Manners Monday: Punctuality


May 8, 2017, posted by Gina – It’s a manners Monday again and this time we’re talking about punctuality. You know your friends. You know the ones who will arrive early to a function and who the latecomers will be. Everyone runs late from time to time but what about being consistently late? How about showing up 15 minutes early to a dinner party? And is it ok to be ‘fashionably late” for certain events or in certain situations? If an invitation states that the event is to begin at 8pm what arrival time is considered to be “late”?

Peggy Post’s, The Definitive Guide to Manners, says that, in general, guests should arrive at or shortly after (usually only fifteen minutes) the time stated. We should never arrive early, unless requested. By this definition, I am a fairly punctual person but some may disagree. I have a friend who would call to ask if I was OK if I had not arrived by the exact time specified. It was her way of letting me know that she thought I was late. After a while, I no longer answered her calls. On the other hand, being too early is just as aggravating for the host as being too late.

Some friends and I were discussing tardiness and someone brought up an interesting point. We all feel a negative sentiment if a person is habitually late. For us it means they consider their time is more valuable than everyone else’s. I would never want this to be the case, so I do my best to arrive within 1-5 minutes of the specified time.

Here are some guidelines based on different types of events that may help you from being awkwardly early or unforgivably late:

Almost* Any Occasion or Event: As an invited guest it’s never ok to be early. You will put pressure on the host to start entertaining while he or she may be tending to last minute details. Don’t think by offering to help that’s it’s actual help. It’s not helping, it’s stressful for the host. Get a watch, early bird! *There are exceptions….

*Weddings, Graduations and Funerals: Don’t be late, in fact arrive a few minutes early so you can get seated well before the ceremony begins.

Dinner Party: Don’t arrive early, for reasons stated above. Arrive on the dot as the host will have timing in mind for the courses. It’s nice to let everyone get settled and mingle for a few minutes before serving dinner. If someone arrives late, it throws everything off.

Cocktail Party:  Though they normally last no more than two hours, it’s still ok to arrive 15, not 16, minutes late.

Bridal or Baby Shower: Be on time. As with dinner parties there is usually timing involved and the host may have prepared games or other entertainment for the shower, not to mention the opening of gifts.

I’m not hovering around my front door with a stopwatch or anything and goodness knows I’ve broken a few of these guidelines myself! I just think we should all do our best to be considerate guests.

Do you agree with these guidelines? Are you chronically late or early? Or maybe you’re the perfect guest!? We’d like to hear your thoughts and comments!

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