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  • Inflation is still eating away at everyone’s money, and Thanksgiving could easily cost a fortune.
  • But before you go broke, consider hosting a Friendsgiving potluck or getting dim sum instead.
  • You could also plan a progressive dinner party with your neighbors where each house hosts a course.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love waking up, lazing around, and hanging out with my friends and family. There’s nothing better than watching the Westminster Dog Show and wondering which dog will win this year. If I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner, it’s likely that I’ve already started making preparations a couple of days before.

This year I don’t feel like cooking. And, like many people, I’m trying to figure out the best way to have the best holiday experience without going broke. 

According to Butterball’s 2022 Thanksgiving Outlook Report, there is increased enthusiasm to host in-person Thanksgiving celebrations. However, many hosts are concerned about the impact of inflation on the cost of hosting dinner.

For those of you who like to think outside the box and would like to try something new,  I have three different ideas to consider before you say yes to an expensive holiday dinner this year.

1. Go out for dim sum

I love cooking and typically am pretty happy to cook Thanksgiving dinner. But, a few years ago, I just didn’t have the energy to host guests or cook.

I am a huge fan of dim sum and had heard that dim sum restaurants were often open on Thanksgiving Day so I decided to take my mom for dim sum that year.

It was an incredible experience that I would definitely do again. The restaurant was packed and for smaller families, groups of friends, or singles, you could sit at the same table with other families.

It was my mom’s first time eating dim sum and she loved it. We gorged on dumplings, spare ribs, broccoli, scallion pancakes, and egg tarts. In addition to spending a stress-free day with my mom, the best part about this meal was that it was a unique experience that we got to share with one another.

And the best part? The meal was incredibly cheap. I think we paid no more than $40 for everything, including the tip. 

2. Host a Friendsgiving potluck

One of the best things about celebrating the holidays is having the chance to spend time with friends and family. Friendsgiving potlucks are a great way to host a festive event without going broke.

Randomly assign each guest an item that they should bring to the meal. The host could also set a fun theme. Instead of having the dinner on Thanksgiving Day, it could also be hosted a few weeks before or after Thanksgiving weekend.

Changing the date could help to lower the cost on some of the traditional items that are cooked during the holiday season. Turkeys purchased after Thanksgiving are typically available at a deeply-discounted price. Other cooking items, such as spices and side dishes, may also be purchased at a discount. 

3. Plan a progressive dinner party 

This is one of my favorite creative dinner ideas. Progressive dinner parties are hosted at different homes across your neighborhood or your town. Progressive dinner hosts are assigned a specific food and drink item for each home along the route, and then a group visits each house for each “course.”

One thing that’s important to consider before hosting a progressive dinner is how to safely transport your guests from one home to the next, especially if you’re serving cocktails or other alcoholic beverages. 

Some bonus savings tips

If you prefer to host a traditional Thanksgiving meal, here are a few more savings tips to keep your costs low.

Eliminate the entree or side dishes that you dislike the most. Hosts will often make dishes for their guests that they may personally dislike. This year, just say no to dishes that you have no interest in cooking or eating. 

Instead of hosting everyone, host a smaller number of guests than you normally would. Lowering the number of guests will also help you to avoid eliminating dishes out of financial necessity, a strategy that the Butterball Outlook Report noted many guests were considering doing. 

No one wants to work on Thanksgiving, but that may be the perfect time to pick up a few hours working for a food delivery app. Cooks will be stressed and need someone to pick up the items that they may have forgotten when they were at the grocery store. You could be the person who helps save someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner while making money and saving your own holiday meal. 

Your traditional Thanksgiving meal doesn’t have to stress you out financially. Have fun reimagining what your next Thanksgiving meal looks like. As for me, I’m probably going to go out for dim sum again.