My Guests are Always Late!

Ladies, if you haven’t had the chance to check out my article this month, Ask SandyI’m Late … head on over to CWO and join in on the conversation.

I’ve discussed how easy it is to be late to functions (yes, been there, done that – many times!), but over here on my blog, I’d love to discuss what you, as the hostess can do when your guests are always late!

Inspired by this comment, I’d appreciate any of your ideas on creative ways to let the “steam” out – if you get perturbed!

My biggest challenge is late arrival time and my need to have patience and let go of that frustration. Somehow I always struggle with late arrivals - sometimes up to 45 minutes which, at the time, can really dampen my attitude. Many times I take myself into a quiet place, away from the hubbub, and give myself a "talking to" to get over my frustration. I would like advice on how to view this, not as a challenge, but as a given and be able to go-with-the-flow when it happens.

Time frame
I personally don’t have a tight time-frame when entertaining. If my party begins at 6:00, I plan the meat to come out of the oven at 6:30 or even later, depending on if we have appetizers. One time we started almost 2 hours late because our guest’s car broke down on the freeway!

Have a plan
Many times I’ve covered the food up with foil to stay hot, or put it back in the oven on low. And I never start cutting the meat, tossing the salad, or serving any of the dishes until all of the guests have arrived.

Hungry kids
Entertaining with kids puts a whole new spin on lateness. I can delay the completion of the meal easily enough, but when I've prepped my young kids and they've waited excitedly all day and know what time people are supposed to arrive, then they get antsy and (sometimes) whiny – needless to say hungry! Plus it can delay their bedtime for later in the evening. Who says they can’t have a little snack ahead of time? My kids also had to learn to go with the flow, just as I learned to.

Real reason
I guess if I’m a tiny bit perturbed, it quickly passes - because I try to remember the reason why I am entertaining in the first place. It’s not for perfection or to be admired. It’s because our family needs connection. We actually need to be with the folks that we have invited over – we need the conversation that is about take place.

We’re created for intimacy – for connectedness and conversation. We strive for it.

So, I’m asking you, as the hostess, would you share with me how you let your steam out if your guests are always late?

We’re all human and we’ve all experienced it!

(Above photo: My new apron from my long-time friend, Dottie J. I just love it!)


Sandy Toes said...

Well, honestly, I am a crazy person with being on time....I will tell my husband we need to be there at 5:30 and he will say "So we really have to be there at 6:00?" b/c I hate to be late! Have you ever read the book "Respectable sins"? He talks about this..we are doing it our Bible study!
It's hard...but I just breath in and out!
-sandy toe

3CHEERS4MOM said...

Oh, this is s big issue in my family! My sister is always late, at times even an hour and a half late. Therefore we start eating without her and just leave the food out. Sometimes some of her favorites are already gone. For years my mother would wait on her but about two years ago we just started without her. I just take a deep breath and say, “it is what it is, & it’s not about me” and go on.

ellen b. said...

Being late occasionally (sp.?) I can get along with but we have those in our group who are chronically late. I don't want to get all worked up and get a really bad attitude toward these guests so I let them know up front that we will sit down to eat at such and such a time and if they arrive late there still will be food for them and a welcome spot at the table but we are not all going to wait for them...
When it's a new group and I really don't know someones patterns I'll make sure there are appetizers available and good drinks to keep people occupied while we all wait.

Betts said...

I am unfailingly on time and when others are late, I sometimes forget that they must be of a different mindset than me, and I figure they must be seriously hurt, unconscious or dead. I find the repeatedly unpunctual to be disrespectful and selfish. It's really hard for me to know how to deal with it, and you can probably tell that it's a real hot button for me. Luckily, my regular guests are prompt.

Moxie said...

I am always so thankful for an invite that I try my best to get there on time! As the hostess I try to fix things that have a longer "hold" time just incase peeps are late :)

read2kds said...

I am with Betts...I am a person who is faithfully on time because I think it is disrespectful to be late unless there is a serious emergency. How I have taught myself to handle my "chronically" late friends is to tell them a time and plan in my mind for 30 minutes later than that :-) This is impossible when it is a family that I have not entertained with before but it does help me with my frineds who are known for lateness.

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I was raised in a military family and am the early person and my husband is always late. He was actually late to our wedding!!!

So, I have learned not to let it bother me. I chill and have a glass of wine while I wait.

Buzzings of a Queen Bee! said...

I agree...I just plan the dinner to start at least an hour after the guests are supposed to come. Then we have some appetizer when they get here, one that can sit for awhile if they are late. I don't know what else to do, but it seems to work for me!

Nadine said...

Honestly, it use to bug me because I'm not a late person usually. So I finally just let it go and there are some people I know who "always late" so I adjust timing of food preparations.

Beth said...

I can't say I get bothered much when people are late to come to my house. It gives me more time to make everything just that much better or more done.

I also don't plan the meal for 5 minutes after the scheduled time. We eat when the food and people are ready.

Being a new mom and a nursing mom I can say that we are often late to family events because we just can't plan everything with the baby down to the minute. You get him changed and then poof, it's time for a new diaper before we get in the car (we use cloth diapers so he needs to be changed). Or he might be fussy right as we're about to leave so I need to stop and nurse him NOW rather than have him be all upset in the car.

I'm very glad both my family and my husband's family are laid-back about this. We do always call from the car to say we're running behind and our new ETA. There is no disrespect intended.

see you there! said...

I really need to work on letting go of irritation with chronically late people. When it is a gathering at our home I'm actually ok as, like you, I can flex the schedule.

When I'm meeting somewhere for coffee or lunch and the other person is repeatedly late, while I wait, I spend the time getting more and more irritated. I then find it hard to be pleasant when they do show up. Not nice, not as I wish I were... but there you have it. There must be a lesson here for me.


LuLu & Co. said...

I have a need to be on time. Even taking my kids to school.. they never want to receive a tardy slip. We are sitting in the parking lot chatting about the day ahead waiting for the gym door to open to the car riding kids. Anyhow when my guests are late I clean my kitchen... the items I couldn't do ahead but at the last minute I wash those bowls, toss dish towels in the washer that have gotten dirty while preparing, then when they arrive I look like I whipped this all up and didn't even make a mess!!! :o)

Alisa Lucas-Brown said...

Hi Sandy,
I,too, used to deal with frequently late guests. So I began bumping my invitation time up by 30 minutes when I invited folks who are perpetually tardy. I would actually time the food to be done around 10 minutes after the latecomers would show. Of course not everyone is tardy so based on who I had invited, I would adjust times accordingly. As far as letting of steam - I learned at a very early age that "he who angers you controls you" and the only person I want to control me is our lovely Lord, Jesus, so I had to hurry up and learn to wait. Any other option is just too stressful.

Anonymous said...

I second your thoughts, Sandy.

I'm generally not upset when delays happen, either. But when I do need patience, I remember this song a little child taught me long ago...

"Have Patience,
Have Patience,
Don't be in such a hurry.
When you get
You always start to worry.
that God has patience, too,
think of all the times
when others
had to wait for You!"

: )

deb meyers

Anonymous said...

And, I like what 3cheers4mom said.

I set and communicate a realistic starting time for the meal (later than the arrival time) and do not deviate much.

The CHRONICALLY late can dampen an event for others. People who MAKE A HABIT of being late really don't care about the consequences to themselves, but I do care what it does to those who wanted to be on time.

Anyone who has attended theatre knows if they are late, they MAY have to wait until intermission to be seated!

deb meyers

Myrna said...

"....courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference" There are those (often families with young) that with the best intentions are late. There are those who have no concept of time... a few Sunday's back, I hosted a potluck saying "we will eat at 2:00pm" those bringing the mashed potatoes called at 1:30pm to say the potatoes were cooking, nearly ready to mash, then they would be stopping at the store on the way---inquired "when did you plan to sit down to eat?" "2:00pm I replied" "We'll be there"---they live 35 minutes away---it was impossible, and they truely had no clue. 18 snacked and waited for the 2---this has happened many times over many years--I no longer expect anything different, and usually try to steer them to bring dessert or a non-essential. While short sighted, they do not intend to be disrespectful---it is a disability it seems.

Generally, I tell guests, "come at this time, we'll eat at that time" (30 minutes later) and for most, it works.

Ms. Tee said...

I hadn't really given this a lot of thought, believe it or not! I just kind of always have munchies sitting out, and I try to plan for the actual meat/meal to be ready around 30 minutes to an hour after everyone arrives. Somehow, it's always seemed to work out, thank goodness!

Elizabeth G. said...

H.m.m. That's a good one. I always have appetizers so that those who have come on time have something to nibble on while we wait. Sometimes, I have an opening activity..Like, at Christmas time for a family gathering, I laid out an envelope per person with their name on it and a sheet of paper on which everyone else would write something they really appreciated about the person. We were all busy munching and writing away on everyone's papers until the late guests arrived. It really worked and was a wonderful treat for us all to take away from the party.

Just some thoughts that have worked for me.

Glenda/MidSouth said...

I have always made sure that I was on time - regardless if it was for work (the very few times, I had a legitimate reason that was beyond my control), appointments, social events, etc., but have had to deal with many that did not. Now if it is for a meal, I tell them (the guilty) a time that is usually 30 mins. or so before we actually eat (will have a few munchies out), and it usually works out. I have very little patients with people who are habitually late and/or inconsiderate of other peoples feelings and generosity. I will get off my soap box now!

Org Junkie said...

This is one thing I've finally learned how to do...go with the flow and it is what it is. My Christmas dinner was delayed by 2 hours because my turkey just wasn't cooking (wonky oven). We kept everything else warm and just munched on snackies. It all worked out in the end. Whew!

Kelly said...

First, I want to say thank you for the kind words on my blog. I am so glad you came by for a visit so I could come here to enjoy your writing.

As for late, I just wing it. There are always things to do while guests are on their way. I do not get upset, because they are usually trying to juggle children and such like we do. Healthy appetizers do the trick around here. ~Kelly

unDeniably Domestic

donna said...

I happen to love it when my guests are late, because I am never ready so I love the extra time they give me. I can always find something else that needs to be done. However, in saying that I try never to be late when I am invited somewhere because I think I am being rude.............figure that one out?

Jessica said...

My mother is an early-bird (by 15-30 minutes) and I don't know what's worse. It's usually ok when my parents are coming over for dinner (even though she expects everything to be done and ready when SHE arrives), but if we're meeting somewhere it stinks because if I'm not 5 minutes early, I'm late (and that applies to anyone else that she is meeting). That has caused a lot of stress in my life! A LOT OF STRESS!!! I feel pressured to always be early and when I sit at the meeting spot I'm wondering: Did I get stood up? Am I at the wrong place? Did I say the wrong time? Did I give bad directions? etc.

My husband is very laid back and it's great that we can balance each other out. I do appreciate promptness and I think it can be disrespectful to show up late consistently. But I also think that when you're a hostess you should offer a lot of grace to your guests. My husband is always reminding me to "give them the benefit of the doubt."

Saying all that, here's what we do if we know that the couple/family we've invited are usually late to arrive:
1. We tell them an earlier time than everyone else
2. We have an appetizer for those waiting (including children)
3. We plan on starting dinner 30 minutes after the said arrival time
4. If you know the guests well enough, tell them that their promptness is appreciated
5. And if all else fails, hide in the bathroom and follow Deb's advice and sing the "Have Patience Song"

Donnetta (momrn2) said...

My experiences are that my guests arrive early leaving me a little frazzled because I'm trying to get last minute things done with extra's present. :-)

Bobbie said...

I am more of a buffet type entertainer and like people to kind of come and go.... so it does not matter if anyone is "late". I put all appitizers in one spot, wine in one spot, main dishes on one table and dessert in another spot and I basically graze.... I must tell you... I really do not like to go to a party and not see the main meal even in the oven, i would think I was way too early or surprised you.

Bev said...

If it's the same guests, consistently late, then I'd adjust mentally the time to expect them, and use that window of time inbetween when they should arrive and when they actually do, to give yourself a few minutes of peace. Sometimes I'll be ready early for someone to arrive, or even to pick me up and I inevitably grab a book and curl up somewhere to wait til they show up.

~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ said...

This is a great topic. Thanks for asking. This is what I have learned to do after waiting 1 1/2 hours once for a friend to arrive while 8 other folks had apps and drinks. I realise now, I was young, how disrepectful I was of the 8 folks who were on time.

What do you say when you invite them?
I always give a little leway by saying I'll put appetizers out at 6:00 and I will put the food on the table, or we will eat at 6:30. Please arrive between 6 & 6:30. OK?
Personally I dislike arriving for dinner as the hostess is rushing around trying to get the food on the table. If I arrive during appetizers then I can assist her in any last minute prep and we can chat in the kitchen. It's nice to have some time before we sit down to dinner to do a little catching up.

jessica said...

I am a reluctant guest because of too-rigid hostesses. I would rather focus on the connection w/the person I am visiting. Many a friendships have dissolved because they cannot stop looking at the clock long enough to visit. Please remember that God does things in his own time, not by a stopwatch. We, too, should put the important things first. Intimacy w/others is at the top of that list.