Aunt Dandelion is an advice blog offered to help readers solve simple or perplexing problems related to social and business etiquette. Ask Aunt Dandelion when you have a problem, and check back soon for answers. Send your conundrums to Or follow Aunt Dandelion on Facebook!

When to arrive at a formal dinner

Dear Aunt Dandelion,
What is the correct etiquette for when you should arrive at a dinner party if the invitation says to arrive at 7:30 pm (for example)? -- Lisa in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent UK
Aunt Dandelion replies:

Aunt Dandelion recalls the leisurely days when dinner invitations were issued in the form of “8:00 for 8:30” and the guests would arrive at 8:15 on the dot. Such niceties, however, are no longer in fashion in today’s busy world.

The modern hostess is unlikely to have a staff to cook and serve the meal. If guests are not punctual, the timing of the meal will be thrown off, leaving the host or hostess in a quandary. They may even get stuck in the kitchen rescuing a dish when they would rather be enjoying a pre-prandial drink with their guests.

The bottom line is, arrive on time or just a few minutes afterwards. If you will be more than ten minutes late, a phone call to alert the hostess is essential.

As with many points of etiquette, the best practice is the one that makes the evening most efficient and enjoyable for the most people.

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