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Dinner guests who are chronically late and/or early...what to do?

  • f

So it's that time of year where parties and dinners are in full swing. I was getting my invitations for my annual 23rd of December pre-Christmas dinner in order. We usually have 12 over for dinner, but I noticed that, as usual, I was modifying the dinner times for a few couples. You see, we always have 3 of my DH's sisters over with their spouses. Now, I set my dinner for 730pm. I set the arrival time for 7pm. This gives those who come at 7pm some time with appetizers and wine and lets my meal, which is ready between 730pm and 745pm, come in on time. You know, things have to come out of the oven in sequence, some things need to rest, some things you don't want to overcook, so you time everything to be ready at once so you can eat.
Well, SIL #1 gets the invite: Dinner at 7pm. She always arrives around 7pm.
SIL #2 gets the invite: Dinner at 8pm. She will always arrive an hour early. If I write Dinner at 7pm she's there at 6pm. This is the SIL who brings Janey, member that story from the "Kids and Knives" thread? She doesn't come early to help, either. I've tried managing this in various ways -- I've tried saying Dinner at 7pm and not answering the door til then but even though she lives 4 blocks away, she'll arrive at 6pm and use the Emergency key my DH gave her to let herself in. Seriously. I've said "oh you're here early, must be to help? Could you help with the table?" to be met with "I don't DO tables, I'm watching TV" as she goes to the living room and settles in to watch Judge Judy. I've tried everything (except walk around the house naked until 645pm even if she's there, as one friend suggest I do LOLOLOL) as has DH (the talking part, not the walking naked around the house part LOLOLOL), to no avail. So the best thing I can do is say "Dinner at 8pm" and she arrives around 7pm.
SIL #3 gets the invite: Dinner at 6pm. This SIL love love LOVES to arrive late, as in usually one to two hours late. If I say Dinner at 7pm, she'll arrive at 815pm or later. I've tried to manage this in various ways, as in "dinner is served at..." or "please come on time, there's lots of stuff coming out of the oven"...to no avail. She's been so late at times that I've just assumed she isn't showing up and carried on with dinner, to have her arrive almost 3 hours late and upset that we didn't wait before starting. So a Dinner at 6pm invite means she'll be there around 730pm.
Luckily for me, these 3 SILs don't talk much amongst themselves so they haven't twigged onto the different dinner timings THUS FAR, but I fear this may change.
Do you have people in your life who don't respect dinner invitation timings?
How do you manage this?
And more importantly, how long do you hold dinner for someone who isn't there on time?

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  1. hahaha i have friends that i modify invite times for as well. as long as they dont try to verify times with each other, it works out well

    1. This is awesome. Hopefully the invitations don't get mixed up :)

      I think family makes it even more difficult than friends. I have a chronically late friend, who I have started: 1. leaving if she is more than 20 minutes late to a dinner reservation and 2. Calling her out on being late. Ex: she was late meeting for dinner and said, I fell asleep. I told her that no, she was always late and that it was disrespecting my time. She apologized and said she would work on it. Now that I am honest with her about being late, she seems better and treats it less flipantly (sp? is that a word?). Still drives me bonkers.

      I only hold dinner for long enough that it is still served at its optimum point. I won't let myself or my other guests suffer due to 1 late person!

      1. I have a neighbor who is NEVER on time for dinner. Finally, I stopped letting her be the one to bring an appetizer (she insists on bringing food) so we don 't have to wait for that and we just go ahead with our schedule. She shows up when she does, I make no big deal about it, and she gets to eat whatever is being served when she arrives. (It is not because she is a super busy person, one time she showed up an hour late and she said she would have been on time but she decided at the last minute to go get a massage!) No special treatment at all. For the early arrival, who lives 4 blocks away, your husband needs to go to the door and say "Oh sis, you're an hour early, see you at 7." If they don't respect your schedule, I would just stop inviting them. By the way, what does the on-time sister havve to say about the whole thing?

        1. My other half and me have a set of friends who are always late.
          They have caused a few dishes to be ruined while we wait for them to turn up.
          Now I just cook beef bourguigon as I know I can leave it to sit on a low temp till they turn up.

          1. "Come over anytime after 7p.m. and have appetizers. Dinner will be served at 7:30"

            If someone shows up late, point to the plates in the kitchen and have them serve themselves. If they don't call to say they will be late, offer seconds to the people who are there.

            1. This is actually simple.

              For the late person, tell them "We will be sitting down to eat at N time sharp, and I won't be holding food after that point. Really." This way, if they don't like that, they can decline the invitation; if they accept, it's under this rubric. You don't hold dinner for someone who has a pattern of being late. Never. If it's cold or all eaten, their demonstrated lack of respect to you and fellow diners is their problem, not yours.

              For the early person, tell them "and I will not be available to greet you before N time. Really". And mean it. Don't answer the door before N time (and have it locked). They can sit in their car and amuse themselves while they wait. I do this all the time as a congenitally early person (I always add 20 minutes for traffic, so often I am early, and I would not dream of knocking or ringing earlier than 5 minutes after the appointed hour for a set-time gathering unless there is extreme weather and I make myself absolutely of no burden to the host).

              1. It sounds like you are already handling this as well as possible by giving the SILs different arrival times based on their habits. As others have said, don't hold dinner for the perpetually late person. You're enabling her to continue in her rude habit and making others suffer. For the early one, well, she sounds very passive aggressive, especially if she is unwilling to help while you're running around trying to get things ready. I think I'd meet her at the door, with the chain on, if you have one, and let her know you'll be ready in an hour, then just close it. She's the one being rude; you're just setting boundaries. The stronger one's boundaries, the better people behave.

                1. I would just address the invitations for whatever time you are expecting normal people to arrive. Ignore the early one and don't hold anything for the late one. Why accomodate such rude people?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Njchicaa

                    This is probably how I would handle it also, with the added precaution that I would somehow render the TV, and any other TVs in the house, useless. Have your hubby move it out to the garage perhaps, or even take it to a friend's. I can't imagine any reason why SIL #2 shows up that early, given that she only lives four blocks away, other than preferring your TV to her own for whatever reason. Then, completely ignore her until it is time to begin the party. Even if she talks to you, keep getting ready and ignore her. At seven you can say, "Oh SIL, so glad you could make it"...and then you can talk to her.

                    (although the parading around naked bit sounds appealing also. you could do that and still ignore her :-))

                  2. My take on this: Back in the day, I was dating my now-husband when he was clerking for Justice Rehnquist. We invited the Justice and his wife (to reciprocate a lovely dinner), and the other two clerks and their spouses to a dinner at 7. Everyone showed up at 7, except the Justice and wife (he was not burning the midnight oil). I had a standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding ready to go, so at 8 we sat down to eat. The Rehnquists arrived at 8:30 and seemed surprised that we were dining without them.

                    Despite the gold stripes he adopted to adorn his robes, Rehnquist was not an entitled bloke. I do not, however, feel any remorse for commencing my dinner without him.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: pikawicca

                      Well now, can anyone top that story?

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        To paraphrase a legal adage, a Justice delayed is a Justice denied!

                          1. re: Veggo

                            Haha, touche. Although got to say I am surprised given his reputation for cutting of lawyers in mid-sentence when their time was up before 'this honorable court' ... and generally running a tight ship.

                          2. re: pikawicca

                            Wow, you guys have got backbone! I'll bet when Rehnquist writes his memoirs there will be an anecdote about the clerk who didn't think he was special enough to ruin a dinner for. You are welcome to host when my MIL comes to visit!

                            1. re: Isolda

                              Rehnquist passed away several years ago. My husband was one of the pallbearers.

                          3. Please come back and let us know how it all worked out and what time everyone actually arrived. Your post was too funny; in my family no one ever sits and wants to help, and I want everyone to sit because I end up doing more work. But everyone means well. Tardiness is definitely a hassle where dinner is concerned, a little conditional behavior might be in order and let 'em know that ya won't be a waitin' ;)

                            1. freia, what do you do when the hosts are the ones guilty of being late, disorganized and expect you to turn your entire day over to their timetable. My sil is notorious for changing a party time at the last minute. Recently a party for her daughter started out as an invite for brunch, the day before the party it became an early dinner and the party girl had to work late leaving all of the "hungry" guests waiting for an hour. Our original afternoon plans were diverted and we all left feeling rather awkward about the whole celebration. So even when the guests respect an invitation the whole shebang can fall apart if the hosts don't have their acts together or expect their guests to drop everything and be completely flexible with a last min. change of time/day/venue. Hard to respect that kind of party planning.

                              19 Replies
                              1. re: HillJ

                                Also, there are host's that don't mind you coming early if you help. You try to help, but you just don't do a very good job. Ever. Nothing personal, nobody else does a good job either.

                                So, you try to get there a bit later although still within the invite. Then you are "teased" for showing up "late" "after the work was done"...

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  I was thinking the same, no matter what time my neighbors invite me for dinner they don't start cooking and prepping till I get there, then I'm expected to help 'cos you're a better cook than we are'. So a 7pm invite means dinner at about 8.30. If I get there at 7.45 (I've tried this) dinner is 9.15.

                                  1. re: smartie

                                    So interesting, isn't it. What I take away from the entire thread is this. Expectations are usually great in our heads, downgraded in real life. Best of intentions go haywire easily and all any of us can be is FLEXIBLE. At this point in my life, I chaulk it up to being one meal, one issue, dealt with one at a time. If I let the examples pile up the frustration takes over and I don't enjoy the company, the food or the human condition. And I'd rather just ENJOY. At least in my family the food is good!

                                    1. re: smartie

                                      I have the same problem with my chronically late neighbor. Go to her house and she's planned some elaborate Gourmet magazine menu yet has done no prep and is usually missing ingredients. When we help, dinner get on the table by 9:30, the time we didn't we sat down at 11. Both times she got home late to start out with because she decided to "stay an extra hour at the beach."

                                      1. re: escondido123

                                        you know I just realized this problem (the late or early guests and the friends who are disorganized and expect help) is all our own fault. It's enabling. If the first time I went to friends who were not ready to start cooking and I sat down and read the paper and didn't offer to help, or the perpetually late guest missed out on all the dinner maybe, just maybe, they would not do it again. Sigh, then again maybe not.

                                        My ex hubbie was and probably still is perpetually late. I tried everything from telling him we were expected earlier, to friends and family starting dinner without us. It made no difference. I even drove without him, with my kids to my brother's wedding and they were bridesmaids, because he still hadn't showered and got into his dinner suit at the time we were supposed to have left home to travel to the wedding. We almost missed so many flights, but see he didn't care because we never actually missed them entirely.

                                        1. re: smartie

                                          I have come to the conclusion that those people are not going to change, any more than I'm going to stop doing all the things that my friends put up with from me. I did end a long friendship because it was obvious, for whatever reason, that one woman who was always late, always crossing "boundaries" was not going to change and it got to the point that the ways her actions made me feel bad were greater than they ways her friendship made me feel good. So at some point, we all make choices and then have to live with them.

                                      2. re: smartie

                                        the price we pay for being CH's eh?

                                        1. re: smartie

                                          This definitely happens with my ILs for me. Hmm, strange, I show up and all of the ingredients and a recipe are just sitting there in the kitchen. Everyone else watches tv.

                                        2. re: HillJ

                                          Ah, the challenge of THAT one...SIL, the chronically early arriver is also a chronically late dinner-giver. And we arrive on time. The thing is, she deliberately invites us over so that DH can socialize with her DH, and so that yours truly does most if not all of the prepwork and washing up. This happens EVERY freaking time. PLUS I'm the one who gets asked to clear the table and do the dishes. Last time we were there, I was handed and apron and told that I could either wash or dry. DH said "hey JANEY can help out too!" and Janey God Love Her says "Oh I'm too tired to do dishes" and off she went to watch tv. SIL said "yes, Janey's going to watch tv". I chose to dry the dishes.Now, I know that I could refuse, but the good guest in me feels that as a guest, if asked to help, I really should help. I know she's crossing the line, but I don't need the drama nor does my DH. He just wants everyone to get along. SO, its at the point now that I will just not go over if I've had a tough day. DH can go over if he likes, but I don't really need the aggro of prepping for and cleaning up after someone else's dinner party, so I'll beg off. DH understands. And the thing is, you can't discuss this with any of his sibs like normal people. They will either argue as in "I'm 52 years old I can do what I like and if you don't like it well too bad for you" (actually heard this when 2 SILs got into it over the dinner table over early pickup times for carpooling, pleasant PLEASANT evening let me tell you) or do the passive aggressive thing -- as in "oh yes I see your point so sorry" but repeat the exact same behaviours.
                                          The way I see it, we just minimize our dinners with all sibs and when I do have them, I do the different arrival times thing. And I'm ready to go at the correct time. And I'll serve things when ready. And I ask for help if there is kitchen interference, be prepared to be turned down, and am quite happy managing the whole thing myself.

                                            1. re: freia

                                              Isn't the "D" implicit when referring to one's husband?

                                            2. re: HillJ

                                              Yes, HillJ, your story reminds me of a friend (who now lives in another city inflicting her habit on another circle of people) who would always brag about 'what great parties she threw', and those of us who were closest to her knew that WE were really the great hosts.
                                              You would arrive even 1/2 an hour after the set time, and there she would be in her robe with her makeup 1/2 finished, and ask you to go into the kitchen and prep something while she finished getting ready. Soon enough, there would be 5 guest cooking her menu for her, and she would appear all fresh, make a drink, and go on into the living room to socialze while we worked on the food!
                                              Got so we all came at least an hour after 'party time' to stop this behavior, and eventually, she sort of caught on that we were on to her!

                                              1. re: gingershelley

                                                Oh my gingershelley that's one for the books! Funny it never occurs to us to just fix ourselves a cocktail from the hosts bar, kick off our shoes and relax! We are so comfortable going into "help" mode!!!

                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                  Seriously, HilJ, I don't know why I didn't do that, probably because I loved to cook, everyone in 'our circle' knew I was a proffessional cook (so I had to get my own kudos out of the meal - I was probably selfishly slavish in those days!), and I just didn't know how to say no! to arriving at a party where things were not done!

                                                  The worst was at her wedding in SoCal, where she inlisted all these guests who had come from Seattle for the event (20 plus people) to help make appetizers, decorate, shop at Tuesday morning for items she needed for reception, and our dear friend who was a florist, basically she was highjacked with a promise of ' some girl time at breakfast and a walk through the flower market for advice" into doing all the arrangements for the wedding herself, in 90+ heat on her own to save said 'hostess" money. I was making aptx at 11pm after the 'pre-funk" party 2 days before the wedding.

                                                  I finally quit at 1 am, and went on revolt and went in the hot tub. That was it.

                                                  It is funny I got married in Seattle a couple years later, and all guests were treated to a lovely rehearsal dinner at Saerafina with a custom menu, and all catered by other 'friends' from my work world who were proffessional cooks. - no wedding party person or guest had to lift a finger, as it should be.

                                                  I don't mean to hijak the thread, but this kind of 'asking for help' rudeness is as egregious as arriving late, or coming early and watching television. All horrible.

                                                  I know we have to put up with 'habits' our close friends and family have sometimes, but really? It is great to have 10 plus years of perspective now on that time in my life, and realize I would NEVER put up with it the same way now.... These days, there would be a calm conversation about boundaries and expectations, and if agreement can't be reached, I would arrive late, or early, or never as needed with that friends knowing why. With an 'I love you" attached, but you just can't be 'on time' or can't get your menu together, I didn't come as a guest to make your dinner for you", etc.

                                                  You can always just go to lunch alone with some people, and telll them a different time to show up so it works:)

                                                  1. re: gingershelley

                                                    I'm in a mood. There's only one "f" in professional.

                                                    1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                                                      Isn't it a curse to be an automatic proofreader?

                                                2. re: gingershelley

                                                  my ex MIL was both a late party giver and late turner upper at dinners hosted by anybody else. Going to her house for Xmas or Tday would also win worst meals awards. Xmas Eve was her notorious 'I make the best parties' night. Invited for 7pm NOTHING ready and usually she wasn't even home yet from the beauty parlor, to find her cleaner who was not a cook staring at the array of foods and trying her best. Roll in DIL (me) with young starving kids and I would have to go into save the night mode and get that turkey into the oven, make the dressing, gravy, direct the peeling of root vegetables, prep the apps, direct hubby to set the tables, enlist help of my SIL to help him, shoo everybody out of the kitchen.

                                                  She would then roll in around 8.30 with wet nails, shower, change, expect other guests to have had drinks poured and apps passed around by us, and we would eat around 11pm. By the time we got to gift giving at 1am my kids were either passed out or crying and I would be muttering never again.

                                                  What used to irritate me more than anything was somebody would stand up and make a speech thanking her for the wonderful food and I had cooked the lot (maybe she had made cranberry sauce) and she never once publicly or privately thanked me. One year she got the turkey in earlier but it was at 150 degrees (really!) and was raw so we had to microwave portions of it. I learned to feed my children at home at 6pm before we left. Food at her house was always totally inappropriate for young kids anyway.

                                                  She was a chronically late arriver too, and always made an grand entrance. Kids birthday party lateness was a specialty forcing the birthday girl to stop and open her gifts only even though they were busy with their friends and she would make a big hoo haa about how wonderful her gifts were.

                                                  When I got divorced I told my mum the very happiest part was never having to deal with MIL again.

                                                  1. re: smartie

                                                    Smartie! Wow, that is WAY worse than my girlfriend! MAD (a psydonym), was at least a wonderful conversationalist, and a pretty good cook if she got herself organized to do what she planned instead of having us do it.

                                                    Eating at 11pm with you doing all the work - ech... blech!

                                                    I do comiserate about the credit for the parties.... I lived that part. fortunatley for me, my parties were better executed by me, and well attended, so my reputation was all good for that,, it still (can you kind of hear it here - don't mean to not forgive!) kind of burns she was 'known' as a hostess when the backbone was her talented friends who would mostly go unappreciated as some handsome guy (actor) told her 'hey - great party, great spread".

                                                    I am SO sorry you cooked and loved without acknowledgement in your family! You deserve to own you work, and they should say thank you. Hope someday.

                                                    I will say, even if my friend was a lazy hostess, and asked for more from her helpers than she should have, the thrilling conversation was owing to ALL of us; cooks, writers, actors, poets, a few philosphers, and I think, NO lawyers:).

                                                    I guess in the end, the way to make a bitte pill sweet was when I went to a play put on by a brilliant friend, and the menu was nothing but red wine, and I didn't have to do any more than to appreciate my friends acting or directing talents:)

                                              2. Did it once to a couple that was always late, had to make an entrance ! I told them the party started an hour earlier then it did....would you believe for the first time in their lives they actually showed up on time and I was in my grubbies hoseing out the dog pen! LO

                                                1. I agree with those that say just carry on and eat when the time comes regardless of whether a Supreme Court Justice is there or not ( Love it ).

                                                  On the other hand, there is no way that I will essentially slam the door in my familiy member's face if they show up early, late, or the day after. They are my family 365 days of the year. Picking a Holiday to make them feel like an outsider by blocking their way into my home because they showed up early is too outside of the box for me to even consider.

                                                  1. If you can get away with it, telling the wrong times works and may be the best way to deal with family without creating too much ill will. Its a pain to do, but sometimes avoiding confrontation is worth it. My own husband is chronically late....we call it "Jerry time." I have solved the problem by telling him things are earlier than they really are. If the movie is at 7, I tell him its 6:30 and we get there on time. Same with dinner....Fortunately he is already home and already cooking if friends are coming, so I don't have to worry about him being late for his own dinner party:-)

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: janetofreno

                                                      Ha Ha Ha! "Jerry time" - LOVE it! After SO was late (very late - from one hour to an entire DAY) on our first few dates, I've managed to come up with a reasonable schedule. We have somewhere to be in a month, I'll schedule it in two weeks. If we have somewhere to be in 30 minutes, I give him 10. Tee Hee - it actually worked for a play that we were scheduled to go to - 15 minutes and we have to leave . . .and we did.

                                                    2. Definitely start your dinner at your intended time. To hell with late comers. They can scrape the serving bowls if they are still hungry.

                                                      I cannot, however, advocate shutting the door in SIL's face. She is your husband's sister. Have a very open discussion. Tell her how much it bugs you that she comes early. Do not sugar coat it. Say you do not want her there until the time on the invitation or it stresses you out. Do not suggest she help or accept an offer of help. Obviously this is not the person you want in your kitchen. But lying, hiding, nudity (however hilarious) is not the answer. If she still shows up early, tell her she's upset you and make sure your hubby has your back.

                                                      1. I am a chronically early person - so much so that when I was FIVE MINUTES late for a lunch with the gals they started calling and texting fearing something horrible happened to me lol!!! What I do is call on the way to the party and offer to get ice or anything else the host/ess needs so I can actually not be early. I have tried to be late but....... That said, people that are chronically late are inconsiderate of other people IMHO. I had a couple arrive at a party I was giving 45 minutes early. I got them a drink and continued frantically lighting all the candles, etc.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: Linda VH

                                                          Yup, I also have an exquisitely accurate internal clock and simply cannot make myself be late. I keep the rule we had in college for professors who didn't show up on time: 15 min. for a lesser-rank professor, 25 min. for higher-rank (or a Supreme Court justice!), or we'd all leave. Otherwise, feel free to fill your plate and run it through the microwave.

                                                          1. re: pine time

                                                            I guess academic classes in the US don't start CT (cum tempore = the famous academic quarter = 15 min late)?

                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                              Granted, I was in undergrad 100 years ago, so not current with the present state of time protocol, even in the U.S.!

                                                            2. re: pine time

                                                              I definitely cannot be late. Ever. I also never show up early. If anything, I am bad about showing up on time or 1-2 minutes late (I need to work on this, for sure).

                                                              So I relate!! And, if I am having a dinner party, and people are 20 minutes or more late, I get really ticked off as it is supremely disrespectful of all of the work and planning that went into the party. One friend- a good friend who is very supportive and thoughtful in many other contexts--is regularly very late for dinner parties. He doesn't understand that these are different from regular hangouts, which we also have regularly.

                                                          2. You have so much more patience than I do. The invites would have stopped long ago. I have no patience for people who can't respect the amount of work that goes into carefully planning a dinner party, the cleaning/prep/serving and then cleaning again. It's usually (in my experience) the ones who don't respect the timelines also never host or help EVER.

                                                            That being said, please send me an invite to your party lol. I promise to respect the time, bring any dish I can to help, will show up early if you want to help (or make you a predinner drink!) and then help you clean up so you can enjoy the party. :o)

                                                            God bless you for trying to have a nice dinner and adjusting all the invites!

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: thedryer

                                                              I think you're onto the start of a wonderful new website, thedryer!

                                                              People who are always on time, appreciative of hosts-meetup

                                                              People who are never on time, appreciative of hosts-meetup

                                                              and let the two camps enjoy the right kind of company!

                                                              Simple Solution!

                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                Lol, the only problem with that is.....the dopes who do all the wrong things have no concept of the things they do!! They'd all be barging in on our fun and properly timed meals!!!

                                                                1. re: thedryer

                                                                  Oh I disagree. People know what they're doing just fine, they don't always care how others feel about it. So maybe, just maybe if they were surrounded by guests of the same mindset they would have a place to go....and the people who care about hosting a party more in line with their own mindset wouldn't have to contend with the folks who don't. My only point being unless we only seek out people in our lives with the SAME mindset and behaviors, we're bound to come across all sorts of scenarios. It's only a meal, hopefully over great food. So, why do we set ourselves up for failure when we already know who are guests are and what behaviors they exhibit.

                                                                  I think I answered my own question, ha!

                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                    Lol, ok I can see your points.

                                                                    So, when and where are we meeting and what are we having!!!

                                                                    1. re: thedryer

                                                                      Now that's a much better question/dilemma to HAVE!
                                                                      Do I hear/smell the food of post holiday party planning?

                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                        nice idea HJ but sooner or later the non-appreciative types would clue-in and out of frustration want to change teams.

                                                            2. People who are chronically early never bother me. I can put them to work..or I can pour them a drink and make them comfortable..either way no big deal.
                                                              Chronic lateness is just plain rude..especially if your dinner includes more than one person. I used to be close friends with a woman who was chronically late..and by late I mean more than half hour.
                                                              When I finally tired of it..I dealt with it two ways. First..if there additional invited guest..I would hold dinner for a half hour..no longer. More than once she arrived after everyone was seated and eating. I saw no reason to make everyone else wait.
                                                              If she was the only one invited..I would tell her one time and actually have dinner prepared for a separate time. So..if I wanted to serve at 7 I would tell her 6.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: SimplyMarie

                                                                i think its really rude when its a dinner invite. i know for me, i have everything planned to be done at a certain time. apps at the time i asked people to get there, main course about 30 minutes later. if someone is 45 minutes late, it throws off timing for the whole meal!

                                                              2. Being hyper time aware I abhor lateness. Sadly I have chronic earlyitis. When I was eight I showed up at a friend’s house some 45 minutes early (it was probably more like an hour) for her birthday party. I rang the door bell and a few minutes later the door burst open. Standing in the doorway was a red-faced woman in her robe with her hair in curlers. My friend’s mom let me in though she was as cross as could be. She probably thought my mom has dropped me off but the situation was all of my own making. I was mortified. Since that day I bring a book or plan a walk around the neighborhood before I ring the doorbell on time. Like lateness, earliness is a tough habit to break.

                                                                You could offer to cook at your in laws houses. Show up an hour early at one and hang out watching TV for an hour. Or put on your favorite opera (or Sex Pistols – something with impact) at full blast and explain at great length why it’s the best music ever written. Rifle through underwear drawers. Be a nuisance. Show up late at the other with something that’s spoiled. See if they get the metaphor.

                                                                Or, do as you’ve been doing.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                  MplsM - "Sid and Nancy" and keep replaying the part when he goes to her family's house for Thanksgiving.

                                                                2. Hmm. How long would a pizza delivery person stand waiting for someone to open the door?

                                                                  Actually, there's your solution. Just order pizza, tell everyone what time you're opening the door and what time the pizza is arriving. Then it's up to them how long they want to wait outside or how cold they want their pizza to be ;)

                                                                  It's not clear whether you're looking for a solution or people to comiserate with. But it's funny that the one SIL is watching Judge Judy; try showing up at JJ's house and being late/watching tv!

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: mlou72

                                                                    We used to have big family dinner every Sunday. My father and mother- in- law were always late.
                                                                    One Sunday we just all set down to eat. They walked in halfway thru dinner and said "Oh, you're already eating?" I very coldly said I had told them dinner would be a 1PM. We were all friendly during and after dinner. Never again were they late for dinner. I really don't mind people who show up early as I put them to work and they seem to be okay with that.

                                                                    1. re: mlou72

                                                                      I wasn't really looking for a solution...I was just wondering if others had similar guests in their lives and how they handled it, so I'm quite enjoying reading these responses.
                                                                      Families are...fun? LOL

                                                                      1. re: freia

                                                                        Again. Be in control of what you can control. They all get the same message: " Come over any time AFTER 7 p.m.. Have appetizers. Dinner WILL be served at 7:30." They are all adults and should be able to read and comprehend.

                                                                        Unlock your door at 6:55. Serve dinner at 7:30. Serve seconds if there is extra food and nobody called to say they will be late.

                                                                        Take control of YOUR life and do not let anyone else control you.

                                                                        Make nothing unclear. If someone arrives early, ask what was unclear. Tell them to ask their sister what message they got and what she understood it to mean.

                                                                        There should be no misunderstandings and only apologies from the sisters.

                                                                    2. my best friend and her boyfriend are chronically late... i just tell them that we are eating an hour earlier than what i had planned, and then she always shows up "on time." i haven't yet told her that i tell her it's a fake time, because i know she would feel awful, but just can't help running late.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: jamieeats

                                                                        Actually, you now know she *can* help running late....

                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                          you are right, i'm sure she *can* help running late, but after knowing her for over ten years, i've found it to be much simpler to just have her run on my modified schedule rather than worry about when she will get there!

                                                                      2. my husband has a prob with being on time anywhere.
                                                                        always has always will.
                                                                        I've used the same tactic on how to get anywhere on time, bump it up and hour.
                                                                        real time to arrive 5:00 so I tell him 4:00.
                                                                        he hasn't caught on and we're usually ok.
                                                                        or I tell him someone's coming over for dinner at 7:00 when they're really coming at 8:00.
                                                                        then he thinks they're late but he has only actually ready around 7:45.
                                                                        with him being a perfectionist and always being in control of situations,
                                                                        he does have control of what time to do what (by "him") setting the time.
                                                                        I know it's rude of him, I also know he's incredible.

                                                                        16 Replies
                                                                        1. re: iL Divo

                                                                          Umm, if he were a perfectionist, wouldn't he then be on time for anything and you wouldn't have to give him a fake time?

                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                            Actually perfectionists can be the worst at procrastinating, as they won't actually complete a task and avoid doing it if they can't actually perfect it. So it makes perfect sense. DB is a procrastinating perfectionist -- chronically late to submit University assignments because they're never either perfect enough or he delays starting them until he has perfected his research...:)

                                                                            1. re: freia

                                                                              In this situation, however, it's a matter of showing up ON TIME for an event. There's really *nothing* to perfect - except be there on time.

                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                What I was getting at is that a perfectionist may not be "able" to leave the house until everything is perfectly in order or they feel dressed 'enough" to go. I've seen it all the time....just let me finish the dishes before I leave, I can't leave with a dirty sink, the laundry should be on dry before we go...so to me it makes sense that a perfectionist who procrastinates may delay leaving until the situation as they perceive it is "perfect", which can create time delays...

                                                                                  1. re: freia

                                                                                    That's not perfectionism. That's obsessive compulsive disorder, and it will f*** up your life. I've known such people, and at least one of them literally died because of it.

                                                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                    Not the right way to think about it.
                                                                                    freia's description of the common correspondence btw perfectionists and procrastination is correct and the mind-pattern carries over into "carrying out a simple task (perfectly)". [7:00:00:00 sharp, not a millisecond earlier or a millisecond later; and if he does manage to get it absolutely perfect, there is no "reward" or recognition - i.e. +/- 60 whole seconds (or even more) or so is "fine" and unremarkable according to the (non-perfectionist) host, so there is no satisfaction obtained from getting it correct to the last millisecond, so why bother? Besides, to get it perfect, it has to be by the perfectly correct time - referenced to the World Standard Atomic Clock time (or at least the US Naval Observatory Master Clock, for an address within the USA) corrected for rotation of the earth and the precise coordinates of the door where the bell is rung - not according to the host's possibly wrongly-set clock, and he may not know (=uncertainty) if his time or the host's time is the true time at the instant the door bell is rung]
                                                                                    ;-) :-D

                                                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                                                      Well, perhaps it's not the "right way to think about it" for you, but it is for me. It is, however, a *different* way to think about it.

                                                                                      And if anyone used the Atomic Clock to ensure timeliness, I'd put them out of their misery. And everyone else's who had to deal with that person. :-)

                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                        i think a lot of folks call ocd people "perfectionists" to be nice about tendencies that can be pretty disruptive, socially.

                                                                                      2. re: huiray

                                                                                        huiray: so when exactly did you meet my husband, Mr. Pine Time? You've perfectly described him. If I ask the time, I'm fine with -ish, as in 8-ish. He is compelled to figure out 8:00:00:000. Drives me batty.

                                                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                                                          In a parallel universe on the planet Vulcan. ;-)

                                                                                  3. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                    Good point a perfectionist would be there at the correct time. A control freak on the other hand would be there when it suited him or her.

                                                                                    1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                      "Good point a perfectionist would be there at the correct time."
                                                                                      See above. ;-)

                                                                                    2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                      ummmmmmmmmm, he's a perfectionist and makes his own rules
                                                                                      and since he's amazing I don't mind some foolish flaws
                                                                                      I also know his IQ, I think he's worth a mishap

                                                                                      thanks freia and huiray you understood

                                                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                        xoxox totally get it, I have people like that in my life. It isn't an intentional control thing, its more of a different POV that can sometimes "interfere" with the niceties of life from time to time. And ya, he'd be totally worth it I'm sure. :)

                                                                                        1. re: freia

                                                                                          you know Freia, I am so fortunate to be married to him all these years.
                                                                                          he is truly adored by all who meet him.
                                                                                          he's the smartest person I've ever known period.
                                                                                          he has faults, I do too, but to categorize him without so much as knowing a thing about him and speaking in general terms of someone you know nothing about is just wrong. again I thank you, it's unusual for niceties sometimes. {{{freia}}} those are hugs

                                                                                  4. We have different friends/ relatives who are early and some are late. Like others here, we tell those who are late, "we're eating at x time. " If they're late they eat cold food or not at all. The early friends know that we may be prepping food or getting dressed. Have a glass of wine and entertain yourselves. In both cases, it works out fine.

                                                                                    That said, showing up late is rude. Period. If you want to show up late to a sporting event or concert, fine, that's your decision. Showing up late to a a dinner invite is rude. Do the chronically late show up late to business appointments? Everyone has issues, problems with showing up on time. Unexpected traffic, caught at work, whatever. Being occasionally late to things is part of life.

                                                                                    On the other hand, someone once told me this: Being late is usually a decision. You knew in advance when you were supposed to be there and decided that it wasn't important enough to plan accordingly. When someone is late, and cause other people to wait, what they are doing is telling those waiting, "my time is more important than yours".

                                                                                    1. Easter gathering a few years ago in Minnesota.
                                                                                      I was staying with mom but mom left early for her flight home to LA.
                                                                                      My flight at the end of the day meant I could do Easter dinner with family.
                                                                                      Took mom to airport then drove to cuzzies house where he and I drove together, his wife and their kids took her car. I adore my cuzzie and don't get much time with him and his wife knows that as does he so she 'shares'.
                                                                                      We both arrive at cousins brothers' family home different part of the state after a fun drive and good gab.
                                                                                      Ok, so other cousins wife has smoke coming out of her ears and is noticeably peeved.
                                                                                      It's quite cool in the house.
                                                                                      As we sit down for a fabulous meal, cousin #2's wife says, "before we start I want to make something perfectly clear. I have slaved over this house and this meal for days. you all know I'm a stickler for people being on time in my home even when others think it's a foolish request. my anger will pass after I get this out but you were all very inconsiderate being as fashionably late as you were. ok, that's it, let's pray." no one said a word, we all did the family prayer and ate.

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                        Well, someone in Minnesota knows how to get something off her chest. Not the way I'd do it, but I'd rather that than pretending otherwise. It makes me think of this:


                                                                                        "Once when I was young—maybe more than once—when I was extremely disrespectful to my mother, my father angrily went to the basement to look for something for over two hours without coming back upstairs. I felt terrible and deeply ashamed of what I had done. But neither I, nor anyone else ever spoke of it ever again."

                                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                                          I tell you what Karl, after I picked up my face from the floor :O and dinner was over, I did the table clearing and dishes then went and sat next to her for a talk. thanked her for an incredible meal and apologized for our tardiness. I also told her I thought I was the only person in the family that had nerve to say what sometimes needs to be said. Told her I was very impressed with her entire demeanor, what a girl.

                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                            45-50 minutes
                                                                                            but our family, that side of the family [remember I live out of state and was only a guest and rode with my cousin] is according to her, notoriously late, always late, no excuses just always late so with all her work that day and days leading up, she'd had it.
                                                                                            so proud of her because after she made her case and said her peace, all was forgotten.
                                                                                            I couldn't do that, I'd fume for a spell

                                                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                              Wow, I want to go study privately with her. Not just dealing with late people, because I don't get that repeatedly mad about that, but about other stuff in general that is chronically upsetting in my life. I really wish I could just learn to gracefully state what ticks me off instead of poisoning myself with quiet rage!!

                                                                                        2. We have close friends who are often included in our holiday gatherings and other special dinners. They used to be habitually late for dinner even when we were very explicit ("appetizers from 6-7, dinner served at 7" etc.). The thing that really frosted me was that they were on time to things that were important to them, but for some reason seemed to think that a dinner time was a suggestion rather than a plan to serve at xx time. (The fact that they cannot/do not cook probably had something to do with their lack of understanding about timing dishes to be ready to serve.)

                                                                                          After getting really mad about it a couple of times, we just changed our tactics and started serving when we said we would. The first time it happened, they were kind of embarrassed. The second time, they were mad. Now they show up on time.

                                                                                          Besides this particular issue, they are really lovely people that I am happy to have in my life, otherwise I would not have put up with it!

                                                                                          23 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                                            While I don't respect Dr. Phil, I agree with his saying "We teach people how to treat us." When we enable people by making everyone wait for them and letting dinner go bad, we aren't doing anyone any favors. We are penalizing those who had the consideration to arrive on time. We are rewarding the latecomers (while secretly resenting them and possibly getting back in passive-aggressive ways) by giving them the undeserved attention of making their dramatic late entrance and opportunity to eat all the offerings. When we finally stick to our guns and serve when we say we will and they must make do with cold remains, they modify their behavior and magically find a way to come on time. Momentarily uncomfortable to be sure, but best in the long run.

                                                                                            1. re: Leonardo

                                                                                              Amen. I can attest to that...it really works!

                                                                                              1. re: Leonardo

                                                                                                But true drama queens still arrive in a flurry, disrupting the meal with their apologies/excuses. Hopefully you love them a lot, and you have a flaw to match, or you will want to toss them out the door.

                                                                                                1. re: Leonardo

                                                                                                  Actually, I kind of disagree with Dr. Phil on this. Simply because what is assumed is that the late person actually cares or is embarrassed at facing empty plates or leftovers. Quite often, they just aren't because they are totally unaware of anything outside of their bubble OR because they really, deep down, want to control the evening and what is going on.
                                                                                                  SIL 3, who is a chronic late arriver, will pitch a fit every time. She doesn't acknowledge that dinner for 7pm means serving at 730pm even after multiple direct statements and her personal multiple experiences. She has no sense of shame and quite frankly, thinks the world revolves around her. Sad, but true.
                                                                                                  That's Dr. Phil's fatal assumption -- that we are dealing with people like US, who would be mortified and change behaviours. This isn't always the case.
                                                                                                  For SIL3, its a passive-aggressive way of controlling the evening and making it about her. She does this with pretty much every interfamilial interaction: she'll plan dinner for family at a restaurant and make a reservation then show up an hour late (or not at all) and then complain bitterly about the food (she once made a reservation for a large number of the family at a local pasta place, arrived an hour late, complained that there was nothing on the menu because she believed that she was wheat and dairy intolerant, then stormed off in a huff, and SHE was the one who picked the restaurant!); she'll make plans with family to see a movie, then call at the last minute to cancel usually after tickets are bought, she'll have dinners at her place but start serving 45 minutes before the invite time and complain bitterly that no one cared enough to arrive at the new hour.that no one was advised of. It is never ending. And no amount of discussion, example, "teaching her how to treat others" effects a change. So we just won't socialize with her. Once bitten, twice shy. And when we need to invite her (family obligations), we'll start at our appointed time and write her and her reactions off.
                                                                                                  Sad, but true...

                                                                                                  1. re: freia

                                                                                                    Freia: even if it doesn't change the transgressor's behavior, at least host and other guests are taking better care of themselves and not having their evening held hostage.

                                                                                                    1. re: freia

                                                                                                      And her family continues to indulge this behavior?


                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                        Yup, and heck, I'm only related to the whole tribe by marriage, so I just try to stay as neutral as possible. I don't need to aggravate the clan: much easier to just adjust invite times and minimize my personal contact with the most annoying of the lot! If anyone needs to intervene, its DH as its his family, and he's lived with this for 46 years now LOL...

                                                                                                        1. re: freia

                                                                                                          A good mantra to live by! The minute you go from inlaw to outlaw it's all over. Compromise be thy name.....hopefully toasted over great cocktais and marvelous food!

                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                            I know that I pour a big, tall glass of wine and brace myself! I find that if I have no expectations of etiquette/good behaviour, I'm rarely disappointed.

                                                                                                            1. re: freia

                                                                                                              You 'almost' quoted one of my favorite movie lines eva :D

                                                                                                              1. re: freia

                                                                                                                Ah, when the MIL visited from India years back, she commented that I drink quite a lot of coffee. Little did she know that I was medicating myself with a soupcon of coffee and a mug of stronger beverage.

                                                                                                      2. re: Leonardo

                                                                                                        Leonardo, I completely agree. I am not a Dr. Phil fan either but I think he is right on about "teaching people how to treat us." If we let things slide that matter to us, we are saying it is okay by going along with it. I

                                                                                                        t was hugely uncomfortable the first time we decided to begin dinner at the appointed time without our friends being there. It was an important enough issue to me to suck it up and deal with the discomfort because it wasn't just me they were being rude to--it was everyone else who managed to be there on time. I am really glad I did because after the second time, they have been punctual ever since and now it isn't stressful to have them over. And they really are wonderful people in so many other ways.

                                                                                                        1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                                                          We are raising a 15 year old travel ice hockey player. Coach is teaching the team AND the parents to be on time. I have earlyitis and so does the 15 year old so it doesn't affect us. If we have a game the kids have to be there an hour ahead. Coach stands at the door and watches to see that the kids are on time - if they aren't he "sits" them for a bit in the game which affects the team. The kids are now teaching the chronically late parents to be on time lol!!!

                                                                                                          1. re: Linda VH

                                                                                                            I once worked for a place that locked the conference room door at the appointed meeting time. If you were late, tough luck.

                                                                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                                                                              Or good luck -- missing a meeting? Excellent.

                                                                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                I knew a company that did the same thing. If you showed up late you didn't get in the meeting. Miss too many meetings and you'll be missing your job. Which leads me back to the late for dinner thing. How may of these chronically late to dinner people are late to meetings with clients, patients, supervisors or customers? I bet they have the common courtesy to make it to those appointments on time!

                                                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                  In my department, if you miss a faculty meeting, you usually get "volunteered" for the pissiest committee assignments!

                                                                                                                  1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                                                    I've longed joked that, in the Catholic church in the US, if you're late you'll have to sit up front, because all the good seats in the back are already taken...it's also true of large business meetings in many areas....

                                                                                                                2. re: pine time

                                                                                                                  We used to make the latecomers stand up if they were late. At the appointed meeting time, we would move any empty chairs to another conference room. I loved it!

                                                                                                                3. re: Linda VH

                                                                                                                  I taught at a professional culinary school. My class began at 6 AM; I locked the door at 6 AM and late-comers missed class. Two absences and they failed. Each student had my phone number and were instructed to call if there were emergencies. Very few called but many were locked out. It was my attempt to teach responsibility, both for themselves and respect for others. Certainly on the job, "no call-no show = no job" and you'd better have a very damned fine reason for being late. Our customers will not wait for their meal while you tell your tale of woe and others in the kitchen have other tasks than to pick up your slack.

                                                                                                                  I fired a physician who kept me waiting (in one of those horrid paper gowns) and breezed in saying "Hi Sherri, I'm Dr. So-and-So". He explained my lengthy wait by saying "... doctors run late, we're busy people" which assumes that I, a mere plebian, have time to burn/my time isn't as important as his/etc. Adios.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Sherri

                                                                                                                    Ah, doctors. I always made the very 1st appt of the a.m. with a specialist, and he STILL was late, repeatedly. I'd hear him arrive, and 15 mins. later, I was still alone. I found a new specialist.

                                                                                                                    You can't find new family members, but I'd set some boundaries there, too.

                                                                                                                    1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                      My friend took her (very young) kids to an eye doctor. Knowing her boys' tolerance level for waiting rooms she booked the first appointment of the AM. They were still kept waiting for almost an hour. During that time a staff member came in and took out the cartoon video the boys were watching and replaced it with a promotional video on some eye procedure! At the end of the appointment, the doc referred her to buy glasses in what was clearly his own store although he didn't mention it.

                                                                                                                      She also found a new specialist (not as easy to do in Canada where we can't always shop doctors).

                                                                                                          2. It's all about having a good time, and enjoying good foods. Most of my friends tend to be late, and while waiting for them I usually have the time and to shower and nap. I also snacks on the appetizers before the guests arrived so I wouldn't be too hungry and too cranky when they got here. I try not to sweat over late comers. If some people already arrive first, I would serve them first. Then, if the really late comers decided to come while the rest are enjoying their dessert, I would let the late comer decides whether he/she wants to eat the main course or just skip to dessert. No pressure, just enjoy their company. Luckily, none of my late-comer friends were ever offended that I never waited for them to start the dinner.

                                                                                                            I was so used to having people coming late, I was actually surprised that in our last dinner party with my husband's friends, all of them decided to be on time. That was the first time where I didn't get my nap. So I did yawned a bit that night, I hope they didn't think I thought they were boring. Oh well, it was a good dinner nonetheless.

                                                                                                            1. Quite simply, you don't hold dinner for someone who is rude enough to show up hours late. Let her bitch if she wants. She's trying to control the situation, and it's not hers to control. Tell her what time dinner will be served and tell her it won't be held. If she can't make it there on time, she can reheat a plate if you're all on dessert.

                                                                                                              As for the early bird, the fact she uses her "Emergency Key" to let herself in (and you don't have a deadbolt with a different key) - well, you're out of luck there, I guess. Rude that she invites herself over to watch TV, but just ignore her and continue with your prep.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                Fully in agreement with LW. If I didn't know better I'd swear you had the same

                                                                                                                Change the locks and serve when you had intended to. (That is incredibly ballsy to simply let oneself in.) One can't help but wonder reliable is she really going to in in an emergency?

                                                                                                                As for the one who is late not you problem (well it is). Your house your dinner your rules.

                                                                                                              2. For the chronically late, I find it is good to send a worried text after a half hour or so, because anyone that late must obviously have a flat tire/be dead in a ditch or something ;)

                                                                                                                1. I'd saying you're handling it about as well as you could.

                                                                                                                  And you could go all robot on them if they are 'outraged' that you didn't have the mental capacity to read their minds and assess their inner thoughts concerning arrival times. You know, "We're sorry you're unhappy that we served dinner when we told you we would, as we do every year." Neutral, no emotions.

                                                                                                                  Some people will just never get it.

                                                                                                                  I'm not sophisticated enough to hold dinners - and anyone I WOULD care to invite live states away, so no dice. However, I will say that the invention of cell phones is one of the worst things to ever happen to planning. Hubby and I didn't get cell phones until this year, so when we made plans in the past, we'd make a plan and - gasp! - stick to it. While everyone else is driving around, texting and calling and tweaking the plan and not considering that we were waiting for them, not knowing what was going on. Even though I have a phone now, it still irks me to no end.

                                                                                                                  I'd hold dinner for 10-15 minutes - since it's THEIR responsibility to contact me if they're running late, since they're my guest - and then we eat, no apologies. If they're late they're welcome to reheat some stuff and partake in dessert.

                                                                                                                  1. I have a friend who has no problem saying to the tardy guests:
                                                                                                                    "dinner's over but there's leftovers if you care to dish yourselves up"


                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                      Some self absorbed folks arrive late knowing that there will be leftover's for them. Particularly when there is "help yourself" Thanksgiving style eating, instead of plating. It seems they love to come right before clean up and insist on dipping so clean up is delayed.

                                                                                                                      "dinner's over but there's leftovers if you care to dish yourselves up"

                                                                                                                      I like this better; Dinner's over and I took the liberty of putting a few leftover's in Glad container's for you to enjoy at home. Would you care for a piece of cake? ;)

                                                                                                                    2. Dinner doesn't wait unless somebody has a VERY good reason for being late... but if somebody is a chronic late arriver I'll tell them an earlier time too, the same way I always tell my husband the time I have to GO to be on time, not the time we're supposed to ARRIVE. (That works great except when he adds his own travel time into the front and we end up half an hour early. :P )

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: Kajikit

                                                                                                                        The first thing I'd do is get 'locked out of the house' and require the emergency key and then not return it. Saves the cost of changing locks.

                                                                                                                      2. We used to have friends with whom we exchanged elaborate homemade dinners. Once, we arrived at their house at the appointed time and they weren't home. We waited outside for 30 minutes, and they arrived with groceries but no explanation. They then proceeded to cook an entire turkey dinner before we ate - hours later.

                                                                                                                        A couple of years later, they were due at our house for dinner. I made salmon wellington, a nice sauce, and many side dishes and an elaborate dessert. They didn't show up until 3 hours after the appointed time, no phone call, no apology. Oh, and they weren't hungry; they had been held up by relatives out of town who wanted to feed them dinner. They didn't see a problem.

                                                                                                                        A few more incidents (one even worse than the above, but not mentionable here), and they were no longer our friends.

                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                          "A few more incidents (one even worse than the above, but not mentionable here), and they were no longer our friends."

                                                                                                                          That one incident would have ended my friendship with them. Oh, and there wouldn't have been dinner for them, either. What self-indulgent assholes.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                            Agree with lingua. I just said "Whoa, really?" out loud when I read your post, sandy! A question - you said "friends with whom we exchanged elaborate homemade dinners" - so had you had previous dinners with them and there had been no problem? This just manifested itself out of thin air for one dinner and then the next when they didn't show up until 3 hours later? (Baffled how they didn't come HUNGRY to a specific "dinner party!")

                                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                              Three hours late? I'd have answered the door in my bathrobe and slippers, as by that point, dinner would already have been boxed up, put into the fridge, cat let out, and fuzzy slippers donned.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                  Where were you when I needed you? :-{

                                                                                                                              1. Wow, this is like reading about an alternate universe. We have many friends and family and are far from formal people, but we wouldn't dream of being late for dinner nor would our guests. If anything we may show up 5 or 10 minutes early and offer to help throw a salad together or the like. Am I wrong or is this more common with young people? I remember one time when I was in my 20's and we invited some new friends over for dinner. I spent all day preparing that meal and they never showed. It never happened to me again. Someone above said something about enabling and I think that's right. It's about respect, really. If someone doesn't respect my time and investment in preparing a meal, to say nothing about the freakin' housecleaning, it would be my fault if it happened more than once. You know the saying: screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                                                  The sad part Sandi, is if you read through the thread, which is part of replying after it really get's going, is that your reply doesn't even address OP's original issue. NOT a friends issue - a FAMILY one, where freakishly, apparently the really bad 2 SIL's can't be tamed.

                                                                                                                                  I love the idea of 'locking myself out of the house" taking back the spare key, and now she can't come early for SIL #1:)!. For SIL #2, I would again, serve my loveingly prepared dinner on-time for those kind simpatico guests who are there to share your largesse, cooking skills, and holiday spirit with you. SIL#2 arrives her 2-3 hours late, and gets mad? I would simply act like I don't even get what she is talking about, kind of ignore her, and continue the party brushing her aside as if (which she doesn't at this point), affect the outcome. She took herself out of the 'I am iimportant part of this evening" game when she didn't come on time, text or call, and made a hissy fit.

                                                                                                                                  OP, you rule your world. Go ahead and be the best, lovely-est chowhound hostess with diginity; you deserve it!

                                                                                                                                2. Wouldn't it be wise to host a different kind of party that better fits
                                                                                                                                  your guests' sense of elastic time?

                                                                                                                                  For example, a buffet with chafing dishes, a desserts/tea/coffee only get-together,
                                                                                                                                  a tree-decorating party, an open-house, or another type of party that gets away from
                                                                                                                                  a "must show up at this time" requirement?

                                                                                                                                  I'm merely suggesting your finding some way to work with reality that allows you to enjoy your guests
                                                                                                                                  whenever they arrive and not be so [understandably] disappointed in them...

                                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                    There is no appropriate perfect answer I think. In my experience, in dealing with the late SIL, there will always be a way to try to control the event. A "come whenever you like" type of BBQ that a different SIL held was affected by this person's late arrival, and loud refusal to use a BBQ grill that had been "tainted" by bbqing meat (at that time she was a vegetarian and brought her own food there to grill and was forewarned. she insisted that a second new unused bbq be available to her, as cleaning the existing one wasnt good enough. Needless to say, it wasnt provided). A birthday party a while later was affected when she showed up late, said she had to leave early and took it upon herself to find the birthday cake, set the candles on it, light them and bring it out to the table singing Happy Birthday before the buffet meal even started. She then cut and served the cake to the guests. I did mention that IT WASN'T HER BIRTHDAY, right? with this type of person, it's more aggravating to try to troubleshoot all the possible things that she might do at an event. It is actually easier to give her a false time and start the dinner when I have it planned, whether or not she's there.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                      Sounds like that woman is in dire need of some professional help. Good god, I can't believe she still gets invited to *anything*.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                        sounds like that woman is in dire need of a swift kick right in the ass. What a self-aggrandizing, egomaniacal wretch.

                                                                                                                                        I'm truly sorry you're saddled with such a weight in your life, Freia. I hope you find some way to distance yourself from her as much as possible.

                                                                                                                                        I think your time solution is all you have -- but it allows you to set your rules and to establish consequences for aberrant behaviour.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: freia

                                                                                                                                        I would think you may look forward to referring to "the late SIL" in a different context....

                                                                                                                                        1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                          IMHO, as long as you focus on the soap opera details, you remain trapped in the current dysfunctional dynamic and will never break free or be peaceful.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                            I hope that she doesn't have the key to you house. Invite her as little as possible if at all (I know that's easier said than done. I'm inflicted with two moronic SIL's myself.)

                                                                                                                                            I am curious as to fall out from the B'day insanity, if there was any. Hopefully it was not a child's party.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: freia


                                                                                                                                              annoying family members do make for entertaining reading tho :)
                                                                                                                                              feel bad for you but enjoyed story.

                                                                                                                                              I'd hang this tag her Minni Pearl hat: "more nerve than brains"

                                                                                                                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                LOLOLOL thanks, it really does make for entertaining reading, and if you can't laugh about it, then what's the point IMHO. Life is serious enough, sometimes you just gotta look at the ridiculousness around you.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                                  yep you're right freia..................

                                                                                                                                                  the world I grew up in was different than it is today.

                                                                                                                                                  I work with a really good friend who when someone is rude to her or says something off kilter that is offensive about [or] to her she just laughs.
                                                                                                                                                  she's told me often that it deflates the offender and while she's not giving in
                                                                                                                                                  to them and their ridiculousness she's not giving them the satisfaction that they 'got to her' either. love that..............................love her :)

                                                                                                                                            2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                              elastic time...gosh I love that phrase. Def. using it!