgiving table. Trace a plate with a white or silver paint pen, then add in leaves and swirly motifs to turn the circle into a more decorative wreath. Add in accents and your guest’s name with a gold paint pen. Pro tip: Leave the markers out on the table to have your guest leave notes or write what they are thankful for!
Ombre pumpkin centerpiece
Hit the sales racks and pick up all the fake pumpkins and decor that you’ll need to make your budget Thanksgiving Instagram-worthy. A bundle of 10 usually costs under $10. Stay on trend by painting your faux pumpkins in an ombre pattern to line the center of the table. So simple! (Idea via Oh Happy Day)
Paper turkey name cards
Give your guests a next-level name card by creating turkey confetti poppers. Use your extra brown paper and tape to create the body and legs of the turkey. Fill with tissue paper confetti and hand letter your guest’s name on the turkey’s breast. Treat these turkey poppers like the turkey’s wishbone and ask each guest to make a wish before popping the confetti. A fun treat for kids and adults alike! (Idea via Studio DIY)
Pumpkin serving tray
This is one of our favorite hacks — plate and cup, bowl, pumpkin = serving tray. Head to your local craft and dollar store to pick up a lightweight dish and decent-size pumpkin, hot glue together and you’ve got yourself a one-of-a-kind serving tray. Find pumpkins of all sizes to create various heights on your tablescape. (Idea via Val Event Gal)
Kernel candle votives
If you can’t make it out to the store before Thanksgiving dinner, don’t fret — you can get creative with things you already own. For this piece, we simply filled a glass vase with corn kernels and a tea light candle. Try this with any type of bean or berry to create more color and texture for your guests to gaze at on the table. (Idea via Passionate Penny Pincher)
Head to Brit + Co’s Guide to Friendsgiving on a Dime for even more tips and tricks!