HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


What time do you sit down for Thanksgiving Dinner?

My family seems to be freaks when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, because we generally eat at dinner time - around 6:30-7:00. we usually have cheese and appetizers around 4:30-5;00 with some wine, but don't start our meal til later. Usually having dessert around 8:30-9:00.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. We usually have ours around 3:30 or 4:00.

    1. I used to do it also for dinner back in Boston, but out here in Phoenix everybody eats so early (6:30 pm dinner is prime time). I know more than one family out here who do Thanksgiving "Dinner" at noon!

      The last couple of years, I've planned for "late lunch time" - appetizers and cocktails around 2/3 pm, dinner around 4:30/5.

      1. I prefer it as an early dinner, too (6 or 7ish) but the benefit of doing it earlier (like 2 or 3) is the second dinner a few hours later. My British family would have Sunday dinner around 3 and I suspect it was planned around the second dinner concept.

        1. We always did it at noon, so we could have naps, then get up for the requisite sandwich for supper.

          1. Grew up with it being a noonish meal in all my mother's extended family, and because I usually worked 3-11 p.m., continued that when I was married before; his family also ate the meal midday. But when I married again after decades of being single, he (Eastern urbanite) was shocked that I (small-town Midwesterner who'd moved to a city) expected to do that. So when I was doing it, it usually was....oh, 4 or 5 p.m. No more; the only family living within a thousand miles is my stepdaughter, who has to use a wheelchair, and our house is massively inaccessible. So we go out.

            1. My dining room is so pretty at night that I have groused inside my skull for years about all the *louder* voices in my family that proclaim "if it's not at Noon, it's not Dinner," and have capitulated for the past couple of decades to a noon meal. Well noonish. More like 1pm, just to be inside-my-skull sane while at the same time getting to engage in the National Sport of Subtle Holiday Passive-Aggression. (Just kidding, just kidding...mostly!) But it works. The 9th decade Pater gets his meal and gets on his long drive home, my kids get to squeeze in the dual-Thanksgiving between our home and their dad's, and the house is largely calm by 6 pm. This leaves plenty of time for a long evening of stock-making and leftover-eating. That's when I light the dining room candles and sit down to truly enjoy the gravy.

              2 Replies
              1. re: cayjohan

                We like 3 pm, late enough to easily get the turkey done, but not so late we need lunch first.

                1. re: cayjohan

                  Wow, every time you think you are the only one.....I too love the look of the dining room-well, the whole house actually, after dark. Our compromise was to start around 3ish, so that at least by dessert time, I can have my festive glow (in more ways than one, as I have been able to enjoy a few glasses of wine by this point:)

                2. We eat promptly at 1PM. This allows guests to leave for the long drive home at a reasonable hour. Also, daughter works retail and goes in at 3am on Black Friday.................

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: bagelman01

                    Bagelman 101, I work retail also and go in at 3am Friday, with the added bonus of work til 12am Wednesday night. My wife works part time at my store and she gets the same great hours. We're eating out at guess what, 1 pm. Thanksgiving sucks.

                    1. re: James Cristinian

                      Growing up, we were in the retail business. My father owned a chain of clothing stores. We all worked long hours for the holiday season, and Thanksgiving was a day off for the paid help, but the family was in the stores readying for Friday sales. So, from the time I was 6 until my father sold the business (I was out of college) our family celebrated Thanksgoving on the Sunday before Thanksgiving (this was before Sunday openings were legal in Connecticut). From 1980 on when I owned my own retail establishment we revived this early celebration of Thanksgiving, as I knew that I would have no day off until January 1.

                      1. re: bagelman01

                        I've been in retail pretty much forever. I miss the old Sunday blue laws as we called them in Texas. Sunday in the summer was always beach day. This Sunday I'll be in at 4 am. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, you have truly earned it.

                  2. Guests are invited for 6:00-ish. Champagne is served to those who want it. Dinner is served as close to 6:30 as I can get it on the table, usually about 6:45. We can't do a big meal in the middle of the day. That means the out-of-towners are spending the night, of course. But pie for breakfast is their reward!

                    1. It's always been Thanksgiving Lunch for us. My parents started it and we have continued. Guests arrive around 1:00 PM for cocktails and hors d'oeuvre. Then we sit down at around 2-ish or there about. It gives us time to visit and re-connect while last minute preparations are completed. It's all very leisurely and fairly casual although the table is set strictly formally. In the old days we'd get all dressed up but for the last few years dress has been more relaxed. It's a wonderful day all around. I love it.

                      1. We start our cocktails around 1pm with dinner at about 3. We all go for a walk in the woods in back of the house and return for dessert, coffee and cordials. We then have a cheese course later in the evening with port.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: breadfan

                          My husbands family insists on Thanksgiving breakfast at Noon... they eat at Noon and I HATE IT... It doesn't give me anytime in the morning to cook or eat or watch the Macy's day parade..... or exercise,.....

                          I hate Thanksgiving with my husband's extended family and now that I have kids of my own, I'm waiting for the opportunity to host it my self and do it my way!

                          This famiy is very set in their ways, and everything is the same every year... which I hate! The menu the same, the schedule the same and even the same people...ugh. Its such a great day, and they ruin it for me.

                          Whenever I suggest we mix it up bit, or that my kids can't handle their schedule / menu, I get yelled at!

                          Dreading it again this year.

                          1. re: cheesehead in recovery

                            40 years ago when my first sibling got married, my mother established this rule.
                            Even numbered years we were expected to eat with our birth family, odd numbered years are for the inlaws. This has carried on to the married children and grandchildren (4th generation).
                            Mom and dad moved to Florida 24 years ago (dad has since died and mom is back here in a senior apartment unable to host), and the even years now rotate among the three siblings (only have to host every 6 years that way). Host sets time (taking into consideration travel time and kids feeding schedule) and menu.

                            When we host, we dine at PM. When sister hosts we done at 3PM. When brother is host, it depends on what seating is available at the restaurant his wife chooses. In 39 years she has never cooked a meal for other than her and husband and dog.......

                            We all live within a 2.5 hour drive (each way) dependent on traffic and weather. Everyone wants to be on the road again no later than 6PM. Friday is a working day for almost all of us.

                        2. My parents serve it anytime between 3:30 and 6:00pm. Later and you can't drive home because you're so full and warm; earlier and you've just eaten lunch. Dinner generally gets drawn out until 9:00pm, including dessert.
                          Since I've only done turkey twice, dinner at my house is anytime between 6:00-8:00pm since I didn't have dish management down yet.

                          1. My husband always has to work Thanksgiving morning, so we skip breakfast and eat around 3:30 or 4PM, dessert around 6 and then raid the leftovers later.

                            1. Regardless of which family member hosts, arrival time is always "threeish." Cheese, fruit, appetizers and wine. Dinner is generally served about 4:30. After dinner is clearing of the table and watching football or conversing. Then we put on the coffee and serve the desserts (cakes and pies) and cordials in the living room. Repeat football and conversing. Very few have to work on Friday, so we exit as needed (i.e., if host has to work we try to leave by 10:00; otherwise we linger).

                              1. Growing up, we always had the Thanksgiving meal in the evening, and I've continued the tradition. I simply don't like have the main meal of the day at lunch time.