Timing Etiquette


I will be the first to admit since having children, punctuality has become a bit of a struggle. Aside from getting yourself ready, you now have the responsibility of this darling brood, and it can be challenging to arrive anywhere on time. You have to dress yourself and them, pack the diaper bag, load the kids up in the car or stroller – you can see where I’m going with this. If you have the treat of a lunch or dinner out, you still have to plan well in advance to make sure you have enough time to get ready and then prepare everything for the kids and babysitter.

I cringe at the times that I have been late to lunch dates, school drop off or social engagements over the past few years, as I really strive to be punctual, but life happens and sometimes we are all tardy! Lately, I’ve been making a true effort to be on time and it had me thinking about all about timing etiquette in our modern world. When is it appropriate to arrive or even leave certain events? There can be mixed messages when it comes to timing etiquette, hence I wanted to set the record straight. And so, here is my guide to timing etiquette from baby showers to dinner parties and everything in between. Enjoy!

A dinner party: 
Arrive on time or within five minutes of the time set by the host. Don’t arrive early, as the host needs every precious minute to prepare for the guests. Be sure to have a hostess gift or dish in tow! After dessert is served, offer to help with any clean up and then you can scoot on home. Leaving any earlier (especially for another party) will only leave the host feeling hurt, so don’t dine and dash.

A wedding: Arrive 15-30 minutes early to find your seat for the ceremony. While most guests will stay to dance and celebrate long after they’ve finished a slice of cake, if you need to leave early, wait until bride and groom have cut the cake.

A children’s birthday party: Arrive within 10-15 minutes of the start time, as parties are typically come and go. If you need to leave early, be sure to have your child wish a happy birthday to the guest of honor and thank the child’s parents.

Drinks with a colleague: Strive to be on time or no more than 5 minutes late. After a drink, it’s acceptable to leave if you have another engagement that evening.

Haircut/spa appointment: Be on time or 10 minutes early so you can get settled before your appointment.

Baby or bridal shower: Be on time – not early, and not late. This day is about the guest of honor, and you want to celebrate with them from start to finish. Plus, being timely will help you to not feel rushed as you find a parking spot and carry in your gift.

Theater or concert: Arrive 15 minutes early to find your seats. Being late will only disrupt those around you and you’ll miss out on a fabulous performance.

Cocktail party: These types of parties have more of a grace period, so arrive within 15 minutes of the start time.

Gala or luncheon: Galas are fluid, yet you need to be timely so you can find your table and mingle during cocktail hour. Aim to arrive around 30 minutes before the meal is to be served.

Job interview: Always be 10-15 minutes early for a job interview. Punctuality = respect for your potential employer and the company, so be on time!

Lunch or dinner date: Out of courtesy for the person you’re meeting, be on time or no more than 5 minutes late.


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