Host Thanksgiving on a Budget.


It's that time of year again, and you've decided to host Thanksgiving at your place. You can make the day a success without overspending-or overstressing-by planning carefully and enlisting a little help from your guests.

Be realistic about how many people you can handle cooking for and still feel comfortable instead of harried. Once you've determined your guest list, plan the menu. Remember, you don't need to spend all your money trying to include every Thanksgiving dish under the sun. Prepare the basics, then add a few specialty dishes and a dessert or two. Be sure to use vegetables and fruits that are in season for further savings. Better yet, see if some of your guests would like to bring a favorite side dish.

When shopping for ingredients, do some coupon-clipping and be sure to search out sales in your area. At this time of year, many supermarkets give shoppers a free turkey with a purchase of a certain amount. And don't forget drinks: You can stretch wine or liquor, and be a hit with your guests, by making your own signature Thanksgiving punch. The goal is to spend as little as possible while still providing a satisfying dinner experience.

Many a budget has been wrecked by décor, especially the center piece. There is no need to buy expensive, fresh flowers and a fancy vase. Take a trip to your local craft store, or even a dollar store, and get creative. Or keep it simple and natural with seasonal fruit in a pretty bowl, or a bunch of herbs in a jar. This is another area where a guest may be able to help you.

Above all, remember that Thanksgiving is about getting together with loved ones to enjoy not only a meal, but great company. You never have to spend a lot of money to enjoy spending time with friends and family.