Apartment Thanksgiving

A Guide to Apartment Thanksgiving: Make the Most of Limited Space

November 2, 2022 8:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts
Last Modified: February 28, 2024 7:03 pm
Reading Time: 11 minutes

The holiday season will be here before you know it and it’s time to start planning budget-friendly ways to celebrate Thanksgiving in your apartment. While the holidays can be one of the best times of the year, they can also be one of the hardest when it comes to saving money. Additionally, living in an apartment can provide space challenges and may require you to get creative with how you will host.

With the rise of social media, it can be super easy to compare your living space and holiday celebrations with everyone else. The truth is, that you don’t need an elaborate table setting in a large apartment to enjoy celebrating. There are so many ways that you can still make your celebration meaningful while saving money. Celebrating the holidays in your apartment doesn’t mean that your holiday spirit has to be any less! Join me as we explore the ins and outs of hosting Thanksgiving in a small apartment.

I will walk you through this by drawing on my personal experiences and the creative solutions I have discovered along the way. We’ll tackle everything from space-saving techniques to menu planning, ensuring your holiday gathering is both festive and comfortable. Use the tips below to stay within your budget, while also still embracing this time of year. Find the perfect ways to host Thanksgiving in your new apartment or townhome!

Budget-Friendly Ways To Celebrate Thanksgiving

1 – Organize Your Thanksgiving Menu 

Thanksgiving dinners can be costly, especially when there is no preparation ahead of time and you’re left to shop for everything at the last minute. Grocery stores also tend to increase their prices, the closer it gets to the holidays.  A few weeks before your holiday celebration, plan out your menu. The best part about being organized is that you won’t find yourself shopping for random things that you didn’t end up needing.

“To-Do” Charts and Menus

When surveying the space in your kitchen, it might be the case that you can only have a few people cooking in your kitchen at one time. To account for this, you can make up “To-Do” charts with timelines so that you can keep the night running smoothly. When guests arrive, they will most likely want to help. The biggest thing you will have to keep a tight timeline on is the oven. For your other guests, it’s possible they just need to mix a salad, mash some potatoes, or whisk gravy.

These are tasks that do not require the guests to be in one specific place, so you can set up specific workstations within your apartment. The great thing about smaller spaces is that even if your guests are not in the kitchen with you, chances are they will still be close enough to carry on a conversation.

Host A Potluck 

Perhaps you aren’t in a position where you can provide an entire Thanksgiving dinner, then you should consider doing a potluck. Assign everyone the job of bringing one item that they can contribute to the meal! This is a great option especially when you are low on space as you won’t have to have as many dishes for prep. 

Freeze Food Beforehand 

One of the best ways to save money this Thanksgiving is to make food from scratch weeks before your Thanksgiving and then freeze it leading up to the dinner. This won’t work for every type of food but will help to keep things on the cheaper end. Most people end up spending the most money when they have to buy their Thanksgiving dinner food at the last minute!

Give Clear Assignments

If you’re hoping to host an amazing Thanksgiving dinner, but don’t want to do all the work or preparation, be sure to give your attendees clear assignments. Ask someone to bring the drinks or a side dish, and find ways for everyone to help out. Your party will be happy that no one has to provide everything!

Consider Having Your Thanksgiving Meal Catered

Although catering your Thanksgiving meal doesn’t necessarily get rid of your space issue, it will certainly get rid of the stress of having to cook everything in your apartment. Having your meal catered could give you more time to strategically arrange your apartment to accommodate more people.

Below are a few places that cater Thanksgiving dinner for an affordable price.

  • Whole Foods Market
  • Boston Market

If you decide to go this route, instead of stressing about all the food you have to make, direct your energy to clear out your kitchen and living room for extra space. Make everything into a chair! Trunks and nightstands make great tables, and your folding chairs used for camping or game days come in handy around this time of year!

Shop Seasonal Food Options 

While shopping, take a look at the fruit and veggie options that are in season. Oftentimes, food that is in season is more affordable and priced lower. You could consider getting creative and switching up the traditional menu with a few items that are perfectly in season. There are so many ways to celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s okay to get creative! Consider branching out of the typical Thanksgiving meal to create something memorable. 

Thanksgiving In Your Apartment

Apartment-Friendly Thanksgiving Menu Ideas

The secret to a successful Thanksgiving meal in an apartment is careful menu planning. Thanksgiving for beginners can be simplified by choosing recipes with fewer ingredients and steps, ensuring a manageable feast. Pick recipes that are easy to make and don’t take up much room, even though they taste delicious. If you’d rather not wrestle with an entire turkey, just picture yourself making a delicious sheet pan turkey breast. By using this method, you may reduce the cooking time and free up your oven to prepare other meals. Serve it with some roasted veggies made in the same pan, and you have a quick and easy main dish.

Now we may move on to the equally vital but frequently space-consuming sweets and appetizers. If you’d rather not use your oven for baking, a no-bake cheesecake is a great alternative. As a side dish, how about a deconstructed salad that your guests can put together? It will save you room and make the dinner more engaging. In this way, you can make the most of the space in your apartment while still presenting food in a warm and inviting style.

Advanced Preparation Strategies

Exploring some advanced preparation strategies for Thanksgiving in an apartment can make a difference in turning your holiday from a stressful experience to a smooth sailing one. Picture yourself waking up on Thanksgiving Day, feeling at ease because you’ve completed most of the preparations in advance. Preparation is key! Let’s begin by selecting dishes that can be prepared ahead of time. Imagine a cranberry sauce that blends flavors in the fridge or a savory squash soup that improves overnight.

Make sure to use your time wisely by cutting up vegetables, preparing ingredients for stuffing, and possibly putting together that green bean casserole. That way, you won’t have to worry about handling knives and recipe cards while trying to relax with your guests over a glass of wine. Also, remember to save room for some delicious desserts! You can prepare pies and cakes in advance, so your oven is ready for the main dish.

Engaging Guests in the Dinner Preparation

  • Kick off the evening with a welcome drink station outside the kitchen. Set up a small table with ingredients for a simple signature cocktail or a mocktail. This lets guests mix their drinks, sparking conversation and keeping the kitchen less crowded.
  • Assign small, manageable tasks to guests who want to help. Hand out recipe cards for simple dishes they can prepare in the living area or dining space. This could be assembling appetizers on platters or tossing a salad. It’s a great way to involve everyone without stepping on each other’s toes.
  • Innovative apartment Thanksgiving ideas include serving a buffet-style meal to save on space and encourage guests to mingle.
  • Organize a dessert decorating contest with pre-baked cookies or cupcakes. Provide icing, sprinkles, and other toppings. It’s a fun activity that adds a personal touch to the meal and allows guests to show off their creativity.
  • Set up a “snack station” for kids with easy-to-assemble treats. Include things like mini sandwiches, fruit skewers, or crackers with cheese. It keeps the little ones busy and gives them a sense of contribution to the dinner.
  • Use technology to your advantage. Create a collaborative playlist where guests can add their favorite songs before the day. This way, everyone gets to hear something they like, and it sets a festive mood while keeping the kitchen area less congested.

 Make A Holiday Hosting Budget 

Before you start to go all out for your Thanksgiving dinner and holiday parties, take the time to outline exactly what your budget is. It’s super easy to lose track of your spending, especially during the holiday season. Ensure that you have a proper process in place to track the guidelines of what you need to purchase and what you will end up purchasing. With so many ways to celebrate Thanksgiving, you want to make sure you choose the financial options that are best for you.

  • Search For Food Coupons

Many stores have a variety of deals available this time of year! You may have to go to different stores for different items. Get online to see which of your local stores is offering the best deal. You could also reach out to your party beforehand and see if anyone knows of any good deals in the local area. 

How To Decorate For Thanksgiving

DIY Thanksgiving Decorations

Brand-new decorations can be extremely expensive, and one alternative is to find ways you can create your own lower-cost versions. Use tools like Pinterest and social media to discover decor or table settings that help you feel festive, but don’t cost a fortune. Consider planning a night where family members or friends get together to do fun DIY crafts and make decorations!

Thrift Apartment Decorations 

If you want your apartment to feel more festive, but don’t want to spend a fortune on decorations, consider thrifting decorations. You can likely thrift decorations, plates, cups, and more. The benefit of thrifting goes beyond just saving money. Second-hand shopping helps the environment. Since you’re only using the decorations once a year, it’s the perfect way to save.

Celebrate Thanksgiving In Your Apartmennt

Rent One Of Your Apartment’s Event Rooms or Clubhouse

Many apartment communities allow their residents to rent out the clubhouse or one of the event rooms for the day. You may want to consider having your Thanksgiving meal in a big room with lots of space and then migrating back to your apartment to hang out.

Here’s what you should know about hosting Thanksgiving at your apartment’s clubhouse or event room.

  • Make sure you are aware of all the rules when renting a private room.
  • Know the maximum occupancy before you invite Uncle Bob’s cousin from your mom’s side whom you’ve never met.
  • Make sure your family will have parking and restroom accommodations available to them so that Grandma Peggy doesn’t have to worry about walking too far.
  • Ask what decorations are allowed.
  • Don’t be surprised by rental and clean-up fees. Ask about all fees before you sign an agreement.
  • Make sure all agreements are in writing, and have your event date included and signed by the apartment manager.
  • Make sure your apartment community allows alcohol, should you decide to serve it.
  • Lastly, ask how long you’re able to have the room and if you will need a staff member present. Apartment communities are all different and have their own specific rules.

Create More Apartment Space For Hosting

If you don’t want to spend extra money renting the clubhouse, why not make your apartment more spacious? You can create more counter space, add more tables and chairs, and even add your favorite decorations. Before your Thanksgiving dinner, look at the ways that you can make your space feel more open. Perhaps, you need to rearrange your furniture to fit a larger table for the meal. The more space that you have in the center of your apartment, the larger it will feel. This is a quick and easy way to change your space up that doesn’t require spending more money.

Below are 8 ways to create more room and make Thanksgiving a success in your apartment.

  • Remove the cookie, flower, and sugar jars from the countertop.
  • Remove the dish drying rack and place a flat stable object (large cutting board, or board of any type) over the sinks for more counter space.
  • Use bedroom side tables for desserts. You can put a tablecloth over them, and nobody will even know.
  • Ask your guests to bring their folding tables and chairs.
  • Make as much food as you can before Thanksgiving.
  • Rearrange your furniture to allow tables and chairs in the living room.
  • Keep centerpieces to a minimum. Try to find Thanksgiving decor you can hang instead.
  • Put your drinks in pitchers and store them in the fridge.

Setting up a dining area in a small space challenges us to think outside the box, but it’s doable with a bit of creativity. To maximize your dining room for Thanksgiving dinner, consider rearranging furniture to fit everyone comfortably.

Here’s how you can transform your limited space into a cozy, welcoming area for your Thanksgiving feast:

  • Opt for convertible furniture that serves dual purposes. A coffee table that lifts to dining height can be a game-changer, allowing your living area to quickly switch to a dining setup. This means you won’t need to store extra furniture, keeping your space clutter-free.
  • Innovative storage solutions, like under-the-table baskets, can help manage clutter in a small space during the holiday.
  • Use wall-mounted drop-leaf tables or extendable dining tables. These gems are perfect for small spaces because they can be tucked away or extended based on your needs. Imagine the ease of expanding your table to accommodate your dishes and then folding it back to reclaim your space after the meal.
  • Get creative with seating arrangements. Instead of traditional dining chairs, consider using ottomans, poufs, or even a bench that can be pushed under the table when not in use. These options not only save space but also add a cozy vibe to your dining area.
  • Think vertically for decoration and storage. Floating shelves can hold your plants and decorations, keeping the table surface clear for dishes and utensils. This approach keeps your dining area functional and stylish without sacrificing valuable space.
How to host holidays in an apartment

How To Get Creative with Counter Space

Counter space in your apartment is probably in high demand. There’s a turkey, mashed potato bowls, and pies all vying for your precious kitchen countertop space. You’ll likely need to set up alternative counter space to store food and things. Here are our ideas for creating more counter space in an apartment:

  • Ironing board: You can set up your ironing board with a tablecloth over it to hold your desserts and pies. The best part about this is that you can move it!
  • Nightstands: Bring out your nightstand from your room to hold napkins, silverware, and plates. This will also help keep the line moving and organized.
  • Convert Your Stovetop: When not using your stove, you can put some wooden boards over the cooktop to prepare meals, mash potatoes, mix stuffing, etc.

Post-Dinner Cleanup and Storage Solutions

  • Start with eco-friendly disposables for easy cleanup. Choose plates, cups, and utensils that can be recycled or composted. This way, you’re making your cleanup quicker and also doing your part for the environment.
  • Use clear, labeled containers for leftovers. This makes it easy to see what you have and helps with meal planning in the days following Thanksgiving. If space in the fridge is tight, consider using stackable containers to maximize room.
  • Get creative with storage. If you’re short on fridge space, think about which items don’t need to be refrigerated immediately, like certain pies or bread. You can also use coolers with ice packs to store extra items temporarily.
  • Tackle spills and messes as they happen. Keep a supply of cleaning wipes or a spray bottle with a cleaning solution handy. This prevents stains from setting and makes the final cleanup less daunting.
  • Encourage guests to help. Make it fun by turning cleanup into a group activity. This not only speeds up the process but also allows for more socializing.
  • Plan for trash and recycling. Make sure you have enough bins around your apartment. Labeling them for recycling, compost, and trash can manage waste more efficiently and keep your space tidy.

Remember Less Is More 

It’s really easy to feel that you have to spend a ton of money and time to provide your guests with the best Thanksgiving. It’s important to remember that oftentimes less is more. When you try to provide too much, you end up feeling stressed and you don’t get to enjoy the holiday. Don’t worry about needing to give your guests the best day ever, but rather just a nice meal to enjoy with friends and family.

Whatever you decide to do for the Thanksgiving holiday, know that it doesn’t have to be perfect. No matter if you have Thanksgiving in an apartment, house, or trailer, as long as you have a place to call home, you are doing good!

Find a new apartment to celebrate the holidays this year! 

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This post was written by

Isabella Housel

Isabella Housel is a passionate and versatile professional writer with a deep love for words and a commitment to crafting compelling content that engages, informs, and inspires. With many years of experience in the industry, she has honed her skills across various genres, from creative storytelling to informative articles and technical documentation.

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