How to throw Thanksgiving dinner for $100

You did it. This year, you volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner. But aside from the cooking stress and squabbling relatives, you forgot one very important side effect of holiday entertaining: The cost. (Between the turkey, mashed potatoes and cheese plate, the price per person can really add up.)

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Thanksgiving dinner for under $100
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Thanksgiving dinner for under $100

PUFF PASTRY-BASED APPS ($8)

It’s just as delectable as a cheese plate, but you can whip up equally out-of-this-world hors d’oeuvres using puff pastry for a fraction of the cost. (Seriously, two sheets of dough usually only runs about $4 a box.) You can’t go wrong with something simple like spinach artichoke squares or French onion cups. After all, you don’t want guests to fill up before dinner.

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RELATED: THE 21 BEST THANKSGIVING PARTY APPETIZERS OF ALL TIME

Photo: LIZ ANDREW/ERIN MCDOWELL

TURKEY ($25)

It’s tempting to shop with leftovers in mind, but when it comes to serving turkey on Thanksgiving, it’s much more cost-effective to estimate a pound per person, plus a small buffer zone. (This means a 15-pound turkey at about $1.50/pound is plenty for ten people.)

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MASHED POTATOES ($8)

We love sweet potatoes the most, but spending alert: They’re actually double the price of white/gold varieties. Go with a five-pound bag of russets ($5 to $6, max) and slather with butter and gravy.

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Photo: LIZ ANDREW/ERIN MCDOWELL

ROASTED CARROTS ($7)

Brussels sprouts are delicious and tasty, but they can set you back close to $5 a pound. If you’re feeding the masses—and trying to trim costs—carrots are a more wallet-friendly option (usually just $1.50 a pound) and one you can dress up with a variety of fresh herbs. You’ll want to triple this recipe, which also includes the cost of onions and mint.

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RELATED: THE BEST THANKSGIVING SIDE DISH RECIPES

Photo: LIZ ANDREW/ERIN MCDOWELL

STUFFING ($8)

Scour your supermarket for a day-old loaf (typically around $1), then pick up celery ($2), sweet onions ($1), garlic ($1) and a variety of fresh herbs ($3). Boom. Eight-dollar stuffing.

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Photo: LIZ ANDREW/ERIN MCDOWELL

CRANBERRY SAUCE ($6)

Yes, the canned option is an acceptable—albeit less tasty—way to save. Or you could whip up a simple version of the signature Thanksgiving dish with fresh cranberries ($5) and an orange ($1), plus a cup of red wine skimmed off the top of a bottle you cracked open with dinner earlier in the week.

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Photo: LIZ ANDREW/ERIN MCDOWELL

GRAVY ($5)

Sure, you can buy the boxed kind—usually about $2—or you can make it from scratch with vegetable (or chicken) broth you have stashed in your freezer, plus some shallots ($2) and mushrooms ($3) for added flavor.

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Photo: LIZ ANDREW/ERIN MCDOWELL

MULLED WINE SANGRIA ($21)

It’s the easiest way to cut the alcohol bill: Serve a punch—like this Mulled Wine Sangria—instead of booze. To make 15 servings, you’ll need just three bottles of red wine. (No one has to know you only spent $7 a pop.) 

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Photo: LIZ ANDREW/ERIN MCDOWELL

APPLE GALETTE ($12)

Three Granny Smiths should set you back only a few bucks. Then, you'll need to pick up a couple of baking extras like brown sugar ($4) and—a major time-saver—premade dough (usually about $5). You should have most of the other ingredients on hand (flour, sugar, vanilla extract, etc.). 

Photo: ERIN MCDOWELL

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GATHER GREENERY FOR CENTERPIECES FROM YOUR BACKYARD (FREE)

Three cheers for pinecones.

Total Spent = $100

RELATED: THE 15 BEST THANKSGIVING FINDS AT TRADER JOE’S

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But where there’s a wallet-friendly will, there’s a way. Here, how to pull this off for a crowd of 10 people—alcohol included—when you’ve got max $100 to spend.

RELATED: Here’s How to Make an Entire Thanksgiving Dinner in Less Than 2 Hours (It’s Possible)

Related: Ingenious ways to use up those leftovers

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7 brilliant ways to transform your Thanksgiving leftovers
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7 brilliant ways to transform your Thanksgiving leftovers

CRANBERRY, BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND BRIE SKILLET NACHOS

Caution: It’s easy to eat the entire thing yourself. Speaking from experience.

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SPICY TURKEY ENCHILADAS WITH PUMPKIN SEEDS

Infinitely better than a boring sandwich.

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PUMPKIN PIE STUFFED FRENCH TOAST

The most acceptable way to eat dessert for breakfast.

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PUMPKIN PIZZA CRUST WITH ARUGULA AND PROSCIUTTO

Psst: Here’s how to use up that leftover can of pumpkin.

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MASHED POTATO FRITTERS WITH SMOKED SALMON AND CHIVES

Think latkes, but so much easier.

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CRANBERRY APPLE DANISH

The best way to put the last bit of cranberry sauce to good use.

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TURKEY STROMBOLI

It’s perfect for feeding a hungry crowd.

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RELATED: THE BEST THANKSGIVING SIDE DISH RECIPES

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