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thanksgiving Nov 07, 2019

An Expat's Guide to a Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving

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An Expat's Guide to a Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving

If you are looking at planning a budget-friendly Thanksgiving feast as an expat in Canada, then you are not alone. It is estimated that between 900,000 and 2 million Americans are living in Canada either as part-time or full-time residents.

That means a lot of people might be looking to celebrate their native land's Thanksgiving this month. However, planning a Thanksgiving feast can be quite costly between the food and decorations that go into the event. Read on to learn about how you can save money as an Expat in Canada while still celebrating your country's Thanksgiving holiday.

What is American Thanksgiving?

While Canadian Thanksgiving is on the second week of October, our American cousins celebrate theirs at the end of November. Much like ours, it's a national holiday where the family gathers to celebrate and eat a large meal together and give thanks. However, there are a few differences between Canadian and American Thanksgiving.

Canadians simply don't make as big of a deal of the holiday as the Americans. That's not to say that we don't enjoy our long weekend. However, we place less emphasis on flying across the country or going shopping. Moreover, on the long weekend we get to spend time relaxing with family rather than worrying about roasting the perfect turkey. We also don't have the same meals that one would normally think of as "traditional" Thanksgiving food. That said, celebrating American Thanksgiving in Canada is easy to do, even on a budget.

How to Throw an American Thanksgiving Party

If you're looking to celebrate Thanksgiving with your friends and family as an expat in Canada on a budget, then you have come to the right place. Celebrating the holiday doesn't have to be a costly affair that breaks the bank. Rather throwing a simple dinner party can be done at any budget. It's important to have an outline of goals for the event, as well as a spending limit for each category. Even if you want to get nice dishes for your guests, you can find these sorts of decorations at thrift shops for low prices. Think outside the box and understand which area you want to invest more time and money into.


Prepare the Guest List

The best way to see what you will need from the grocery store is to know who will be coming. If you are working on a small budget, then think about making your guest list small or turning the whole thing into a potluck. Make sure your guests RSVP by a certain date so you have a solid idea of how many people will be there and how many mouths there are to feed. Even though Thanksgiving leftovers are one of the best parts about the American version of the holiday, if you're on a strict budget you don't want heaps of extra food!

Make the Meal Plan

With the guest list in hand, you can prepare a meal plan. Make sure that you have enough sides to ensure that everyone will be full at the end of the day. Side dishes like cranberry sauce are easy to make and cheap to get from a can as well. Mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole are also very filling but cheap to make. Green beans can be heated up on Thanksgiving day without worry, as well. Don't forget a pecan and pumpkin pie for dessert!

Prepare the Food

With the meal plan in hand, you're now ready to go grocery shopping for your Thanksgiving dinner needs. Make sure to shop at cheaper grocery stores and look for deals on the food you get. Many traditional American Thanksgiving dishes are popular for Canadian Thanksgiving as well, but since it's a month earlier than the American holiday, you may have trouble finding these items pre-made in a store. This means you may have to cook a few items yourself, and it's a great opportunity to invite a couple guests over early to help you out! This not only will get the meals prepared more quickly, but with the extra sous-chefs you will be less overwhelmed than were you to prepare everything alone.


With everything you need, all that's left to do is cook and party with friends and family! Hosting Thanksgiving doesn't have to be a costly affair. Cooking from scratch can save you tons of money and ensure that your emergency cash doesn't get used to fund a party!

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