When Can I Start Drinking on Thanksgiving?

Jean Schnelle, seen here running the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line in 2000, is probably telling someone when they can start drinking
Image: Getty

Thanksgiving is a holiday characterized by stretches of emotional and physical torture followed by brief, sharp, and transcendent moments of ecstasy. A cousin doing the Mayor Pete dance while screaming “OK, BOOMER” at your parents’ elderly dog goes down easy with a drink in your hand or a weed gummy down the hatch, making a situation that was previously untenable merely average to fine. However, timing is everything. When should you start drinking or consuming your items for maximum pain relief and pleasure?

The rules, of course, are dependent on your own tolerance and whether or not your Thanksgiving attendees are down with whatever. I assume they are; I am also not the boss of you. If you are a guest at Thanksgiving, I beseech you to find it in yourself to wait until one of the hosts starts drinking. Remember that Thanksgiving is a marathon not a sprint. If you start drinking at say, noon, but don’t eat until 4 p.m., you will say something rude to someone’s grandmother and eat all the stuffed mushrooms before the turkey has hit the table. Give it a moment. Follow the host’s lead. Seems normal? Maybe. Doable? Yes.

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However, if you are the one hosting Thanksgiving, all bets are off. Your house, your rules, baby! After many years of trial and error, I have perfected the appropriate timing for reaching, and then maintaining, a festive waviness that leaves one competent and capable enough to also cook a meal.

The best rule to follow is to count backwards from when you will eat dinner, and add an extra half hour onto that time to account for various catastrophes, including but not limited to setting a tea towel on fire by accident or being tasked with hopping in the car and driving to the gas station to see if maybe, just maybe, they have a pie crust. If dinner is at 5, and you have people coming to your house by 3:30, assume that those guests will be late.

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Here is an ideal scenario. Say it is, oh, roughly 1:45 p.m. Mr. Turkey can go in the oven now, if you’d like, and whilst he is baking, you must follow suit. Eat one edible now, and pour yourself a small wine spritzer—mostly seltzer, a dash of rosé, a lot of ice. Take a moment. Make another beverage. There is French onion dip to be made, and yes, you must chop the onions, but that is the sort of repetitive task that becomes soothing once the weed kicks in and the first tiny beverages smooths the rough edges. Give yourself an hour. Isn’t that nice? Feels good. Like a bath, but you’re still dressed, standing, and eating celery. Soon, friends and family will filter into your home, dipping a spoon into the gravy and asking you if you really needed to add that much salt. They’re probably right, but the twist is that you don’t care.

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