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Dinner Party Timing Question

I’m having a small (8 people) dinner party soon. One of my guests is going to be rather late, everyone else will probably be on time. While I don’t necessarily want to wait for him….

How long do you allow for wine/cocktails w/snacks before sitting down to dinner?

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  1. I think, as long as you have enough little munchies at hand, 45 minutes is just about the right amount of time for your cocktails. It gives people a chance to take off their coats, pick up a glass of wine, chat amongst themselves and let the day fade away before sitting down to dinner.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Deenso

      I agree - that's about the amount of time I leave for pre dinner cocktails etc.

    2. I agree with Deenso. If the late guest is going to be there within the hour though, I'd wait. If an hour has passed, I'd start serving the guests that are there.

      1. agree with the above, and it's also not fair to hold the other guests hostage. explain to the late arrival that you will be sitting down at 8:00 (or whenever), i'm sure he will understand.

        1. Count me another vote for 45. That's almost always what I do. I've only gone less than that (30 minutes) if there are kids there too - the pint sizes need to eat sooner. Don't wait for the late person. Sit down and start your dinner. Your guest will probably feel worse if he feels like he held up the dinner party and everyone is standing around waiting for him.

          1. If you already know that the guests will be late, and you still intend to have him at the party, why aren't you pushing back the start time of the event???????

            4 Replies
            1. re: Kater

              If you have invited 10 people and 1 out of 10 has indicated they are going to be late, why would you push back the time for 1 person. You might as well socialize with your other guests in the meantime. If you changed your plans for each individual in the group, you'd never have a starting point.

              1. re: pescatarian

                Because the guests is going to be late enough that she is considering starting the dinner without him but still keeping the invitation intact. If it is that important that he join the it makes more sense to update the plan than to try to work around a certain disruption.

                1. re: Kater

                  Doesn't sound to me like it will cause a disruption. Nothing wrong with serving appetizers and socializing with the others in the meantime.

                  1. re: pescatarian

                    exactly... the guest who was going to be late could have declined ... host(ess) is accomodating w/out disrupting other guests.

            2. Thank you, everyone, for your responses. I had been wondering if an hour was too long. I'll play it mostly by ear.

              1. If you go much past 45 minutes, perhaps your guests will load up on appetizers and not be hungry for dinner. I've struggled with waiting for late guests and I've learned that the party must go on! The late person will just join at whatever stage the party is at. Have a great dinner party!!