Budget-Friendly Ideas for Hosting Holiday Dinner

Budget-Friendly Ideas for Hosting Holiday Dinner

Publish Date November 27, 2023 3 Minute Read

Budget-friendly Holiday Hosting

As the holiday season approaches, and we begin to anticipate the joy of gathering around the table with loved ones, the reality of hosting the big event can start to settle in. But fear not, because creating a memorable holiday dinner doesn't have to break the bank. With a little creativity, savvy shopping and thoughtful planning, you can serve up budget-friendly holiday recipes worth celebrating.

Holiday Hosting Tips

The holidays are about spending time with friends and family, spreading joy and indulging in delicious holiday meals. But even though it’s the season for celebrating, the prospect of hosting can be a bit daunting, especially if you’re working with a limited budget. These tips and tricks will help.

  • Plan Holiday Meals in Advance
    Create your menu in advance so that you can grab ingredients while they’re on sale. If you know green bean casserole is always on your table, shop sales on canned soup and frozen produce. Shopping strategically throughout the month will help relieve some of the stress on both you and your wallet.
  • Propose a Potluck
    Instead of putting all the pressure on 1 host, try throwing a potluck dinner this year. You can assign each guest a dish to bring or encourage them to bring their favorite side dish while you handle the entrée.
  • Stock Up on Frozen and Canned Foods
    Frozen and canned foods are often preserved when they reach peak-season freshness, making them an easy choice for budget-friendly sides. Stock your freezer and pantry with staples you know you’ll need for your holiday recipes. Items like stocks and broth, frozen vegetables, butter and eggs can all be purchased gradually as you shop for everyday groceries.
  • Go Casual
    Try something different this year for a holiday brunch. Build a social media worthy brunch board for your guests to graze at their leisure. Unplug and recharge from the holiday stress with a winter coffee bar and go less-formal to celebrate with family or friends. Visit our Holiday Snack Board and Coffee Bar guide for more ideas.

Budget-friendly Sides

There are certain sides that no holiday dinner would be complete without. When it comes to planning a holiday dinner full of budget-friendly holiday recipes, side dishes play a crucial role. Simple, wholesome ingredients can be transformed into dishes that complement the main course beautifully:

Green Bean Casserole

Made with canned soup and green beans, this dish is a budget-friendly favorite. Try this comforting, classic green bean casserole. Watch and learn how to make this classic casserole here along with more recipes based on your preferred cooking style.


You can make your mashed potatoes extra flavorful by boiling the potatoes in chicken broth. Or if you want to speed up the process, you can try Instant Pot mashed potatoes for a faster result. These cheesy scalloped potatoes are golden, decadent and creamy as well. Visit our potato guide for more ideas.

Sweet Potatoes

Root vegetables are in season, easy and affordable. Try roasting a mix of sweet potatoes, turnips and parsnips for a delicious root vegetable medley. You can also try making a traditional sweet potato casserole that everyone will love, or serve up these sweet and savory maple glazed sweet potatoes.

Entertaining with Affordable Entrées

Though turkey is the quintessential meat on Thanksgiving, there are no set rules about what you should serve. You can use this as an opportunity to experiment with more affordable cuts of meat for your holiday feast.


The least expensive cuts are pork loin and pork shoulder. This cranberry-glazed pork roast features festive flavors for a main dish that’s decadent and delicious. Try this glazed pork roast for meat that’s tender, unexpected and flavorful. Or, for something a bit more traditional, make a sheet pan pork roast. This easy recipe is made in a sheet pan, so you can focus on entertaining the family while dinner cooks in one-pan, plus, an easy cleanup. Visit our pork guide to learn how to cook pork and for more recipe inspiration.


Ham makes for an affordable and much-loved holiday meal. This glazed boneless ham recipe is is sweet, savory and sure to please a crowd while helping you stay on budget. For a smaller crowd, give the option to make ham sandwiches with rolls and mustard for a twist on a classic. Learn how to cook ham and how much ham you will need with our helpful ham guide.


Budget-friendly holiday recipes should never sacrifice flavor for affordability. Luckily, the most affordable cuts of chicken are often the most flavorful. Chicken thighs are versatile and delicious. Roast root vegetables and chicken thighs in the same pan for this sheet pan garlic chicken.


Still craving turkey? Frozen turkeys are the perfect candidate for an affordable holiday meal, since they can be purchased ahead of time and left frozen until you’re ready to prepare your feast. Try this simple herb-roasted turkey with pan gravy, or visit our turkey guide for more recipes and cooking how-to.

Save Big with Small Servings

Hosting a smaller crowd is a great way to keep your budget balanced. By crafting smaller, well-portioned dishes, you not only save on ingredients, but you can reduce food waste too. You can opt for elegant appetizers and perfectly portioned mains that cater to the intimate nature of your gathering. With thoughtful consideration of portion sizes, you can create a memorable and cost-effective holiday feast that leaves everyone satisfied. We've gathered some of our favorite holiday party side dishes to bring to your next event.

Start the evening with some festive appetizers. A holiday pesto pita tree is a fun and creative way to kick off any seasonal gathering while orange cranberry crescent rolls celebrate the flavors of the season.

Handy Tips for Holiday Hosting

When planning a dinner with budget-friendly holiday recipes, focus on affordable cuts and the convenience of purchasing ahead of time. If frozen, a more expensive piece of meat can be purchased earlier in the month during a light grocery week or when it’s on sale.

While your guests savor their meal, you can take pride in knowing that you've hosted a holiday dinner that delighted palates and didn’t break the bank.

Looking for more ways to host on a budget? Check out our article on holiday hosting tips and top 10 tips for saving money on groceries. And visit our blog for even more fresh, budget-friendly inspiration, including meal planning, recipes and more.

More Holiday Recipes