THE TIME TO GO TO A HOLIDAY PARTY
Now that I’m out of college and in the “real world,” I’ve been getting invited to formal events . . . but I never know what time to show up. Are there any rules or expectations?
— Punctual Post-Grad in Columbus, OH
Everyone seems to have their own idea about when to arrive at a party: No more than 10 minutes early, 10 to 20 minutes late, or an hour late because “We had another stop.”
But regrettably, the answer isn’t that simple. Instead, it depends on what kind of party you’ll be attending. So let’s assume ‘tis neither a rave nor a kegger, but a Holiday dinner party.
Too late’s not great
For a 7:00 PM dinner party, your best bet is . . . wait for it . . . to be on time. Or at the most, 10 or maybe 15 minutes late. This is especially important to your host. The last thing a host wants to deal with is a famished guest — while running low on shrimp and the turkey drying out in the oven.
The early bird
Arriving more than 15 minutes late to a dinner party is a no-no, but it's even worse showing up 30 minutes early, where you might distract your anxious host, who might be in the middle of meal preparation, getting dressed, setting tables, vacuuming, or any one of a multitude of tasks a good host has deal with. Trust us: If you were wanted there at 6:30 to “help out,” your host would have said so.
Here are some subtle signs it’s time to go: The booze is gone, the music is off, the coats are now on the arm of the sofa, the host is yawning, doing the dishes, or standing by the door offering you an Uber as the birds are waking up. Don’t be that guest.