When it comes to hosting a Thanksgiving meal, it can be stressful having to buy all the food, decorations, and extras for the big meal for everyone. Having a great time with family shouldn’t be overshadowed by worrying about how much it will cost. You should have the opportunity to host if you like, but you can also be smart about how much money you spend. There are many costs to consider if you are hosting a big holiday like Thanksgiving—but you can host Thanksgiving on a budget. 

My husband and I are hosting Thanksgiving this year, and I guarantee we will do it mindfully. It can get expensive with all the trimmings, but it doesn’t have to destroy your budget. 

From asking others to help to planning ahead, here are a few ways you can host Thanksgiving on a budget

1. Start planning early and check out the prices at various stores to compare

Grocery stores will have all kinds of sales leading up to Thanksgiving. Many of them will have specials on turkey pricing and other items. Planning ahead allows you to snag the best prices for the items you need.

Related: 9 tips for hosting a stress-free Thanksgiving

2. Plan your budget early

Before you even begin shopping, decide on a number you can spend ahead of time. This practice will ensure that you stick to it as you shop. You may be able to adjust what you’re buying as you go through the store to better stay on budget.

3. Order grocery pickup

Another way to ensure that you stick to your budget is by ordering your groceries online for pickup. You will have full control and know what your total will be. This practice will eliminate your impulsive purchases when shopping in the store.

4. Keep a running total as you shop

When shopping, ingredients can add up quickly, so be sure to have a running tally. This practice will ensure you aren’t surprised once you hit the checkout. You could use the calculator on your phone or the app Total Plus. Using a grocery service is another good way to keep track what you’re spending and keep from buying impulse items. 

Related: 10 family budgeting secrets mamas swear by

5. Plan your menu

When trying to save money on Thanksgiving dinner, you must carefully plan your menu. While the Internet is fun and full of great ideas, you don’t need all the pretty appetizers you find. Stick to the basics you know people will love.

6. Consider getting the Thanksgiving package from the grocery store

Many grocery stores (Pick N Save, Whole Foods, Albertsons Market, Costco)  have entire Thanksgiving meals that you can book ahead of time. They will include the turkey, some side items and possibly dessert. All you’ll need to do is light cooking and heat things up. You won’t have to mix anything or buy ingredients separately.

7. Have a potluck-style dinner

To help lessen some of the financial burden of taking on an entire Thanksgiving meal, you could have more of a potluck-style dinner where you ask people to bring different dishes. You could take on the turkey, while others bring sides and desserts.

Related: Cooking for Thanksgiving is overwhelming and it’s OK to just… not do it

8. Keep drinks simple

Buying a bunch of options for drinks, especially if you’re planning to serve alcohol, can add up very quickly. Instead, you could have one main option and then water. If you are serving soda, grab two-liter bottles instead of cans. 

9. Go through your pantry before shopping

You may already have ingredients you can incorporate into your Thanksgiving meal. Check your pantry to see what may be useful before buying new items and ingredients.

Related: 25 simple ways to make Thanksgiving dinner planning easier

10. Buy generic canned and side items 

You don’t need brand-name ingredients for side items because it really doesn’t make a difference. By buying generic canned and side items, you can save money for other things for your Thanksgiving dinner.

11. Keep the guest list small

Instead of trying to host everyone, we’re lessening stress and cost by keeping it to just a few people. If it seems too overwhelming to have a huge group, you can keep it to a small gathering, keeping costs down.

12. Eat all leftovers

Even though you may need to spend a little extra to fill your Thanksgiving dinner table, you will probably have plenty of leftovers. You can eat these throughout the next week to save on your groceries for the next week! 

Hosting for the holidays can be stressful enough, but by planning ahead, you can help remove some of the stress over the cost. Instead, you’ll be able to focus on your family and enjoy the day without worrying about money.