August 01, 2008

party time

Absolut-ly fabulous

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Question: What time should you arrive at a party?
Answer: That depends.
Sarcastic Response: Wow, thanks. That's so helpful.

The right time to arrive at a party is a common etiquette question, and there isn't a set time that works for every situation. It depends, in part, on the type of party and the other attendees.

That said, here are some general guidelines to keep you from making a social gaffe:

  • For an event at a specific time, like a restaurant reservation or play, do your friends a favor and arrive early. Showing up even a few minutes late could cost you the table or make you have to wait in the lobby until intermission.
  • For an event on a schedule, like a dinner party or a book club, arrive within 15 minutes of the start time.
  • For a casual event, like a barbecue or house party, consider the people invited to assess whether they're likely to show up on time or roll in a few hours later. If you're still unsure, ask the host what time they suggest.
  • For a house party, do not show up early unless the hosts have explicitly said you can. They will be in the shower. And even if you offer to help (no, not in the shower), you could still be in the way.
  • Hint for party hosts: If it's important to you that guests arrive at a certain time (like before the guest of honor at a surprise party), make that crystal clear in the invitation. Don't just assume the stated party time will get the point across.

Posted by Eva on August 1, 2008 in Etiquette

Permalink | Comments (4)

4 responses to "party time "

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Sorry, but I think this is terrible advice. Being on time shows respect for others. Giving advice to "roll in a few hours later" for a barbecue to house party is just plain rude. The only time it is acceptable to be so late is if the host is having an Open House with a start and finish time. Guests are generally invited to drop in anytime between start and finish. Other occasions like barbecues have a start time for a reason. It takes effort and money to give a gift of food and hospitality to invited guests. Arriving on time shows respect for the hosts and other guests.

I disagree, Patricia. With casual get-togethers like barbecues, I think hosts plan on guests to start showing up about a half hour after the suggested start time. In fact, I did ask the host of a recent barbecue what time she wanted people to get there. The evite said noon, but she said she didn't plan on anyone getting there before 12:30 or so.

Eva, I agree with you 100% about not showing up early at a house party. Early arrivals are one of our pet peaves since we're usually still vacuuming until just moments before showtime. :)

But we do always invite a close friend or two to stop by early. One, they're always great to have around when you need last-minute help. And two, it prevents that sometimes awkward moment when the first guest arrives (especially since the first arrival always seems to be the introverted co-worker you invited just to be polite).

I agree - showing up on time to a house party is a big "no no". I grew up with the concept of being fashionably late - that is 15 minutes. On the other hand, being an hour late is rude, especially for smaller parties when the hosts are serving dinner. Not knowing when your guests are going to show up will make the host wonder when to serve at the risk of starting too early or leaving everyone else hungry.