1. Verify your guests' attendance.
Get an accurate head count of your dinner guests. Verify that all who are invited are indeed planning on showing, and only then begin planning your menu.
2. Find out what your guests like.
While doing your inviting, find out your guests' individual tastes and diets. Be sure to ask about particular foods your guests like to eat and those they won't touch. If something on your menu isn't very popular with your guests, skip it - even if you think it's "obligatory" for a Thanksgiving table.
3. Make it a potluck.
Slash your spending and your stress in one step by answering an enthusiastic "yes!" to every guest who asks if they can bring something. Don't just say "anything's fine," though, or you might have seven desserts. Instead, create a Google™ Sheet, Facebook® event or similar product with your planned menu and let your guests input what they'd like to contribute to the meal.
4. Serve on smaller plates.
Most people will load up their plates to capacity, regardless of the plate's size. Curb the wasting at your table by using smaller dinnerware. They can always take seconds later.
5. DIY décor.
You can set a beautiful holiday tablescape without blowing your budget with a little imagination. Shop the local dollar store for discounted décor that still packs a punch, like colored vases, fake flower arrangements and other centerpieces. Look for easy, inexpensive DIY ideas online. Finally, get creative by using things around the house - or yard - as your décor.
6. Shop the sales.
Supermarkets tend to run specials on Thanksgiving staples starting as early as Halloween. Plan your menu in advance so you can take advantage. You can also keep your menu flexible until you see the circulars and then base your dishes on the ingredients and produce that are cheapest. Also, be sure to shop around for your turkey! Grocery stores tend to have the best deals on the birds, with some even running free-turkey deals when you spend a specific amount on other groceries.
7. Cook from scratch.
Almost everything is less expensive - and tastes better - when it's homemade. Start your cooking well enough in advance so you don't find yourself relying on too many convenience foods.