Etiquette Tip of the Week: It’s About Time

“Aren’t we supposed to be ‘fashionably late?'”

That was a college student asking me about arriving on time for events. Here are a few guidelines about timeliness:

  • It’s okay to be 10 minutes late for a dinner party at someone’s home, but never be 10 minutes early. Your hosts may still be scrambling and your early presence forces them to choose between entertaining and party preparation.
  • If you arrive late to a dinner party or business banquet, start with the course everyone else is on. Don’t expect to be served the soup course, while everyone else is on the main course.
  • Be at least 10-15 minutes early for a job interview. Make allowances for traffic, parking or public transportation issues.
  • Always be on time for doctors’ appointments, haircuts, career counselors and other engagements where your lateness will delay everyone else on the schedule.
  • Never leave a party before the guest of honor. Once the guest of honor leaves, you should leave within half an hour. Don’t be the last one hanging around the party, missing your exhausted hosts’ cues to prompt you to leave.
  • If you must leave a party early, do not announce, “We have another party to get to.”
  • Arrive at the airport at least two hours early for an international flight. Expect Customs delays when arranging ground transportation for your arrival at your destination and return back home.
  • Never harangue, sigh loudly or roll your eyes at your TSA or Customs officials at the airport over delays. They are there for your safety.
  • Arrive half an hour early or more, if you are the guest speaker, in order to do a sound check with the audio equipment and test any computer / presentation connections.
  • Never be late for a wedding or a funeral… especially your own.

Culture and Manners Institute