How to celebrate Thanksgiving on a budget

Autumn leaves spelling out

Want to throw a Thanksgiving feast complete with turkey, pumpkin pie and still have enough money for Christmas? Here’s how to keep the costs down and ramp up the fun factor.

What is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the last Thursday of November and it’s a time when many American families enjoy a feast of turkey with all the trimmings, and give thanks for what they have. This tradition dates back to 1621 and for Americans it marks the start of the Christmas holiday season.

Thanksgiving decorations for your home

Decorating your home for Thanksgiving Day doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming to do. In fact, you can make these Thanksgiving decorations in a matter of minutes, out of autumn finds like fallen leaves, pine cones and apples.

  • Drilled mini pumpkin lantern

Scoop out a mini pumpkin, saving the flesh for the pumpkin pie. Decorate it by drilling holes in fancy patterns, then pop in a tea light. See more pumpkin decoration ideas

  • Gold leaf name cards

Cover crisp, autumn leaves in gold spray paint and write your guests’ names on them when they’re dry.

  • Autumn leaf lantern

Stick bright autumn leaves on the outside of a mason jar using water-based sealing glue, tie a ribbon around the lip, then pop in a tea light.

  • Pine cone candle centerpiece

Place a tall vase holding a candle, in the middle of a large bowl and scatter around pinecones, seasonal flowers and cranberries.

Cooked turkey surrounded by vegetables | Thanksgiving on a budget | Tesco Living

Thanksgiving dinner

A traditional Thanksgiving feast is all about the turkey, but buying a fresh one isn’t always realistic when you’re on a budget, so try these money-saving Thanksgiving meal ideas…

  • Turkey dinner on a budget

Instead of buying a fresh bird, try a frozen turkey and you could save a few pounds. Or use fresh turkey cutlets in cheap and cheerful homemade stews, soups, curries and pies.

  • Turkey calculator

If you’ve decided to buy a whole turkey it needs to weigh around 1lb per person. If it’s frozen, don’t forget to factor in enough time for it to thaw. Use the Tesco Real Food turkey timer to work out how long to cook it for.

  • Meat-free Thanksgiving dinner

A meat-free meal starring traditional Thanksgiving veggies like pumpkin and butternut squash will keep your guests happy, and your costs right down.

  • Get your guests involved

Don’t be shy to ask everyone to pitch in and bring a dish or a bottle of booze from home. Just let everyone know what to bring so you don’t double up on the day.

  • Thanksgiving shopping list

It’s helpful to write out a list of everything you need for your Thanksgiving feast, then set a budget and stick to it. Check your cupboards before you head out to the shops in case you already have any ingredients, and look out for the Everyday Value range when you’re there.

Budget Thanksgiving menu

Give this cheap and cheerful Thanksgiving menu a go.

Cocktail: Clementine, cranberry and vodka cocktail

Starter: Chilli cheese cornbread

Main: Pumpkin and turkey risotto

Non-turkey main: Individual squash and feta pot pies

Dessert: Classic pumpkin pie

Non-pumpkin dessert: Toffee apple waffle pudding

A slice of pumpkin pie with cream | Thanksgiving on a budget | Tesco Living

Thanksgiving games and entertainment for all the family

Entertainment is an important part of Thanksgiving Day and settling down to watch an American football game, classic Thanksgiving films like Planes, Trains and Automobiles or Friends: The One With All The Thanksgivings can really get you in the holiday vibe for next to nothing.

But there’s nothing like a good Thanksgiving game for getting the family talking and laughing together so here are some of the cheapest and most cheerful ones to try.

  • I’m thankful for: Gather around the table and take turns shouting out all the things you’re thankful for.
  • Blind turkey: Find out who’s the best at drawing a turkey whilst blindfolded.
  • Pass the cranberry: Have a relay race to find out which side of the table can pass a cranberry from bowl to bowl, to the end of the table, using only chopsticks.

More money-saving advice