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Student Life

5 Budget-Friendly Tips for Thanksgiving

In recent years, the Thanksgiving alternative known as “Friendsgiving” has gained popularity with many young adults.  But what is Friendsgiving? Unlike a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, Friendsgiving is more of a laid-back potluck among friends and is typically celebrated around the same time as the turkey-filled holiday it is inspired by.

Whether you’ve hosted Friendsgiving for years or you’ve been invited to your first one, it’s easy to feel pressure to make everything perfect for the celebration. Perfectionism is definitely not the point, so resist the urge to outdo yourself with a magazine-worthy Friendsgiving spread and pricey decorations. Discover how you can put the emphasis on enjoying time with people you care about without breaking the bank with budget-friendly tips from Varsity!

1. Consider Hosting Friendsgiving After Thanksgiving

Friendsgiving dinner can be held before, on, or after Thanksgiving. To cash in on post-Thanksgiving discounts on food and decor, think about hosting Friendsgiving the Saturday after Thanksgiving. That’ll give you a chance to grab some Black Friday treasures for your dinner, such as:

  • Dishware and flatware sets
  • Decorative tablecloths and napkins
  • Fall decor (leaf garlands, artificial gourds, etc.)
  • Discounted baked goods
  • And more

2. Find Affordable Turkey Alternatives

There’s no rule against having traditional Thanksgiving dishes for your Friendsgiving, but making your dinner a potluck can alleviate the stress and financial strain of buying and cooking all your dishes. If you’re hosting, consider swapping out a pricey ham or turkey for other affordable but delicious dishes, such as:

  • Potpie
  • Pasta bake
  • Shepherd’s pie
  • Rotisserie chicken
  • Sweet potato casserole

These dishes definitely qualify as comfort foods, and Friendsgiving is an excellent excuse to enjoy all your favorites. Whether you go meatless or full-on carnivore, you can save time and money with these crowd-pleasing dishes.

3. Choose Money-Saving Sides

You may be tempted to splurge on a box of deluxe frozen mac n’ cheese, but resist the urge. Side dishes can quickly deplete your Friendsgiving funds—unless you make smart choices. While buying something from the store is easier, Pinterest is chock-full of amazing recipes that won’t drain your bank account. You’re better off making affordable sides at home.

Sites like Yummly let you search for recipes with a limited number of ingredients. You can even choose dishes that use only what you have on hand. And there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Sweet potatoes, russets, and green beans are already inexpensive, and taking advantage of holiday grocery coupons can help.

4. Embrace DIY Decorating

In addition to doing a potluck for your Friendsgiving dishes, desserts, and sides, you can cut costs for decor. Get your home Friendsgiving-ready by making your own decorations. Dollar stores are a great source for both ready-made options and craft supplies, so you can’t go wrong with ideas like:

  • Painted pumpkins
  • Mason jar candleholders
  • Burlap or craft paper table runner
  • Pinecone garlands, wreaths, and centerpieces

Whatever designs you come up with, enjoy decorating your place. Express yourself through your Friendsgiving crafts, and your crafty creations will help set the holiday mood.

5. Remember to Have Fun

No one expects gourmet dishes that cost an arm and a leg for Friendsgiving. In fact, your friends will probably enjoy a cheese ball and crackers from Aldi as much as they would a turkey that costs as much as your last pair of jeans. As long as you get creative with your dishes and decor, you can enjoy this fun, alternative holiday and still have ample funds left over for the rest of the holiday season.

Manage Your Friendsgiving Budget with Varsity

Like its more traditional counterpart, Friendsgiving is truly about spending time with people you’re grateful to have in your life. While the food and decor are part of the fun, don’t sabotage your savings for a single celebration. From budget-proofing your Friendsgiving food list to making your place festive in true DIY style, we hope we’ve helped you learn how to celebrate the thrifty way.

Additionally, you can help yourself stay on budget and track your funds for Friendsgiving with an account from Varsity! Our low rates, free credit score monitoring, and convenient online and mobile banking are perfect for staying on track financially during the holidays and beyond. Open an account online today.

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