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GUESTS: your job is to SHOW. UP. ON. TIME. Is that really so hard?

I'm sure there must already be a discussion or 20 about this, but I am so steamed that I just don't have the patience to search for it.

I spent close to $200 and over four hours (not to mention clean-up time) to make a really nice meal for three friends. We set the time for 5 p.m. with dinner to be served at 5:30. All the hors d'oeuvres were on the table, which was set. Everything was in the oven, timed to come out at 5:30. They walk in at 5:30. So I just put everything out on the table at once and poured myself a second glass of bourbon and put them on my "never invite again" list.

I mean WTF? This is the second time they've been to my home for a meal. They know I put a lot of effort into it. But even if I were just serving lasagna, the point is that you SHOW UP ON TIME. It was a Sunday; they couldn't use traffic as an excuse. They really had no excuse.

I am just so totally pissed.

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  1. I'm sorry you're so upset...did they arrive on time the first time?

    I have learned to never schedule anything too tightly -- between my life in Florida and Europe, most folks *do* show up a 15-30 minutes late, so I just adjust the invite time accordingly.

    I would have planned at least an hour between when they were to arrive and when dinner was served, anyway -- folks tend to linger over cocktails, so it's nice to not rush people through it.

    And I don't remember the last time I made something that had to be served *right that minute* -- I can't think of anything other than a souffle that will be ruined if it sits for a few minutes.

    17 Replies
    1. re: sunshine842

      yeah some guests these days don't know how to be guests, in the past I've been of the mind to say cocktails at 5 PM dinner 6 or 7(ish) and this part is privately mentioned - I have relatives that have to be lied to or otherwise they'll show up silly early.

      1. re: hill food

        I don't get fussed -- both places, it's a cultural norm, so the host can't take it as a slight.

        But then, I don't think I've ever invited someone to my home when I needed to be on any kind of a schedule...it's pretty normal in my circle for invitations to be "oh, seven-ish" -- which means that whenever you get there, we'll pour drinks, and dinner will be whenever we're all ready to eat.

        The only one that really peeved me was the one who called and begged to bring appetizers, because she'd found this fantastic recipe. She was over an hour late (this was a big party) -- but I had a hunch she was going to do something flakey (I love her, but she hears only her own drummer) -- so I had appetizers of my own planned anyway, and we ate a few minutes after she arrived. (I was only peeved on that one, because I know her, and knew she wouldn't be on time....I was peeved at myself, mostly, for having agreed to let her bring aperos)

        She was invited the next year, but I think I asked her to bring a salad or something similar that wouldn't be missed if she was late or didn't show.

        1. re: sunshine842

          I'm just not going to invite them again, and probably won't have anyone over anymore. No one ever reciprocates. Too much work. Well-known problem up here. No one entertains at home.

          1. re: Just Visiting

            This seems very self defeating. Why not change your expectations? 30 mins from arrival to dinner seems rushed to me. Why not serve dinner at six? That is still very early to eat, could be home and in bed by 8:30. I love entertaining and cooking for friends, it is never a burden. If you feel it is too much work and then resent your friends for not respecting your efforts enough then maybe entertaining is just not your thing...

            1. re: Gloriaa

              Yup. You nailed it. This is not my thing. Not because I don't enjoy cooking for friends - I do - in fact, it is pretty much the only time I do enjoy cooking - but because I don't enjoy my friends' complete lack of respect or appreciation for what it takes to make them a nice meal.

              1. re: Just Visiting

                "I do enjoy cooking - but because I don't enjoy my friends' complete lack of respect or appreciation for what it takes to make them a nice meal."

                Hmm. I've learned it is better (for my sanity and my blood pressure) not to have any such expectations. Gratitude is lovely but are you cooking for the accolades?

                Also just because they are chronically late doesn't mean they don't appreciate your efforts or the meal. Did they say it was delicious? Did they thank you when they left that evening?

            2. re: Just Visiting

              Don't want to overthink this , but is this really about show-up time? Your statement is a strong one.

            3. re: sunshine842

              One of my best friends is always late. We learned years ago to assign her dessert, not an appetizer.

              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                Yep. I was mad at myself because I knew better, but I did it anyway.

                (but that's why I made appetizers anyway)

          2. re: sunshine842

            I can't remember if they showed up on time the first time. She was invited to go somewhere with us last week and showed up very late and almost cost the rest of us the experience (had to be there at a specific time).

            Well, one of the dishes was a red lentil souffle, but I can't think of anything that can be left in the oven or left to sit for 30 minutes beyond what was intended and still be as good as it would have been had it been served when intended. Whether dried out, mushy, flat, cold ... nothing would have been better for having been served 30 minutes late.

            This is not Florida or Europe and this was also a "school night" which is why we scheduled so early - we all had to be up early for work the next day. No one drinks and there would have been no need to rush had they shown up on time.

            1. re: Just Visiting

              I also never entertain on a work/school night -- nobody wants to be checking their watches every few minutes.

              Keeping things hot and moist and fresh are why they invented foil.

              Seriously, I've been entertaining friends and family for several decades now and have yet to ever have anything ruined. And I'm regarded as a really, really good cook in two countries.

              1. re: sunshine842

                I did not plan it for this Sunday. The social part of the evening was supposed to have taken place the week before - come to think of it, it was supposed to have taken place that very night that they showed up an hour late (not for dinner, for something else). And because they were late that week, everyone was frazzled and stressed and the original plans got rescheduled. And if memory serves, I think she is the one who suggested Sunday night.

              2. re: Just Visiting

                If I were to serve a soufflé to guests, I wouldn't put it in the oven until they arrived. That allows a generous amount of time for the preliminaries.

                1. re: sr44

                  Then I would have been spending my time in the kitchen doing the last-minute prep instead of spending it with these friends.

                  1. re: Just Visiting

                    then don't. serve. souffle. Sorry, but that was stress you heaped upon your own plate.

                    I only ever served one souffle, and the timing (and the time it took away from my guests) was enough to say never again.

                    That's a dish you can really only make after the guests arrive, when there are no other events planned for the night.

                2. re: Just Visiting

                  Sorry this all went badly for you. I never assume folks will show up on time so I make appetizers that can wait or go in the oven for a quick cook when folks walk in the door. Salads of course are no problem since they can be ready but "undressed" until the last moment. As to mains, I try to do something braised that can wait or a sauce that can be added to freshly cooked pasta at the last minute. I agree that souffles are tough any time, and can be so frustrating if timing doesn't work out.

                  1. re: escondido123

                    I rarely do dinners anymore, an open house with hearty appetizers is more my speed these days: come, go, stay, stay over, whatever.

              3. I agree with you and it really irks me. I put a lot of effort in when I have company and it's just rude to show up late. However, I have learned over the years not to time things so tight. Now I time the hors d'oeuvres to come out after they are supposed to arrive. If possible, I don't even put them in the oven till they arrive. The main course can be trickier, depending on what I'm making, but I'd rather sit and socialize and wait than ruin something I've worked hard and spent lots on.

                1. i assume this was yesterday, so yes, it was a sunday, but it was easter sunday and there were more people on the roads. walking as well as driving. i thought i had allowed enough time, but didn't take to account that every red light i hit included the walking cycle. i was almost 15 minutes late.

                  under any circumstances, this seems like an extremely tight schedule, but particularly for a souffle. no way i would have put that in the oven until i saw the whites of their eyes:)

                  1. Sure, it's nice when everything goes exactly according to your plans, but it rarely does - so plan on that. Among my friends, a 5pm invite to someone's home is understood to mean "show up sometime between 5:15 and 6pm." Because even if they could schedule their arrivals with the accuracy of air traffic controllers, people need time to settle in and relax. I certainly wouldn't want to be herded over to the table the second I walked in the door, nor would I want to be given a strict 30:00 window to scarf up the appetizers lest the main course be ruined.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: small h

                      That schedule was by mutual decision because we all had plans for something after dinner.

                      And if they didn't want to be herded over to the table, they should have shown up at the time they said they would arrive, and, in fact, had confirmed by e-mail that afternoon. Had I not had dinner ready as scheduled, it would have caused a problem.

                      1. re: Just Visiting

                        So this woman has twice caused issues with showing up late. Sounds like if you go out with her again, she should be told to show up a half hour earlier, and she'll then get there right when the rest of you do. :-)

                        1. re: Just Visiting

                          I'd be pissed, too. It was obviously a dinner, planned for a specific time, agreed upon. Then they show up late. I am not of the camp that says it's O.K. for guests to show up for a dinner party late. If it was just a cocktail party, or a hang out party, then, yeah, one can be more flexible. But, it sounds like it was quite specific, and yes they were rude for showing up late.

                      2. I can understand your frustration. You put a lot of energy into preparing a wonderful meal. It is aggravating when a wrench is thrown into carefully laid plans.

                        On the flip side - things do happen. I was recently invited to a holiday dinner which was also my first visit to the couples home. Invite and all communication was by e-mail so I did not have their phone number. I had provided my cell number as a just in case.

                        I allowed 35 min. for a 20 min. drive. One of my cats knocked over a vase just as I was opening the front door. So lost 7-8 min.
                        My GPS went wacky and couldn't locate the street. I had looked at an online map prior to leaving - it was wrong too. I finally pulled out a street atlas. It appeared their street intersected with several other roads. Wrong. After numerous dead ends I arrived 25 min. late. I kept hoping the hostess would call but I am sure she was so busy with last minute timing that it wouldn't have been an option.

                        I was mortified. Were they irked? Did waiting for my arrival add stress to their plans? Quite possibly and completely understandable. Fortunately, they were very gracious and welcoming. Which allowed me to relax and be able to enjoy a wonderful evening.Their ease at accepting my tardiness nipped any tension in the bud.

                        1. I'm sorry they upset you so much!

                          I don't know your age, location, or your relationship with these friends, so I can only comment on my own experiences. I tend to run on time or 10 minutes early, but after showing up at the scheduled time of a dinner party enough times, I have learned from the slightly masked panicked look on the hosts' faces that they had been expecting (or hoping) guests would show up 15 minutes later than what was scheduled for. I now make a point to ask the host what the expectation is ("do you want me at 3pm preciscely, or are you expecting people to arrive between 3 and 4?").

                          My point being, 30 minutes late does not seem to me to be exceptionally late and it is possible that is what your guests expect you mean by a 5pm invitation, especially if it is phrased that "dinner will be served at 5:30pm." They may think they should plan to get there between 5-5:30, but no later than 5:30pm.

                          If you want them at 5pm, you might want to say "dinner will begin to be served at 5pm, please do not be later than that."

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: hyacinthgirl

                            I said, "let's plan for 5, and we'll have dinner at 5:30" - that seems plenty clear to me...

                            Golden rule. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. I would not treat someone I regard as a friend with such lack of respect.

                              1. re: Just Visiting

                                If someone said that to me, I'd think the apps would be served starting at 5:30, apps being part of dinner, then salad, entrees, etc following accordingly. I would arrive between 5 and 5:15 and expect to begin actually eating at 5:30, never expecting apps at 5:00.

                                We once arrived at coworker's bbq an hour late. There were no cars on the street and we thought it might have been cancelled. Nope, we were the first people to arrive and were greeted with, "Oh, you're early." The gentleman was still working outside in the yard and his partner was still picking up beer and ice at the store. No one else arrived for approx. another 45 min to an hour after we did.

                                People do not show up at the appointed time. They just don't.

                                1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                  But when they agreed to the time because of an event later in the evening, it was discussed, planned, they should show up on time. This was not a get together that was to last for the evening.

                                  1. re: wyogal

                                    Wow this is old, sorry.

                                    I was responding to Justvisiting who said: "I said, "let's plan for 5, and we'll have dinner at 5:30" - that seems plenty clear to me..."
                                    I would expect apps to start at 5:30, the appointed time for dinner to begin. I would arrive between 5 and 5:15. That is on time. But in my experience, people have differing ideas as to what "on time" means.

                                  2. re: Jerseygirl111

                                    Jersegirl, don't you think there comes a point in a friendship where you either clear the air, give the tension some time to ease or decide to walk on. I mean in situations like this it's NEVER about the food!

                                    If all it takes is one late dinner to end a friendship then the friendship wasn't strong enough to begin with. Friends don't argue over tiny details, they don't hurt one another intentionally and they forgive and forget; especially if the going gets tough.

                                    I don't believe this was ever about the meal. The OP was insulted. Felt disrespected for her time and good intentions. period.

                                    The showing up late was just a lousy way to find out her friends didn't care enough.

                                2. re: hyacinthgirl

                                  I like what you said, h. And mentioning when dinner will be served and that a souffle is part of the menu might have improved timely arrivals.

                                  So often threads like this have me wondering. I mean if they are good friends, people you would go to decent lengths to provide a nice meal for, they why is it difficult to share after the party is behind you that you would appreciate some consideration the next time. Why is that so difficult to do? Why go from good friends to never again?

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    Some have no idea that soufflé is a timely item. Don't assume people know the same about food as the hounds. Even my parents who taught me to be a hound learn things from me. For example my father wanted prosciutto and tried to order prosciutto cotto I had to talk him out of it because I knew he wanted something like a prosciutto di Parma (cured). He didn't believe me but he did believe the sever.

                                    1. re: melpy

                                      melpy, assumptions are what get friends in a pickle with each other don't you think? Souffle isn't a new word, even if you've never actually eaten one. But beyond hounds vs non hounds, whatever that means, if you're hosting a party and preparing something special-why not mention it to your guests? This would cover the time you show up is important, that part of the party menu is time sensitive, etc.

                                      Communication shouldn't be the hard part. And when it is, the plans seem bound to breakdown somewhere.

                                      I think what happened was unfortunate but I know I'm not a mind reader and I appreciate well communicated get togethers even more the older I get.

                                      1. re: melpy

                                        melpy - doesn't it drive you crazy when someone who KNOWS you know what's what and instead defers to some 3rd party who may or may not know squat? my folks the same way, roll their eyes like I'm a nutcase when I say something but if they see it in the newspaper I'm flooded with clippings of success stories on the subject.

                                        1. re: hill food

                                          It is a little maddening.
                                          Sort of like the the punctuality of certain friends and my fiancé but I am learning to be frustrated with myself is more productive than at other people. I can change my habits.

                                    2. re: hyacinthgirl

                                      Good reply, hyacinthegirl. I agree with the OP - I too perceive not arriving on time as being selfish and inconsiderate unless there are mitigating circumstances. My parents have recently come back home after living overseas for 20 years and they habitually arrive half an hour early when they come over. This really annoys me, but they are improving. I guess it's because I'm the type to show up on time. If I'm early I'll drive around the block to kill time or go for a walk.

                                    3. Such a tight and specific time-frame simply would not work with my friends. I give them an "-ish" time--arrive 5-ish, knowing some will be closer to 5, some closer to 5:30, and I'd never leave only a 1/2 hour window to a strict dinner serving. Just my 2 cents, but learned over 3 decades of entertaining.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: pine time

                                        When I hear "ish" I always assume it is later than the specified hour but not earlier. You, too? I consider 15-20 minutes as "ish."

                                          1. re: meatn3

                                            In our family, "ish" is a little before or after.

                                      2. Just Visiting, as a fellow prompt person, I would like you to know that I am appalled at people's responses.

                                        There is occasionally a reason for being late, but usually it is simply disrespect. In this day and age, I've found that most people simply find their own time to be more important than yours.

                                        I see this daily, in people being late to meetings, late to social events, late everywhere. Luckily my close friends have been weeded out to those who respect my time as much as their own. Sure things happen, and usually I will get a phone call or a text, so that I'm aware of the issue.

                                        So you are absolutely in the right to put those people on the 'do not invite' list. That's where they'd be for me as well.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: dagoose

                                          A dinner party is a party. A place to sit back, relax and have fun. Why stress out so much? Why set unrealistic expectations? I am a VERY punctual person, I am usually early for everything. I have been known to wait in cars for the dinner party to start. If I were to end a friendship based on friends tardiness I would have no more friends. I take the good with the bad. Tolerance makes life sooooo much easier.

                                          1. re: dagoose

                                            And this was simple disrespect. They had no reason at all.

                                            And I agree with you that if there is traffic or whatever, pick up the phone or send an e-mail or a text or skype or ....umpteen ways to communicate that there is a snag.

                                            1. re: Just Visiting

                                              Most people we know will be late. Some upto an hour or more. It steams us up when we see these people going for a run while we are putting the finishing touches on something.

                                            2. re: dagoose

                                              dagoose - I would hope we as gracious human beings, could find a fine balance on such issues;

                                              Treat others time as as important as your own (plan enough time to be on time!), but if someone is late, be gracious and accept the apology and move on.

                                              Tho, fool me twice, shame on me, and by then I know you are a 'late person' and I will plan for that, or tell you an early time to fool you next time:)

                                              1. re: dagoose

                                                Could not agree more. I am always appalled at the assumption that a stated time is "advisory" and just come whenever you think it works into your busy social schedule.
                                                I understand that things happen; but not every time.
                                                Some of our oldest friends were so terrible that we routinely tell them a hour earlier than everyone else so they are "only" 15-30m minutes late.

                                              2. I also think your time frame is way too short. Military style punctuality is not so much expected at a friends home for dinner in my experience. I leave a 30 minute window for arrivals, an hour after that (at least) for everyone to sit down to eat.

                                                While I put a great deal of effort and thought into my food, I don't expect my guests to fully appreciate that. After all, unless they are paying for the meal, they are coming to see me first, the food is second or third in the scheme of things.

                                                If you really like them, it would be a shame to never have them over again because they didn't treat you like a restaurant with a reservation... but instead, like a friend, offering them hospitality for an evening in their busy life.

                                                17 Replies
                                                1. re: sedimental

                                                  This schedule was actually agreed upon by all for reasons that are too complicated to explain.

                                                  I could have waited to get everything in the oven but then I would have been spending my time in the kitchen instead of visiting with my friends. So that rather defeats the notion that "they are coming to see me first."

                                                  And how kind of them to take time out of their busy lives to spend that time with me. They didn't have to accept the invitation if they were so darned busy. And of course, my life was a whole lot busier for hosting them.

                                                  Not to mention that she asked to bring a friend - a total stranger - and I said yes, and then she told me about 4 hours prior to the time set for dinner that the friend wasn't going to be coming after all.

                                                  1. re: Just Visiting

                                                    Alright, the total stranger last min invite was not in your OP.

                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                      Yeah, I know. It was kind of beside the point and wasn't really what pissed me off. It just kind of confirmed the feeling that the friendship is not one built on respect.

                                                      1. re: Just Visiting

                                                        Yeah, that would be a separate issue for me (separate from the lateness) and one that I would have def. mentioned friend or not.

                                                    2. re: Just Visiting

                                                      you're totally justified in being peeved about the friend.

                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                          yes, it's like the "Veal Prince Orloff" episode about one of Mary Tyler Moore's infamously bad dinner parties. usually it's not a big deal to serve another around the dinner table, but sometimes it most definitely is.

                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                            Nice! I am watching the free seasons of MTM on Hulu an I'm really getting into it. Can't wait for this one.

                                                            1. re: melpy

                                                              melpy - you'll notice it's a running gag all through the entire series, she tries SO hard to throw a nice dinner party every few episodes, but something always goes horribly wrong. guests, food, power outages...

                                                              1. re: mwhitmore

                                                                HA! I thought SueAnn's line was something like "and you know what happens if he waits too long... he DIES!"

                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                  Just from memory---you could be right.

                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                      Yes, there is also Mr. Grant serving himself. Mary: (stagewhisper) Mr. Grant, you just took three servings! "Yeah, so?" If you eat that, two people won't have any! (putting two portions back on the serving tray) "I guess I'm not as hungry as I thought."

                                                                      1. re: mwhitmore

                                                                        oh right, that's the part relevant to Just Visiting's almost unannounced extra guest.

                                                          2. re: sedimental

                                                            Isn't it sad though that you think people who are paying for hospitality at a restaurant have more reason to be courteous and arrive on time than people who are dining with friends whom they supposedly like and are worthy of being treated with respect?

                                                          3. Hi Justvisiting,

                                                            I am sorry this happened. I come from a family of prompt people, but I married into a tardy family. :-) It has taken some getting used to. I would maybe file this under "sadder and wiser" before I scratched them off my list forever. I mean, are they pleasant guests otherwise?

                                                            I know this will sound snarky, and I apologize, but I think you would be less stressed if you didn't fight this battle. Let this one go, keep the friends, and tell them to show up at 4:00 next time.

                                                            Don't let them jade you.

                                                            1. As usual, Sunshine842 has said it better, cleaner, and sooner than I can. Be that as it may.....

                                                              I live surrounded by rocket scientists and engineers. Which means I have watched them line up in order of parking to knock on the door at the time given. And my neighbor a one minute walk away arrived late as usual.

                                                              I no longer cook souffles for anybody but myself. Somebody, for reasons good or bad, will not be on time. But some of my most enjoyable dinners have not been on time, but with the company. Hoots of laughter as I tried to make mayo the fourth time after the fifth margarita for the now cold artichokes.

                                                              Being old tends to put a perspective on life that can result in a chortle, if you let it.

                                                              9 Replies
                                                              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                I am old. When I was young, I never invited anyone over to dinner. Like most people in this area, we would just get together in restaurants. But of course, noisy and you can't sit and chat and linger at the table.

                                                                I tried the "and we'll have dessert at our house" routine but no one eats dessert anymore and getting in the car after dinner - unless we all drove to the restaurant together - sort of messed up the evening.

                                                                1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                  I am sorry that the party didn't work out for you. And, I hope in a few weeks you'll consider a different approach to hanging out with your friends. I wouldn't end a friendship or the opportunity to socialize on one get together.

                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                    Thanks, HillJ.

                                                                    It just makes me reconsider what it means to be a friend. Respect should be on the list, IMHO. And I didn't want to give a whole lot of detail, but this particular friend always mentions that her husband has to get up really early to go to work whenever we propose an evening activity, so it was partly to be considerate of him that we scheduled as we did. So I am considerate to him, but they aren't considerate in return. It makes me wonder what "friend" means to them and if it is remotely what "friend" means to me. If not, then there is a fundamental mismatch here.

                                                                    1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                      When you put it that way, I don't blame you for feeling disrespected. Accommodating others can sometimes seem one sided. If you are indicating that these friends of yours would not understand if you had to cancel at the last minute or arrived late to their home then yes, you've reached a fundamental place in many relationships-compatibility.

                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                        That would be a good experiment - show up late to their home (if ever invited; she keeps talking about it but never does it) and see if she is understanding (assuming no valid excuse). Except that I'm not the kind who could bring myself to do it on purpose. Plus I hate the stress of having to rush so I always leave plenty of time to get places.

                                                                        1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                          I'm also congenitally on-time, with a strong inner clock, whether I want it or not. However, many of my friends are laissez-faire about such things. I finally asked: do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy?

                                                                          However, your later posts indicate other and long-standing issues with these people. In that regard, no way would I make a complicated, time-critical meal for them, if I invited them at all any more.

                                                                          1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                            I wasn't suggesting or expecting you would "test" this idea out on purpose just a general question about acceptance if the tables ever find themselves reversed. I make a point of being on time and being flexible; whatever the moment requires but I know the occasional harsh medicine goes down smoother when the people I'm with are equally considerate and flexible. Things happen and how we deal with situations that arise isn't usually a one size fits all solution. Listen, I learn new ways of adapting all the time and I don't see it as compromising my principles. Life is too short after all.

                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              I know you didn't mean to suggest testing them...it was just the logical extension of the idea.

                                                                              I adapt in a different way. If something bothers me, I move away from it if at all possible. Life IS too short. Why spend it with people I don't enjoy having in my life?

                                                                              1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                So true, you can look at that idea from both sides. I can respect that. Because I lost both my parents young and had grandparents and friends of my parents watching over me until I flew the coop my perspective about relationships isn't typical. I learned early to compromise and still be my own woman. I continue to learn that all the time. Because circumstances test us. That's really the gift. And all the one liners about standing your ground just don't factor into relationships I wish to keep.

                                                                                So if you're ready to write these friends off, I can respect it but I can't relate.

                                                                                I hope you make new friends that appreciate you, JV. Gracious hosts deserve to be.

                                                                2. As a 'five-minutes-early' person myself, I understand. But decades of experience in real life leads me to say that thirty minutes after the assigned hour *is* arriving on time.

                                                                  1. I think you need to relax. I am a very punctual person, but I know not everyone is. Also, stuff happens. Yesterday, we were on our way to my aunt's which is an hour from my house. there actually WAS traffic, because next to the highway, there is a dirtbike course, and there was an event going on. So of course everyone on the highway slows wayyyy down to watch the dirtbikes as they go by.

                                                                    I also would never stress myself out enough to make things for a dinner party that had to be so perfectly timed. RELAX! :)

                                                                    1. Understand your frustrations especially in light of the additional information you provided subsequently regarding a planned event after dinner and the agreement of all to the schedule. I too think your schedule between arrival and dinner seems a bit tight; but then all acknowledged and pre-agreed. My family was either respectfully late 5-15 mins or on-the-dot depending on the function. My wife's family is often quite late or no-show even after accepting. Drives me crazy, here is where the old saw regarding "you can pick your friends not your family" applies. Perhaps your reconsideration of just whom your real friends are is appropriate. One can surround themselves with those who are willing to show up on time for dinner, but real friends, late or not should be highly valued.

                                                                      1. I wouldn't dump the friends, I just wouldn't invite them for dinner anymore if their prompt arrival is important for the meal. And I have to agree with you; in my experience too, no one entertains at home anymore and if you do, no one reciprocates. We stopped having people over a couple years ago for that reason. I sometimes felt that people did not welcome our dinner invites because they then felt burdened to invite us back.

                                                                        1. A passing thought, which has happened to me before--
                                                                          by being the one who prepares the food and hosts, I have found that, somehow, all that work and service lessens the amount of respect that some guests have -- I have become "the help," as I am finishing up in the kitchen when they arrive and can't be the Hostess in the White Dress.

                                                                          Also-- my non foodie friends really don't have a clue what a dinner party either means to me or takes to do, even though I WANT to do them.
                                                                          [there's a current thread that I can't find about beijing excited before a Big Day that I wanted to link here].

                                                                          1. This is actually *harder* than it sounds for a lot of people and yes it's happened on multiple occasions.

                                                                            Happens less now that I pour really good wines, plus sous-vide is my friend.

                                                                            1. There seem to be a lot of underlying issues, chief among them that you don't really like at least one of these guests. You mention that you are no longer young, so I'm sure you know many people are raised to show up 15 - 20 minutes after the assigned time. So called 'fashionably late.' They would never be ready for a 5pm party at 5pm if they were hosting, and they don't expect anyone else would be either.

                                                                              I was raised to be punctual, but its amazing how often I knock on a door on time to be greeted with 'oh my, you are here so early.' Unless I know specifically that a certain event will start at the time agreed, I never show up less than 15 mintues later than that. The vast majority of hosts do not expect you to show up on time, and even at 15 minutes late I am frequently the first one there.

                                                                              I know that you believed there was an agreement about the 5pm time, but if you asked your guests, I'm betting they would reply that they did show up on time - i.e. within 30 minutes of the stated time. Even restaurants plan their time this way.

                                                                              So to be a bit more pointed and 'truth telling' than normal decorum dictates, I would say that your expectations are not within the 'average range'. You have not responded positively to anyone's comments unless they agreed with you 100%, so you aren't willing to concede that there may be some flexibility time wise, and finally you continue to disparage this one guest in particular. I really think you might want to think a bit more about what is really going on. As a priest I used to know liked to say, "It's never about what it's about."

                                                                              13 Replies
                                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                  Really? You know restaurants that will hold your table for 30 minutes?

                                                                                  And it was Bethenny Frankel who said, "It's never about what it's about." So now we know what your priest is watching on TV.

                                                                                  I have learned from this thread that no one should be expected to show up on time and from now on I will plan accordingly. Oddly enough, all my other friends do show up on time, barring something out of their control, so this was a first for me.

                                                                                  1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                    Have you never heard of showing up "fashionably late"? I find it hard to believe that you are so surprised...

                                                                                    1. re: Gloriaa

                                                                                      Yes, of course I have heard that expression. And it is fine for a party or some other event where timing of your arrival is not an issue for the host or anyone else.

                                                                                      I have never had any other guest show up more than a few minutes late, and never without an excuse. And I wouldn't do it to someone else.

                                                                                      1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                        I see your point about fashionably late. If i were going to a party w/ lots of guests, I would ...I do...arrive 15-30 minutes after the appointed time. Otherwise, i'd most likely be the first one there.

                                                                                        But a small dinner like yours...I would have tried to get there on time.

                                                                                        Just to give your guests the benefit of the doubt, is it possible that they have a circle of friends that serve dinner way, WAY later than the appointed hour? I have been to lots of affairs when i'm told the party is at 6 and I don't see dinner until 8 or later, with absolutely no warning. There was a thread on CH a while back that got a million responses on the topic of starving your guests for hours and was it rude when somebody gave up and left. You might find it entertaining.

                                                                                        So sorry this happened to you.

                                                                                      2. re: Gloriaa

                                                                                        IMO, "Fashionably late" is an expression used by people that are trying to fool themselves and others that tardiness is O.K.
                                                                                        In this instance, it was rude. It (dinner time) was determined by mutual agreement, not just the host.
                                                                                        Now, an informal, get together party, no set dinner time, is different from what the OP presented. and "fashionably late" may be fine in that situation, but not one where all agreed upon a dinner time.

                                                                                      3. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                        Pretty sure bethenny Frankel didn't make that quote up.

                                                                                        1. re: donovt

                                                                                          Just a quick google -- a book published in 2000 has
                                                                                          "It's never about what it's about"
                                                                                          as a part of the title, indicating that it was a well-recognized phrase Last Century.

                                                                                        2. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                          the other possibility is that they purposely showed up at 5:30 because they didn't want appetizers - for whatever reason.

                                                                                          this thought occured to me after reading someone's comments about showing up at 5 for a 5:30 dinner. easily interpreted as please show up as early as 5 but not later than 5:30.

                                                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                            No one would have forced them to eat appetizers. They could have just shown up on time for the company (that was the point, after all - to spend time together) and to be polite.

                                                                                        3. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                          Y'know, all this talk about timing made me think of our entertaining habits with a couple we became good friends with just this past year. When we show up at their house, at the time they requested, he's in the shower and she hasn't put her makeup on yet. We are greeted with smiles and friendship anyway, and DH and I entertain ourselves with the cats while our pals get ready. Dinner is a few hours later, so timing is unimportant for everyone. We talk, they cook, I help if needed, and we have a great time.
                                                                                          When they come to dinner at our house, they are usually 15 minutes late (precisely), and I have appetizers ready on the bar while dinner's in the oven. I don't usually make time sensitive dishes for meals with guests, just to avoid stress on myself.
                                                                                          I avoided inviting friends over for dinner for years, until I realized that when we have out of town guests for a few days, the dinners go smoothly because I'm relaxed and not watching the clock. Once I brought that sense of casualness to my entertaining, I started to have more fun, and I think my guests do, too.

                                                                                          1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                            It definitely is subjective - there are friends whom you would forgive for being late because you know they truly do love and respect you and would be there in a heartbeat for you. These are also the friends to whom you could very comfortably say "Hey, I said 5pm, I've slaved the whole day making this amazing meal for you!" and they would accept the astonishment and apologise and the air would be cleared.

                                                                                          2. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                            I completely agree with the first part of KaimukiMan's post. Nearly all of my friends have a chronic lateness problem and you have to artificially set the time back to allow for them arriving late for them to actually be on time. And we eat at 5:30 or 6 every night by the way, it's not all that odd, especially for us - parents of a small child. He is in bed between 7 and 7:30 so if we all want to eat together, it's early or nothing.

                                                                                            I went to regular lunches with a girl for several months and she would always apologize for being late. One time she was there before me and said she realized that I always showed up either right at or just a few minutes before our agreed-upon time, so she wanted to try to be there at that time too, she arrived only moments before I did. I really appreciated that and told her so, and neither of us were ever late for lunch again as long as we kept those lunches (we drifted apart). The sad fact of the matter is, most people do not take their friends and friendships seriously enough to MAKE THE EFFORT to be on time. You have to tell them 4:30 if you want them there at 5. You can't plan anything special at a particular time because they won't be there. If you invite someone out to treat them for dinner for their birthday, they ask if they can bring their boyfriend too. Etc.

                                                                                          3. Sorry this was so upsetting to you. I agree with the other posters that when having guests, it is best to have a wider leeway so that this doesn't happen.

                                                                                            Mr. jlh is a stickler for punctuality to the point of ridiculousness. If he is in charge of the meal and invites people over for dinner at 6:00, dinner will be on the table by 6:05, everyone present will be served and anyone showing up after that will be embarrassed. This has happened more than once and I am the one who finds it mortifying. Different strokes, I guess.

                                                                                            OTOH, when I am in charge of the event, such as Sunday's Easter dinner, I allow more leeway and try to have menu items that are forgiving. We invited people to arrive at 2:00 and stated that dinner would be served around 3:00. I had apps and drinks set out by 1:45 so I would be ready to go when people arrived. Both families showed up around 2:15. Everyone snacked in the kitchen (!!!) while I finished up the ham, potatoes and broccolini. We ended up eating closer to 3:30 and it was just fine.

                                                                                            To me, making sure everyone is comfortable and having a good time is much more important that having my food perfectly prepared (although I care greatly about that) or eating at a specific time.

                                                                                            Bottom line, I think there are at least two strong schools of thought on this--the people who are punctual to the minute and expect that of others (my husband), and those who look at eating times as a guideline with the idea that the schedule is flexible based on how things are going (me). I doubt one group will ever convince the other or vice versa. And I also don't think it has to do with disrespect or lack of appreciation for the effort made...I just think that people are hard-wired differently.

                                                                                            1. My sister always puts out a tray of the most beautiful, perfectly prepared, giant shrimp with fresh made cocktail sauce just before the appointed hour of arrival. Guests are encouraged to "dig in" and late arrivals are apt to miss out. Result? Guests arrive fashionably early!

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: grampart

                                                                                                This happened at NYE. I made heavy apps and then a light buffet. My best friend was 90 minutes late and many of the vegetarian friendly items were gone. You snooze you lose. This is at least the second time this has happened to her. She went running before coming over and underestimated how long that takes. Missed all the apps.

                                                                                              2. It would break my heart and make me crazy to go to all that effort and be let down.

                                                                                                You were venting when you posted the OP, and all I can suggest to you is that you don't invite those people to a time-sensitive meal again, or don't invite them ever.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Terrie H.

                                                                                                  Well fortunately, it didn't break my heart. It did piss me off. And I won't invite them again. I make all kinds of allowances for people and the more I care about them, the more breaks I cut them. These are not close friends so their "break quota" is not all that high; I don't have any compelling reason to tolerate conduct that bothers me that I would tolerate from someone I am really close to. Sometimes enough is enough.

                                                                                                2. You said "Let's plan for 5 and have dinner at 5:30." To me, that means "Try to get there around 5, but you've got a 30 minute grace period." I know a lot of people who would think the same thing -- plan for a certain time, but the real stuff starts 30 minutes later. If you wanted them there at 5, you should have said "Please come at 5:00." (side note -- if you invited me for a 5pm meal, I'd think you were a bit odd. Everyone I know eats dinner between 6:30 and 8. I've never met anyone who serves dinner at 5:30. That's wine and cheese hour around here!)

                                                                                                  Out of curiousity -- what did you serve that cost $200 for 4 people??

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                                                    I had several very good cheeses, several expensive dips, a small mountain of vegetables (it was an all-vegetarian meal), condiments, salsas, great bread. The cheese and the prepared foods were particularly expensive. I actually had five people but had planned for 6 + (the + being that as long as I'm cooking, I may as well make extra to have some for the week). Oh, and all was purchased at Whole Paycheck.

                                                                                                    To me, what I said means "the dinner will be served at 5:30." Did they think that meant it would be a good idea to arrive just as the meal was about to be served? Who does that? Plus they know I always serve hors d'oevres.

                                                                                                    If you read the whole thread, you will see that the early dinner was a mutual decision due in part to the fact that we had plans afterward and in part due to the fact that she always mentions that her husband has to get up really early. And some people do eat an early Sunday dinner. I don't do that time on Saturdays.

                                                                                                  2. Dinner was set to be served at 5:30. They showed up at 5:30. I don't see the problem here.

                                                                                                    1. i'm sorry that that happened to you.
                                                                                                      i guess i'm lucky.
                                                                                                      my friends show on time to my parties and i show on time to theirs.
                                                                                                      on occasion, some friends will even show up early to help me set up.

                                                                                                      1. I hate it when people are on time. I expect them to be a few minutes late - it gives me more time to prepare.

                                                                                                        1. I think the extra glass of bourbon was a smart move on your part. If I were you I would actively search for new "food" friends who will really comprehend what a huge gift you are sharing when you cook for them.Some people do not "get it". I would be furious too and like you I would not say a word to them but I would sleuth around and start "chatting people up" and try to cultivate some connoisseurs who can immerse themselves in the art of dining well with you.

                                                                                                          1. Sometimes it's just a cultural thing. Where I grew up, you would actually be expected to show up earlier than the given time. But the first time I met my (American) in-laws, we had said we'd be there at 10am to pick them up for a trip to the beach, and when we arrived at 10am they were still in their pyjamas eating breakfast. They were known as "the late ____s".

                                                                                                            I entertain and am entertained a lot and have learned not to be on time (because as a previous poster said, when I'm on time there's a look of horror on the hosts' faces) nor do I expect my guests to be on time. I adjust my timing accordingly in both cases.

                                                                                                            To me, it's about enjoying family, friendship, and cooking,

                                                                                                            1. I had to respond to this because I have been in the same boat when my family dines with me. They are always late, and it really irks me because I too spend a lot of time making a nice meal, and it is not that hard to arrive on time. Unfortunately I cannot invite them to family meals in the future but in regards to your case, I would just start inviting other friends to dine with you.

                                                                                                              1. I think you messed up by giving them two times. If you wanted them there by 5pm then you should have just said ,"be here at 5pm". It's a shame because it appears that they are the ones who set the schedule and chose not to follow it. They treated you like a restaurant and not like a friend. I'd be pissed.

                                                                                                                1. I can understand and appreciate your frustration and pissedness, but I can also understand the mixed message about the timing. Years ago, we often socialized with another couple who were always on time for everything, as am I. My husband, Mr. PattiCakes, on the other hand, was not. Even when I explained to him that not adhering to a previously agreed upon time was rude and controlling. What the other couple and I decided to do was express our timing in "real time" and "Mr. PattiCakes time". If we were expected for dinner at 6:30 (real time), we would let him know that the start time was 6:00. That way, I had a reasonable chance of getting him there at 6:30. He is better now, but he still has problems planning ahead. As an example, if we need to leave the house at 6, he "starts to leave the house" at 6. He needs to let the dog out one more time, go to the bathroom, turn lights on, and do any number of other things that he should have done beforehand, so we end up leaving at 6:20. Makes me crazy. IMNSHO, it's all about control.

                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                    an ex and i had the same situation with his college roommate. although rather than a 30 minute cushion, roomie require 90 minutes.

                                                                                                                    guy didn't clean up his act until he being late picking up his daughter at daycare had financial consequences.

                                                                                                                    1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                      That "starts to leave the house" thing is exactly the way my DH is. He then has to find his shoes, maybe got to the bathroom, check the doors, iron his shirt (when he discovers it's wrinkled).... Sigh.

                                                                                                                      1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                        I think all our husbands are related!! I have to tell Mr. Michelly that we have to be there an hour earlier than we really do. One time, he was actually ready to go on time, and asked if I was ready. I told him I was just putting on my shoes, and found him outside starting to wash the car!!! >:(

                                                                                                                    2. A friend suffers from "lateness" to the extent we tell him what time the meal is and then plan on his arriving an hour and a half (or so) later.

                                                                                                                      Talking to his sister, who lives in another state and who we've never met in person, I found that she has the same method of dealing with his coming for a meal.

                                                                                                                      Then there was a dinner I gave for a group from Brazil who were at our office for a month's training. I was warned they are always late; I only allowed for an hour late and they appeared two hours late. There was no medium rare roast beef that night.

                                                                                                                      21 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: shallots

                                                                                                                        That is a solid cross-cultural difference that is hard to manage well in mixed company, as it were. I would have gone ahead according to your planned timing. The virtue of promptness is that it's a very clear rule, once everyone understands is a real standard. The problem with the non-prompt standard is that unless guests are from the same family or village, they are apt to arrive pell-mell. Which is great if one is serving foods commonly served in tropical climes at room temperature that don't need to be held over heat or kept cold, but less so for menus that more common in temperate climes. When dealing with mixed company, it's best to adapt as if one were having an open house, with a menu of foods that don't need to be kept hot or cold (which makes options much more limited, of course).

                                                                                                                        1. re: shallots

                                                                                                                          that's a cultural norm -- not attributable to someone's personality.

                                                                                                                          1. re: shallots

                                                                                                                            We have a friend who has a million excuses as to why he can't be on time... Babysitters late, can't find his shoes, wife loading the dishwasher, kid had to finish homework...
                                                                                                                            We now give these friends a different arrival time. Had a party this weekend and invited him for 9 (all other guests were told 9:30). They didn't show up till 10!!

                                                                                                                              1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                You'd understand once you saw his bedroom...

                                                                                                                                  1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                    Unfortunately, these morons are invited all the time. No regard for restaurant reservations either...

                                                                                                                            1. re: shallots

                                                                                                                              We stopped playing these games with family and friends who have the habit of coming later than normal. It just wasn't worth the time and effort to tell some people 7 and other people 8 and still try coordinate.

                                                                                                                              For friends like this we don't include them for sit down meals/events/parties where timing is critical. We have accepted who they are and instead invite them for the casual BBQ or cocktail party where it has no impact on us or the other guests. We have also learned to not accept their invites at face value. When they say 7 showing up at 8:30 would catch them in their underwear with appetizers and dinner no where in sight.

                                                                                                                              For family members with the late gene and standard family get togethers we tell them "come at 6, we will have cocktails and apps and then sit down for dinner at 7" and then we do just that. We have a big family and 95 % are on time. Why should 12-14 people have to wait around for 2 who will always be at least and hour after the "sit down" time no matter what time that is?

                                                                                                                              But none of it is passive aggressive- for years we have made it very clear we wont wait around and they know it. We leave their place settings and the slip into the table when they get there. Needless to say these family members are also in charge of dessert, not appetizers or worse, wine!

                                                                                                                              1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                In our family we told my in laws we would have to be 15 minutes late because of a lengthy drive after a church service on a holiday. We aske could they hold Christmas dinner until 12 instead of the 11:30. Fine.

                                                                                                                                Show up at the 11:45 and everyone was done eating. They ate at 11:30 anyways and were done by the time the fifteen minutes we were late was up. I was so mad.

                                                                                                                                This Easter we said don't wait for us we will be late we will eat when we get there. 45 minutes after the original arrival time and everything had been cleaned up and put away. We ate pizza or something fast food on the way home after sitting around "visiting", we were not offered any food but they sent home leftovers with everyone else.

                                                                                                                                1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                  Wait. They were done in FIFTEEN MINUTES with a Christmas dinner?


                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                    LW- I had to read the post 3 times to make sure that’s what the poster wrote. It’s hard to believe they could be done that fast even if they starting plating at 11:15 and everyone sat down and immediately start eating 11:30.

                                                                                                                                    I also thinking calling in advance and saying you will be 15 minutes late is completely different than family/friends who are chronically late by hours every single time with no notice.

                                                                                                                                    And with the second case me thinks there is something much bigger going on if your family doesn’t even save a plate of food for you or offer to fix you one once you do arrive. On top of that they made a point of offering other leftovers? Yup, red flags that there is a lot more to this than just being late….

                                                                                                                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                      I do have to agree with you that sending everyone else home with leftovers but not offering a plate upon melpy's arrival is rather passive-aggressive. Or maybe just aggressive.

                                                                                                                                      Sorry, melpy. :-(

                                                                                                                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                        Nope, this is just the way it is. They had already cleaned up and everyone had packaged up their "leftover" packet. If we were there on time we could have gotten some if we wanted. I never take anything but pie because we are the only ones who are not on assistance etc.

                                                                                                                                        We called two hours ahead about the time, when we were in the car. I was more upset that they said "no problem" and then ate anyway.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                        Yes, they don't really talk while they eat dinner. Only during dessert (read: pie) and after cleaning up. Even then there are stretches of time where everyone sits there in silence.

                                                                                                                                      3. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                        Wow. Just wow. You know how you rate!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                          melpy - were you the poster who was moving last T-day week trying to accomodate the intransigent 'must eat incredibly bland food early and fast' in-laws and a more jovial immediate family?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                            Yes! We moved on the 17th and then hosted the 12pm Thanksgiving. I was NOT eating at 11:30 am at my house. They all showed up early and had to deal with it. I think they were gone by 3pm? It was quite the whirlwind.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                              I still say some sort of beatification status is in order for even attempting to host a crew of folks the same week as a house move.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                            why do they hate you? they are downright hostile!

                                                                                                                                            these are your husband's parents? what has he said to them about their boorish, nasty behavior?

                                                                                                                                            re christmas dinner: melpy, did your inlaws AGREE to wait till 12 when you asked?

                                                                                                                                            i KNOW now why they diss you on the food. after i looked at your blog, i can see clearly. they are intimidated by your skill and wide-ranging tastes.
                                                                                                                                            (ps, i just pinned your kibbeh recipe). ;-).
                                                                                                                                            re fast eating: i know people (family members) who would eat christmas dinner in 15 minutes. ugh.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                              Aw, thanks for the checking out the blog. I don't even use it anymore.

                                                                                                                                              These are my fiance's grandparents who host. His mother and stepfather have 4 dogs and live in a mobile home so there is not room to host everyone there. They honestly don't hate us but after years of dealing with fiance's lateness, they have come to understand that he will get there when he gets there. When I am in charge of the schedule that means on time.

                                                                                                                                              They did agree to eat at 12. I think the issue was that they didn't know how to time everything to be done at 12 so when everyone else was there and done at 11:30 they went ahead and ate. At 11:45 we ate our "dinner" while they had dessert. They always eat it immediately afterwards, where in my family we clear some dishes and have a little break, usually to whip the homemade whipped cream.

                                                                                                                                              My fiance says this is the way they are and I need to understand that. The also don't decide that they are hosting things until a week before which stresses me out because I will host something or go to my parents if I know they don't want to have something but if they want to, then I try to go there because although we only live 20 minutes away, we see them infrequently.

                                                                                                                                              Different strokes, I guess. At least I can come here and vent about it. :)

                                                                                                                                      4. I feel for you but next time repeat to them a few times, until it penetrates, that you are making a supreme effort and they must agree to come on time. Said in a nice way.

                                                                                                                                        1. I have a semi-friend (if she was on time I'd consider her a real friend) who has been dealing with this issue. I suggested she work on being early not just on time. She looked at me like I was crazy--"But then I'd be wasting time waiting1" Enough said.

                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                              Ha! I have a postcard on my fridge that says (in German):

                                                                                                                                              She who is late
                                                                                                                                              Does not have to wait.

                                                                                                                                              I agree '-)

                                                                                                                                            2. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                              How about you spending (wasting?) time cooking for her? Your time is valuable too.

                                                                                                                                            3. I just remembered the DRIVE BY rule!!

                                                                                                                                              When I was little, it was the way my parents would arrive at ANYTHING at someone's home-- they'd go to the area early, then not get out of the car until another set of guests arrived.

                                                                                                                                              That sometimes meant parking up the road a bit and hopping out of the car when another vehicle arrived, and it sometimes meant circling the area.

                                                                                                                                              Occasionally there were long/deep driveways so the "hover and wait" strategy must've been tough, but as far as I know that's what they always did. Dad wasn't much of a conversationalist but he'd listen to anyone, so he never wanted to be there first.

                                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                                Aw, god. Now I remember one birthday party we were invited to on January 1. Needless to say we were sort of recovering from our own New Year's Eve bash, so we by no means showed up early... I think the invitation said 7, and we got there around 8-ish (we knew this was not a sit-down, eat immediately dinner like the OP's case -- the hosts were Costa Ricans, so it was a pretty low key, potluck kinda deal).

                                                                                                                                                Well, they're out of town in one of those McMansion developments where every house looks the same and if you've forgotten the house number, you're looking for a bunch of cars parked outside of someone's house. Not one car near the house number we remembered. The lights in the house also were low, so we drove by slowly and took a turn, then stopped nearby.

                                                                                                                                                If we ever lived a Larry David moment, this surely was it. We didn't want to be the first guests, but then we also got paranoid about whether they maybe saw our car drive by and were now wondering why we hadn't stopped and come in.

                                                                                                                                                We did a drive around the block and waited a bit longer, then saw that a few people had arrived in the meantime.

                                                                                                                                                Ah, those few awkward moments in adult life -- how I treasure them :-)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                  I once got the date wrong and showed up a day early. Rang the bell--no answer. Waited in the car for about 1/2 hour--no one came home. Was I ever glad no one was home! Slunk back to my own home and ate leftovers.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                    My parents' friends once arrived to our house 6 hours early for a party. My mother was still cleaning the house and hadn't started with the food even. They came in and sat down and my father was at work and she was vaccuuming. Finally they all figured out that my father had told them 1 pm instead of 7pm.

                                                                                                                                                    I don't remember if they came back to the party in the evening or not. They lived at least 30-40 minutes away.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                      A friend of mine (really, not me!) was once running errands and delighted to run into his hostess for that evening. "Look at these flowers I'm bringing tonight!" "The party was a week ago," he was told.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                        A very dear friend once showed up a week(!) early to a Thanksgiving potluck, which we usually have on the Saturday before(US) Thanksgiving. He brought a huge tub of fabulous coleslaw. We often have several people over on Saturday evenings for supper and a movie, so it was fine--we added the coleslaw to the menu and were delighted to see him as we don't often get to.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                          I hate to do it but I'll see your "wrong date" and raise you. I was invited to a neighbor's house for dinner, to thank me and some other friends who helped her during her chemo treatments. The night before the scheduled dinner, I saw some activity in her house (she was opposite me) but didn't think anything of it. Next night I rang her doorbell, no answer. No lights on anywhere. Rang again, no answer. Went home and scrounged for something to eat. I saw her a day or two later, commented on it and she said she had changed the date and forgot to tell me. She was contrite and offered to take me out for dinner. I said it wasn't necessary (we weren't that close) but she insisted. Had a nice dinner, she moved away after that and I never heard from or saw her again.

                                                                                                                                                    2. That really sucks Just. I don't know what to say. A lot of people don't bother to entertain these days so it is a shame when your efforts are not appreciated or respected. I'm sorry that happened to you. I read a few more comments and showing up early is really maddening for the hosts also.
                                                                                                                                                      This brings back a memory of when I invited a couple over and while I was getting dressed my friend opened the door to them about twenty minutes early. To make it worse the wife had a small thoughtful gift for me but started screaming my name for me to come open it quick. Some people really are clueless. /sigh

                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                                                                                        Last time we were invited to a dinner party, we were not sure if it was just us or if anyone else was invited. We decided to show up on time. My friends weren't dressed but seated us nicely in the living room while they took the 5 minutes to put on their clothes and then we had one of the most delightful dinner parties the four of us, with an hour for cocktails and not finishing all the courses and conversation until 5 hours after the arrival time! Now I can't wait to reciprocate.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                                          They opened the door naked? Now, those are some laid back hosts :-D

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                            Haha! Old clothes and undershirts. I am always worried people will show up when I am naked or in the bathroom.

                                                                                                                                                      2. I once had someone show up for a dinner party more than an hour early! That's way worse than late. I was counting on that hour to do final prep, shower and put on my make-up!

                                                                                                                                                        I would also never put something like souffle in the oven until my guests had arrived. We are pretty relaxed about entertaining - I'm in the come at around 8 camp.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Sounds good to me.

                                                                                                                                                          Then, after partaking of the hospitality (food, wine, friendship), a "Thank You," upon departure, would be appreciated, as well.


                                                                                                                                                          1. Now, beyond the other comments, we were hosting a couple (met them on a wine board, and they were traveling through my city, on their way to California). We scheduled their arrival, and planned a dinner for the next night. I contracted with a James Beard House award winning local chef, to prepare the meal, for their second night, along with several "wino" friends. It was a big deal. Unfortunately, I got a call that they decided to stop in Tucson, and not come to Phoenix, and the wine dinner. At the last minute, I filled the seats, and Chef Vincent's meal was spectacular.

                                                                                                                                                            If one is a "guest of honor," it is not cool to decide to hang out elsewhere, while folk are waiting for you to arrive.

                                                                                                                                                            Last invitation to that couple, and hope that they enjoyed their trip.


                                                                                                                                                              1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                                                                People with children. People who have a long subway ride/drive home. People who have to be up early the next day.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                  people who are attending an event after dinner, as in this case from the original OP, apparently.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Madrid

                                                                                                                                                                    People under duress, apparently. Roulez bon temps, non?

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                    At that's a helluva lot of people in the USA.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                      It is! I don't think 5:30 on a Sunday is so awful- especially if the plans are made and agreed upon well ahead of time

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                          When I was married, we were friends with a couple in which the husband worked with mine. Sometimes we would have them over for dinner on Sunday, and relatively soon after we were done eating, the wife would say they had to leave to get ready for the work week. By my standards, it wasn't ever that late but clearly, she had to get going. It didn't matter where they lived; when we first met, they lived about 15 minutes away, they later moved to about 45 min-1 hour drive away. She clearly needed more time "to get ready" for the work week than I did.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                                                            I have friends who actually do "get ready for the week." One friend picks a weeks worth of clothes for herself and kids every Sunday evening...

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                        Well, that's the point. I leave home at 6:15 am for work and I'm lucky to get home by 6 pm. I'd have to pass.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                                                                        Farmers, ranchers, and truckers who have to be at work at 2 AM. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buzzardbreath

                                                                                                                                                                          oops. Sorry this is out of order. Meant this to reply to a prior comment. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: buzzardbreath

                                                                                                                                                                            What's the difference between a rancher and a farmer? Me neither.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                                                                              is that a serious question? one focuses on animals the other on plants, but there's always a gray area.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. I'll start by saying I am anal about being on tiem. We were raised that way, and as a former boy scout who was taught he motto-Be Prepared, I always allow time for emergencies en route.

                                                                                                                                                                          That said, Last night my wife and I held a dinner party for 8 guests in our home. The invited guest, all long time friends of either wife, self or both are all either divorced or widow(er)ed.

                                                                                                                                                                          We carefully selected the mix, age, education, profession, cultural interestes hoping for a interesting evening with lost of conversation, good wine and food.

                                                                                                                                                                          Invitation was for 8 PM. We planned Hor D'oeuvres and wine in the sun room at 8 and I had the grill ready to make rib steaks and asparagus for 9PM sit down dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                          Between 7:55 and 8:05 7 of theguests showed and by 8:10 were visiting, eating and drinking in the sunroom. One woman was missing in action. No call, no email (I don't have texting service on my phone). I excused myself at 8:30 and while 'checking the grill' was sending a FB message to find out if she was lost. She had reconfirmed her attendance and my phone number via FB on Thursday.

                                                                                                                                                                          During the course of the evening if I was away from the other guests and could check my tablet, I looked, no reply. This morning I discovered that she saw my message at 9:45 PM.

                                                                                                                                                                          It's now 23 hours after the invitation time, and I've have no contact from this woman.

                                                                                                                                                                          So, I guess my added reply to the OP is: Not only do you have to be on time, BUT you have to show up if you have responded thusly.

                                                                                                                                                                          26 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                                                                              Assuming she's not a complete dip (doubtful, if you know her well enough to issue the invitation with as much forethought as you describe) is it remotely possible that there's been some crisis which has consumed her time and energy? The fact that the message was displayed on her phone or computer doesn't mean that she actually read it, and it would seem odd that someone would not show AND not call.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                Yeah, that's right. Everyone deserves the benefit of a doubt.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                                                                                  Tonight she has been posting to several groups on FB so she seems well enough to contact me and explain her actions

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh, well..water under the bridge. There are no legal binders in the social contract. She is no more required to give you an explanation than you are required to conceal your disappointment. Life shambles on, people. Stop your whining and count your blessings.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                                                                                        renaming you flavrstoic.

                                                                                                                                                                                        while there are no legal binders in the social contract, there are social binders. consideration and reciprocity are amongst those social binders. this nitwit (my NICEST term for this person) broke them and deserves scorn. scorn and ridicule, and at the least, no more invitations. ha!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                                                                                          There was no legal binder. There are social niceties. The original invitation was for the previous Saturday night and the dinner party was moved to this past Saturday night to accommodate the no-show.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I am not owed an explanation, I do expect some communication. We are not talking about a 20 something but a lady approaching 60 who was taught (and previously in life exhibited) better manners than to not show and not contact.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                            The dinner party was MOVED to accommodate someone who ended up not showing up on the moved-to date. Yes, you're most certainly due some form of communication.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I take it you still haven't heard anything from said lady?

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                              linda, we may have to resurrect our team. you know what i'm talkin' 'bout! LOL.

                                                                                                                                                                                              where's beach chick? hahaha.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                not a word................
                                                                                                                                                                                                but she's been busy posting on Facebook

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                  this reminds me of a character (or type of character) that comedian brian regan calls the "me monster."

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Scratch her off the future invite list, I guess.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Maybe she has Alzheimer's. Maybe she just forgot. She may not even know she missed it. She'll probably show up on your porch next Saturday night clutching a bottle of warm Chablis. If she does, you can slap the hell out of her and send the ungrateful wretch on her way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you need an answer, call her up and ask for one. But cyber-stalking. That's just creepy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                                                                                                    cyberstalking is creepy? uh-oh.


                                                                                                                                                                                                    (i feel i should be playing the "jaws" theme song just now….).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's NOT cyber-stalking. When you are Facebook friends, the other's posts show up in your news feed automatically, unless you go through a process to stop it, and she and I are members of two closed groups and all posts to those groups show on my FB page.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is an old high school friend recently returned to the area after becoming a widow. I only have FB messaging as a means of contact. I don't have a phone number (she only has a cell) or email address. When I sent her the invitation via FB messaging (back and forth messages over a week's time) I provided my phone number for convenience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Will I ever hear from her? I don't know. Mrs. B and I were trying to be nice and introduce her to some 'new' age appropriate people now that she back after almost 35 years out of state.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Why not just send her a FB message, then, and ask what happened?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wouldn't y'all be able to sleep easier knowing?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                                                          did that Sunday evening, no reply yet. Think she might feel too embarrassed to respond...............

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Well, I guess you have your answer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                          It's a shame she missed such a thoughtfully planned get together. It is hard to meet people when you relocate and your desire to help ease introductions was very considerate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          You mention her recent transitions. Moving after 35 years combined with becoming a widow could be causing her to behave in different ways than usual. Sometimes that level of stress can cause odd behavior...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Under the circumstances I would let it go. Give it several months before another invite. If she flakes again I'd take it as a sign of her lack of socially appropriate behavior.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Must not occur to people that their actions can be timestamped on Facebook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Being who I am, I would have been calling hospitals and the police as I would have worried that she'd been in an accident and was lying in a coma.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I suspect she'll be doing some lying when you finally hear from her.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                without a decent explanation (not excuse as this isn't elementary school - an explanation)

                                                                                                                                                                                                cut. still cordial in the future, but few invites unless you're of the type to do 'cattle call' parties.

                                                                                                                                                                                                sorry. sick, sick child, sick dog. flat tire, blown water heater. these could all be lies and would all work and take less than a minute.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Har! I have a couple of friends of mine that take your experience to an art form. We had a dinner at a restaurant recently for 5 or so of us, the leader confirmed with everybody the day before about showing up. The guy didn't show up, didn't call, didn't give a reason, nothing. It is now 2 months later and we still haven't heard from him!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  And it is not the first time he's done that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Did they all come in the same car?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. The purpose of a cocktail hour is to provide invitees with an atmosphere conducive to informal socializing and mingling. Anything less than an hour seems rushed IMO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Scoutmaster

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nowhere did the OP state that 5PM was cocktail HOUR. %PM was appetizers and something to drink, and dinner was to be served at 5:30PM.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Why should anyone assume that there was to be a cocktail HOUR?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I hosted a formal dinner party last Saturday night. Appetizers and wine were served from 8-8:45 and dinner arrived at the dining table at 9PM.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      In today's times, with all the problems of drinking and driving and host liability the typical time allotted to predinner drinks has shrunk. Years ago, I would have allotted 90 minutes and lots of hard liqour before dinner, now time for a glass or two max before dinner, red wine woth the steaks i was serving and brandy available with the after dinner coffee if desired by the guests.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      9 adults 55-65 years of age consumed 5 750ml bottles of wine and 2 servings of brandy between 8PM and 1AM. In the old days we would have also have served about 20 mixed drinks/whiskeys and port with dessert, but thise days are gine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                        yeah just lost in the mist of my nostalgia for childhood when my parents and their friends not only knocked back the drinks, had me tending bar at the wise old age of 8 (and damn if I haven't forgotten how to make a Manhattan).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        how we all survived beats the heck outta me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sounds like my childhood. Only thing you left out was all the cigarette smoke.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Manhattan: Two dashes of bitters, 1/2 shot of red vermouth, shot of rye (at least I prefer it with rye). Shake, pour into cocktail glass, garnish with dried (not maraschino) cherry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                            hill food, my folks did the same thing as soon as I could count jiggers or shots and was able to remember which liquor was which. Sometimes I miscounted and just tossed in an extra shot. Those were some seriously stiff drinks but nobody complained. LOL ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Not in my house! However we live in London, and guests are usually walking home, taking public transport or taxis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            It's amazing to think that back in the day drinking and driving was almost considered normal!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Have things changed? I recall the tube shutting down around 11 and it was difficult getting a taxi after midnight. I recall standing on the street a long time waiting for a taxi. But its been a while since I was in London. I understand the pubs no longer close so early now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tube shuts down around midnight and you just call a minicab to come to your house if you don't live in central London. (which is most people).

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                              "Why should anyone assume that there was to be a cocktail HOUR?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I hosted a formal dinner party last Saturday night. Appetizers and wine were served from 8-8:45 and dinner arrived at the dining table at 9PM."

                                                                                                                                                                                                              If I arrived at 8 and dinner was served at 9, I'd say that was an hour. And if I had a cocktail during that time, I'd call it a cocktail hour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Scoutmaster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't consider wine and appetizers served during a 45 minute period a cocktail hour........
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Not a single cocktail was offered or consumed. We simply moved the starter course/white wines to the sun room and continued with the main course red wines dessert and after dinner brandy st the formal dining table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                When we host a cocktail hour the bar is set up and tended with all requisite mixers and hard liquor available. The following formal dinner would have all courses served ag the table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. Seems to me this is a question of whether you've set clear expectations and whether those expectations were met. From reading your post the answer is "no" to both. You seem to be someone who is highly structured. So my suggestion is, set very clear expectations in the future. I don't see major faux pas with what your guests did, given current cultural conventions and your lack of clear expectations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: KathyM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I agree. I would never expect guests to turn up on the dot, and plan accordingly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: KathyM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Seems to me you didn't read the several posts I wrote very carefully, not that I can blame you with such a long thread. Let me lay it out in even more detail. A week earlier, we had planned an event together that would include an activity that had to take place at a specific time, followed by dinner, then followed by a third activity. The wife and husband showed up very late and almost caused the rest of us to miss the first activity. Afterwards, we all agreed to postpone dinner and the other activity to the following week. The wife, with whom we were friends, said her husband had to get up very early the next morning for work so could we do dinner at an early hour. That was fine with us as we would be the ones doing the clean-up AFTER the post-dinner activity. So this was not only by mutual agreement but also at her request.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't know how much clearer expectations can get.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  weeknight+tight schedules+souffle = disaster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  No way that's going to end well...and it didn't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Right. All my fault. Wrong friends, being considerate of THEIR needs, lousy communication (not!), wrong food, whatever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Guests. Show up whenever. If I'm here, I'll throw a bag of stale chips on the table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      that's not what anybody said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What everybody did say was that the expectations didn't match up -- on your side or on the guests' side. You expected military precision, they assumed casual get-together, and the menu choice didn't fit the time constraints of the evening.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mark it down under the "lessons learned" category, and move on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It just can't have been so traumatic that you're still this angry and bitter after 6 months....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am not the one who dragged it back up after six months. I'd actually stopped reading it after the initial discussion. Someone else decided to revive it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I responded because the latest response, like yours, misstated the facts. I didn't expect military precision. I expected the guests to return the courtesy and consideration I'd shown them by planning this shindig (except for the choice of food) around THEIR needs. They asked for the early start time and made it clear they had to finish at an early hour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And if someone did throw a bag of stale chips on the table, you know there would be a thread started by the guests complaining of their cheap, lousy hosts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I still think 1/2 hour from arrival to sit down is way too tight on all levels. Would not be a relaxing evening IMO. I would suspect all guests felt the animosity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Scoutmaster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Then the guests shouldn't have agreed on the 5 pm start. Remember the OP was trying to accommodate their friends and their schedule.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            IMO the only mistake the OP made was to tell the guests when dinner would be served. Should of just said be here at 5 pm.