Money

Price of Thanksgiving dinner rises – how to split the cost

Now that your Thanksgiving menu is set, it’s time to brave the grocery store. But the traditional turkey meal can get pricey, particularly if family and friends are joining you for the feast.

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 29th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.41, a 37-cent price increase from last year’s average of $49.04.

“America’s farmers and ranchers remain committed to continuously improving the way they grow food for our tables, both for everyday meals and special occasions like Thanksgiving dinner that many of us look forward to all year,” federation Deputy Chief Economist John Anderson said. “We are blessed to be able to provide a special holiday meal for 10 people for about $5 per serving – less than the cost of most fast food meals.”

The shopping list, which hasn’t changed since the survey began in 1986, includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. However, tack on any specialty or organic items, alcohol or last-minute trips to the store for forgotten tarragon or more butter and the cost can quickly skyrocket.

JJ Montanaro, a certified financial planner with USAA, says sharing the cost of Thanksgiving dinner with guests doesn’t have to be awkward or stressful.

“You’re more likely to spend quality time with your friends and family if you’re not worried about getting hammered by a big bill to make it all happen,” said Montanaro.

Besides stocking up on coupons to save a buck or two at checkout and choosing the least expensive or generic brand on basics like canned goods and starches, Montanaro suggests the host set expectations early about who is paying for what. Start the conversation now and “ask everyone who is coming to help out with a little piece of the festivities,” said Montanaro.

Turkey tips: Party bloggers dish advice for hosting Thanksgiving

For Kirsty Wherry, a 29-year-old stay-at-home mom, it started when she offered to host her Kansas City and Seattle, Wash., relatives at her North Carolina home for Turkey Day. They talked peas and potatoes, stuffing and dessert. After that it was all gravy. “When they arrived, they went right to the store, bought everything and cooked it at our house,” said Wherry.

  • Slideshow Photos

    17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    Decorate your Thanksgiving dinner with these beautiful expert ideas.

  • 17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    of

    17 Autumn-inspired tablescapes

    Fall for the spirit of the season with these gorgeous expert ideas for entertaining and decorating your table.

    Who says candlesticks are only for candles? In this inspired tabletop from Style Me Pretty, a lovely white pumpkin tops a candlestick amid others of varying heights.

    Style Me Pretty / Style Me Pretty
  • 17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    of

    Get personal

    Make your guests feel special by adding a monogram at every place setting. “Adding personalization is as easy as a trip to the craft store,” says Melissa Riker of the blog Happier Homemaker. “Chipboard letters are a frugal and fast way to add a touch of typography to your place setting.”

    The Happier Homemaker / The Happier Homemaker
  • 17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    of

    Mix and match textures

    Part of the fun of Thanksgiving is all the textures we add to our home decor, as well as all the equally diverse and beautiful textures on spectacular view everywhere in nature. Combine them all into one gorgeous tabletop. Try wheat, pine cones, hydrangeas and wood for a pretty effect like the one achieved by Tidbits & Twine.

    Tidbits & Twine / Tidbits & Twine
  • 17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    of

    Play with plaid

    Create a stylish, country look setting by introducing a plaid cloth, runner or napkins. “A plaid throw doubles as a table cloth to create warmth and charm to autumn entertaining,” says Celebrations at Home’s Christina Nease. “Rustic details like burlap, vintage crates and a mix of flowers keep the table casual and inviting.”

    Celebrations at Home / Celebrations at Home
  • 17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    of

    Go for casual comfort

    You can set a lovely, low-key table for a down-home feel. Blogger Debbie Manno of Debbiedoo’s decked out her picnic bench with a special centerpiece made from a simple piece of wood stained a warm blue-green, emblazoned with the word “family.” Add a live potted plant, some pretty orange pumpkins and your casual table will be just as inviting as the fancier ones.

  • 17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    of

    Go with color

    During the fall season the flower market is brimming with vibrant shades of orange, red and yellow which can provide lots of decor inspiration. For centerpieces, event designer Jes Gordon likes to use bold, brightly-colored flowers with vases that lend character and complement the vibrant hues. To keep the table in balance, she pairs the centerpieces with textured glass and a colored runner.

    Jes Gordon / Jes Gordon
  • 17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    of

    Table for two

    Play up the harvest season to make even the smallest Thanksgiving table look festive. "Make every dining occasion special, even if it's just dinner for two by celebrating this gorgeous time of the year with a table setting rich in the colors of autumn," says blogger Susan Herin of Between Naps on the Porch. "Think in layers, dressing your table in vibrant reds, golds and russet hues, colors which so wonderfully reflect the beauty of the season."

    Between Naps on the Porch / Between Naps on the Porch
  • 17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    of

    Balance the table

    Keep your table looking chic with a bold, striking centerpiece. “Select autumn colors for a fall tabletop design while using modern touches to update your look,” says Lili Shadab of Elite Productions International. “Square copper containers, together with a bronze velvet runner and pops of orange on a wood table, brings this setting to life while keeping it modern. Peacock feather accents complete the look of the season.”

    Elite Productions / Elite Productions
  • 17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    of

    Set a black and white table

    No matter the time of year, a black and white color palette is a winner for its drama and elegance. “Using black and white on your fall table adds drama and sass to seasonal décor,” says Yvonne Pratt of Stone Gable Blog. “Tuck brambly candle collars under pumpkins for wow factor. And different varieties of pumpkins and gourds add festive fall touches to your seasonal decor.”

    Stone Gable Blog / Stone Gable Blog
  • 17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    of

    Whimsical wonder

    Nontraditional colors and clever accessories are sure to spark dinnertime conversation. “Dress your autumn table in an unexpected color combination of brown and turquoise,” suggests Celebrations at Home’s Christina Nease. “This gives a modern spin to the eclectic mix of accessories.”

    Celebrations at Home / Celebrations at Home
  • 17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    of

    Wow with graphics

    Invite guests to a holiday meal on a tabletop that looks fresh, modern and on-trend. Try clusters of monochrome florals in white vessels and chevron-patterned linens. “Create a fun, inviting Thanksgiving table with a modern edge by starting with a graphic table runner. Then, add a twist to traditional fall decorating by adding a dash of color in a vibrant hue, such as orange or yellow,” advises blogger Karianne Wood of Thistlewood Farm.

    Thistlewood Farms / Thistlewood Farms
  • 17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    of

    Try and all-white look

    "An all-white fall table is completely unexpected, but when mixed with elements of nature, it totally works and will be completely set apart from any other fall dinner your guests attend this season,” says Aimee Lane of the blog It’s Overflowing. Add elements like peacock feathers and antlers for a high-style look.

  • 17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    of

    Don't fear heights

    Tall centerpieces get a bad rap for obstructing views, but they do add incredible drama to a table and make a great first impression. "Don't be afraid to use a tall centerpiece to create a dramatic focal point for a holiday table setting," says blogger Susan Herin of Between Naps on the Porch. "When guests sit down to dinner the centerpiece can be moved to a nearby buffet or sideboard for the duration of the meal."

    A gorgeous, natural centerpiece can come from items in your own yard. "Gather greenery, pine cones, acorns and other natural elements from your yard. Naturally-shed antlers also make a nice addition to a fall or Thanksgiving centerpiece," Herin says.

    Between Naps on the Porch / Between Naps on the Porch
  • 17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    of

    Mix and match linens

    This idea may go against your instincts — but the effect can be amazing. Try mixing a variety of complementary linens on the table and chairs for an amped-up impact. “Don't be afraid to use different table linen options in one setting,” says Youngsong Martin of Wildflower Linens. “As long as they are complementary to each other and the rest of the decor, it can offer an even more dramatic effect to the whole event.” A spray of feathers completes this bold look on this tabletop.

    Wildflower Linen / Wildflower Linen
  • 17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    of

    Decorate with wood

    Reclaimed wood is a great addition to a fall table if you’re going for a cozy, natural look. "Adding a rustic element to a fall tablescape, such as this reclaimed wood, personalizes the space with warmth and comfort to entertain family and friends,” says It’s Overflowing’s Aimee Lane.

  • 17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    of

    Layer the details

    Not sure where to start? Bring out your linens, candlesticks and cherished objects and start playing around with elements on a bare table until you settle on a look you love. “Always layer your tablescape. Start with a runner, add a basket to the center of your table, add some small decor like gourds and candles and fill the basket with different size decorative balls and pumpkins for a pop of color,” says Jen Zerilli of The Decor Scene blog.

    The Décor Scene / The Décor Scene
  • 17 Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes

    of

    Candlelight

    Nothing is more complementary -- to your guests or to your table -- than soft candlelight. Use a variety of sizes and shapes, from pillars to tea lights. “Decorating a tabletop with candles is not only flattering for you and your guests, but it is also very budget-friendly,” says blogger Myra Hope of My Blessed Life. “It is easy to create your own hurricane vases and fill them with pillar candles and berries, pinecones, nuts or leaves found in your own backyard." (You can make hurricanes affordably, she says, by gluing candlesticks to the bottoms of glass vases.)

    My Blessed Life / My Blessed Life

Jenny Kuckuk almost always treks to her sibling’s Wisconsin home for the November fete. When she arrives, Kuckuk insists on paying for the big-ticket items, like alcohol.

“In our family that can get expensive,” said Kuckuk, a 50-year-old artist from Vermont.

Another idea? Guests can order the turkey and pick it up on Wednesday. Drop it off with some fresh flowers or a dinner table centerpiece.

Thanksgiving cheat sheet: A step-by-step guide to planning

On the off chance that guests don’t offer unprompted, it’s best to be honest and forthcoming about asking them to pitch in.

“They are family and friends for a reason,” said Montanaro. “They will respect your financial reality.”

Help like cleaning and helping out with kids is also valuable to hosts. Northern Virginia stay-at-home mom Michelle Moll, 39, said she’s thankful so long as guests entertain her two busy little girls while she peacefully preps pumpkin pie. 

“That’s worth its weight in sweet potatoes.” 

  • Slideshow Photos

    Awkward Thanksgiving

    Let's face it: Family can get awkward. On the year's biggest family holiday, celebrate the good, the bad and the weird with these awesome images.

  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    The heating unit

    Two childhood friends, Mike Bender and Doug Chernack, started collecting awkward family photos for their blog after seeing an awkward picture hanging in Mike's family's house. Soon, Awkward Family Photos became an internet sensation.

    See more Awkward Family Photos

    AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com / AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Hair and makeup

    AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com / AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Dinner conversation

    AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com / AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Stuffing

    AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com / AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Around the horn

    AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com / AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    The pilgrim pout

    AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com / AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Paper boy

    AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com / AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Turkey boy

    AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com / AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    What's cooking

    AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com / AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Giving thanks

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Elephant in the room

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Drumroll please

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    A slice of life

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Roasted

  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    The good life

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Pilgrim boy

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    The bird

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com  / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    The natives

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com  / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Amaizing grace

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Face-off

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Face paint

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Fowl play

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Inner Turkey

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Maize

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Say uncle

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Seasonal expression

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    She's got leg

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Thanks for nothing

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    The angler

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    The baster

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    The chug

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    The colonials

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    The Mayflowers

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    The kids' table

    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of
    awkwardfamilyphotos.com / awkwardfamilyphotos.com
  • Awkward Thanksgiving

    of

    Happy Holidays, from our family to yours!

    Order the new Awkward Family Photo Holiday Book


TOP