HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


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.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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.

                    1. I'm not sure I'd call it rude, maybe their idea of a Saturday evening dinner party is long and leisurely and they wanted to pace the evening.

                      1. Some people might enjoy a leisurely evening, and are prepared for this. But, in this case, no one invited understood that the meal was going to be that late. No one. That, in my opinion, signals that that host didn't do a very good job. it sounded like everyone was uncomfortable with the pace. That does not speak well of the host.
                        Arrive and get drinks for 45 minutes before appetizers? Weird.
                        If one invites people to their home, then they need to follow through and be a gracious host, making guests feel welcome and comfortable. It sounds like this host failed.
                        and some people still go to 8am services on a Sunday.
                        Just because someone invites you to dinner, doesn't excuse the way everyone was made to feel uncomfortable once there.

                        1. I feel it's best to have nibbles out when guest arrive. It helps hold over anyone who is starving and provides some wiggle room if the meal is delayed for any reason.

                          I used to be friends with a couple who entertained like this. They were great company, fun and interesting - but staying on track was not their strong suit. My ex and I quickly learned to have a very late lunch or an early light dinner before we went to their home for an evening meal. Once we knew how the non-existent timetable worked we were prepared!

                          1. It's not ok to leave, but it's definitely ok to complain. I would not expect to wait two hours for dinner to start. I don't mind a leisurely evening, but I'd rather have the meal end in a leisurely fashion than begin that way.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: small h

                              I agree with ending the meal in a leisurely fashion making sure the guests are first properly fed and watered. I am uncertain about complaining though - that seems to be rude too as you are directly calling out the host? My offer to help in the kitchen was my hint and attempt to get the food out but I guess it was too subtle.

                              1. re: SeoulQueen

                                I meant complain about it here, not to your hosts. Sorry, I should have been clearer about that.

                            2. Leaving after 2.5 hours is really cutting it close, and should have been told to the hosts in advance so they wouldn't be insulted when it happened. Among my friends, dinner parties take 4 to 6 hours (the last couple hours usually being spent drinking, having coffee, chatting). To expect the entire multi-course meal to be wrapped up in 2.5 hours seems ungracious to me. (but I do agree, the food should have arrived a bit faster)

                              15 Replies
                              1. re: MiriamWoodstock

                                I agree. Regardless of the timing of the meal, it seemed like they all just wanted to dine and dash and didn't seem interested in the rest of the niceties, drinking ,having coffee, conversation.

                                Having something to snack on while dinner is being prepared is always a good thing. But, if folks just want to eat and get out of there, there is no amount of crab toast or appologies for the lateness of the dinner that will keep the dashers from staying past the entree.

                                Especially those babysitter people. Some have a babysitter for a reason and your dinner is only part of it. See, they eat at your house, then immediately after the entree they are headed for drinks because they have a babysitter..

                                The longer that you take for dinner, the less time they have to go out afterwards and you are are to blame for this due to poor timing.

                                1. re: Robinez

                                  those terrible babysitter people - how dare they dont spend the entire night in dinner party hell! Or heaven forbid they babysitter actually needs to be home by 10pm or cant stay past a certain time.

                                  This may be a generation thing too.....maybe younger people who are used to a fast paced lifestyle feel it is more common for a dinner to be a 2-3 hour affair not 6-8 hour events of years past? just thinking out loud....also thinking I havent seen a "crab toast" at any event I have gone to in my adult life....

                                  1. re: joe777cool

                                    if you are attending a dinner party and have a specific time frame the host needs to know this as you ( conditionally) accept the invitation.

                                    1. re: magiesmom

                                      "if you are attending a dinner party and have a specific time frame the host needs to know this as you ( conditionally) accept the invitation."

                                      No they do not.

                                      Look, these kinds of things happen all the time.

                                      For instance: some friend (Jane) accepts an invitation to a party 2 weeks before the date. Jane arrives in good spirits hoping to enjoy good company and good food, but, unfortunately, something has come up (she has to go into work on Saturday, her brother got sick, the basement got flooded and she is letting in the plumber early, [insert a billion other things that could have happened in normal everyday variable life], etc.) and she can not stay as late as she would like.

                                      But you do not tell the host ahead of time, because you did not know ahead of time. So, you tell the host when you get there. It is disappointing, but these things happen.

                                      1. re: DougRisk

                                        Things do come up that are emergencies (basement flooding, someone getting sick), but most things one knows in advance -- work schedules, babysitter issues, etc. And if you're going to leave mid-party, you should warn in advance.

                                        My definition of telling the host ahead of time could even be telling them the morning of the party, or right when you arrive, if that's the only advance notice you can give. The worst is to get up mid-dinner and suddenly announce that you're leaving.

                                        All that said, sounds like this dinner party was sort of a mess, so it's not perfectly applicable here.

                                        1. re: MiriamWoodstock

                                          "...or right when you arrive..."

                                          That is what I had said. Also, in this example, it is very possible that the excuse was a "convenient" excuse.

                                    2. re: joe777cool

                                      Joe, I find that interesting. I'm a 30 something, and yes, I expect a dinner invite is about a 3hr affair, generally. 6-8hrs? That sounds like a long night to me. Now, if things happen to go that way because everyone's having such a great time, fantastic, but I wouldn't walk in expecting that.

                                    3. re: Robinez

                                      Hmmm ... I'm "babysitter people" and I schedule the babysitter according to what I think the evening will look like. If I'm expecting to be gone for 3 hours, she and I both expect that I'll walk through the door in 3 hours, give or take. If I took 6 hours she'd never babysit for me again, and I'm not willing to give up a great babysitter! For the 2nd dinner invitation (hopefully the host would treat me with grace and I'd get that 2nd invite!) I'd know what to expect and plan for a later night.

                                      I think lots of times people get upset because they have different expectations going in, with no reason to think the other person expects anything different. I'd love to spend hours over dinner with friends, but that's not what dinner with friends looks like in my crowd. I'd be taken off guard, too - even though that's what I'd prefer.

                                      1. re: SAHCook

                                        Gee, in my babysitting days I never got exact times. Of course, we always hoped they'd come home later so we'd make more money.

                                        1. re: escondido123

                                          We always give sitters a rough estimate of when we'll be home

                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                            my daughters babysit and they like a ball park time because they frequently like to make plans to go out themselves once the parents get home. If they were told the parents would be home at 9 they might be mighty mad if they got home at 11 or 12 and missed their own dinner plans. Especially as in this case they probably started babysitting at 5.30.

                                            1. re: smartie

                                              Exactly. Have some respect for the sitters!

                                              1. re: smartie

                                                Yep, that was my attitude when I was babysitting not so many years ago. I didn't mind staying until midnight if I knew ahead of time, but if you say you're going to be home at 9pm, I'm going leave a little time cushion and make my own plans at 10:30.

                                                1. re: smartie

                                                  All my babysitting was done when I was under 16, so the only plans I ever had for afterward was going home. Guess that's why I always hoped they'd stay out later.

                                        2. re: MiriamWoodstock

                                          Perhaps they figured that, based on the time frames so far, if they stayed, they wouldn't get home until midnight.

                                        3. It sounds like the hosts aren't very punctual people and probably didn't expect everyone to show up right on time at 6:30, which would have given them more time to be ready. So from that point on, they were probably playing catch up. At our house, the guests are always in the kitchen so I find it hard to imagine everyone in the living room with a drink for a good half hour while the hosts were there or where? Anyway, I don't consider it strange for a dinner party on a Saturday night to go until 11 pm and would plan accordingly. The couple that left at nine were rude and it would have been rude for you to leave early. But the big question I have is how was the food? How was the company? Except for the time problems, were they good hosts? Did anyone offer to help? Are these people friends?

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: escondido123

                                            The hosts are very punctual folks so it wasn't a time issue. They sat with us in the living room chatting away with the hostess drinking copious amounts of wine, slowly getting hammered! Some of us even offered to help in the kitchen (hint hint) which the hostess waived off, saying everything was under control.

                                            Once the first couple left, the host somewhat sheepishly admitted they had eaten a late lunch around 2:30-3pm! This probably also explained why so little food was served. For appetizers, it was 2 small bowls of dips and 1 sliced baguette (to share amongst 8 adults??) First course was a small salad and the entree itself was some curry and rice. Just as well the first couple had gone because there wasn't enough food, even for 6 adults. Before anyone asks, no, we are not all starving students on a budget. The host and hostess have sufficient disposable income to travel several times a year and stay at hotels that cost $300/night.

                                            The first hour was fine but the evening overall was an ordeal. It's very uncomfortable to be in someone else's home with an empty stomach watching the hostess slowly getting hammered (and the host completely oblivious to it or maybe he's used to it?) It definitely got to a point where people just weren't having a good time. There was a lot of puzzled, then concerned then irritated glances shared amongst us guests as the evening wore on.

                                            These folks are friends but so far we've managed not to go back to theirs for dinner. We've either invited them to ours or we meet at a restaurant.

                                            1. re: SeoulQueen

                                              Good for you. Lingering in a relaxed way over a good meal with friends is one thing - waiting for THREE HOURS to get anything beyond drinks, dip, and crudites is more like some kind of Exterminating Angel ordeal.

                                              1. re: SeoulQueen

                                                I wouldn't want to go back there either... sitting around watching somebody else get plastered is not the way I want to spend the evening, especially if they're not even going to give me a decent meal! If you're going to invite people to dinner, don't go out for a 'late lunch' beforehand - that's just as rude as if the guests show up and say 'oh, we ate already'... (if you do go out earlier, then be prepared to feed your guests properly anyway! You invited them...)

                                                1. re: Kajikit

                                                  Yeah, that part is a head scratcher. Why on earth, when you have dinner guests coming, do you go out to a late lunch?

                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                      I told my guests come around after 1 pm, after lunch. I ate at 12 and none of them had eaten. We did serve smacks around 2 once everyone had shown up because my guests eat like locusts. I don't feel bad about eating.

                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                        Confused. I'm talking about the OP. They invited people to dinner, and then went out for a late lunch.

                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                          I am just saying that it isn't strange to eat before hand.

                                                          1. re: melpy

                                                            No, not at all in your situation, when you invited them for after lunch. But in the original post, it seems weird that the hosts invited people to dinner, but ate a big, late lunch, if I remember correctly.

                                              2. you probably wouldnt get an invite back to a dinner at my house if i had planned a meal for you and you left before it was served.

                                                sure, its not great planning by the host (or maybe that was their plan all along... a nice, relaxing night of socializing that also has a meal... GASP!)

                                                IMO you should have asked if they were planning on having it be a late night when invited if you were worried about it. if not, i agree that if someone invites you to their house and cooks for you, and it take a while, they are either 1) wanting to socialize and relax with friends or 2) a bad planner... but never rude.

                                                10 Replies
                                                1. re: mattstolz

                                                  I don't think it's the guests' responsibility to chase up the host asking for details of the evening. I don't see how it's unreasonable to assume that a 6:30pm dinner invite means sitting down to a meal by 7:30pm.. 8pm at the latest. I certainly wouldn't invite people to my home for a meal and keep them waiting 2hrs with barely any food! Part of being a good host is making sure guests are comfortably fed and watered, not starving them for the evening.

                                                  1. re: SeoulQueen

                                                    Exactly. The hosts made their guests uncomfortable. Not good. I don't really care that other groups of people have late, leisurely paced dinner parties. What they don't get is that THIS group was not informed that it would be a long, drawn-out night, watching the hosts get hammered and lose track of time. Some folks might pride themselves on having a 4 hour dinner, but that is among people that understand that from the get go.
                                                    I believe the hosts in this case were quite rude after hearing even more about the situation. They didn't put their guests first.

                                                    1. re: SeoulQueen

                                                      i guess it really depends on how the invite is worded. there can be a difference between "would you like to come over to our house on saturday? we will also make dinner for everyone" and "would you like to come to our house for dinner on saturday?"

                                                      plus, maybe the host is just used to having people relax and hang out for a while before eating when inviting people over for dinner. it really depends on the group and the mindset. i have friends that follow both schools of thought. while i agree, i often get frustrated with the ones that wait forever to serve dinner first, i would never consider it rude. i just try to deal with it and be happy that i have good enough friends to invite me to their house for dinner! haha

                                                      1. re: mattstolz

                                                        Are there really invitations for a Saturday night dinner that means "come to our house, we'll fee you right away and then you can leave"? I am not saying that at all in a sarcastic way, but I can't that scenario. Now if it's a week night and I call someone and say "I'm making spaghetti, come over about 6 and we'll make an early night of it" then they'd be right to assumed it would not be a long leisurely evening, but otherwise....... (In my whole life I have never been invited to someone's house and "we'll also make dinner for everyone." Just plain "want to come to dinner on Saturday" and details only if it is not going to be for the whole evening.)

                                                        1. re: escondido123

                                                          haha i agree!

                                                          but an invitation to my grandpa means he will want to eat and get out of there as soon as possible. so sometimes we will purposefully take our sweet time serving dinner so that he has to be sociable with our family for a while (which grandma appreciates)

                                                          1. re: escondido123

                                                            I don't disagree, but then it would be a little odd to insist on a specific time to come, much less one as early as 6:30 PM. There's a difference between a sit-down meal and a "come over Saturday, we'll have food" party. I almost never do any kind of party other than the second kind so that people don't feel pressured to come or leave at specific times. But my understanding is that the OP was talking about the first kind of party.

                                                            1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                              There are parties and then there are dinner parties. The former sometimes allows people to come and g,o only staying part of the time, the latter not so much.

                                                            2. re: escondido123

                                                              I actually did this a few weeks ago. My friends from middle school get together very infrequently but enjoying spending approximately 8-9 hours together. Plus depending on the location most people travel two hours to get to eachoyhet. I stAted I would host and we decided the time would be 1 pm and I would make dinner. I specifically said after lunch but some people ate nothing all day. We were missin bone couple an hour later and had called but they didn't answer. I got concerned that I had given her the wrong time so one of the other wives and I walked up to their house, since the woman requested a field trio to her house anyway since she wanted to show off her Christmas tree. By the time I got back my SO had to start the pre dinner snacks without us because nobody had eaten. If you aren't specific people assume!

                                                              The dinner we wanted to have early so as to not have to drive too late. I think we ended up eating around six pm and it was a sit down dinner.

                                                          2. re: SeoulQueen

                                                            But you see, I don't think this is a "tit for tat" event -- the host is X there fore I can be rude or a poor guest,. They are two separate and distinct things. I've been at plenty of dinners where the ambiance has been uncomfortable, the host has been drunk before arrival, heck we were overnight guests at a place where the hostess was drunk when we got there, stayed drunk all night, dropped the dinner on the floor and SCRAPED IT UP TO SERVE IT, not a joke there, or when the mix of guests has been very very difficult. In each event I've learned something from it: I've seen some people as they really are, chosen to stay friends with some and not with others, and refused further invitations. But short of verbal assault and/or fisticuffs, a host's behaviour doesn't give me license to be a bad guest. I guess the definition of being a graceful guest is to go with the flow, minimize conflict, eat what is served (short of having an allergic reaction), and leave appropriately. It isn't to say "well, you're a crap host so I'm going to be a crap guest". JMHO...I mean, really, dinner at 930pm isn't so late. Its happened to me early on as a youngun when my timings were terrible for the meal. Thankfully no guest up and left because we were late.
                                                            At another one of our dinners, we did have a couple who clearly hadn't eaten much, I was later than expected by 30 minutes, and they gulped their food down then literally ran out the door. It made me feel as a host that we did nothing but provide a free meal for them, that the only reason that they showed up was so that they didn't have to cook. They may have thought I was a bad host for serving late, but I surely saw a side of them I didn't expect, and trust me, they were OFF the list for future dinners LOLOLOL.
                                                            Its one thing to suffer a bad host, its remarkably graceful to remain a good guest in the face of dining adversity.

                                                            1. re: freia

                                                              Yay for freia. Agreed on all counts.

                                                        2. Not sure that rude is the right word. Annoying, inconvenient, and frustrating would certainly work. I've certainly had a few nights over the years where things didn't go as I planned and dinner was late. None of my guests would have said I was rude - bad timing or disorganized, more likely. If my guests were only there to be fed, the situation might have been something I'd read about on an Internet website, but I'm fortunate that my friends were actually there to hang out for their evening.

                                                          1. The key is that people wanted to leave when they saw dinner would be quite late. Guests weren't being entertained or kept happy. It sounds like at least some of the guests had not expected this treatment, and wanted to go. That is key. The hosts didn't plan or didn't anticipate the logisitcs of a dinner party.

                                                            If you leave before the main, then you should be prepared for bad feelings. But the hosts should also be prepared for bad feelings because of poor planning, and bad attention to their guests.

                                                            Honestly I probably would have left, unless I was enjoying scintillating conversation with the other guests.

                                                            9 Replies
                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                              The OP did not say a word about anything except that the food was late. These were all adults, so I would assume they could "entertain" themselves and make themselves happy--that is one of the roles of guests IMHO. Dinner parties are about socializing and spending time with others, if you all you want to do is be fed in a timely fashion, go to McDonalds.

                                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                                I guess it comes down to how you interpret the OP's "Husband and I invited to dinner for 6:30pm." Were they right to expect food @ 630? I can see being irritated of I was told that dinner would be served @ 630 and I didn't actually get food until 9:30. Since the OP wasn't expecting a late night was it billed as a dinner with friends or a party where dinner will be served?

                                                                I think that it would have been rude for the OP to leave early, unless there was a good reason for it. But I also think that it's rude of a host to delay serving unless there is a good reason. If possible I would just suck it up and stick around, just so that I could be the one to complain about rudeness. :)

                                                                1. re: viperlush

                                                                  I just can't imagine going to the house of someone who was a real friend and not being able to joke about the whole situation. We have a friend who is always very late serving dinner and it is now a running joke, though it wasn't the first time when we didn't know her as well. I guess it all depends on the relationships of the people involved, but I will say I never expect an invitation for dinner to mean dinner will be served when I arrive, especially on a Saturday night.

                                                                  1. re: escondido123

                                                                    Hell if it's a real friend I would say, "I'm starving got anything to eat?".

                                                                    1. re: viperlush

                                                                      Exactly! But you have to be pretty close to say that.

                                                                2. re: escondido123

                                                                  Since one couple left before the main was served, and others felt "peckish" and devoured the apps, which should have come out at 6:45, IMO, I interpret that to mean that others in the party grew impatient or hungry. I agree that with wine flowing, if it was, and conversation, it could have a diverting time. But it obviously wasn't. So, I go back to what I said, which was that the guests weren't properly attended to. To arrive at 6:30 and not to eat the main course until 9:30 is extreme, I think.

                                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                                    if you're serving alcohol, there needs to be food out when guests arrive, even if it's bowls of chex mix, for the love of pete. if you like sitting around and having a tipple (or more, in the case of the hosts in the op) then there MUST be food out when people arrive.

                                                                    invited for dinner, people expect to eat. when having cocktails, most people get even hungrier. those nibbles can help ward off potentially too-early intoxication too.

                                                                    i don't t know the hosts so can't say if it was rudeness or a cavalier attitude toward entertaining that i do not share.

                                                                    i would not have left, nor lied to make an excuse to do so. i would have offered help in the kitchen, for certain.

                                                                    if i enjoy my relationship with these people i would just keep this event in my mental file when the next invite comes. it's not a make or break kinda deal if people don't share my hosting proclivities.

                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                      Thanks for saying that. My interpretation was that people were starving, not that they expected to eat and leave. Personally, if I were hungry I could not drink, because I would end up very drunk. Hunger and alcohol are not a good combination! The fact that these hosts admitted that they weren't hungry, but didn't think of how their guests might feel, sounds rude to me, not that the whole thing took so long, but that there was no consideration of getting something/anything into their guests stomachs so that the guests could also enjoy themselves.

                                                                      1. re: Missmoo

                                                                        when i have people over, i try to eat something before guests arrive because i don't usually eat all that much when i am entertaining... because i am busy entertaining, lol. however, i assume my guests will arrive hungry. there is always, always food out before the 1st people show.

                                                                        theses hosts not being hungry because they had a late lunch has nothing to do with all the people who got invited at 6:00 for DINNER.

                                                                        there is a very wiggly line line for me between rudeness and simple obliviousness. it sounds like the latter with this couple. it can translate as the former though, ya know?

                                                                        the b/f and i went to a party last year for "snacks" and drinks. it was a weekend night and held at about dinnertime. 7ish, i think? we arrived a little late having gotten slightly lost in the boonies there. no trays of anything out, no nuts, no cheese and crackers, nothing, nothing, nothing. the host never offered us anything to drink, so after 30 minutes of waiting, i helped myself. there was beer in a cooler and some wine on the kitchen counter. while in there, i saw there was nothing in the oven. there were a few unopened bags of chips lying about.

                                                                        about 9:00, he made a pizza, so at 9:30, there was one small pizza for about 10 ppl to share. he then made another and opened some chips.

                                                                        it really was ridiculous, lol.

                                                                        btw, he had asked my b/f for me to bring dessert, so i had. i didn't show up empty-handed. by receiving that specific request, i had assumed there would be other more substantial food.

                                                                        we had somewhere else to go, so left around 10. i didn't feel like the guy was being rude, just that he was utterly clueless about how to host.

                                                              2. That wouldn't have been a pleasant evening, but it's not fair to punish the hosts just because their timing was off or because they had to make up for a kitchen disaster. The only excuse for leaving early would be a babysitter who needed to get home, but as a guest, I'd tell the hosts as soon as I arrived that my sitter had to get home by a certain time just so they'd know I wasn't being rude if I had to skip out early.

                                                                I do remember attending a dinner party like the one you describe when I was in my 20s and single. The hostess was a known flake and was so disorganized she didn't end up serving the main course until 11 p.m. By then, we were all too tipsy to care and it was a Friday night, so no one had to get up for work.

                                                                But my cranky middle-aged self probably wouldn't find that dinner much fun today!

                                                                1. I am not sure that rude is the word to describe the hosts behavior. Maybe careless, laid back, even inconsiderate or poorly planned. It sounds like there is a big difference in the expectations on the part of those particular hosts and their guests, which can certainly lead to things being uncomfortable and disappointing. I do think the other couple leaving early was rude unless it was truly unavoidable.

                                                                  When I have people over for dinner, I am specific, as in " apps and drinks at 6:30, dinner served at 7:30". My reason for doing so is I want people to know when dinner is served, because barring a kitchen catastrophe, it will be served within five minutes of the appointed time. My husband is militant about time, which used to embarrass me but I've learned to appreciate that quality.

                                                                  If we are invited someplace for dinner, I make it a point to tactfully inquire about timing so I know what to expect. Some of our friends are very lax about time and I have learned that I will have a much better time if I don't show starved for a 6:00 dinner invitation if we won't be eating til 8:00.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                    I have friends who are neighbors that are never ready when they've invited guests for dinner. Having spent a couple of evenings starving for about 60- 90 minutes while they work around their insanely messy disorganized kitchen I now show up about 45 minutes after their suggested time. This seems to be about right and I don't feel in the least bit guilty plus I now don't have to 'help' get dinner made or set the table.

                                                                    1. re: smartie

                                                                      smartie, that makes good sense. And while people have wildly differing ideas of what is acceptable and not at dinner parties (as evidenced by the replies here) , it isn't worth ruining good relationships or hurting feelings of great people over those differences.

                                                                  2. Yes. There is never any reason to complain about getting a meal in some one's home. Unless you have a medical condition that requires you to eat at exact times you suck it up, be a good guest ( it goes both ways) and chalk it up to experience with this particular couple. Obviously the guests were here for a free meal and not the company. Makes me feel sad for the hosts.

                                                                    1. OK so you were invited for 630pm, meaning usually dinner ready at 7pm. 2 to 2.5 hours for dinner is too long??? Really??? Were you planning to dine and dash??/Was this a free meal or a chance to visit and socialize with the people who were kind enough to invite you over and make you dinner?
                                                                      I can understand if the main was served at midnight, and then ONLY if a babysitter is involved but lets face it, babysitters are happy to stay LONG because they get paid more the longer they are there.
                                                                      It just hits me that on a weekend, if someone invites you for a sitdown dinner, you make time for it. its pretty clear to me that it just isn't "for dinner" its for "an evening where dinner is included". If you dined and dashed like that, you'd certainly be off MY list.
                                                                      Being a good guest is the topic at hand: arrive on time, eat when and what is served graciously (unless of course in case of food allergy), make pleasant small talk avoiding controversial subjects, and leave at an appropriate hour.
                                                                      OH and we have many friends with many dietary and medical needs, and I've NEVER had anyone dine and dash. In fact, they've regretted not being able to stay LONGER as in past 2am.

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: freia

                                                                        Did you read the OP's follow up response above? It doesn't seem like the delay in serving dinner wasn't the only issue. With further clarification think that the OP was right to want to leave. The host did a half ass job in entertaining the guests and was in the process of getting drunk. The way I see it is if the host was a good friend, and this wasn't a regular occurence it wouldn't have bothered the OP. If it's bad enough for a regular (level headed) poster to open themselves up to criticism for their actions (or thoughts), I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt.

                                                                        I'm sure that you and other on this thread are perfectly good hosts and friends, and wouldn't put people in this situation.

                                                                        1. re: viperlush

                                                                          Oh no, I read it. I've been in the exact same situation. Except the host wasnt in the process of getting drunk, the host was blitzed before we got there. Made for an interesting dinner, that's for sure. In any event, ONE of the two was sober in my situation, and was so embarrassed, and to have left would have just made things worse, especially for her. I'm not about to judge my host. What I HAVE done is never ever go back for dinner. which is what the OP said. And it didn't sound that the behaviour was SO out of order as to prompt the reason for leaving -- if it was, the OPs question would have been something along the lines of "how do you handle a dinner where the host is hammered and dinner is late?" not "I wasn't planning a late evening and wanted to go 2 hours after the invite time. Is this rude?"
                                                                          The answer to me, as a good guest, is that short of fisticuffs or verbal assault assault or very very VERY inappropriate behaviour, it IS rude to leave before the main is served because it isn't meeting your time schedule. That is what my answer was based on.
                                                                          I think in this case the OP should have given the host the benefit of the doubt, just as you suggest we give the OP the benefit of the doubt?

                                                                          1. re: freia

                                                                            I guess we are just different. I'm not going to put up with someone being rude to me or putting me in an uncomfortable situation. Especially when they are not a friend. Not when I can easily exit. It's not worth my time or effort. And most likely they aren't worth my time or effort.

                                                                            What is comes down to with this topic and ones like it is how important is your relationship with the offender and is the offense worth damaging that relationship? Because you can always find a way to be offended. Either suck it up, find humor in it, or find a way to politely correct the behavior. If you can't move on.

                                                                            1. re: viperlush

                                                                              If the person isn't a friend, why would you accept an invitation for dinner? And if you weren't a friend, why would you be invited in the first place, unless of course it is an official work obligation thing, in which case being a rude guest will have consequences that you may not want to deal with the next day.
                                                                              If the hosts aren't your friends yet you've been invited anyways and accepted (does this even happen outside of an obligatory work thing?), then clearly there isn't any relationship between you and them to preserve, and perhaps this is the reason why being a rude guest is perhaps an acceptable course of action?
                                                                              Still scratching my head...

                                                                              1. re: freia

                                                                                "If the hosts aren't your friends yet you've been invited anyways and accepted"


                                                                                there is such a thing as building relationships. how do you make new friends as an adult? you can't be lunch table buddies in the caf, or meet at the swings after school, anymore, ya know?

                                                                        2. re: freia

                                                                          Well exactly... leave at an appropriate hour.. I guess for you an appropriate hour is 2am but I think for most folks, a 6:30pm dinner invite would reasonably being able to leave at 10pm having completed the meal. That's almost 3.5hours which I think is long enough. One doesn't want to be the guest that overstays their welcome either.

                                                                          And yes, this invite was for a sitdown meal and NOT a party that was supposed to go on until the wee hours. And yes we have been invited to and have ourselves hosted parties where it was made quite clear that the festivities would last until the last guest managed to stagger home but I still made sure that food was served in a timely fashion.

                                                                        3. We have a friend that is always late. Way late. We were invited to dinner one night with young kids in tow. We got there at 6pm as the host was just coming back from the grocery store with the evening's fixings. By 8pm, he had only gotten the cheese and crackers out, our toddlers
                                                                          were getting cranky tired and we had to leave. After they had children of their own, they got a bit better.

                                                                          1. We almost always have a bite to eat before we head out to a social situation like this. Then we're not ravenous waiting for the food to appear and we can relax and enjoy ourselves.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: laurachow

                                                                              Yup, that's what I do. I have a pre dinner. I'm not picky, but I am a nervous eater and don't really like eating a lot with other people when I'm not @ home. But I also pass out when I don't eat so I can't go long w/out eating. Just like to be prepared.

                                                                              1. re: laurachow

                                                                                I know it's the smarter option to have a bite beforehand but that's a bit screwed up isn't it? That people's social/hosting skills are in such a state that guests will eat before they go to someone's home for dinner because they don't know what to expect? I don't recall having this sort of problem when I lived in the UK - dinner invites were always a lot of fun with warm and gracious hosts providing a wonderful meal and everyone having a great time. I hate to say it but compared to my UK friends, my US friends are definitely lacking when it comes to social manners and etiquette.

                                                                              2. If someone is truly your friend--someone who could call in the middle of the night and you would go get them if they were in trouble--then a poorly timed meal with too much liquor is just a very small bump in the road. Of course, the older the friendship the more we know the person and the more able we are to deal with things. If a friend doesn't meet your needs, no need to wait for a time when they have let you down, just end the relationship with grace.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                                                  This wasn't posted as a "friend must shape up or else the friendship is over" type of thread. I've noticed these types of posts a lot on chowhound, ie the "well if this is a truly a friend then suck it up, otherwise just end the friendship." Wow, what's with the all or nothing attitude? If people really believed that, they'd be going through friendships pretty quickly! Nowhere did I say I wanted to end the friendship nor did I ask for comments about the friendship, I was asking about feedback on whether the hosts and guests behaviors at the dinner party was rude or not.

                                                                                  1. re: SeoulQueen

                                                                                    But, see, if you leave early as a guest, youve kind of made it an all or nothing thing, no? If a host has made/is preparing dinner for you and you choose to leave early for whatever reason, it is going to color a friendship.And that's part and parcel of making the value judgement about whether or not you feel the host is meeting your hosting expectations and the meal is meeting your timing expectations. So a change in friendship is going to be pretty normal if a person feels that they are going to cut a meal off early and leave a host kind of, well, hanging. Vice versa with the host -- if a host's behaviour is SO out of line, its going to color the friendship, no?

                                                                                    1. re: SeoulQueen

                                                                                      To get back to your original questions, based upon the fact that these people are your friends. Would it have been considered rude if we had made some sort of excuse and left? YES And if it's ok to go, what excuse would have worked? Since they are your friends, there aren't any because you don't do that to friends.

                                                                                  2. I guess it depends on the relationship you have with the host, but among friends, that would be a great way to end a friendship, or at least never be invited back.

                                                                                    I have friends who always serve dinner late, 6pm invite means dinner would start some time around 9:30, but it's OK because a) we know that's the way it is and b) we have great fun chatting, snacking and having cocktails. If you equate a private home invitation to a restaurant meal, then yes it's rude to be late serving the meal, but I've never had a private home dinner invite that said cocktails at 6, dinner at 7, just ones that said we are having a dinner party, come over at 6.

                                                                                    1. if you think about it, a 6pm invite is very early for a Saturday night, I might have questioned the time when I was invited.

                                                                                      1. A mismatch between hosts and guests. The host appears to have chosen early people, but treated early people to a late person's hospitality. It's still hospitality, but the basic error (probably unintended) was the mismatch. You need a good reason to leave in such a situation, not just inconvenience.

                                                                                        You write a lovely thank you note, reciprocate the hospitality within a year, and decline future invitations (or prepare accordingly if you decide to accept them).

                                                                                        I would say that hosts such as these who don't know that their guests are well-matched should alert the guests at the time the invitation is made. Many middle aged people cannot drink alcohol late, or without eating something, nor can they have a large meal within a couple of hours of going to sleep; not everyone retains the constitution of a collegiate into midlife. Hosts who are inattentive to this are being neglectful.

                                                                                        1. Just because their expectations of the meal/timing does not match yours does not make it "rude". It would never occur to me, for instance, that 10pm translates to "such a late night".

                                                                                          36 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                            I know very few people who would consider that a dinner hour except on New Year's Eve. Most dinner parties would be in their post-dessert phase by then.

                                                                                            1. re: Karl S

                                                                                              I know very few people who consider 10pm "very late".

                                                                                              Dinner started at 8:30....seems very reasonable to me. The fact that people were asked to come at 6:30 seems more odd to me.

                                                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                6:30 is much more normal for dinner in my experience (sitting down by 7pm - just as 7pm is the most packed reservation hour for dinner at restaurants); 8:30 for cocktails after dinner elsewhere.

                                                                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                  And yet I still haven't changed my mind that 10pm is not "very late".

                                                                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                    "just as 7pm is the most packed reservation hour for dinner at restaurants"

                                                                                                    The rush starts at about 6:30-7, but prime time in fine dining restaurants in my experience is 8:00. It may be a regional thing, but in new orleans 8 is definitely the height of rush.

                                                                                                2. re: Karl S

                                                                                                  Karl, perhaps in your world 'most' dinner parties would be in their post-dessert phase by then; in my circle, dinner guests coming over at 7:30, with dinner served around 8:30 is very normal, and the main is often not on the table until 9, or later (depending on courses before it).
                                                                                                  In France most people don't dine until around 9pm, and in Spain it is even later. My BF is French so we tend to dine later, tho growing up we commonly had dinner at 7:30, even on weeknights. Everyone is different.

                                                                                                  I tend to think that eating dinner at 6pm is kind of a 'heartland' or farm thing.

                                                                                                  Living in 'the big city', eating later is very common. Restaurants would sure have a hard time if no one came in to dine after 8pm!

                                                                                                  1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                    An 8 course meal starting at midnight is pretty usual in Spain, from my experience.
                                                                                                    I think though, the point is clear -- dinner is whenever the host chooses it to be? if you accept a dinner invitation perhaps going with the flow instead of having your eye on the clock is a graceful thing to do. Of course, if you have a babysitter or kids to worry about or dogs then of course you can make that known before the dinner to the host -- "We'd LOVE to come, but have to be home by 11pm to let the dog out" or something along those lines. But "scheduling" a dinner and the proper time frame is to me indicative of our rushed modern North American lives. We sit, we BETTER be served upon sitting, we BETTER have our appies STAT, and our mains, gotta be out of there within the hour. Restaurants reinforce this too, with the "move along we have a second seating this is no place to linger" policy that I've heard about and has been discussed previously on these boards. Long live the Slow Food movement! Maybe we should all relax a bit, smell the roses, sample our appies, linger over dessert, enjoy our coffee, linger over the cheese plate....what's the rush on a Saturday night? Seriously!

                                                                                                    1. re: freia

                                                                                                      A lot of people are still up early on Sunday mornings....

                                                                                                      The timeliness thing is not something new in American culture (New York and New Orleans have always stood out a bit for their later night dining culture). And don't go to Switzerland....

                                                                                                      (Even in Spain, there are changes reported. I can recall how tourists typically ate dinner at 9PM (the earliest restaurants would open) and natives eat at 11-1, with the biggest rush hour at 2-3AM. But I read that has been shifting, as the old early afternoon break customs have been squeezed, et cet. )

                                                                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                        Karl, Karl, Karl... yes, some of the afternoons are more squeezed even in Spain these days (so say friends), but a 2 hour lunch with time left over is still the norm; people work till 8pm there, so dinner before 10 is early - still.

                                                                                                        Just there this last year, so personal experience. Am generally in France twice a year, and dinner before 9 NEVER happens.
                                                                                                        I live in Seattle, and am happy to report we dine out at 9pm often, and the resto's are full, and when we have people to dinner on a Saturday, NO ONE finds it odd we set the arrival time for 8pm with dinner later than that, of course.
                                                                                                        Perhaps it is just my social circle, but even on a weeknight, when it is just us, a 2 hour dinner is not uncommon, as the company, the wine, the conversation are just as important as the food consumed. Time to talk about the day, and life, etc. This is what keeps people connected I think:)
                                                                                                        And we do get up early too. Maybe it is middle age, but I can dine at 9pm, go to bed at 11:30, and be up at 5:30. Maybe I am unusual, but I don't think so.
                                                                                                        Just have to make time for the gymn so eating late doesn't creep up on the ol' body!

                                                                                                        1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                          6 hrs is short for most people in terms of sleep. 7 hrs is more typical. I am not even talking the notional 7.5-8 hr norm.

                                                                                                          I rise at 4:45 to get in the pool by 5:15, M-F. Sunday mornings, I am out early for choir. Sleeping in for me means 6. But I am not using myself as a norm. I am using what I know from experience to be the hardest times to get dinner reservations (I am in the Boston area) at most places. 9PM is reliably past peak. I have dozens of friends (ranging in age from 40-60, generally, most without young children) that I dine with over the course of the year and would say only 1 or 2 would welcome that as a preferred dining time. Even on a Saturday. Because I've had to canvass when that's been one of the available times (with 6 being the other side of the overbooked block). I am not saying my experience is universal. But I do think it's consistent with the bell curve around here, as it were.

                                                                                                          Mind you, I didn't give the OP a blessing to leave early, lest that be forgotten. I was merely validating the expectation.

                                                                                                          And you can have a leisurely 2 hr meal earlier than 9 pm. I, however, like many people after the age of 40 (as reported in other threads), don't take wine after the early evening, for it is virtually guaranteed to cut out two of my five sleep cycles (that is, I will awake in the mid-wee hours and not be able to return to sleep).

                                                                                                          Just like the folks who like to eat dinner at 5pm (my parents eat dinner at 4:30pm - it's a trial when I visit, but they are 88; they eat breakfast at 5:30 am, lunch around 11AM), in much of America people who *like* eating dinner after 9PM are typically outliers in terms of distribution. They flock together, which natural, and in the biggest cities there are enough of them that they don't sense that they are outliers. This is true of many things, of course.

                                                                                                          1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                            Karl, I would not posit myself as any kind of 'outlier", but you do... to each his own.

                                                                                                            Perhaps treat your opinion as just THAT, and not a fact; simpyly your demographic or group of peeps ( yes! I used the word peeps here...)
                                                                                                            Let's relax, and realize each has a different experience and the other may have another.

                                                                                                            Again, you are not an 'outlier' to me, and I am not eather. Can you take a less- divisive tone please:)
                                                                                                            This is supposed to be an inclusive conversation, where all sides are heard. Difference of opinion does not make a person wrong, or an "outlier'. Thank you for being part of the discussion.

                                                                                                            1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                              Outlier is not a divisive term in any way; it just means outside of the standard. So if 6 out of 10 people are under 6 feet tall, the one that is 6 foot 5 is an outlier--that is a factual statement that does not say that is a wrong thing to be, just outside of the standard or bell curve as Karl said.

                                                                                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                That was my intending meaning, indeed. I myself am an outlier (which is why I pay attention to what the standard is, because my own personal preferences fall outside it, and I take that into account when I host).

                                                                                                              2. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                Anyone with small children will eat a heck of a lot earlier than 9. With a 5 year old, we tend to eat between 5-5:30. And yes, even in France last month we managed to get tables at the first seatings (usually 7) and the places we went were packed. So everyone has different life experiences and different preferences. We spent a lot of years before having a child when we ate 2-3 hour meals. It was wonderful. We still tend to have long meals and enjoy a bottle of wine together, and are teaching our daughter the importance of chatting and enjoying each others company around the table. But still, she needs her sleep, and if we started much later than we do, she wouldn't get it.

                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                  Yes, place in life's timeline makes a big difference that I see in these conversations. I recall years and years ago being invited to a high school friend-of-my-husband's house. I didn't know them at all, and my husband hadn't seen his friend in years. They had young kids, we didn't yet (we were just finished with grad school, and were firmly in "young adult" phase. We didn't even know anybody with kids.). They invited us for 6:00; we arrived late (unintentionally; their house was further out in the country than we'd realized), perhaps by 30 minutes (which in our world, wasn't a big deal). They'd started dinner without us, with apologies, since the kids had to eat. We were simply mortified that we didn't follow their idea of an arrival time, but had assumed our "crowd"'s idea that it was an approximation. Silly now that I look back. It's really easy to impose your own idea of "normal" on everyone else, but when different "herds" meet, it can lead to very different assumptions.

                                                                                                        2. re: freia

                                                                                                          "Of course, if you have a babysitter or kids to worry about or dogs then of course you can make that known before the dinner to the host -- "We'd LOVE to come, but have to be home by 11pm to let the dog out" or something along those lines"
                                                                                                          Mr. S and I do this. Mr. S has to be up at 4 a.m., so by 9 pm he is nodding off. If it's friends that don't know this (most already are aware), we make sure they know and are okay accommodating us (or that we might have to dash before dessert is served).

                                                                                                          Mr S's closest friend is married to an Italian woman. We often had to bow out of parties at their house, because they wouldn't start until 7 or 8 with dinner starting at 9 or 10. Now that they have a daughter (and many in their group of friends have kids), their hours are a little more in line with ours. Although for the daughter's first birthday, they had a split party - afternoon into early evening for the 'kids' party and later into the wee hours for the non-kids party. In spite of being child-free, we opted to go the early party along with granny.

                                                                                                    2. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                      While 10pm may not be a "late night" for you, if the evening started at 6:30 the main entree being served at 9:30 is late. Its safe to say, in this neck of the woods anyways, that most people eat dinner between 5:30 and 7pm, so by 9:30 most people would be on the hungry side. Plus they left at 10pm, totally skipping dessert and after dinner beverages. At the pace the dinner was going, you are probably talking midnight before the dinner party was finished or 5 1/2 hours from beginning to end. I love all my friends and family to death but after about 3 hours, 4 max, things have run their course and Im ready to call it a night. Clearly from the OP none of the guests were under the impression that the night was going to unfold like this. If one of the couples left before the main course was served - "to take the babysitter home" then the OP was not alone in her feelings that things were dragging out.

                                                                                                      1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                        But seriously, would you REALLY leave a dinner party if you thought the dinner was being served late? Really? OP says first course was served at 830pm not later. And appies were out at 715pm. So between arrival and appetizers was 45 minutes. Between appies and 1st course, 30 minutes (15 minutes to graze, and clean up with 1st course 30 minutes later).. Between 1st course and dinner, around 45 minutes (15 minutes to eat 1st course, clear up). And OP leaves before dessert?
                                                                                                        I'm not understanding the rush to eat. Surely, even if it is later than you prefer, one later meal on a weekend isn't going to kill you? Dollars to donuts that you wouldn't starve to death in the 45 minutes between arrival and bread and dip, and another 30 minutes to the first course, and another 45 minutes to the main? Good heavens, you've been grazing all evening by the sounds of it. And I'll bet that noone at the party was suffering from malnutrition. Is one that old, that tired, that hungry, that crabby and that demanding to actually LEAVE a dinner party because the food didn't get served by the host fast enough for the guest's liking on a Saturday night????? Yikes!
                                                                                                        Completely not understanding this...

                                                                                                        1. re: freia

                                                                                                          Apparently, not so much about hunger, as much as hanging out with hosts that are getting drunk, losing track of time. Sounds like the hosts did a poor job of entertaining in between the sparse food. It seems that the appetizers were very light, and the meal was not very filling, either. It sounds like a very uncomfortable evening for the guests, not that they (guests) wanted to eat in a rush.
                                                                                                          It was rude of the hosts to create such an uncomfortable evening for their guests. Just because they had a late lunch doesn't mean their guests were expecting a late dinner.

                                                                                                          1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                            You're a guest, though. That's what I mean. I noticed the "may be getting drunk" concern was added as an afterthought, not in the original post, so my gut feeling is that this was kind of a rationalization for leaving early. And it isn't up to the guest to decide what is/should be served. They accepted an invitation. Go with the flow. Suck it up for what, 5 hours, at the most. It isn't going to kill you. And just don't go back.
                                                                                                            Hosts may be rude, but it doesn't give license to be a boorish guest IMHO. Both roles are skills, and failing in one doesn't give license for the other to run rampant. I have had my share of boorish guests, but that doesn't mean that I am "entitled" to behave poorly as a host. Vice versa is also true --- many boorish hosts, but I remain a gracious guest. it really isn't that hard.

                                                                                                          2. re: freia

                                                                                                            So it's not a life-and-death situation, but it's still annoying for a dinner to stretch for hours on end. While the host is being generous to invite friends over, s/he should also think about the guests' time, which is also valuable. Different people have different preferences, so deal with it.

                                                                                                            1. re: dty

                                                                                                              Of course. Poor hosting is horrible. Hosts should put themselves in the shoes of their guests. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen, and when it doesn't, I really think one should take the high road and remain a gracious guest. Then never accept an invitation from that host again.

                                                                                                              1. re: freia

                                                                                                                +1 I've been to quite a few bad dinner parties, with terrible and/ or late food, drunk hosts, obnoxious guests, etc. But I wouldn't ever leave early, or show my displeasure to the hosts. I'd just decline the next invitiation. We've come home hungry many times, but luckily, the pizza joint on the corner is open for takeout until midnight, so we just laugh it off, and gorge on pizza.....

                                                                                                            2. re: freia

                                                                                                              Freia, I am with you... I kind of don't get it. Is having a leasurely meal with friends that takes a whole evening, and is filled with good conversation, food and time together going by the wayside somewhere?

                                                                                                              I love a 5-8 hour dinner party...

                                                                                                              1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                "a leisurely meal with friends that takes a whole evening, and is filled with good conversation, food and time together "

                                                                                                                Sounds great - but it sounds (from what the OP said) like the meal was not actually being provided in this case, just some very meager snacks. This doesn't mesh with my own idea of a generous, European style relaxed social evening.

                                                                                                                1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                  Should really make no difference, if one is being a gracious guest, IMHO. What may be generous and leisurely to a host may come across as long, boring and meager to a guest. But to up and leave is like handing a Christmas gift back to the giver, saying "it doesn't meet my needs" or "I don't like it, give it to someone else" or "whatever, I'm throwing it out". Tacky behaviour IMHO, and unnecessary.

                                                                                                                2. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                  "Is having a leasurely meal with friends that takes a whole evening, and is filled with good conversation, food and time together going by the wayside somewhere?"

                                                                                                                  what does this have to do with the op? This clearly wasnt what was described above.

                                                                                                                  1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                    Exactly. People are putting their own experiences into this, not considering what the OP is actually saying.
                                                                                                                    Sounds like a dreadful evening, and if folks had to leave because of a babysitter issue, I don't see that as rude or even being a problem.
                                                                                                                    It's about THIS situation, not what folks do in Europe. or somewhere else. It is a specific issue, not a generalized issue.

                                                                                                                  2. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                    Unfortunately it can be difficult to enjoy a leisurely evening with friends when you're all hungry and getting cranky because of it.

                                                                                                                    1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                      Phew, I'm glad someone on here is advocating for the long, leisurely dinner party. I absolutely love to host dinner parties (or as I put it, have friends for dinner - it's less formal that way) and will grasp at any opportunity to do so on any night of the week. The rules are fluid - I say come to my house for 7ish. If you want to come earlier, fine. If you're running late, don't sweat. If you want to contribute something, great, if not, your sparkling company is all we really want anyway. There is always plenty of wine and plenty of food and I hope for my guests to enjoy both. If you have to leave early for whatever reason, no problems, otherwise we're happy for people to stay and chat and drink until the wee hours. Thankfully my friends always return, so it can't be that bad. In all honesty I would be terrified of hosting a dinner for Chowhounders 'cause there is no way I could ever meet all these expectations of what a dinner party is supposed to be.

                                                                                                                      1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                                        I'm so happy when someone else makes me dinner, I promise no complaint would cross my mind! You seem very hospitable, and your dinners sound like a very enjoyable experience. :)

                                                                                                                        1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                                          I agree with you (except for the "if you want to come earlier, fine" part!!). I've always been grateful that people wanted to come back the next time even when my party didn't come off perfectly. Those are your good friends.

                                                                                                                          Thinking the OP's situation might not match the entertaining situations we might be talking about, so it might be apples and oranges. I would never have guests sitting in my home for a dinner without a little food out from the time they arrived. That's how we tend to do it in my circle -- some nibbles out when we start, dinner is about one to 1-1/2 hours after arrival time. I think that's a more usual situation, and the OP's situation sounds annoying to me, but not something I would walk out on.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Terrie H.

                                                                                                                            I think you're right Terrie H., I don't know many people who host full on formal dinner parties. In fact I don't know any, I do the most formal entertaining out of my entire circle of friends and colleagues, which is a sit down multi-course meal with associated wines and liqueurs/spirits that I've usually planned around a particular theme.

                                                                                                                            In truth though, the completely formal style of dinner party where one might hire help and dress code is cocktail/formal to match is really not done in Australia. Our style is far more relaxed, which is probably why I find it almost scary that Chowhounders adhere to such strict guidelines. I think our attitude to alcohol, as a society, also plays a big role. Culturally we are notorious for our heavy drinking and high tolerance for alcohol - while I think it's responsible to serve food (at least some nibbly things) with alcohol, no one would complain if you didn't. Indeed most people here see the drinks as being far more important than the food, so in situations where things don't quite go as expected as long as you keep the drinks flowing no-one cares. Which is probably why I don't see too much wrong with the OP's scenario and I can't understand why they wanted to leave so early. Apples and oranges, indeed. But I find it all very interesting, nonetheless.

                                                                                                                        2. re: freia

                                                                                                                          I havent run into this situation before, so im not sure how I would react, but if I had eaten lunch at noonish and only had drinks a few slices of bread, a bit of dip and a small salad by 9pm yeah I think I would be on the upset side. The host's clearly didnt have anyone's but their own needs in mind and ignored several obvious hints from the guests, only realizing they had made a mistake when the first couple left before the main course was served.

                                                                                                                          This has nothing to do with how long a typical dinner party should last, or cultural
                                                                                                                          differences, its about the hosts not understanding what their guests expectations were.

                                                                                                                    2. I don't think "rude" as much as "disappointed". And when it comes to over an hour with drinks and no food, followed by another hour with drinks and inadequate snacks, I think "This isn't gonna end well." I do love an old-fashioned cocktail party followed by dinner, which what this sounds like, but there has to be lots of munchies and dinner must follow within a reasonable time. Hungry people drink more than they intend, and often they cannot, er, APPRECIATE the rest of a dinner party that stretches over the entire evening.

                                                                                                                      I must admit that I am one of the "dinner will (always) be a little late" crowd, but I never plate more than a half hour behind schedule, there are lots of appetizers to go with the drinks, and my husband is a delightfully entertaining host. I've also held dinner when I see the guests are having a wonderful time talking, playing cards, or, once, sledding and it would be a crime to disrupt them. So my parties tend to last a little long. But my guests know this and tell me ahead of time that they may need to leave for the babysitter or an early morning tomorrow. Is this their way of setting the groundwork for an early exit? Could be, but I know that I've been put on notice and tighten the schedule a bit so that everyone can enjoy themselves.

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: POAndrea

                                                                                                                        I think it is rude to expect guests to drink for several hours with little or nothing to eat. Disaster waiting to happen. My husband was a diabetic and when meals were terribly delayed he would get almost out of control. I am having guests for dinner on Friday , having invited them for 6PM I will provide plenty of nibblies with drinks and dinner will be served by 7:30. In my way younger days ( all of 22) I recall a dinner party where the only drinks served were martinis or manhattens (refilled by waiters when your glass exhibited a bit gone, so you had no idea how much you had consumed). Everyone was having such a good time that the host delayed dinner several hours. I'm sure I was not the only one who couldn't have said if they had eaten or not, but I was certainly embarassed by passing out.
                                                                                                                        Not a good way to treat your guests.

                                                                                                                        1. re: miriamjo

                                                                                                                          I think we can all agree that different people/social groups have different expectations and habits as far the length of their dinner parties and when food is served relative to that. It sounds like there was just a honest, although unfortunate, disconnect between the host and the particular guests involved. Had it been my party, I would have made a point to let folks know a ballpark time of when we'd actually eat, and if the evening was going to be a long, leisurely one, I'd have made sure there was plenty of appetizers.

                                                                                                                          That being said, I think you did the polite, gracious thing in staying. Knowing what you know now, you can make an informed decision before accepting future invites from this couple.

                                                                                                                      2. I am really surprised at how many people have basically sided with the drunken, un-entertaining host.

                                                                                                                        It seems that they have trotted out as much logic as they can to side with them.

                                                                                                                        "If you were a true friend..." Come on. The only people you ever invite over are those that took a bullet for you? And, if that was the case, then I would have had no problem being much LESS gracious that what SeoulQueen was.

                                                                                                                        There is also the meme of "You have to be a really good guest". Why? She was obviously a better guest than the other was a host.

                                                                                                                        Last point: think about this tiny gesture that even a drunken host could have given:
                                                                                                                        "[Host] Is anyone hungry or thirsty?"
                                                                                                                        "[SeoulQueen (or anyone else at the party)] Actually, we are pretty hungry."
                                                                                                                        "[Host] Oh, jeez, well, let me check on the Roast and in the mean time get some snacks and things to hold you over"

                                                                                                                        I mean, that is Having-Guests 101.

                                                                                                                        Actually, one more thing: for those that are saying, "Well, that would be the last invite you ever get from me". You do understand that the punishment you are doling out is, "We are never going to invite you back for a boring, starving affair of watching us get drunk". Right?

                                                                                                                        62 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                          A delayed meal = a flawed dinner party.

                                                                                                                          Guests leaving because the meal was not served within the hour they would have preferred = ruined dinner party.

                                                                                                                          Pretty simple to me.

                                                                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                            No, not within the hour or even two hours. It was served 3 hours late. Pretty simple to me.

                                                                                                                            1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                              Many years ago when I was pregnant with a ChowPup, previous spouse and I were invited to a Saturday night dinner of a business acquaintance. We were invited for 5pm which involved an hour's drive from our house. Once there the wine was flowing but only chips and onion dip were served - the evening wore on and on with the hosts showing their slides from their European trip. I went to the kitchen to see what was going on but it was all dark and cold. Lasted until about 9.30pm (I was younger and less vocal then) and we exited because :"felt tired because I was pregnant" - hopped to nearest diner and ate everything in sight. Remaining guests said that dinner was never served - just great to see you and look forward to seeing you again (and more slides of the trip to Germany - NOT)

                                                                                                                              1. re: ZoeZ

                                                                                                                                What a terrible guest you were ;)

                                                                                                                                I completely understand others wanting people to be good guests, but it is important to understand that "enjoying each others company" does not involve being starved.

                                                                                                                              2. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                If you think the entree should be on the table at the time you arrive, I guess that's true. I don't, so I don't think serving the first course at 8:30 means the dinner was "three hours late".

                                                                                                                                I agree if people are hungry there should have been more substantial snacks put out during cocktail hour. To walk out over this, in my opinion, would be in poor taste.

                                                                                                                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                  I said, "No, not within the hour or even two hours. It was served 3 hours late."

                                                                                                                                  To which you replied, "If you think the entree should be on the table at the time you arrive..."

                                                                                                                                  She said 9:30 for the main entree.. So, it depends on what you want to debate.

                                                                                                                                  But, exactly how hungry do the guests need to be and how drunk (and boring) does the host need to be before you say (to yourself), "This sucks, I really want to leave"?

                                                                                                                                  Fo some, it might be 5 minutes. For others, it might be 5 hours. I am saying, with the evidence that SeoulQueen provided, she was well, WELL within her right to feel that the host did a terrible job and that she was not an unappreciative guest..

                                                                                                                                  1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                    I agree w/ you, Doug, it amazes me how many people on this thread side with the hosts. I don't know if i'd call them rude, but I would certainly call them inconsiderate and totally lacking in hospitality and I would be unlikely to go to anymore of their parties.

                                                                                                                                    All this talk of 5-8 hour dinner parties and "c'est la vie, open another bottle of wine"...I'd be black-out drunk if I sat around w/ my buddies for hours with wine and no food. Which might not be the worst thing in the world...but geez...call it a cocktail party, not a dinner party.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                      <...it amazes me how many people on this thread side with the hosts.>

                                                                                                                                      One of these days I'm going to tally up the threads that bitch about guests (late! early! insist on bringing things! refuse to bring things! bring the wrong things!) and those that bitch about hosts (this one, and the ever-popular "my sister/mother-in-law is horrible"). I bet the guest-hate is about 18X the host-hate.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                        Only thing I'll say is that the OP seemed to provide some clarity later on that made me realize how dysfunctional things were from the start. I think people were suggesting benefit of the doubt before they knew the full story... at least I was.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: MiriamWoodstock

                                                                                                                                          Would that I had your generosity of spirit. I read the OP and gleaned that two hours passed between invite time and meal time, with scant refreshment to bridge the gap. If this were due to poor planning by the hosts (been there, done that, apologized profusely for it), it's excusable, and everyone can muddle through and partake in sparkling conversation and laugh about it later. But it seems more like willful disregard for the comfort of others. Or sadism. In other words, bad host behavior.

                                                                                                                                          That said, if I were in the OP's shoes, I wouldn't have left. But I would have wanted to.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                      Of course the host was rude. Of course the host was inappropriate. But the OPs question was this:
                                                                                                                                      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?
                                                                                                                                      Was the host rude? Was I right to be bored/irritated/hungry?
                                                                                                                                      The question was simple as is the answer -- leaving a dinner party as a guest before the dinner is over is not graceful guest behaviour (short of acute illness, verbal assault or fisticuffs). It isn't OK to do that.
                                                                                                                                      The host was wrong, but the guests who chose to leave early because the evening/dinner hour wasn't to their personal schedule were equally wrong.
                                                                                                                                      And one wrong doesn't justify another, IMHO.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                        so whats the cutoff? 8pm? 10pm? midnight? 2am? Is it ok for a guest to feel like a hostage because they are trying to avoid hurting the feelings of a rather inconsiderate host/hostess or because they worry they may possibly make some borderline social faux pas?

                                                                                                                                        The more I think about it I would have done exactly what the op did. I have 1 night a week with my SO and its not worth it to me to end up spending it uncomfortable/hungry/annoyed. You can disagree, and thats ok, but while you are sitting there with the host/hostess starving and annoyed into the late hours, the op and I will have been long gone eating a real meal and having a laugh at how terrible the night started out!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                          I don't think that anyone out there has normally had an invitation for 630pm and waited until 2am for dinner. In this case, the food was rolling along albeit slowly. And you can bet the stories about the late dinner would keep those of us with the manners to endure it quite amused for quite some time. As would the stories about the outrageous behaviour of the guests who left early.
                                                                                                                                          I guess I just follow the golden rule: do unto others as I would like have done to myself. I know that the host was wrong. They may not have realized it. But I just imagine how awful I'd feel if my guests abandoned me after I had prep'd, and made what I thought was a good meal and nice evening.
                                                                                                                                          The other question is where do YOU draw the line? What if the food is horrible from the get-go? Would you up and leave as it clearly wasn't going to get any better? What if you were served a menu that was clearly an afterthought for your particular dietary needs? Would you up and leave because clearly the host didn't take you into account enough for your liking? Would you spit the wine you don't like back into your glass because the hosts KNOW you don't like French Burgundies, but THERE they ARE on the table and IN YOUR GLASS. What if you don't like your dinner compatriots? Do you up and leave because you aren't comfortable? Where does one draw the line with boorish behaviour as a guest? I guess that's a personal choice. For me, the consideration to a host who has invited me and who has gone out of their way to do their best (and it might suck, indeed, but really it IS the BEST they can do poor things) overrides my personal food and time issues. To do anything else is, as a guest, incredibly selfish and downright rude.
                                                                                                                                          'Nuf said...

                                                                                                                                          1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                            If the hosts realized they were wrong, then how upset could they really be? If I'd wronged someone, I'd be apologizing profusely and in complete understanding if they didn't want to put up with it. I'd be mortified, but heck, I'd deserve to be mortified.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                              "As would the stories about the outrageous behaviour of the guests who left early."

                                                                                                                                              It is outrageous to make sure your babysitter gets home on time. I mean, the gall of some people.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                                I don't think anyone is saying they would stomp out in a huff announcing what losers the hosts are. And I don't think anyone is saying it wouldn't be embarrassing and uncomfortable, even making the most abjectly apologetic of excuses. True, it's not exactly elegant to match rudeness with rudeness, but I think the guest in the case would be no more rude than the host.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: freia

                                                                                                                                              So, let's follow this then...

                                                                                                                                              if the dinner was not served at 9:30, but at 10:30 or 11:30, then would it have been OK?

                                                                                                                                              But, either way, the comment that you are referring to was,

                                                                                                                                              "Guests leaving because the meal was not served within the hour they would have preferred = ruined dinner party.

                                                                                                                                              Pretty simple to me."

                                                                                                                                              That was how that commenter put it. "Within the hour...pretty simple". And I was responding to that.

                                                                                                                                              "The host was wrong, but the guests who chose to leave early because the evening/dinner hour wasn't to their personal schedule..."

                                                                                                                                              But that is not what happened. And I am seeing a theme here with almost everyone that "agrees" with the drunken host: they need to re-frame what actually happened simply to agree with her.

                                                                                                                                              Here is what happened:
                                                                                                                                              1. The host completely failed.
                                                                                                                                              2. The guests felt awkward and hungry.
                                                                                                                                              3. The only couple that had kids left early
                                                                                                                                              4. Everyone felt awkward
                                                                                                                                              5. SeoulQueen wanted to make sure that whenever she did decide to leave, it would not be rude, so she consulted with her husband.
                                                                                                                                              6. They then made a judgement call.

                                                                                                                                              At that point, you can then judge whether it was rude to leave 4 or 5 hours after getting to the party, but that would be ridiculous in as much that we can deduce that she was trying to act in good faith.

                                                                                                                                              She did absolutely nothing wrong.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                            Leo, I will definitely grant you this: I initially misread the initial post. I did not realize that is was 2 hours till food was served (at 8:30). I had thought it was 9:30. Still, I stand by what I said.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                              As do I. If you want to take that as trotting out logic, that's your prerogative.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                I am not sure exactly what you are responding to, so I will simply restate what I had said...

                                                                                                                                                I said, "No, not within the hour or even two hours. It was served 3 hours late."

                                                                                                                                                To which you replied, "If you think the entree should be on the table at the time you arrive..."

                                                                                                                                                1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                                  I'm really late to this thread so I don't know why I'm bothering to reply but I am interpreting this the same way Leo is. The OP was invited to dinner at 6:30 which to me means 6:30 is when the OP should be ringing the doorbell not when everyone should be sitting down at the dinner table and eating. Doug's math (9:30 - 6:30 = 3 hours) would imply the entree should be waiting for the guest on the dinner table. I doubt that is his intention but that is the math.

                                                                                                                                                  I don't think 8:30 is late to be sitting down for dinner. I don't think 2 hours between guests first arriving and people being called to the table is too long. That is often my plan, and when it is, while I might have a couple of dishes of nuts or something like that out, I'm not serving trays of appetizers for two hours and expecting anyone to still have an appetite for dinner. Apps an hour ahead of dinner service makes sense to me. I am assuming this was the host's plan as well as the host said that everything was on schedule.

                                                                                                                                                  I do agree to the idea of "norms" and trying to let guests know if your schedule is outside of the "norms." I would guess this is just a case of the "norms" for the host being different than that of the OP and some of the other guests. You could say that maybe the host should know that, but it's hard to say that for sure. I know I almost never have dinner before 8pm and most often (even during the week) it's after 9pm. I think most in my circle have similar lifestyles unless they have young children. I would assume people with kids would be used to different schedules and would try to prepare them, but I might also think that they would realize that we don't have children and don't eat that early too.

                                                                                                                                                  I wouldn't be that offended if any guests decided that they had to leave early but I probably wouldn't invite them again to a similar event in the future. I'd just try to find other ways to see them assuming that they were close enough friends that I'd even care to.

                                                                                                                                                  I'm not sure that there's really a right or wrong answer here but I am surprised by the rigidity of a lot of the posters.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bg90027

                                                                                                                                                    2 hours from arrival to dinner and you think nuts will do? I'd be chewing off my foot! I also don't think the host should anticipate that guests will fill up on appetizers and that they can not police themselves and therefore, not enjoy the main meal as much as the host would like.
                                                                                                                                                    I would hope that some real food accompanies pre dinner drinks, if served.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                      You're right. Most etiquette books will say one hour.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                        You're putting words in my mouth there. I never said nuts would do for 2 hours. I said I wouldn't serve appetizers for the entire two hours before dinner for fear that if people are eating appetizers for that long, they wouldn't have an appetite for dinner. I'd put out appetizers for 1 hour, not two but something like light like nuts would be out in case someone was really hungry.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bg90027

                                                                                                                                                          I don't think 8:30 is late to be sitting down for dinner. I don't think 2 hours between guests first arriving and people being called to the table is too long. That is often my plan, and when it is, while I might have a couple of dishes of nuts or something like that out,
                                                                                                                                                          No, I didn't. Your words, not mine.
                                                                                                                                                          If I put out an antipasto plate, I'm not about to haul it away after a certain amount of time, or not put it out for a while because I think my guests will ruin their appetite.
                                                                                                                                                          I'm their host, not their parent.
                                                                                                                                                          I have often noshed here and there throughout the entire pre-dinner festivities. I bite now, a bite later.
                                                                                                                                                          If my guests have a drink in hand, there's food out.
                                                                                                                                                          I can't imagine a host taking away nuts or whatever so I didn't "ruin" my appetite. What am I, 7 years old?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                            Yes, those are my words but you completely ignored these words which were also mine:

                                                                                                                                                            Apps an hour ahead of dinner service makes sense to me.

                                                                                                                                                            Who said anything about taking any plates away? Certainly not me. I just don't think it's odd to not offer appetizers for 45 minutes to an hour after guests arrive when you are not serving dinner for 2 hours. Yes, I serve appetizers but not continually for two hours.

                                                                                                                                                            Small finger foods like nuts are out when guests arrive but I start bringing out more than that in 45 minutes to an hour unless it's clear that someone is very hungry. Do you sit around and snack on things for 2 hours before dinner at home? I don't and I don't think most of my guests do either. If people are that hungry, I'd just serve dinner earlier rather than stuff them with heavy apps. But that's the whole point here. 8:30 is not late for me or for most people in my crowd. It's not treating people like children. Who even wants to be snacking for 2 hours before dinner. Who wants all the extra calories?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bg90027

                                                                                                                                                              BG, your point about ringing the door at 6:30 being different than dinner time is an interesting one. I was inferring from the original post, I really don't know what the expected dinner time was.

                                                                                                                                                              But, the rest of your comment(s) have been about what YOU would have done if you had bee hosting.

                                                                                                                                                              We are, in general, commenting on what supposedly did happen. They were given a few apps which were devoured immediately and then had nothing. This is what we are responding to, not what you would have done in a similar situation.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                                                Fair enough. I agree that the host should have done a better job about setting expectations and I also agree that the host could have done a much better job of adapting.

                                                                                                                                                                I was really only offering my own view of what I would do as a host as a counterpoint to the assumptions that a lot of people seem to be making that dinner was served late or that 2 hours prior after arrival to table service was late.

                                                                                                                                                                I don't excuse the host not trying to adapt to hungry guests but it doesn't sound to me like the OP or the guests that left early behaved particularly well either.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: bg90027

                                                                                                                                                                Who said anything about taking any plates away? Certainly not me
                                                                                                                                                                I'd put out appetizers for 1 hour, not two
                                                                                                                                                                This is getting old. Please read your own posts before you reply.

                                                                                                                                                                Me? I put food out early and leave it there in case anyone wants another nibble. I don't watch the clock. Who cares?
                                                                                                                                                                If someone stuffs their face... oh well. Mostly, grown ups don't do that.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                  I don't understand why you don't understand that if there are two hours prior to dinner and I propose only serving appetizers for an hour that I'm not necessarily suggesting handing someone an appetizer as soon as they walk in the door, setting a stop watch and removing it exactly one hour later. I was suggesting that people don't need to have food put in front of them the second they walk in the front door. Unless someone was clearly hungry, I wouldn't plan to serve any appetizers (other than simple non-perishable finger foods such as nuts) for the FIRST hour. I would then serve appetizers for the second hour of the two hours prior to dinner. What is so difficult to understand about that?

                                                                                                                                                                  We at least agree that this is getting old. I'm done arguing about it.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: bg90027

                                                                                                                                                                  "Who wants all the extra calories"?

                                                                                                                                                                  I just wouldn't make that judgement. When I invite people to my home they know I've gone to great lengths to make them comfortable with food and drink. It's a party and my entertaining reflects that. Nuts alone just doesn't cut it.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                    It sounds like you throw a great party and as you said everyone does thinks differently. I didn't mean to imply that nuts "cut it." Nuts are not really intended as food but more as a megaphone to guests to politely tell me that they are hungry. If more than a small handful are being consumed, I need to provide more food or speed up the schedule or both.

                                                                                                                                                                    I don't disagree that adults can monitor their own intake, but i don't think it's quite that simple. If you make the effort to provide a lot of homemade appetizers or even a really nice spread of purchased perishables, I think people will eat them out of politeness whether they want them or not. I know that I've eaten a lot of apps as a guest that I didn't really want and have had many a piece of pie that I said Yes too only after seeing the disappointment in the hostess when others turned it down. I never want people to be hungry. I serve very generous portions at dinner, and I have more apps and dessert available if people want them. I think you can serve people too much food though and I try not to.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bg90027

                                                                                                                                                                      You eat apps to be polite? I never, ever do. Same for dessert. No way. You can NOT serve too much food, however, individuals can CHOOSE to eat to much food.
                                                                                                                                                                      I always err on the side of being generous.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                        It happens more often with desserts than apps, but yes I've eaten apps to be polite. To me, it's part of showing appreciation for the effort that the host/hostess has put into the food. Maybe I think about this stuff more than I need to, but I know I'm not alone in doing this. I've had someone else tell me that he wasn't sure whether to come clean or not about not really being a pie eater after a friend started baking pies just for him after he accepted and praised a slice of pie that was good but not something he'd normally choose to eat.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                      amen. I get sick with too many nuts.

                                                                                                                                                              3. re: bg90027

                                                                                                                                                                I agree with everything you're saying however....

                                                                                                                                                                I think a dinner party should also include a vast selection of appetizers.
                                                                                                                                                                I don't expect my guests will eat the entire selection but I do want them to have something to eat, with their drinks, if they so choose. I think, as adults, they're going to know to pace themselves and not stuff themselves on appetizers.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                  I do put appetizers out an hour before dinner. I don't think it's necessary that people have something to munch on, the moment they walk in but I do put nuts or something like that out. As a practical matter, I've always let people know when to expect dinner and if one or two people seem really hungry, I'll bring out some cheese and salumi earlier than planned. If everyone is hungry and present, it would be better to move up dinner than serve heavier appetizers assuming that's possible which for me it usually is.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bg90027

                                                                                                                                                                    Everyone entertains differently and that's the beauty of it.

                                                                                                                                                                    I do think it's necessary for people to feel comfortable and well fed in my home. Thus, the appetizers....and lots of them. If they stuff themselves with the food and drink I'm serving, well, that's up to them. They know dinner is coming and, perhaps, they know me well enough that they're not expected to leave until well into the night.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                    I believe it's of the utmost importance to serve food with alcohol. I would never put a drink on someone's hand without food for an entire hour. No way.
                                                                                                                                                                    "Dinner" be damned.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                                      yes, yes, yes! It's NOT about a leisurely pace. It's about rude hosts.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                                        As an admittedly disorganized and very late hostess, I have to say that I can understand both sides of this situation. I often try to host parties - and each time, no matter how hard I try to be organized, I somehow manage to be at least a few hours later in serving the dinner. At my old apartment, I thought it might be due to the fact that everyone congregated inside the kitchen, and blocked my path to the stove and fridge - no matter how much I wanted to get them to relax in the living room with drinks, they wanted to be "where the action is." Now that we have moved to a larger place, with an open floor plan (theoretically allowing them to be "in the action" without being "in the way") - I am still as late as ever. I try to compensate by giving myself an earlier start time, but somehow this translates into my letting it slip that it would be okay for those who are "early birds" - (with kids or other time constraints) - to show up early, too - thus throwing myself off even further. (And trying to cook with toddlers running around - help!) My tried and true and good friends somehow still want to come to my dinner parties, but I am sure I have alienated at least a few people that don't know me so well and are frustrated when "dinner at 7" turns into...eight? nine? ten??? I've never had anyone leave without eating - thank god! But I want to do better, and I guess I have sympathy for both sides - those who are frustrated by disorganized hosts, and those who are the disorganized (but at least in my case, well meaning!) hosts. For those who can always get dinner on the table at the appointed hour, I have nothing but awe for you - any tips???

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Morticia

                                                                                                                                                          Hey Morticia -- cook as much as you can before the actual dinner. Seriously. If you are making appies make ones that can be refrigerated until you need to pop them in the oven. Make a plan and count backwards, as in ...first out of the oven is last in, then do prep time in the morning and stick to the plan. All prep work that can be done in the am should be done then. Make simple dishes and serve buffet style. Forget about the plating, let everyone help themselves. Avoid dishes that are really time sensitive -- roast beef for example is DONE when it is done and no delays are really possible. Instead, try something like steak where you can cook it and serve it within a short period of time. Yes, it is time sensitive but that means say 20 minutes dedicated to BBQ time or pan sear time instead of hoping it all comes out OK. Better yet, make a lasagne that you can assemble earlier in the day or the night before and pop it in the oven the day of. The less on demand cooking you have to do the better I think. Salad greens can be washed, spun dry and put in plastic grocery bags in the fridge hours before the meal. Make dressings the night before. Pasta sauces can be made the night before. Curries can be made the night before. Rice and potatoes, not so much LOL. Baked or roasted veggies can be prepared and ready to pop in the oven hours before you need them, so prep them for baking the afternoon of. Dessert should be made the night before.
                                                                                                                                                          I think pre-prepping and getting as much done early in the day is the best idea. And spread the work out. You can do some prep in the morning, set the table in the afternoon, then pop whatever it is in the oven set to come out 30 minutes after the dinner guests are set to arrive. And remember, the simpler the better. The guests are really there to socialize and be with you -- always keep that in mind!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                                            Excellent advice! When hosting a dinner I always plan a menu that gives maximum WOW! factor to minimal fuss. I rely on my own philosophy of utilising the best and freshest ingredients I can get and doing as little to them as possible. Personally I love to host in winter in particular - you can make a fabulously rich dessert the evening before hand, get a wonderfully warming stew (or any type main course that requires slow cooking) in the oven after lunch and get a pot of soup on the stove in the afternoon (or indeed make it the day before and have it waiting in the fridge to be warmed up as guests arrive). That way I find that everything is ready to roll when my guests are ready and the only last minute things I worry about preparing are sides to go with my slow cooked main - and it's not like mashed potato, polenta, rocket salads, gremolata, etc. are taxing to prepare (and again can often be prepared in advance). Slow cooked meals don't require perfect timing and smell amazing as your guests come into your home. Not to mention minimal dishes, which makes life easier for you and guests feel more comfortable coming into your home without piles of dirty dishes everywhere. Careful planning makes a huge difference and certainly makes it a far more enjoyable experience for you and your guests.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Morticia

                                                                                                                                                            Plan ahead, buy ahead, make ahead. Two days before a dinner party I make sure everything we need--plates, glasses, napkins etc--are all ready to go. I also pull things out of the frig that don't have to be there--corn meal, flour etc--so I have more room for party foods. We almost always start with an antipasto that is a mix of bought items--good salami, proscuitto, olives, artichoke hearts, provolone, make ahead--roasted peppers and asparagus made the day before, and last minute foccacia made from TJs dough. We make that into two platters--keeping the meats separate, and also have a loaf of great bread. Glasses go out on the kitchen bar with wine, water etc so folks can help themselves. If you always end up late, then you should consider making something ahead--stews, chili, lasagna--so that you know the most important part is already done.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Morticia

                                                                                                                                                              Adding to the great advise already offered-

                                                                                                                                                              Write it down! Have your game plan, with times written down, garnishes noted, serving plates specified. Creating the plan requires visualization which will help you clarify the process. This helps you stay on track, makes sure nothing is forgotten and is a great tool if you take advantage of any offers of help.

                                                                                                                                                              In day to day cooking we often are unaware of how much time a given task really takes. Add up enough "it only takes a minute" processes and it can easily become an hour. Keep a notebook and a timer in the kitchen. A stopwatch is even better. Start recording how much time it really takes to prepare items. Once you know that a green salad takes 20 minutes, arranging your special antipasto platter takes 30 minutes, making the lemon scented whipped cream to top the strawberries takes 10 minutes you gain much more control of your schedule!

                                                                                                                                                              Timing a meal is one of the trickiest skills to learn imo. Once I finally realized that not every dish needed to be hands on my life as a host became much easier! Really think about your choices and what they entail.

                                                                                                                                                              Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy - no! Too much hands on activity all going on at once.

                                                                                                                                                              Roast chicken, potato salad, steamed green beans with compound butter - much more manageable and simpler to pull off when under pressure or distracted.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                                                Yup. Also, as much as some of us chowhounds might prefer to slave in the kitchen preparing an elaborate meal, also consider your stress level and your guests' comfort. I had a friend who still tried do elaborate, and delicious, meals once we all became parents. We appreciated the effort but she would end up frazzled, snapping at her husband, etc. Somewhere along the way she switched to ordering in. We all enjoy ourselves much better and I am free to do the same when I host. Turns out there's no good pizza where they live so they crave pizza night at our house, LOL. I can still do apps and desserts if I feel so inclined!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                                                  Morticia: you must have dear, dear friends who regularly are okay with 2-4 hour delays for dinner. Great advice, above, on streamlining, pre-planning. Being someone with an almost too-sensitive inner clock, it's hard for me to understand getting so far behind, but bless you for still trying!

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                                              Perhaps it's a cultural thing, but in my area, the meal would be served at the time noted. If not, then host would be the one stressing (not the guests).

                                                                                                                                                              I do have one relative who must suffer from extreme disorganization. She offered to bring the drinks for a picnic and was four hours late. We ate without the drinks after about two hours. She hosted a cook out once. As family and guests arrived, she noted that she needed to go to the grocery store and asked guests to babysit her kids while she purchased the food. Once back with the food, she needed all hands on board to prepare the food. Of course, everyone stayed and took care of the clean up.

                                                                                                                                                              I never accepted another invitation from the above relative, although others did with the same results. She, likewise, is just as late when invited over (as with the picnic). Others scramble to heat up food. I don't invite her, because I'm not starting over three or four hours later when she manages to make an arrival.

                                                                                                                                                              My style typical of the area here is relaxed, but some people have no common sense. My relative falls in that category. Others humor her. That's fine. I don't. And, I don't feel bad about it.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: CyndiA

                                                                                                                                                                Sounds less like humoring her, and more like enabling and rewarding her.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: CyndiA

                                                                                                                                                                  I had an aunt and uncle who showed up late to family functions for many years. I remember everyone waiting for them and their kids for Thanksgiving at my grandmother's house many times. The aunt and uncle were also late to my grandmother's funeral. My dad and his other brother decided to start without them. Well, it wasn't the actual funeral, but the family gathering in which memories were shared (before the actual service) started before they got their. My uncle was quite peeved. I suppose he got over it. (He had a huge ego, he even sang at his own funeral some years later).

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                    The only sane way to deal with the chronically late is to proceed without waiting for them unless they are the featured star.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                      My BIL was always late for no reason, he did call so last time I told him, it's OK I have a microwave so I can heat you up a plate. He showed up shortly later.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                        Hubby was late constantly when we were dating - sometimes up to an hour, with no call or explanation. He was puzzled about why it bothered me! Finally, I waited fifteen minutes past his time to arrive and then just left. He happened to be less late that day and caught me as I was getting into my car. We had a discussion and he was never late again.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                          It did not take me long to figure out my relative. She would also ask me to watch her kids while she picked up milk. "Oh no. Just ran out." That would be a six hour free babysitting gig. Where she went and what she did on the way to get milk, I have not a clue.

                                                                                                                                                                          Things can come up that can't be helped. Accident on the freeway etc. Most people have cell phones and can let you know but not all even today. No problem. I will adjust.

                                                                                                                                                                          The relative I brought up has never been on time for anything in her life to my recall. Everyone in the family, for some reason, let it slide. Late lunches. Late dinners. Late funerals.

                                                                                                                                                                          I don't invite her to anything, and if I go to something where she wants to pull a 3 or 4 hour stall, I just leave and go to a drive through and go home.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: CyndiA

                                                                                                                                                                            With the situation with your relative, your other relatives are just as or more at fault for allowing it to continue by enabling the 3-4 hour delay.

                                                                                                                                                                            And I truly hope that it wasn't a 6-hour babysitting gig and that was just a bit of hyperbole.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                              I wouldn't be at all surprised if someone left their kids and took off for six hours. Some people are just oblivious to how their actions affect other people. My roommate let her boyfriend park behind me in the driveway (blocking me in) and then took off for several hours (with her phone turned off). She seemed vaguely surprised that I was upset when she finally showed up.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                            gad Sandy, I know your pain. my husband and I discuss this late thing too but I haven't managed the right conversation just yet..........

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                                                      Excellent, DougRisk. You forgot another pro-host argument in this thread: "But in France, we don't eat before 9. In Spain we don't eat before 10. In Middle Earth, we eat while riding unicorns. On Mars, we only eat once a year. Blah, etc."

                                                                                                                                                                      Unless I missed something, the OP did not indicate she was in Europe so those arguments are red herrings. Regardless, the hosts were getting drunk and not making their guests comfortable by providing enough information about the meal time or enough food for the guests who were invited to arrive at 6:30.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                                                        I'm not sure if many have "sided" with the host per se, but simply answered the appalling question directly: is it okay for guests to leave when the host doesn't meet their expectations of a well timed dinner? What if the wine isn't paired with the meal right? What if the souffle falls? Can we leave then? What if every demand isn't met? Can we be rude to the people who intended to entertain in their home?

                                                                                                                                                                        Absolutely, the host should have communicated better, and the guests should have too. How weird a situation it must have been that everyone was so on eggshells that they couldn't simply communicate "Hey, I'm starving over here!" and the host to be more sensitive. But simply leaving because the meal is late? Bad form.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                                                                                                          I don't liken any of those other hypotheticals you posed to the issue at hand. Whatever the OP's idea of a reasonable timeframe within which the dinner should be completed is sunk time. My guess is she likely would have stayed and put on a good face had any or all of those other things happened, as long as they happened within what she considered to be a reasonable amount of time.

                                                                                                                                                                          As others on this thread have mentioned, these kinds of situations are testaments to the need for clear communication, but if it took three hours from call time to main course, I think a reasonable person could think the evening

                                                                                                                                                                          a) has already gone on too long, and
                                                                                                                                                                          b) is probably going to go on quite a bit longer.

                                                                                                                                                                          And another reasonable person could disagree.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. I'll agree with the other posters on this thread who say that it was absolutely rude for the couple to leave before the main entree. And it was almost just as rude of the OP to leave as soon as the main entree was finished, without staying for the dessert or small talk. Neither couple would be invited to another of my dinner parties, most likely.

                                                                                                                                                                        I have have regular Sunday evening dinner parties. About once a month they are at my house. Dinner is understood to be 7 pm, at the earliest, with people beginning to show up around 5:30-6. The host is often running late with some of the food, but it's not a big deal: others pitch-in to help, we crack a few more beers, open another bottle of wine, and enjoy each others company. Two Sundays ago the main wasn't served until around 9 because the host forgot to take the prime rib roast out of the fridge and then subsequently forgot to get it in the oven at the correct time. You never would've noticed that things were running late, though. Everybody had a good time and ended up leaving a little before midnight, which is about normal.

                                                                                                                                                                        Amongst my friends the only acceptable reason to leave a party on a Saturday any time before 10:30 is to go to another party. This is why we don't regularly have dinner parties on Saturday. Saturday dinner parties almost always transition to early Sunday morning drinking parties that don't wind down until 4 or 5 am.

                                                                                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                                                                          "Dinner is understood to be 7 pm" key point. Having an understanding of the timetable ahead of time among your friends, a regularly occurring dinner party, is different than what the OP posted.
                                                                                                                                                                          apples and oranges.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                              I'm not so sure it is apples to oranges.

                                                                                                                                                                              Perhaps I was a bit brief in describing these dinner parties. Yes, they are generally amongst friends, and, yes, they regularly occur on Sundays. However, that is not to say that it is the same group every Sunday. We invite new people, and the host location rotates amongst the fairly large group. People get asked a day or two ahead of time if they are coming, and if they aren't able or willing to spend several hours at the party, then they pass that week. For the unitiated, dinner is usually stated to be at 7 or 7:30, based on the host's schedule.

                                                                                                                                                                              We've been doing this for a little more than two years, and over that time we have had a varied assortment of people come...old friends, new friends, prospective friends. We have also had our fair share of misshaps over that time: late dinners, missing courses, injuries, and even ruined meals, which have required late-night takeout or delivery orders in order to get some food out. Of course, in such situations there are jokes made at the host's expense, and a fair amount of good-natured ribbing occurs.

                                                                                                                                                                              Anyway, I can't recall any serious complaints over the years. Those that have seriously bristled at whatever chaos they encountered simply have not been invited back or have declined to return to our parties.

                                                                                                                                                                              People come for comraderie, not specifically the food (which is, incidentally, almost always delicious, anyway).

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                                                                                Camaraderie is wonderful! But an empty, grumbling stomach isn't. Having the first with drink and something to munch on is the ideal.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                                                                                  But, the camaraderie sucked. Sitting there, hungry, watching the hosts get drunk. some fun, eh? woo hoo!
                                                                                                                                                                                  Your experiences are different from the OP's. Clearly.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                                                                                    I think these parties sound like fun. But I ask you...if everyone is so good-natured and laid back (injuries, takeout, etc.)...then would it really be that bad to say "hey, host, i'm starving to death and I'm falling asleep and I have a meeting tomorrow at 7:30, and my husband is giving me dagger-looks, so I think I'm gonna bail now. Have fun, see you next week." I mean , you don't stand on ceremony, right?

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                                                                                So, MonMauler, I am curious, if some new person were invited to one of these parties and was told that dinner would be at 6:30, but was not served until 9:30, and in the mean time watched you say, while drunk, that you were not hungry because you had a late lunch as another guest found a convenient excuse to leave because of how hungry they were...

                                                                                                                                                                                How would you want that guest to react?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                                                                  Hi Doug. I think the example you describe is a little different than the OP's situation as well as our Sunday dinner parties. The OP said that dinner would be served at 6:30, and that appetizers came out at 7:15, with the first course to follow at 8:15-8:30, and the main coming an hour after that. It's not like they weren't eating. That's a little different than the situation you propose, in which any food at all is three hours late, which, I agree, would be totally unacceptable.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Now, at virtually all of our parties, we get the chips, dip, bread, cheese, etc. out in time or shortly after the first guest arrives so that people have something to snack on while the meal is prepared. And, if the meal is late, such favors are replenished or we stagger the courses over a greater time period, as it seems the hosts did in the OP's case.

                                                                                                                                                                                  All I'm saying is that if you are invited and commit to a dinner, then you should attend and stay through that dinner. You don't have to be hungry, and you don't even really need to eat. Just nibble or pick at something or other, and enjoy the company. I'm not sure I've been to a dinner party that wasn't more about the people than the food...

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                                                                                    "The OP said that dinner would be served at 6:30, and that appetizers came out at 7:15, with the first course to follow at 8:15-8:30, and the main coming an hour after that. It's not like they weren't eating"

                                                                                                                                                                                    She said that the people devoured the snacks right away, were giving each other looks, and had one couple leave early. You also did not mention that they sat around watching there host get drunk.

                                                                                                                                                                                    This is not a group of people sitting around, enjoying drinks, and eating appetizers.

                                                                                                                                                                                    "All I'm saying is that if you are invited and commit to a dinner, then you should attend and stay through that dinner. You don't have to be hungry..."

                                                                                                                                                                                    If you are "commiting" to eating dinner at 6:30 (which is when it was supposed to be served) you are probably going to be hungry around 6:30. If all the snacks are gone, the host is drunk and you are not getting any more food for at least 2 hours, you are probably going to be very hungry (and cranky). And, like many other people have commented, without much food, you will probably not be drinking that much.

                                                                                                                                                                                    " I'm not sure I've been to a dinner party that wasn't more about the people than the food..."

                                                                                                                                                                                    But we are not commenting on the parties that you have been to. We are commenting on a party where everyone is giving each other looks while the host is drunk and another couple leave early. This is the situation that I am replying to.

                                                                                                                                                                              3. I find this thread slightly perplexing. So many people are chiming in to basically say that hosts are always always right even when they are being rude and as a guest you should just suck it up. Really? Can I just confirm we are talking about someone hosting a dinner here, right? It's not like they are donating an organ or something! Sure, it's very nice of them to invite people to dinner but it does not make them some kind of selfless saint who must always be obeyed.

                                                                                                                                                                                Having said that, I think that there's not really an obvious straight answer for this situation. It depends on the individuals involved. If the host is a good friend, then I think it's worth trying to hold out for them. Otherwise, I suppose it is a judgement call. In general, I think I would try to wait it out unless I began to feel that I really really was going to die if I stayed there any longer. How many other guests there are would also affect the decision for me - if it was a small intimate group where my absence would be hugely obvious then I would think twice and probably would end up grinning and bearing it. But if it was a large gathering and I was genuinely feeling extremely over tired or unwell, then I would quietly explain to the host why I was leaving and would pop around with a small gift (choccies or wine) and an apology note the next day.

                                                                                                                                                                                If it was a regular occurence that happened every time? Well, life is too short to pretend you are enjoying yourself when you're not (and no-one wants fake friends who are only there because they feel like they have to be) so I would have to carefully weigh up whether I would go to another dinner party hosted by that person. If they were a good friend or a friend who had at least some good qualities and who I did enjoy spending time with in other situations, then I would find ways to make it more bearable and go prepared. I think everyone has at least one friend who is lovely normally but, for example, gets really really embarassingly drunk at parties and becomes pretty unbearable. We love them in other situations so we bear with them during their lower moments. But if I really didn't have a good reason to put myself through a miserable situation repeatedly, I would stop going.

                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Muchlove

                                                                                                                                                                                  Nice reply. I think that it works for just about every etiquette/"what would you do" question on this board. There are so many variable and exceptions that it's easy to get distracted and off topic when replying to a post.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. Thanks for everyone's opinions - I also agree with muchlove's observation and noticed as well that the hosts seem to get more of a free pass when it comes to dinner party behavior than guests do. Perplexing indeed. And the difference of opinion on what constitutes an appropriate length of time for a dinner party was interesting too. For me, the 3.5hrs was more than enough, we had a 30 minute drive home so it was a little after 10:30pm by the time we made it in through the front door which I think is late enough, even for a sat night. Maybe we would have stayed a little longer if we lived closer, but I doubt it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Also to clarify, none of the guests made an open fuss or a big show about the slow pacing or the lack of food. Everything was sideway, discreet glances only amongst the guests - we would never point out the hosts' failings to their face. Even the couple that left before the main entree used a very apologetic tone as they made their excuses and left - they didn't get up in a huff and storm out.

                                                                                                                                                                                  And yes, we are all still friends (including the couple that left early). In fact, the hosts treated my husband and me to brunch two weeks later.. I think in the sober light of day, they realized how uncomfortable the evening had been as there were a few half-embarrassed remarks made by them about that night.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Interesting thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I have some friends that we used to invite over for dinner several times a year until they mad a crass comment about the time they eat at our house. I found this odd since when we go out to eat we usually don't eat until late. Apparently, I was wrong in assuming that having them at the house with drinks, appetizers, and conversation while I cook was part of the fun evening.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Let's just say they are no longer invited over with the exception of holidays...which I now resent having them around. It 's too bad that they were so childish and ill-mannered, as it ruined what used to be a great friendship.

                                                                                                                                                                                    So my resonse, is the host is better off without you.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Yes, it would have been rude, and yes, I've done it anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I went to a cousin's wedding when I was 7 months pregnant and starving all the time. I had all-day sickness the entire pregnancy and always had to keep something in my stomach. I planned for a wait, but not the wait we encountered ...

                                                                                                                                                                                      Following the late afternoon wedding (Catholic mass, so loooong) we went to the family's home where the reception was held. No food on the food tables yet, but we didn't expect to eat until the bride and groom got there. An hour later the bridal party shows up and is walking around with food plates they got who knows where. Another hour later the bride and groom show up and wonder why no one is eating. The caterer finally shoves the food onto the tables and everyone swarms over to line up. I waddle my 7-month pregnant self over to the end of the line and beg my husband to just take me to Applebees.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I really hope my cousin and her family didn't notice ... I felt bad at the time. And I did miss the drunk MOB's speech, which I heard was hilarious. Smaller dinner parties are much harder to sneak out of :/

                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: SAHCook

                                                                                                                                                                                        You made me think of my cousin's wedding were we broke into the dining room. The wedding party were very, very overlong after the ceremony going to just the perfect spot for photos. The room where we were to have appetizers (which ran out before we even we got there) and wait for their grand arrival had less than helpful staff and no chairs. My SIL was 8 months pregnant and had orders to have her feet up and my mom can't stand for long periods to due various health problems. After an hour of standing around, the 8 of us moved into the dining room, found our table and waited for another hour.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: SAHCook

                                                                                                                                                                                          I think being pregnant excuses a lot of things! I'm sure no one thought twice about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Could it be a cultural thing? We're Indian, and dinners at parties (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays) are normally served at 10-11pm. Same at wedding receptions. If you're invited to a party at 7pm, guests usually show up between 7:15-8:00. Appetizers are usually served from 8-9:30 or so, then dinner is prepped for serving and served 30-60 minutes later. No one would be invited at 7pm and expect to have dinner served at 7:30 -- it's just not how it's done (again, in Indian social circles).

                                                                                                                                                                                          20 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                                                                                                                                            So much of etiquette and rudeness is whether or not people to conform to expectations. I totally agree that different cultures have different expectations. Different friends do, too. One can feel violated even when the host had great intentions. I was once supposed to travel with a neighbor/colleague/friend to a brunch, and the friend was so late that I almost went out of my mind - I couldn't fathom how such a lovely person could be so awfully, horrendously late. We realized that cultural expectations were at play. From then on, I never agreed to arrive at an event with her again, and we never had any conflicts after that either :)

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                                                                                                                                              That's intesting, I was invited to a Persian wedding (myself not being Persian) that was called for 3:30pm on a Sunday. Being an on-time person, I got there at 3:30pm. Almost no one else showed up until around 4:30pm. The ceremony didn't start until 5:30pm. After that there was a reception, dancing, snacks galore out, but the dinner was not served until 10pm. Or I should say, the pre-dinner salad was not served until 10pm. By 10:30pm it was just too late on a Sunday for me to stay, so I departed. I think the entrees were served around 11pm. Wish I had known that before!

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                I'll trade you. ;-) Early in my marraige we flew to PA to attend a wedding my husband was a groomsman for. My catholic husband had regaled me w/ stories of Italian Catholic weddings and I was psyched, having gone to solely Southern Baptist punch and nuts receptions at that time. "Ceremony at 3:30 and reception to follow" was the only info on the invite. I wore full-on cocktail attire expecting a long mass followed by early cocktail hour and dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                What happened was a 20 min ceremony followed by the info that the reception would start at 6. Seems the bride had planned a 2 hour photo session while the guests cooled their heels. Some time near the end of the 2 hours a couple of the groomsmen, including my husband, got fed up and a bit recalcitrant, and were treated to a tongue-lashing from the bride. Husband found me, said we're leaving, and we drove back to Pittsburg, and I was very , very hungry when I finally ate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I've always wondered if that was standard practice in that part of the world. I suppose it would have been no biggie if you lived in the town and could just go home and hang out 'til the reception, but for out-of-town guests (the bride and groom both lived in SC) it seems awfully rude to me to make guests sit in the parking lot for 2 hours.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've been in that situation a few times - just went and found a bar. But if that isn't possible, man, it sucks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I find this interesting, danna.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    First of all, I'm sorry you did not enjoy the wedding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Secondly, I have been to very many weddings similar to this. In fact, I would say the majority of the weddings I go to have been similar. And, of course, I grew up and currently live in PA. And most of these weddings have been Catholic. Ha.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Anyway, the weddings I've been to that have been like this typically have about a half-an-hour ceremony, starting around 3, or so, like you say. After the ceremony is complete, the wedding party has their photo session at the church, which usually takes 45 minutes-plus and often stretches closer to an hour. (Two hours is a long time for a photo session). After the photo session at the church, the wedding party usually takes a limo or sneaks away for another solid hour-plus. During this time, they are taking their own photos and having a brief private party. It is not unusual for there to be a generous two hour window between when I last see the wedding party at the ceremony and when they finally reappear at the reception.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I actually like this setup. Firstly, most weddings I've been to have had the ceremony and the reception at very distinct locations. So travel time from the ceremony to the reception is often required. And, like you said, if the wedding is near my home, I can stop there and hang out until it's time to go. More often, though, whether the wedding is near my home or not, I usually end up hooking up with other attendees, and we chill at a bar somewhere until the reception opens up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's not been unusual, in my experience, for a ceremony that ends at 3:30, for the reception to start around 5:00, with the wedding party reappearing around 6:00.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm so happy you responded! I have always wondered about that lost weekend, and whether the set-up was expected by everyone except us. (although I still stand by the bride being a witch) I think this explains why I felt so over dressed...i imagine the locals were planning to change before dinner. Maybe if they had invited the non-wedding-party spouses, we could have kept the boys entertained enough to endure all the posing. I really hate we missed out on the food and drink and general experience!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                                                        When planning our daughter's wedding, we wanted to make sure the guests were never bored and never without food and drink. We also wanted minimum driving and downtime. The ceremony & reception were at the same venue and my husband instructed them to open the bar before the ceremony.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        After the ceremony, while pictures were being taken there was the full bar as well at butlered and non-butlered appetizers for the guests (and for the wedding party as they had servers for those being photographed as well).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I also think that it's inhospitable to make your guests wait while the pictures are being taken. And driving between ceremony and reception-- everyone has to do the same drive, so that's kind of a separate thing. At our wedding the guests went on to the reception immediately following the ceremony, we did our pics (I can't imagine it took more than half an hour or maybe 45 minutes) and we arrived at the party to a "grand introduction". Seemed to work fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                                                                            We did our photos before the ceremony, so that we didn't leave our guests awkwardly hanging about at someone's house or looking for a place to go. That's one of the things I hate about weddings. The excessive lag time between ceremony and reception, especially when you are from out of town. Our reception immediately followed the wedding ceremony.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Sooeygun

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Most of the weddings I've been involved in had the photo session BEFORE the wedding like yours. I had an uncle who was a professional photographer so he did the photos for all of the weddings in my extended family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              In my younger days, I recall someone always having a cooler of beer to help occupy any lag time between the wedding ceremony and reception.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                If you watch wedding shows (what, you don't?) it seems that it's become common to have a "cocktail hour" (presumably it could be any appropriate drinks and nibbles) between the ceremony and the reception proper, during which time the wedding party has its photos taken. While some formal shots can (and are) done before the ceremony, if the bride and groom adhere to the tradition that the groom doesn't see the bride in her dress before the ceremony, obviously you can't do all the pictures before. It's also usually easier to have the extended family photos after the ceremony instead of having to get everyone there early. Finally, some couples seem to want to do a remote photo shoot at some scenic location -- I see this a lot in San Francisco <shrug>.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Speaking of wedding shows, I saw one where the groom was several hours late and didn't seem at all fussed about it. The bride is at the venue getting ready and wondering where he is, while he's having a leisurely breakfast with his buddy at the coffee shop. Some people are just like that. It's one thing if something comes up, or if you underestimate the time it's going to take to get somewhere or get something done, and another to be completely oblivious!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My brother's wife was late for the ceremony, over an hour, but turns out the limo never showed up. She roared up to the church in her brother's old Nova finally. The limo company gave them a night on the town to make up for it, but to me that would never cut it. Well their first daughter just went off to college, so no permanent harm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Janet and D...yeah, that's what I was accustomed to, the reception starts immediately post wedding and the wedding party gets there a little while later. (actually I was once at a very nice wedding having wine on the veranda when the bride's mother arrived. she was met on the steps by a server telling her we had already consumed the amount of wine she had initially approved...oops.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              In my PA story, the reception hall was just across the parking lot from the church, but we were decidedly not invited to come in until a couple of hours later. And according to MonMauler, this is quite common. I think it underscores how important expectations and communication are. In my story, and I think in the OPs story, if people had only known in advance what to expect it would have been fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Well, back in the day when Catholics who wanted a Nuptial Mass had to get married before noon (before the 1950s, Masses had to occur between midnight and noon), there was a thing called a wedding breakfast (because the wedding party had been fasting since midnight...), and it was different from the reception. The wedding breakfast that followed closely upon the heels of the Mass was for the wedding party, the immediate families and guests from out of town; everyone else just went home or somewhere to get lunch. Then, a couple of hours later came the reception, which was light foods, cake/beverage, and dancing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  With really nowhere to go for so long before the reception, no wonder you were huh??
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It's tough when you're from out of town and everyone basically does their own thing between events.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I also have the same background and can tell you that sometimes people choose to just skip the ceremony all together if the lag is really long. It's not a great solution, but given the circumstances, sometimes it's just got to be-- I think especially for those coming in from out of town and/or paying for a sitter basically for the better portion of the afternoon and evening.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Our goal was for everyone to have a great time....good food, good cheer, good band. If you left hungry, sober or sad...that wasn't our fault (and yes we had shuttle service as well).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I am from PA and have been to a number of weddings where the majority of the guests never even show up for the wedding -- they just come to the reception. Cheesy? Yep, but then they aren't sitting around in fancy schmancy duds waiting for the reception to start.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I really like your approach, Janet. If I ever decide to take the plunge, I am going to do it in similar fashion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Most of the best weddings I've been to have had the ceremony and reception in basically the same location. A particularly fond one was at a fancy oceanfront home in St. Michael's, MD, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The bars were open ahead of the ceremony (people had drinks in their hands during the ceremony), and almost as soon as the ceremony had concluded the bars reopened and servers appeared with a generous assortment of hors d'oeuvres. Everything was paced perfectly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I totally get your frustration, danna. I feel a lot of this thread is really about managing expectations, on the part of the host/s and the guest/s. Unfortunately, I feel that this is often done poorly at weddings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A lot of wedding invitations I've received will say, "Ceremony beginning at 3:00 pm at 'such-and-such a place' ... Reception to be held at 'such-and-such' a place." Often, no start time is specified for the reception, even though the reception isn't truly starting until some time after the ceremony.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sometimes I will see the phrase, "Reception to follow..." which can be even more misleading because, to me, that implies the reception is open immediately after the ceremony, which often isn't the case.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In these situations I'm lucky in that I have no spouse and no children, so I am only responsible for myself and, maybe, my date (which is probably too much responsibility for me, anyway). As a result, I can usually just go with the flow, find a fun looking group to follow, and just do whatever they do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    One of the worst instances of failed expectations, on my part and the host's occurred at the wedding of my cousin. It was nearby, but still about an hour drive from where I was. And it was held at 6pm, on a Friday. So I had to leave work early and still contend with rush hour traffic just to get there on time. On top of that, the mass was a Catholic High Mass, sung completely in Latin, in a church without air conditioning, on a hot August evening. The ceremony itself took nearly two hours. The reception was about a half an hour drive from the church. When we finally got to the reception they only had cheese, crackers, fruit, juice (for the kids), wine and water. I did not expect any of this; none of it was conveyed in any correspondance or discussion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was starving and less than pleased. So my date and I went to the liqour store, bought a bunch of bottles, went back to the reception, and we ended up sitting on the veranda with a bunch of other cousins drinking whiskey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This was five or six years ago, and every time that cousin's name comes up in conversation I am compelled to talk about his awful, awful wedding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Whiskey, cheese, crackers, and fruit? Nice!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Not sure about your particular situation, but I have been on both sides of the "late meal." When cooking, "stuff" happens. I cannot imagine any situation, where I would leave. I have been there - "stuff" happens.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Now, when things are NOT going well, and there is zero guarantee that any will, having something, to pass the time, is the realm of the host/hostess, even if one pops some apps. into the oven, to tide folk over. I always host an impromptu wine tasting, when I am running far behind. The guests need something, or, like the villagers in "Frankstein," they become restless.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Leave? No, I would never leave.


                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. " I think what we have here ..is a failure to communicate".

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Here's the thing..LeoLioness has a point. There could be no right or wrong based on people's expectation. When I am having people for dinner..I am usually pretty clear. In this case, I would have said "Dinner is going to be served at 8:30, but please feel free to come earlier. I have never once attended a dinner party where dinner was served more than an hour after guests were requested to arrive..and I have been to many..many dinner parties over the years.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think the host serving dinner 3 hours after the invited time is unreasonable unless something went wrong in the kitchen..but again..it is a matter of failing to communicate. Personally..this sounds like a long..drawn out affair for me. After about 3 hours at someone's party..I am generally ready to go anyhow.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Also..if you are going hold your guests hostage for 2 or 3 hours before you feed them..at least have sufficient appetizers on hand for everyone. Situations like this are why I always make sure I have a little something sugary in my purse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: BlueMagic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I would say the majority of the dinner parties I have been to didn't serve "dinner" for at least an hour. You say "Come at 7." You offer people a drink, some nibblies. Some folks don't arrive until 7:20. Lots of talking as people are introduced, they ask about the fencework you had done, someone wants to meet the cats. About 8, people start to get rounded up and then we sit down around 8:15. The same at everyone's house accept for one European friend who has us sitting down in half an hour....and we all wonder what's the rush.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I just had a large dinner party this past weekend. As usual, I had a large meat and cheese board out with grapes and crackers. Last Zguest arrive about 7:45. I had a salad with large lobster cakes around 8:05. Dinner was on the table at 8:40.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Not a complaint and everyone had a great time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: FoodChic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    just curious, when did you ask guests to arrive?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I told them anytime after 7. First guest arrived at 7:05. He spent the first twenty minutes trying flavors on our soda machine since he doesn't drink. He loves good food, and couldn't get over the cured meats I had on the cheese platter (the truffle salami was pretty impressive).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Everyone else arrived and helped themselves at the bar, talked, and was lured by guest number one to try the meats and cheeses while I got the salads and lobster cakes ready.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: FoodChic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        sounds like a fabulous party. And your timing is about what I would expect.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: FoodChic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That's a guest that would get another invite from me. Not only does he appreciate good food and a soda machine, but he helped get the other guests interested in the food and probably didn't even realize he was doing it. (Plus he didn't get drunk and pass out on your couch!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. it’s not 100% clear if the op would have left at the same time even if the meal were served earlier. a guest may have to leave for a variety of reasons. i wouldn’t judge them solely because they leave before the last item is served, especially if the pace was very leisurely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "bad guest" actions would be: if they complain about the pace of the evening or the late serving of food, comment openly about the lateness of the meal, purposely leave earlier than they would have as a nonverbal jab to the hosts, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  i would look at their “good guest” actions during the time they were present: were they friendly, engaged, talkative, sharing, open to meeting new people, not constantly on the phone or texting, interested in both giving and taking in conversations, and otherwise contributing to everyone's fun evening? were they socially gracious while they were there? If someone is tired or cranky from hunger or worried about a meeting the next day, how gracious will they be if they stay out of a sense of duty? and what kind of host would i be to expect them to stay and to impose that cranky energy on all the other guests?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. after 'tubing' all day on the American River with another family, we headed to their beautiful mountain home for clean up and dinner.& got there around 5. our children were 2/5/8. there children 10/13. while dinner was in the offing ((for hours)) I was in the kitchen doing all I was allowed to help with by a very strong personalities woman of the household. she was my moms best friend and was closer to my age. mom and her husband were there as well. I kept saying to mom that we (my little young family and children) needed to eat soon or now. they were getting whiney and starving and were falling asleep and the lady kept saying its almost ready. I took mom aside and said we're going and told my husband to gather the kids and our stuff. the lady came and got us (full goblet of wine in tow) and said we'll just eat what's ready if you can't wait. I said "I'm sorry Debbie but it's midnight." my husband had been egging me for hours to get our stuff and leave so I was dealing with him too. that's one of the times he should have taken the lead and said "good bye-great day! but it's late, we're leaving."I would have appreciated that but he is not confrontational. we woke the kids sat down and had a fabulous comets meal. it was all done-what had we been waiting for?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    all in all it was a great day and wonderful dinner but yes, honestly stop the chat between 3 women, complete task @ hand and feed guests.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh my, midnight and little kids? Sheesh, even as an adult, I can't wait so late. We have a favorite photo, taken in India with Mr. Pine's family, of a bunch of us dressed up to go out for dinner. There had been MUCH discussion of where to go. In the background of the photo, there's a clock: it was 11:30 p.m. and we still hadn't left for dinner. I would rather than gone to bed hungry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        yea pine, I wouldn't let myself get in that position now, older/wiser they say, eh?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ^^^ I really really need spell check. I don't even know what I meant by ''comets'' meal. I don't even know what would or should have been written there. very sad. maybe there was no moon and the stars and comets were galore, but seriously doubt that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I did mean a very strong personaliti "ed" woman.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. After thinking about it, I remember that I have done this a couple times, but always with family. First to my parents on Xmas. My parents live in NoVa and my BF lived in Northen NJ at that time. It was agreed that I would going up to BF's Xmas evening after dinner (4-5hr drive) . But I ended up leaving hours before dinner was served because my mom was holding dinner for her very late sister. It was the last time that my mom held dinner for late family and the last time my mom hosted Xmas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The other times that I/we did it were when my BF's parents were late with getting dinner or dessert on the table. For years they insisted on having family parties on Sundays, but didn't take in consideration that we lived 3-5hrs away. Eventually they learned to plan parties for Saturdays.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In both I was clear (at the time of invite) that I/we had to leave at a certain time. And I/we left at the designated time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I think having a relaxed pace for a dinner party is fine, however, don't let your guests sit there hungry! If you have apps, drinks and good conversation, then go ahead and eat 2 or so hours after arrival. And be observant and prepared for the love of Julia! If, in the OP's case, a meager app gets demolished in no time, then duh! your guests are famished, not peckish. Don't be tone deaf.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It reminds me of a hilarious episode of The Office when Michael and Jan hosted a dinner party and as they sit down, Jan says they're having Osso Buco... and she *just put it in the oven*. It didn't end well. Except for Dwight: he brough his own food ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. In my part of the country (not where I grew up), people seem to expect to walk in the door, then sit down for dinner immediately, as though the purpose of the visit is to refuel and run! This goes against everything I have ever been taught or have read in etiquette books/columns. You might say that I can do the polite thing as I know it and serve dinner about one hour after the arrival time, but what about the guests who are clearly acting as though I've done something wrong?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Then they are crappy guests? And are off the future dinner invite list???? Gracious hosting, gracious guesting. Both sides have certain "duties" to fulfill and from the POV of a guest, one should be happy and grateful for the invite and the meal and behave accordingly. After all, a guest can refuse a future invitation if the meal/timing isn't to his/her liking. And the host should be timely, within usual guidelines, and if tthe host perceives that certain guests don't like this, then a host should endure, smile, and take them off the list!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Crappy guests? When in Rome.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Through this entire thread the word constantly brought up is communication. If the host is going to go against tradition/customary norm then they need to communicate this before hand. Sandy clearly knows what the epectations are in her part of the country so in the invitation she should let it be known what time dinner will be served.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                you said it yourself "usual guidelines" and those change family to family, state to state, country to county.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm not sure I understand your response -- perhaps I wasn't clear enough. The jist of my response was that as a guest, you follow the lead of the host. If you act out as though what your host is doing isn't meeting your expectations, that may place one in the category of being a "crappy guest", as in "a guest who isn't exhibiting appropriate guest-like behaviours" and would therefore be off the future invite list if the behaviour is really out there. See, the way I read the post was, "what about those guests who don't follow the host's lead and act out inappropriately?" to which my response was, somewhat tongue in cheek, "maybe they are crappy guests?" as opposed to a host taking the acting out of an inappropriate guest upon him or herself.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Even though there are family/state/country guidelines, a guest's role is to follow the lead of the host. Even if you as a guest don't like it. You are a guest aka an invitee to an event that someone is gracious enough to include you in, one that requires planning and preparation and even if it doesn't follow your personal preferences, one should be as a guest grateful for what the host/ess is/are doing for you. Not to act out if the event doesn't follow your personal expectations. And I personally, as a host, who is footing the bill for the dinner and doing the work to make it happen and who makes sure that those with food allergy issues and preferences are accommodated for and plans the seating for maximum enjoyment and pairs wine with the meal appropriately and so on, feel absolutely no compunction in advising guests every step of the way as to the timing of the events of the evening, other than to arrive at a certain time. I trust that those guests will arrive with a happy, smiling face and a generous friendly nature, not a stopwatch in hand and an attitude of "cater to me or I'm out the door".
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The usual guidelines in North America, no matter where I've been, have been dinner for say 6pm, met at the door with drinks and appies, and dinner 30 to 60 minutes later. After all, these standards if you will are in any etiquette book, and isn't that the purpose of an etiquette book? To provide a standard answer that works in pretty much every circumstance, regardless of the quirks of the region involved?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sandy's comment was she had guests that expected her to serve the food immediately after they arrived (for the record I think this is extremely rude). She commented that this was "the norm" in her area. Therefore when you said they were "rude guests" that is where I disagree. If a host is going to deviate from "the norm" I feel they have a duty to let their guests know beforehand. If they are going to serve dinner at midnight when people are used to eating at 7pm, if they are serving pad thai and satay on St. Patricks day, if they have a dry house and invite heavy wine drinkers etc etc etc. Communication is the key if a host intends on deviating from the norm, otherwise its perfectly acceptable for a guest to be upset. Granted a guest still needs to be gracious, but patience can wear thin when things dont go as expected.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree. I think the entire point of etiquette is a shared set of expectations. Whether you serve dinner right away or an hour later, neither choice is inherently more "polite" than the other. I would try to meet my guests halfway on this one, also maybe make my invites for a little earlier (6pm instead of 7?) because perhaps the issue is that people who are used to eating early arrive very hungry and have trouble hiding their impatience. But in the end if I felt like people were just coming to eat and run, rather than leisurely relaxed socializing, I would probably just stop having them for dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. My variant of this is the summertime barbecue where guests arrive at the appointed time but it's three hours before the barbecue is even lit and by then everyone is starving and angry and drunk. Then there was the wedding where we were all seated at long tables in the Parish Hall waiting two hours for the caterers to show up with dinner'; a guy at our table snuck out to McDonald's and brought back fries for one & all---we passed them around under the table. But I do agree that it's rude to leave a dinner party before dinner has been completed, although I might make a mental note that my host is a person incapable of organization and I probably would not accept another invitation there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Or if you have no easy way of declining the invitations of hosts who operate on "island time", you learn to eat before you come. Many such hosts have no ideas that their guests do that, but the guests sometimes debrief before/after the fact....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have been to those barbecues many many times. You'd think I'd learn and come later, but I never seem to. I always end up filling up on a bowl of potato chips though all I really want is a skewer of meat that is usually still marinating in a fridge somewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    " I always end up filling up on a bowl of potato chips though all I really want is a skewer of meat that is usually still marinating in a fridge "somewhere." hahah that's funny. yea, the fridge is in Istanbul...... < or so it seems.............hahahahh..........

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I think I described on another thread about how we were invited for dinner once, arrived on time, the hosts weren't home....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We sat in our car trying to decide if we should leave when they pulled up with a carload of groceries....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They had a turkey which they proceeded to stuff and roast for our dinner. Now THAT was a late one.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It was a turkey of dinner...basically, after these patterns become apparent when people are moving from young adulthood to midlife, the guests and hosts (other than people stuck with family) will sort each other out and generally avoid conflicting expectations. It's a messy 5 years doing so, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ohhh...I sure hope it wasn't my cousins. This sound just like them!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I think it depends on the people attending the dinner party.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Late dining is very customary in my home on a weekend and it's actually something people look forward to. I also serve lots of appetizers, unlike your hosts. We love to sit around and talk/eat and most guests leave well after midnight...after sitting around our table with many bottles of wine, candles, etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It sounds, unfortunately, that your hosts got off to a bad start and the guests were a little annoyed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        but staying at a dinner party or party well after the meal is served, drinking and maybe picking at fruit or chocolate is lovely. What I don't like is waiting for the meal for 2 hours after arriving at the host's location. Sorry but a few nuts and apps for 2 hours is way too long, if you're planning a party or celebration with food you need to be organized enough to have it within an hour of arrival time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As long as the guests know when to expect dinner, I think they can plan their lunch or snacks during the day accordingly. That doesn't mean that if someone shows up hungry, I ignore it and not bring out anything to snack on but that's not what I'm planning to do and I don't think it's poor organization. I'll usually make it clear when I plan to serve dinner, when the first guests have said that they are coming (which will usually be a close friend) and tell them to come when they can. Some don't show up until an hour before dinner but I find most are happy to spend more time together as long as it's clear to them that we will really be ready for them earlier and they aren't the only ones coming earlier than an hour before dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I agree it would be nice to linger over the table after dinner. My experience (at least with my crowd) is that people don't do that. Everyone is watching their weight and no one wants dessert. People don't drink coffee at night and while I enjoy a good sauterne, port or after dinner drink I've never had success in interesting anyone else in one. If I'm lucky there's a little wine still open and one or two people would like a little more while letting their food settle. Pretty quickly though, someone or multiple people will offer to help clean up and that sets everyone else's departure schedule in motion. It seems pretty universal among people I know that they don't linger. Early risers or people with kids or a long drive have to go, and people who want a later night prefer to go out for a last drink or two.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've found that if I want to spend more time with guests, the best way for me to do it is to have them come earlier. I suspect that most people here who have a problem with two hours before dinner probably just aren't used to eating that late. If you were told to show up at 5pm and served dinner at 7pm, would you have nearly the same issue as you do being told to show up at 6:30 and not being served until 8:30?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bg90027

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In my couple of decades+ of serving and attending dinner parties, I would say that they almost invariably are begun and completed within a 3-hour window. If it is a course meal at table, then it would typically be served around the 20-30 minute mark, after everyone has arrived (and, by the time one's peer group is in its later 30s, the chronically late people have been sifted out from the reasonably timely people), the main course within a half hour after that (so, by the 1 hour mark), and then dessert 45-60 minutes later (so, by the 2 hour mark), with another hour for the denouement of the event. Buffet style eating around the room(s) flows a bit differently for the first half or so. The only dinner parties in my rather wide circle of friends that begin after 8:30 pm are annual New Year's Eve dinners that typically start 9-9:30PM and a litte more than 3 hours later; most dinner parties commence anywhere from 6-7:30PM (though certainly holiday dinners - Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day (not Eve), and Easter - might be in the more old-fashioned mid-afternoon timeframe and last more like 4 hours).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bg90027

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I normally invite guests at 6:30. Don't know why but I do. The guests are created at the door with drinks offered and a rather large array of appetizers....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We usually get around to sitting down to dinner around 8-8:30.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have a huge table and I can accommodate many people. Generally, my guests don't leave until after midnight. We're still sitting at the table the entire time with lots of bottles of wine and anything else they want to drink. I would never assume that people are watching their weight...so, of course, I have wonderful desserts and I do not want people feeling like they have to start helping to clean up. That, somehow, puts a damper on the evening, imo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. There have been many opinions shared so far I wonder how close to these people you are. In my case I typically have close friends or family over for dinner, who know me quite well and therefore know what to expect. If for some reason however one of them had to go mid dinner, I would simply assume it was for a good reason and leave it at that. If I later found that it was because they were hungry because of missing lunch etc. I would simply have grabbed them something to nibble on (it is a kitchen after all, so there should be something to eat in it).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I do think that if I had people over that weren't close friends and they left early (dash and dine types), I expect I might find it a bit rude unless they had an unassailable reason (illness etc...).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I believe thats rude. Sounds like someone doesn't know how to prep. Either way, if you get invited again I would make it clear that you have to be gone by such and such time. Just say it in a nice way. Again, these people invited you to their home, they didn't have to be so gracious, then again the host shouldn't just assume that your time is limitless.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LN2008

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Respecting other's time is a very good point and observation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Did the couple that hosted work during the day? Did she try to prepare a meal from scratch while under estimating running around during the day? Haven't we been there?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I mean you had the other guests to talk to, you had drinks, appetizers to keep you from passing out. You had a host that sounds a bit overwhelmed but hey friends understand these things, right?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Leaving would have been rude and possibly misunderstood. At the end of the evening did you want to toss a friendship over the lateness of dinner? Other than an emergency, I can't imagine a kind reason for leaving. Your host spent time and money on making her guests a nice meal. How could you blow that off?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I think everyone should re-read the original post. Apps were served within 45 minutes. 45 min to an hour later people were seated for dinner. The "first course" was served "15-30 min later". Main entree at 9:30.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                #1 - there is 15 min time deference - it is not clear

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                #2 - how many courses were there?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                #3 - this as a Saturday night

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Main entree served at 9:30 and they leave at 10:00? Before dessert.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                When I read this - I see that this was a detailed, multi-course meal. It was a Saturday night. Even leaving 30 minutes after the main course is, to me, very rude! And I don't normally eat dessert.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If people want to get in and out so fast - I suggest that the hosts serve hotdogs and hamburgers or order pizza for this crowd - save the fine dining for guests with a more sophisticated palate. Jeez!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jeanne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Jeanne, you need to think about location also. While a dinner schedule like this would be considered normal in LA or NYC, where I live in northern Maine it would be considered rude and unthinkable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    PH I live in North Carolina - the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area. Not exactly LA or NYC - but still a nice area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jeanne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm from Montana, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri and Texas. Few I know of would be in their right mind would be offended by a multi-course offering.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: FoodChic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        FoodChic, and the hour wouldn't be an issue or not? Wasn't the OP trying to emphasize the hour the meal ran to?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I wouldn't leave if it was midnight. If a friend went thru the time, effort and money to make me a nice meal I'm there for the entire evening. We'd probably laugh about it for years. But other than illness, some sort of emergency, I can't imagine leaving early irregardless.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My time isn't worth more than someone else, period.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          No, the hour isn't an issue. As someone who entertains quite frequently, I'm absolutely thrilled when someone responds in kind. I could never imange being so horrible as to leave...no matter what.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If someone's experiencing difficulty in the kitchen, I'll gladly jump into help. If they're serving food in courses, then I'll be greatful and impressed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Now if it's a situation like SandyLC mentioned where they pulled up with the groceries in hand for a Turkey dinner, then I may rightfully tease them while grabbing an apron to help. But I certainly wouldn't leave.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I guess it's rare to find people that value friendships more than a couple of hours of time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Not sure if anyone has raised this POV in this long topic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My usual take on this kind of thing is that I'm a guest and, barring a special personal or medical need, I'll roll with whatever the hosts' timing is. That doesn't always translate to "happily" roll, but I don't usually get invited to the homes of people I don't enjoy being with, so I have a pretty large tolerance range for this stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I wouldn't necessarily assume anything from the hosts' admission of a late lunch. Some people just like extended evenings and DO serve in the pattern you describe. The evening is supposed to be about the company, IMHO, and not about the timing. As one group of posts said, late food service is sometimes about culture; sometimes (as Bill said above) "stuff" just happens.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I would just file this one under 'life's too short!", but I WOULD ask the hosts about their expected timing if I were invited again AND had some personal reason OTHER than my own preference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Gee, let's see: when people who graciously open their homes to me for dinner and an evening of conversation are running later with the food than I would prefer, would I be rude to just get up and leave? Hm. Let me think about that. Also, if I didn't like the wine they served, would it be inappropriate to pee in the bottle? Gee, where's my Miss Manners handbook when I need it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. And no one went into the kitchen to see if they could help or check on the delay? You would just bale on them instead? Cliche as it sounds, when you point a finger at hosts who you presume are rude you have three pointing at you. Wow...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If you bothered to read the clarifications in the rest of the thread, the guests did offer to help.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh yeah, you are right! Sorry. In the 260+ responses a lot of clarification got lost.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The hosts weren't in the kitchen for 3 hours, they were in the living room, getting drunk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I hope the OP has given up on the thread. I think Team Hosts Can Do No Wrong has made their point and the sarcastic response above is especially unnecessary. FTR, I'm on Team Hosts Should Feed Guests Before Getting Drunk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Old topic, but HECK yes it would be rude to leave in the middle of dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A dinner with friends is supposed to be casual and fun - drinking, socializing and eventually getting to the meal. I am assuming people are their to socialize and not just eat and run.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also, I was taught never arrive hungry at a party.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. So I read the clarification more closely. I still say wow at all of the finger pointing. I can understand the OP's frustration and the need to vent; however, it was a bad night, not fuel for a debate on etiquette or correct protocol for timing of courses. In hind sight if I had read:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            [the hosts treated my husband and me to brunch two weeks later.. I think in the sober light of day, they realized how uncomfortable the evening had been as there were a few half-embarrassed remarks made by them about that night.]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I would have moved on. The etiquette question seems kind of moot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              No, the etiquette question occurs with more painful frequency, as much the feedback attests, so this was a discussion that, while rooted in a specific instance, explored the more general problem. THe only agreement was that hosts and guests each have certain responsibilities, and that people these days differ in their expectations regarding those responsibilities, which leads to increasing instances of conflicts of this sort. And people are kinda stuck in their casual vs responsibility silos and not prone to persuading others out of it. Ultimately, however, this serves as more of a warning to hosts than guests (on the assumption that hosts have tend to have more skin in the game about an evening being seen as successful than guests): don't assume your guests share your sense of what a fun evening is like, unless you know them very well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                No, the etiquette question occurs with more painful frequency, as much the feedback attests, so this was a discussion that, while rooted in a specific instance, explored the more general problem. THe only agreement was that hosts and guests each have certain responsibilities, and that people these days differ in their expectations regarding those responsibilities, which leads to increasing instances of conflicts of this sort.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, differing expectations (often cultural or generational, sometimes just idiosyncratic) are at the heart of all these questions, whether it's "should I bring food to a party" or "offer to wash the dishes" etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There's a difference between being "rude" and being "inconsiderate" -- rudeness is defined by cultural expectations -- in my mind, it's better not to assume rudeness where none is intended.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Inconsiderateness has more to do with the details of the specific interaction. In this case, I think the hosts were inconsiderate, in that they were apparently oblivious to the signals their guests were sending them. It's certainly inconsiderate to invite people with small children left with a babysitter to a 6:30 dinner party and not serve until 9:30.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I also happen to think that it's both rude and inconsiderate to get drunk (not just have a couple of social drinks, but DRUNK) at your own party. As a host you have responsibilities and being drunk makes it difficult -- if not impossible -- to fulfill those responsibilities. If you want to get drunk with your friends, go to a bar where someone else can take care of the hosting responsibilities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Oh, I see, the host wasn't especially "rude" - unclear from your title. No, it's not OK to leave and yes, it would be rude. If you have an actual reason to need to leave "our sitter needs to go home" - that would be OK. If you don't have a reason, merely an excuse, it's not OK. Don't go again, but leaving is rude.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lifeasbinge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I you don't consider hosts getting drunk while guests are waiting to eat rude, then, I guess not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ditto wyogal!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Wondering if 'lifeasbinge' read the entire thread?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KSlink

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I understand not wanting to wait until 9:30 p.m. or so to eat dinner - I mean, my God, we're not Spaniards! But the OP simply has the wrong attitude about being invited to someone's house for dinner to begin with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You'll see right off the bat she came with so many expectations that had to be met for her to be satisfied: If the other guests hadn't arrived right on time that would have been a problem. That she wasn't immediately given appetizers upon her arrival, that was a problem. And on and on. Guaranteed, if it wasn't the late timing of the main course, she'd have found something else to be upset about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What a lack of graciousness on her part.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In other circumstances, possibly, but not this one. The hosts got off schedule themselves eating a late lunch, a cluster of other issues that they could have (but did not) manager better, and then getting hammered instead of making dinner. The hosts screwed up. And not the thing of everlasting Mary Tyler Moore comedy failed dinners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Disagree. You are reading too much into the original post. Everyone came on time and a reasonable amount of food wasn't served in a timely manner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I also disagree about the lack of graciousness. It sounds like everyone did their best, the evening didn't go as planned, and a couple made their apologies and left after staying for 2-1/2 hours. I say that as a host, I would consider myself at fault, not the guests (which is how the actual hosts felt according to a later post by the original author)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        An interesting post that generated a lot of comments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think it's possible that all those other issues became such in hindsight, given the experience as a whole.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          There isn't a culture to which I've been exposed yet that a host shouldn't feel apologetic for rolling the meal out three hours after the stated time of a meal invitation, even if they were not contributory in the least (which is not the case here).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think the issue with the appetizers was not so much that they weren't served on arrival, but that they weren't served with the cocktails. If you serve cocktails with no food at an event where people have come relatively hungry expecting to eat, people are going to get drunk, as demonstrated by the hosts here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              How true. Your post further illustrates how complicated the issue is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: KSlink

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            sorry for the late reply - nope, you're right, I didn't - I "replied to the original post" - and if the hosts were drunk, it would have been cool to put that information in the initial post, the one where the OP asked for an opinion. I'm not much good at giving a studied opinion when I don't have adequate information

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. The only thing I expect of my dinner guests is that they show up with an appetite. Apps are ready at the set arrival time, dinner is served within the hour (since that IS why they have been invited, to visit over dinner,) and while, as hosts, we would be prepared to have guests stay late if someone had to leave early- even right after the entree- we would pack up dessert for them and thank them for the time they did spend with us. An explanation or excuse would not be required.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If I was at a dinner party where the thought of leaving early even crossed my mind the last thing I would be worried about would be another invitation to dine there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I so agree! I would not dream of getting loaded while having guests over and in fact, drink very little as my organizational skills are inversely proportional to the amount of alcohol I drink ;-)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I make sure that drinks and apps are given asap and that there's something to munch on while dinner is being prepared. I'd never serve alcohol without food available.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also, I'm honored to have my guests, they're not honored to be graced by me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Last year, we had some people over for a casual dinner and birthday party. One guest, who shall never grace my home again, hovered over the grill, grabbed the first piece of chicken that was ready and ate it on her way out the door, announcing that she had a condo association meeting to attend. We dubbed her Chew and Screw. If I am invited to someone's home for a dinner party on the weekend, I assume it is for the whole evening and I will be leaving between 10 and 11 p.m., so I would plan accordingly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Wow that is a ballsy move. Good thing she didn't leave with a plate of food for the entire condo assoc. meeting! Who does that, sheesh!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Chew and Screw, I'm going to borrow that!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm howling at "Chew & Screw". Consider it public domain, Kat. I'll be borrowing it, too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. What if it were the reverse, which did happen to me: the host/ess announced at our arrival -- on time --that they had to be finished in roughly an hour's time as they were meeting other friends for drinks at 8:30??!! These people were our neighbours so we couldn 't run the risk of offending them with a reply like "don't call us we'll call you".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Instead we made the best of it. They offered a simple bowl of something, no alcohol (our gift of wine was no where in sight...they did say they knew the label), and a frozen ice cream bar, I think, for dessert. Yawn. At the end of our allotted time, we were glad it was only an hour or so!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And when we invited them to our place, it was a neighbourhood bbq, so we didn't have to say much but "hey".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. For one New Year's Eve pot-luck party I hosted the guests knew the food wasn't being served until late. The party started at 9:30 so it wasn't a dinner party but a late night buffet. It was candle-lit and fireplace-lit, which was a good thing as we had a region-wide power outage at about 10 p.m. which lasted until well after midnight. It was a challenge as many of our guest's foods had been brought to our place needing reheating. One of my guests brought an uncooked casserole. Somehow we managed. With the help of our basement woodstove (it was -20ish outside so the woodstove was fully fired up) we managed to serve hot food by 11 p.m. The trick with this type of party: everyone knows in advance what time they'll be eating and what time they're meant to go home...I invited them for 9:30 pm to 2 am. I clearly emphasized the time the food would be served. We played parlour games and laughed for hours. No electricity was great. Many people stayed later as we were huddled around the fireplace telling ghost-stories...and I think some passed out on various sofas...and spent the night. Fine with me. Point is, the food was meant to be eaten late and anyone coming knew all about the plans. We had kids and people of all ages, about 50 guests. Great!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. it is so pathetically rude for people to show up late for dinner. not only to the host/hostess but to the other guests...we all own our own personal cultures, and believe differently about things, however, on this note, being late is unacceptable. Now, as far as others helping, if they offer, fine, if not, fine to....I'm the kinda of gal who cannot work with others in my kitchen and also believe, guests do not help clean up...they are guests....period. I would prefer to clear off the table and serve dessert and coffee...but I have some girlfriends who refuse to honor my desire to do this and it drives me up a wall....they think they are helping but they are only getting in the way.