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What time does your family eat Thanksgiving Dinner?

Growing up, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were usually served around 2-3 in the afternoon in our family. Over the last years my sister and I have had annual disagreements regarding the 'best' time for Thanksgiving Dinner. I like the 2pm range - it is a big heavy meal and seems healthier mid-day. Also that leaves time for an after dinner walk for those inclined. My sister feels that it is called Thanksgiving dinner and should be in the evening. She feels that 6pm is OK, tho she'd probably opt for later if not for me. I have told her that most everyone in the world eats Thanksgiving dinner in the afternoon - so what do all you CH's do? (PS I dearly love my sister and there is no animosity in our disagreement:)

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  1. We always eat sometime between 3:00 and 4:30. In addition to having time to let our food settle, we have people that have to drive an hour plus to get home so it's nice to leave them some time. Good luck :)

    1. I'm in your camp Elsie. We start about 2 (we've skipped lunch) and enjoy a very leisurely dining experience before retiring for an after dinner drink. We hold off on the dessert course until about an hour after the meal is finished. Roughly speaking it's dinner at 2, clear the table by about 3:30 or 4. Enjoy a drink of some variety (to booze or not to booze, your choice) and serve dessert about 5 - 5:30. By evening, everyone has had a chance to recover from "stuffing" themselves and is more comfortable at bedtime.
      It's a tradition in our house ...
      Eating later than about 2PM

      1. Well, for the first time ever we are going to try to sit down at 4pm. That will be quite a feat considering my father likes to make everyone wait until 8pm when he's in charge of dinner.
        I think my mother told him we must sit at 3pm in hopes we actually reach the 4pm goal.
        I do like the idea of time for a post-meal walk before dessert, and I will have a one hour+ drive home this year, so I'm all for eating early.
        Someday I hope to spend Tday in a cabin in the snow with EVERYONE spending the night. Dinner at 3 or 4pm, followed by movies in front of the fire, a turkey sandwich buffet put out around 8pm for all the hard-core eaters and utter relaxation all around. And soft pants all day long.

        1 Reply
        1. I used to aim for 4 and hope it was done by 7. It depended on how big the bird was (huge) and how early I could stand to get up.

          Sometimes I made it by 4; sometimes it slipped to 7.

          1. I also grew up with a mid-afternoon dinner, but my husband is firmly in the evening camp, and we rarely eat any holiday meals before 7 or 7:30. I would love to sit down at 6, but trying to get my DH to go along is a lost cause.

            1. I agree with your sister and prefer to eat dinner around 6pm.

              1. We eat about 4 p.m.....any later than that and everyone will be ready to go straight to bed after dessert but then, my family always had regular dinner no later than 5:00 p.m.

                1. Growing up, we gathered at Noon for cocktails and dinner was served at 1:00 PM....We have slowly moved it to 3:00 PM..my husband's family is in the late camp...in fact, the later the better, typically, they sit down to dinner at 5 PM...

                  1. Our Thanksgiving has always been lunch. My mom used to serve it at 11 or 12. I usually serve it around 1. Then we clean up a bit, have some pie, take a walk and then hit the leftovers for dinner.

                    1. Thanks all, tho I didn't get the landslide of opinion in my court. Pretty even mix of preferences.
                      We are now haggling - she wants 5:30, I say 3, hoping we can eat around 4. Timing is our only difference for holidays:)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ElsieB

                        We're an afternoon-dinner sort of family. People start arriving around noon. Libations are available to all. We don't do a ton of starters or snackies because dammit I want people to eat dinner. Late afternoons are reserved for the activity of choice: The Game, a walk, a long food-coma nap.....and leftovers are put out around 6-ish for those who haven't done enough damage. I just can't see waiting until dinnertime for such a lavish spread, but that's just me. I like 6 pm for your sister, just not for me. Have a Happyhappy day, Elsie: and your sister too!

                      2. I keep things rather simple, and there are usually just 4-6 eating; we eat about 6:00.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: OCEllen

                          We're going earlier than I like this year - 1 pm. Our daughter delegated us to do dinner this year, and I was so looking forward to not doing the big deal here. My health has changed, and it's going to take a lot out of me to get a bird and everything else done that early. Dau says she will be here to help Tuesday, we'll see. Not enthusiastic this year, but I'll enjoy the meal once it's ready......then the worst part, putting all the food away and getting the dishes done. I thought as the family matriarch I was done with that, not that I don't always help at her house. Surprise. And DH is doing a brisket on the ceramic cooker to go with the bird.
                          Everyone have a Blessed Thanksgiving.

                          1. re: Nanzi

                            Growing up, we had it in the mid-afternoon, which allowed my aunt and uncle to drive from where they lived several hours away. Also, being that it was a farming community, chores and such still had to be done til early afternoon, so anything earlier than 2 was out.

                            Nowdays, (and I live too far from home to go home for the holidays most years) I just hang with whatever schedules others' have if I'm being invited over, but is usually the same times as I've grown up with.

                        2. In our family we gather around 12 pm for apps/mezze, drinks and lots of visiting. We are a very large family with an average count for Thanksgiving of 150 people. This year it will be a little smaller at 120 attending. The big food rolls out around 2 pm and everyone is leaving around 5 or so. Our gatherings are more on the causal side.