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Entertain without blowing your budget. I’ve compiled a full Thanksgiving menu, Christmas menu, and New Year’s Eve menu; each of which costs less than $40!
If peeking at your savings account has you shivering as much as the chillier weather this fall, you’re not alone. Overall inflation across America has jumped around 8% year over year, and one of the biggest spikes hits close to home: Food. The average grocery bill has jumped more than 12% from October 2021 to October 2022, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index.
A slimmer budget doesn’t mean that you need to skip seasonal celebrations to save cash. Instead, I’ve designed holiday party menus that will allow you to host a full feast that delivers maximum cheer per dollar.
Using estimated costs per ingredients tabulated via Target (selected since it is a national retailer with a wide selection), I’ve crunched the numbers for how much it costs in today’s dollars to make some of my favorite holiday recipes.
The Thanksgiving Budget Menu, Christmas Budget Menu, and New Year’s Eve Budget Menus below all have four to five courses and clock in at less than $40 total. Nope, that’s not per person; these holiday party menus feed 6 to 8 adults.
Think of these budget-friendly party menus can as the foundation. Just add drinks, and a personal element or two to sneak in those family heirloom recipes, and prepare to shine as the MVP host of the year.
Thanksgiving Budget Menu
Total estimated cost: $39.71
Serves: 8 with leftovers
No Thanksgiving menu is complete without turkey as the centerpiece. The meat department is where you’ll find some of the steepest spikes in prices, so admittedly, that course is a big of a splurge. But we’re able to balance out that entree (which will leave you with plenty of Thanksgiving leftovers, by the way!) with more affordable side dishes and desserts. Green beans, biscuits, pumpkin; the seasonal crew is all here.
Perfect Roast Turkey
Vegetable side dish: $8.03
Green Beans and Bacon
Starch side dish: $1.37
3-Ingredient Homemade Biscuits
Pumpkin Pie Recipe
Christmas Budget Menu
Total estimated cost: $34.85
Serves: 6 with leftovers
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner menus tend to offer a bit more variety and flexibility than the classic Thanksgiving line-up, which I adore! Turkey, ham, lamb, beef, pork, and seafood star on many Christmas tables, depending on your family traditions and current home state.
For this affordable Christmas main dish, I’m highlighting a pork roast option that plays double duty since the recipe includes a side of vegetables. As that finishes cooking, kick things off with an easy appetizer idea that involves dressing up a pantry staple. To balance out all the cookies and fresh bread, which are a must on every Christmas table if you ask me, I’ve added a bonus dose of produce via one of my favorite sheet pan side dishes.
Here, is your guide for how to serve five dishes, including one of my best Midwestern Christmas “cookie” recipes, for less than $35. Yes, it is possible!
Entree and vegetable side dish: $20.41
Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts
Vegetable side dish: $3.80
Starch side dish: $.41
No Knead Bread
Dessert: $5.90 (half batch)
Ritz Cracker Cookies
New Year’s Eve Budget Menu
Total estimated cost: $33.25
Serves: 8 as heavy appetizers
A “snack dinner” like a Midwest Charcuterie Board or Ultimate Mezze Platter is my secret to feed a crowd at cocktail parties and all-evening affairs. For New Year’s Eve, I keep that same grazing philosophy so we can enjoy nibbles from dinner until after midnight, between movies, board games, and watching the ball drop.
This heavy appetizer menu features satisfying yet easy snack ideas for the meat-lovers and vegetarians alike, healthy handheld wrap sandwiches, and a good-as-gold sweet treat.
Meat appetizer: $9.37
2-Ingredient Barbecue Little Smokies
Vegetarian appetizer: $11.59
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Homemade Pita Chips
Light entree: $8.97
Veggie Roll Ups
Millions of Americans suffer from food insecurity every day, but you can help. Here are the best food donations to buy (and the ones to avoid) plus a section on specific food donations for the holidays.
Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.