Thanksgiving Traditions Across the U.S.

Header image for a blog about Thanksgiving preferences in the U.S.
Header image for a blog about Thanksgiving preferences in the U.S.

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, which means it’s time to get your plans in order! What time will you eat? Who will you spend it with? What side dish is a must-have? What football games are you watching?

For this study, we surveyed Americans across the nation to map out how people spend their Thanksgiving in every U.S. state. Read on to find out what they had to say.

The Ideal Thanksgiving in Every U.S. State

U.S. map with the most common meal time in each state color coded.

Imagine a warm, cozy home filled with the mouthwatering scents of turkey and pumpkin pie. Laughter bounces off the walls, and the dining table stands like a feast waiting to happen. Outside, kids turn the lawn into a makeshift football field while fallen leaves add a touch of golden glam to the scene. In other words, the perfect Thanksgiving Day!

But what time should you aim to carve that turkey to sync up with the rest of America? Let’s dig into the details.

When it comes to turkey time, America has spoken. Our survey revealed that an overwhelming majority—32 states, to be exact—prefer to dig into their turkey feast mid-afternoon, specifically between 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM, or that sweet spot where the parade is over with, and everyone is ready to huddle around the table.

Meanwhile, early evening (4:00 PM – 6:00 PM) and early afternoon (12:00 PM – 2:00 PM) tie for second place, capturing the hearts (and stomachs) of residents in 6 states each. Whether you’re an early bird who prefers to start feasting sooner than later or someone who wants to wait until the sun sets, you’re in good company.

Who’s At Your Thanksgiving Table?

So, you’ve got a turkey that could win a beauty pageant and mashed potatoes that are practically a butter sculpture. But who’s got dibs on the cranberry sauce? 

According to Americans, it’s a split decision. In the states we looked at, one half is rolling out the welcome mat for everyone from extended family to close friends, while the other half is keeping things cozy with just their immediate families.

It’s like picking between apple pie and sweet potato pie—there’s no wrong answer. Maybe you’re unfolding the extra table and setting out name tags for a bustling, love-filled extravaganza. 

Or perhaps you’re opting for a more intimate setting with your closest loved ones. The cool thing about Thanksgiving is that it’s one-size-fits-all in the best way possible. Whether you go all out or keep it close-knit, it’s your personal version of “home sweet home.”

The Turkey Day Playbook: The Thanksgiving Games America Can’t Wait to Watch

Infographic showing which Thanksgiving football games Americans are most excited for.

Thanksgiving isn’t just for the foodies out there—it’s a gridiron gala, too! While the turkey is roasting and the pies are cooling, many of us will be flipping through the channels for some good ol’ Thanksgiving football action. 

But which games are making America buzz like a well-tuned marching band? Let’s break it down; here are the states with the highest majority of respondents eager to watch each Thanksgiving football showdown.

For the cheeseheads across Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, it’s no surprise they’re itching to watch the Green Bay Packers face off against the Detroit Lions. Forget cheese and crackers; this matchup is the real appetizer!

Meanwhile, the majority of Marylanders will tune into the Washington Commanders vs. Dallas Cowboys showdown come turkey day. Who needs dinner table debates when you’ve got rivalries like this?

Washington state is rolling out the fan gear for a West Coast clash: the San Francisco 49ers vs. the Seattle Seahawks. It’s a matchup so sweet that you might forget the pumpkin pie!

Last but certainly not least, down in Alabama, the main course is College Football! They’re tuning in to see Ole Miss and Mississippi State duke it out on the field, providing a full feast for the eyes and the soul. Interestingly enough, the majority of respondents from Mississippi (41%) stated they won’t be watching any football games on Thanksgiving. 

Other National Traditions: A Thanksgiving Roundup

Graphic highlighting other popular Thanksgiving traditions.

Ready to swap football stats for fun facts? Let’s tackle the many traditions that make Thanksgiving the ultimate American holiday. From the oven to the kitchen table and everything in between—here’s what’s cooking across the U.S.!

First up, the culinary tag team. You know what they say—two cooks are better than one! A solid 33% of American households have a dynamic duo steering the kitchen ship.

According to 38% of Americans, it takes about 4-5 hours to whip up the feast on average. Meanwhile, one in six is pulling an all-day cooking marathon, clocking in 8 hours or more. Talk about dedication!

When it comes to meal length, nearly half of you are chowing down for 1-2 hours, but a speedy 20% get it done in under an hour. On the other hand, a leisurely 29% are savoring the meal for over 2 hours. The long and short of it? We all love to eat!

Now, onto the spread. Most of us (53%) are laying out a grand buffet of 5-7 dishes, while 32% are going all out with 8 or more dishes! As for the minimalists among us, a laid-back 13% keep things simple with only 1-4 dishes.

But where does everyone park their behinds when it’s time to chow down? It seems that 46% keep it classy at a long dining table, 22% are going buffet-style, and a laid-back 18% are mixing chairs and couches in the living room. Pass the remote, please!

Speaking of which, pre-game snacking strategies are commonplace among Americans. A wise 41% have a light breakfast, 20% are nibbling beforehand, and a hardcore 36% are saving all their stomach real estate for the main event.

Post-feast, it’s TV time for 49%, while 17% whip out the board games, and 11% catch some Z’s with a post-turkey nap.

Finally, let’s give it up for the side dish MVPs! Stuffing takes the trophy with 32%, while mashed potatoes earn a respectable second place at 25%.

Closing Thoughts

Whether you’re a turkey traditionalist or a football fanatic, one thing’s for sure: Thanksgiving is a day for coming together and making memories that last a lifetime. 

And speaking of timeless treasures, why not make this Thanksgiving extra special? 

If you’re thinking about popping the question or want to show your love and gratitude in a unique way, check out Shane Co’s dazzling selection of engagement rings and fine jewelry. Much like Thanksgiving, a beautiful piece of jewelry is a moment frozen in time, something to be cherished forever. 

This year, make Thanksgiving truly unforgettable—both at the table and in your hearts.


This study was conducted by surveying 3,094 Americans from September 29, 2023, to October 18, 2023. Of these respondents, 2,100 were part of the state-specific analysis, with 50 respondents from each state. States including Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, D.C., and Wyoming were excluded from the survey due to insufficient respondents. The survey aimed to gather information about various Thanksgiving traditions such as meal timing, guest count, activities, and the number of dishes served.

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