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Don't allow latecomers to hold your party hostage

Dear Aunt Dandelion,
My two sisters-in-law are always late for holiday dinners, etc. Not just minutes late -- most times they are nearly an hour late.

Recently I hosted a bridal shower luncheon for over 85 women to honor my future daughter-in-law. Both of my sisters-in-law were 30 minutes late in attending the luncheon. They were the last to arrive and we waited for them to arrive to serve lunch. This was in a restaurant and not in a private home!

The other day, a member of my future daughter-in-law's family hosted another bridal luncheon for 10 ladies. Again, my sisters-in-law were 45 minutes late -- and neither time did they apologize to me or the hostess for their tardiness. They didn't apologize to the bride either!

These were not surprise parties, they were invited guests with an invitation sent by mail to which they both had to RSVP. Both functions were in restaurants and not in private homes. They do not have any reason to be late.

We host almost of the holiday dinners each year because we love to do so. They are large gatherings of upwards of 20 adults and children. Since I have had 40 years of knowing they will always be late, I plan their tardiness into my dinner serving schedule.

Our son's wedding is very important to us. Neither my husband or I have said anything to either sister as we feel we will create a terrible situation before the wedding; however, this matter of tardiness needs to be addressed.

Any ideas on how to tactfully get the message across to the sisters in law that their tardiness is very rude? -- Jackie

Aunt Dandelion replies:

Dear Jackie,

The hostess's job is to create the best possible experience for the most people, not to cater to the few ill-mannered.

It is unlikely that you will succeed in changing the behavior of these ladies by informing them that they are being impolite, even though they are. What concerns me is that you are allowing their perpetual tardiness to mar the smooth running of your events, at the cost of the comfort and convenience of all the other guests. Serving luncheon late to 85 guests is unforgivable, not to mention the chaos it must have produced in the kitchen.

In future, do not delay any meal or activity for these Ugly Sisters by even a minute. Start on time, and let the latecomers join mid-meal or whenever they arrive. Once they have missed a few courses they may feel more motivated to change their behavior. Or they may not. But at least they will no longer have the power to hold your events hostage.

If you wish, you can gently inform them when you issue future invitations that you will start on time. Nothing more. Do not add insults or questions (such as, "Do you think you can make it on time for once?"). They will be forewarned, and must take the consequences of their decisions.

Best wishes,


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