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Jan 15, 2012 12:59 AM

When the host is late serving the meal - also rude? Is it ok for guests to leave?

The flip side of pommedeguerre's thread on late dinner guests - what if the host/hostess is late serving the meal - is that rude too? (I'm not talking about holding the meal waiting for other, late guests) And if the meal is very late, is it ok to make excuses and leave?

Here are the dinner situation I endured:
Husband and I invited to dinner for 6:30pm. All 6 guests show up on time (hallelujah) and we are served drinks (no appetizers at this point). At 7:15pm, the hostess brings out several dips and sliced bread. Everyone is feeling peckish because dips and bread are demolished within several minutes. At 8-8:15pm we're seated and at 8:30pm, the first course is served. At 9pm, one of the couples leaves saying they have to get back to drive the sitter home (I think they were lying and probably scarfed down a burger on their way home LOL!) We and the other couple don't have kids so can't use that excuse. Main entree finally served around 9:30pm. We leave around 10pm, without staying for the dessert.

I wanted to leave when the first couple left because by then it was apparent that the meal would be served very late and I wasn't planning on such a late night. But my husband said it would be rude to go before the entree even though he was also wanting to go. Would it have been considered rude if we had made some sort of excuse and left? And if it's ok to go, what excuse would have worked? Dinner was on a Saturday so couldn't use the "need to get up early for work tomorrow" excuse.

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  1. "The flip side of pommedeguerre's thread on late dinner guests - what if the host/hostess is late serving the meal - is that rude too?"

    Someone inviting you into their home and preparing a meal for you is never rude.

    1 Reply
    1. re: twyst

      I absolutely agree with this. I typically arrive right on time to dinner parties, but as long as there's good conversation, I'm happy.

    2. No, never ok. The hosts may have planned for a full evening and thus wanted to stretch dinner over several hours, or may have had problems in the kitchen. Had it been a weeknight, and you had a very important meeting at 7 am, you might have excused yourself before dessert. But no, can't imagine any other excuse at any other time not being rude.

      You could of course chalk it up to a learning experience and perhaps ask what the plans are before accepting an invitation next time.

      14 Replies
      1. re: Transplant_DK

        "can't imagine any other excuse at any other time not being rude."

        I can and have.
        20 years ago my ex and I were invited to dinner at her sister's SIL's home. Told to arrive at 7 for drinks and dinner would be at 8. My ex was a diabetic who had to eat on a semi-set schedule.
        Drinks were served at 7:15, no apps. at 8:15 my wife popped into the kitchen to 'offer to help' move dinner along. Found out that the hostess was just beginning to prep the raw food and that we might see the first course by 10.
        We made our excuses and left. Rude, not us, the hostess' behavior definitely. Leaving and getting my wife a meal-medically necessary.
        From that day on, we invited these people to dine at our home, but never accepted another invitation to their home.

        BTW>both my ex and I were brought up to believe that punctuality is of utmost importance. I was taught if you are not 20 minutes earlky you are late. If you aren't going to make time commitments, don't make them

        1. re: bagelman01

          Well, showing up 20 minutes early at the airport, movie theater, or other public facility is fine, but showing up 20 minutes early at someone's house is not necessarily welcome. We're casual and are happy to let folks in whenever they arrive, but your hosts might be getting dressed, tidying up the house, working in the kitchen or otherwise occupied and having guests arrive early would mess up their schedule.

          1. re: laurachow

            No you don't enter 20 minutes early, you find a nearby parking placve, adjust your clothing, wigfe touches up her makeup and hair, and you walk up the steps and ring the bell at the invited time. Ringing early is rude.

          2. re: bagelman01

            I agree with laurachow. I am perpetually early, for everything. But if I arrive for a social occasion at someone's home and it is 20 minutes early, I will either take a drive around the neighborhood or otherwise make myself scarce until the actual arrival time...and I appreciate it if my guests give me the same courtesy unless they are arriving from out of town, have been driving for hours and need to use the bathroom ;)

            1. re: escondido123

              I'd have a heart attack if one of my party guests showed up 20 minutes early. But that's just because I am always running a little behind.

                1. re: twyst

                  I am usually in the shower 20 minutes before I tell guests to arrive so if that happened, it would be very bad!

                  1. re: ladooShoppe

                    Just happened to me last week, luckily I saw them pull in the driveway and scrambled to get my clothes on. Forgot my shoes and realized later I was barefoot the whole time they were here!

                    They had never visited out here before and didn't realize it would be such a quick drive. Luckily I like them a lot, so no hard feelings. Actually felt like I had the upper hand for once, they were the ones that were were frazzled/nervous at the start.

                2. re: jeanmarieok

                  jeanmarieok you would have a couple of attacks if you had to deal with my inlaws. We haven't had them over in years but they arrived 45minutes to an hour early to our house one time. It only takes that long to get to our home from their house.

                  I had just prime painted the bathroom that morning so I was running really late. The only one in the house. We couldn't put up the shower curtain so hubby and I were both showering together to try and control where the water went. The inlaws showed up while we were in the shower and when I heard that doorbell ring I about died!

              1. re: bagelman01

                I think if it is that medically necessary to eat at a particular time, one should say so to the host ahead of time, or bring a small snack.
                The host gets to define the pace of the evening.

                1. re: magiesmom

                  If you read my post, the host said to arrive at 7 and that dinner would be served at 8. This invitation defined the pace of the evening. My ex had her afternoon snack based on the Host's announced schedule. The host was aware of my ex's medical condition. The host was inconsiderate/rude/incompetent (take your choice).

                  1. re: bagelman01

                    I vote for incompetent. Who would ever want to go back? It's hard to have fun if you're starving AND tired.

                    1. re: Vetter

                      I agree it's very bad form to indicate a dinner time and then begin prepping the meal half an hour after that time. A dinner invitation is appreciated, but being that off-schedule isn't just incompetent hosting, it is downright rude, in my opinion. That much of a schedule change is discourteous, unless it couldn't be helped because of some unforeseen circumstance -- and in that case, the updated schedule needs to be communicated by the host to the guests asap, with an apology and no hard feelings if guests are unable to stay hours past the original time set.

              2. "Would it have been considered rude if we had made some sort of excuse and left?"

                Let me put it this way. Do that to me and you would never get another invitation.

                1. You know, in this day and age, people seems to think everything must be instantaneous, speed this, speed that, time is money, ...

                  On a saturday evening, just relax, take your time, enjoy your time, friend/connaissance, ... and let it be.

                  next time, invite them, and have drinks, dinner dessert all done in 1/2 hour, that'll show them.


                  1. The type of evening Seoul Queen describes is typical in our circle. If there is someone new invited, I do make a point to say "come for cocktails at 6, we plan to sit down for dinner at 8pm" or whatever.

                    I do have people in my family and extended circle of friends that expect to be sitting with their main course at 6:30pm for a 6pm invitation. They generally do not accept my invitations for a meal because they must eat on their schedule. My mother and husband are in this category. She starts looking at her watch 15 minutes before the "promised" meal time.