How To Host Thanksgiving On a $100 Budget

Close up of a candle and sign with 'Happy Thanksgiving' on dining table with people in the background.
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Thanksgiving is supposed to be all about family, friends, feasts, and gratitude. But for the host, stress, anxiety, and turkey-sized credit card bills are what’s really on the menu — but it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little planning, preparation and imagination, it’s more than possible to throw a Turkey Day bash for the ages on a double-digit budget. 

See: Expect All-Time High for Holiday Sales Despite Supply Chain Issues and Labor Shortages
Learn: 5 Apps That Send Alerts When The Holiday Gift You Need Is Back In Stock

Use Ibotta at Walmart to Get the Whole Thing For Free

This is not a misleading headline. 

You can get an entire Thanksgiving dinner for free from Walmart by using the cashback/rewards app Ibotta through Nov. 24 without jumping through hoops. The offer delivers 100% cash back on the most important Turkey Day fare. Open to both new and existing users, all you have to do is sign up to take advantage of the offer. If you already use Ibotta, just refer a friend or family member — and that’s it.

Make Your Money Work for You

The key is that you have to get the goods at Walmart and the offer is only available while supplies last. For example, if you haven’t taken advantage of the deal yet, you’ve already missed the boat on Great Value cranberry jelly, french fried onions and stuffing. But that’s OK. As of Nov. 16, all of the following are still yours for the taking with 100% cash back from Ibotta: 

  • Select brands of frozen whole turkey, minimum weight of three pounds
  • McCormick gravy packet
  • Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup
  • Birdseye frozen vegetables
  • Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • Two-liter bottle of Coke
  • Idahoan family-size mashed potatoes

There are no catches, but there are a few things to know. For example, you must add the offers to your list before you buy, not after. So visit the free Thanksgiving offer page at Ibotta and read up before you head to Walmart. 

Find Out: Rude Money Questions You Shouldn’t Ask at the Holidays

Get a Free Turkey Through a Store Promotion

According to Forbes, inflation has caused the price of turkey to rise higher and faster than most other traditional Thanksgiving favorites, so the centerpiece dish is really where you want to save money. If supplies run out with the Ibotta deal before you have a chance to cash in, you can still score a free bird to help keep your feast inside of $100 through promotions from your food store of choice. In most cases, you just have to buy a certain amount of groceries from the supermarket you shop at anyway between now and the big day:

  • Albertsons: Spend $100-$149 and you’ll get a free turkey up to 16 pounds. Spend $150 or more and you’ll get a bird that weighs between 16.1 and 24 pounds.
  • BJ’s: Get a free Butterball turkey plus $10 in BJ’s Award points when you spend $100.
  • Butcher Box: If you’re considering a Butcher Box subscription for yourself or as a gift this year, you’ll get a free turkey with your first delivery.
  • Foodtown: Spend $400 by Nov. 26 and you’ll get a free turkey, ham, lasagna, or turkey breast.
  • Safeway: Spend $100-$149 and you’ll get a free turkey up to 16 pounds. Spend $150 or more and you’ll get a bird that weighs between 16.1 and 24 pounds.
  • ShopRite: Spend the required amount on your Price Plus club card (your exact minimum spend is in your local circular) by Nov. 25 and get a free turkey, ham, kosher chicken, lasagna, tofurkey, or Gardein holiday roast.
  • Weiss: Redeem 400 Weiss points by Nov. 25 for a free turkey, tofurky ham and marinade, tofurky roast and gravy, lasagna or mac and cheese entree.
Make Your Money Work for You

Look: Wrapping Paper, Greeting Cards and More Holiday Items to Only Buy at Dollar Stores

Two Words: Pot and Luck

Even if for some reason you can’t score a free bird, you should still be well inside your $100 budget if you have to spring for a turkey yourself. But what about the green bean casserole, pumpkin pie — apple pie, too, for that matter — mashed potatoes, candied yams and cranberry sauce? 

Well, that’s where your guests come in. 

Thanksgiving is the ultimate potluck holiday, and not only is it not tacky to ask people to bring a dish, but you’ll probably find that most of your guests will jump at the chance to chip in and show off their specialty. Make the night a winner by following these tips from Better Homes and Gardens:

  • Assign categories to avoid dupes
  • Concentrate on making sure you don’t run out of adult beverages — booze, beer, and wine is expensive, so consider keeping it BYO
  • Be aware of dietary restrictions and allergies
  • Ask your guests to label their dishes and know the ingredients

Related: The Most Popular Thanksgiving Sides on a Budget

Cook a Beautiful Dinner With Ugly Food

Maybe you have guests coming from far away or there’s some other reason that a potluck just isn’t in the cards. No problem, you can still save big on the stuff you need to do all the cooking yourself. 

Sign up with Misfits Market or Imperfect Foods to save as much as 40% on fresh, local, organic produce and pantry staples. They take the ugly, but perfectly good food that doesn’t meet the strict cosmetic standards of supermarkets — think straight bananas and curved carrots — and sell it at a steep discount. 

Make Your Money Work for You

Both are free to join, come with no obligation, let you cancel any time, and deliver your order right to your door. Not only will you stretch your $100 much farther, but you’ll do your part to support local farmers and reduce food waste.

Check Out: 6 Holidays Purchases That You Should Only Make at Costco

A Few Money-Saving Suggestions

According to Forbes, you can save money no matter your budget with the following tips: 

  • Create a plan and start shopping early.
  • Buy the biggest turkey you can afford, even if it’s too big for your party — you’ll get a better deal than you would on a smaller bird.
  • Buy directly from local farmers.
  • Keep your guest list as small as possible.

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About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street's investment community in New York City.
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