It’s November, and many Americans are making plans for Thanksgiving, but there’s another Thanksgiving-like celebration that many Americans also participate in this time of year that it’s time to make plans for as well Friendsgiving.
Inspired by the TV show Friends, Friendsgiving, like Thanksgiving, is a chance to gather with friends who are like family and share a meal together while giving thanks. Especially for those who don’t see their friends as often as they would like or used to, Friendsgiving is a great chance to get together, catch up, and express gratitude for having one another in each other’s lives.
Friendsgiving can occur any time in November but usually happens on a weekend before the actual Thanksgiving holiday. Of course, if your schedules don’t allow to meet earlier, there’s no harm in having a Friendsgiving event after Thanksgiving.
But for those on a debt payoff journey or in a financial pinch, the cost of attending a holiday meal, especially hosting, can feel out of reach. But it doesn’t have to be! Below we’re sharing eight tips to host Friendsgiving on a budget, allowing you to enjoy the holiday season without adding financial stress to your already-stuffed plate.
8 Tips to Host Friendsgiving on a Budget
1. Set a Realistic Budget
Before you send out any invitations or come up with a meal plan, you first want to establish how much money you can afford to spend on a Friendsgiving celebration. Even in an intimate setting, a Friendsgiving dinner can add up quickly once you start adding the cost of appetizers, drinks, a turkey, decorations, dinnerware, and dessert.
When creating your budget, think about how many guests you expect to invite, how many guests you expect will attend, and their ages. If you have kids coming, you’ll likely want to have kid-friendly dishes on hand.
Once you know what you need and how much you can afford to spend, you can make a plan for the kind of Friendsgiving event you want to plan.
2. Potluck Style Friendsgiving
While some celebrate Friendsgiving as they would a traditional Thanksgiving, complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, others celebrate the day by having a potluck-style meal.
If money is tight but you still want to host Friendsgiving, consider asking guests to bring a dish to share. As host you can be responsible for cooking the turkey as well as decorating for the event, but you won’t have the financial, emotional, or physical stress of being responsible for the entire dinner if you have a potluck-style event. Ask guests to bring their favorite side or a dessert, and make sure to take note of who is bringing what so you don’t end up with 10 pumpkin pies and no sides.
If you prefer to make the entire meal yourself, another way to keep costs down is by asking guests to bring their own beverages. Alcohol can be expensive, and not everyone has the same tastes. By asking guests to bring a bottle or two of wine, liquor, and/or beer, you can save money and still have the guests feeling involved in the event.
4. Skip the Turkey
For some traditionalists, not having turkey on Friendsgiving is not an option. But for those who are looking for an excuse to gather with friends and enjoy good food, keep in mind that you don’t have to eat a traditional meal, and you don’t have to have a turkey. Instead, you can serve an alternative protein as the main dish, such as roasted chicken, ham, or a vegetarian option. If there are a few turkey traditionalists, you can always buy a cut of the meat, like turkey breast, and serve that in addition to an alternative meat main dish.
5. Make a Shopping List
Regardless if you’re hosting a potluck-style event or making the entire meal yourself, you’ll likely need to go to the store at some point. Before you go, make a shopping list of everything you need. Once you have your list in hand, shop around your home for any ingredients you may already have on hand, such as spices or decor. When you’re at the store, stick to the list. It can be tempting to purchase holiday decor or other foods when you’re out shopping, but that’s a quick way to go over budget and incur debt.
6. Check for Coupons, Discounts
Before you head to the store, make sure to look and see if there are any coupons, sales, or discounts for any of the items on your list.
7. Borrow Cookware, Bakeware
Instead of purchasing cookware or bakeware just for this one meal, save money by asking friends and family if they have any dishes you can borrow for the event. If you’re not having any luck, check out your local dollar store and see if you can find affordable disposable cookware you can use for your Friendsgiving meal.
When considering what kind of cookware and bakeware you will need, you’ll also want to consider how you plan to serve the food, and if your guests are bringing serving dishes or will need to borrow something from you.
8. Dollar Store Decor
The dollar store is a great place to find inexpensive holiday decor. Even if you don’t find a tablecloth or placemats that are to your liking, you can always buy craft paper to use as a tablecloth and ask your guests to write down on the paper what they are grateful for. When you sit down to enjoy your meal, you can go around the table and share what everyone wrote down. You can also pick up paper cups, plates, and disposable silverware if you don’t want to use real cutlery or if you don’t have enough for all of your guests.
Are you planning to celebrate Friendsgiving this year? What are your favorite Friendsgiving savings tips? Share with us in the comments below!