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Dinner Party Dinner Invite & RSVP Etiquette Guest Etiquette

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

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

freia | Dec 2, 2011 07:52 AM

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

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