Arrive late for a party : Fashionable or Rude?

by Paris B on · 26 comments

in Discussions

I saw this “party tip” on CloveTwo (a local women’s newspaper supplement) just a few days ago.

Arrive in Style

Never arrive at a party early even if it’s your best friend’s do. Or else you’ll end up mixing and serving the drinks. Turn up fashionably later, at least an hour after the appointed time, but only if it is not a sit-down dinner. With all that prepping you’ll want to make an entrance, don’t you?

I thought initially that it was a bit of satire. But reading the rest of the “Party Prep Tips” I realized that it was not. It is supposed to be a valid tip unless satire is lost on me.

So my question to you is this:-

Do you arrive “fashionably late” or do you think it incredibly rude to turn up late?

My personal view is that it is terribly rude to turn up late for anything. There is a reason a time is given to you. Turning up late without a good reason tells the host that you don’t care for their party or for their time.

Even if you do have a reason for turning up late, apologies are always good manners. Swanning in, expecting to make an entrance would likely get you looks that say “Who does she think she is turning up a whole hour later?”

The same is true for meetings, appointments or meetups with friends. A few minutes is forgivable – there is always that time worn excuse of “traffic jam” but anything more than 15 minutes (without a valid and reasonable excuse and purely for purposes of “making an entrance”) is just plain rude and bad mannered.

However, there are occasions when you cannot help being late for an appointment, perhaps due to an emergency or something cropping up at the last minute. It happens to the best of us. In such situations, good manners dictates that you let the other person know as soon as possible that you will be late. This way, they can make their own arrangements and plans and not sit around waiting for you. There is a reason we are glued to our mobile phones – use it.

What’s your view?

Paris B

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[ 26 comments… read them below or join the discussion ]

geekchic March 2, 2010 at 9:11 am

I think it really depends on the event. If it’s a casual BBQ on a weekend at park that will last from 12 till 5, it doesn’t matter so much if you turn up at 1pm. Having said that, if you turn up at 1, who’s going to be lighting the fire and doing the cooking? Turning up late means you’re expecting others to do that. What if everyone expects everyone else to do that? I think that’s just rude (it happened to me and I was mega pissed off – ask Tine, she was there) and I swore I’d never do another BBQ again.

Then, if it’s an interview, I don’t think any one of us would have the guts to make an entrance :)

Honestly, this fashionably late thing is terribly selfish. What happens if everyone thinks the same? What would the host be thinking of? Oh, and never ever, at a dinner party. If it’s a dinner party, I expect my guests to arrive on time, I’m happy to serve them drinks and finger food until the first entree is served. They can chat with me over the bar counter while I finish up with the cooking.

So, NO. I’m old-fashioned that way. I’m OK with the 15-minute leeway given traffic and parking can be a complete nightmare at times but 1 hour is inexcusable and that person will be completely off my guest list for any dinner parties in the future (providing they have a very good excuse, of course) 😛


ParisB March 2, 2010 at 11:31 am

You said it! Even if its a casual do, its still polite to arrive on time, especially if its a group cooking affair. Its not fair to make a few people do all the work while the rest sit around looking pretty. I’m particular too about time though if I get notified that someone will be late, I am more forgiving because it means I can do my own thing till they get here and not waste time waiting.


kate May 30, 2010 at 6:05 am

its plain RUDE i had a memorial day BBQ on sat today @ 3:00 gess what time it is now ???? 5:03 we invited @ least 20 people 2 faimilys canceled @ last minute for no plain reason oh look 1 faimlys here thats it !!!!!!!!!!!!! waiting and waiting all this food just sittn around mabie the faimliy BBQ on monday will turn out better than this one …


March 2, 2010 at 9:36 am

I dislike people who are “fashionably late”. And I hate people who are habitually late. If there is a valid reason for being late, at the very least the person you are meeting with should be informed, even if its something minor like traffic jam.

I had a really bad experience once when planning a hiking trip with some ex-colleagues. I ranted about it here and here. Sorry for linking Paris! (you can remove them if you like)

But sad to say, a lot of people think like my ex-colleagues and they don’t see that they’re being inexcusably rude to others when they arrive late. And because they don’t see that they’re wrong, they don’t apologize for it.

Like geekchic, I will strike these people off the list from anything I plan and I most certainly turn down invites from these people as well since I know it will only end up in more frustration for me. 😛


ParisB March 2, 2010 at 11:33 am

Thanks for sharing your story. I’m less critical of people who take the trouble to let me know ahead of time that they will be late. But letting me wait without notice or apologies when they get there is unforgiveable… unless something bad happened and they ended up in the hospital or had their phone stolen etc


Flie March 2, 2010 at 9:36 am

Late for 10 minutes with no reason, fine. Late for 20 minutes with a lame reason, fine. Late for 30 minutes with a valid reason, fine.

Late for 1 hour, without a call/text? Unforgivable. Unless the person was alone, got into an accident and admitted to a hospital unconscious, fine.

Really, Clove Two should NOT be promoting the awful Malaysian timing.


ParisB March 2, 2010 at 11:33 am

Agree. Though as I said, I don’t know if its satire – did you get any reference to satire? I didn’t after reading the whole article.


March 2, 2010 at 10:10 am

I think that being late is just not good taste, and it reflects on your upbringing, really. But you have already notified the host that you’ll be late, I don’t think that it would be a problem.

One thing that really peeves me out is during Chinese wedding dinners. When its printed on the invitation that its 6 PM, it really means that the dinner would only start at 8 PM. It is THAT bad.

And I agree with with Flie, CloveTwo should NOT advocate such behavior. It is utterly disgusting.


ParisB March 2, 2010 at 11:36 am

If you notify ahead of time, its more forgivable. Not 100% but at least its polite and good mannered. As for wedding banquets, I find that these days, banquets seem to be starting closer to the time stated. It might be because they have the cocktail reception before dinner which gives the leeway for people to arrive late for that but arrive in time for the dinner itself. When my sister got married, even in a small town, we started the dinner only 10 minutes late. The hall was full – I think reputation got around i.e. be on time or lose out on the good eats LOL…


Michelle March 2, 2010 at 11:27 am

What was Clove Two thinking to encourage that?! One hour for fashion’s sake?? It’s definitely rude. I think plus minus 20-30 mins if it’s a casual do is the maximum tolerance.


geekchic March 2, 2010 at 11:36 am

Oh, I can’t help but add another line to Clove’s “logical reasoning”: With all that prepping you’ll want to make an entrance, don’t you?

If you’re not garnering enough of attention with whatever you’re wearing, then, maybe it’s something wrong with your fashion sense. THere’s a very fine line between the right sort of attention and the wrong sort of attention. You’ll get the right sort of attention if you know how to dress/accessorize, not so much how early/late you’re arriving at a party. I’ve always thought Clove to be silly but this is downright outrageous.

If the Clove Editor is reading this, please, for crying out loud, Malaysians are known to be punctual to their “rubber time”, don’t encourage this further. It’s not something any Malaysian is proud to show off to to visitors. At least, when it comes to crap like this, it’s not something I’m proud of.


March 2, 2010 at 12:31 pm

I think being late up to 30 minutes is okay. after all, that is the ‘Malaysian Time’… but then I try to be punctual… it can be hard with the unexpected jams here and there… IMO, being late up to an hour is just showing the host that you’re not interested in the party and was sort of hestitating whether or not to come… that’s if u don’t give a call or text abt being late… I always tell the ppl I’m meeting that I’ll be late even if I’ll be there a minute or two after the suggested meeting time =)


ParisB March 2, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Ah the problem is, I don’t believe in “Malaysian Time”. Why can’t we adopt “British Time” and be punctual (or try to be)? As for traffic et al, a lot has to do with planning one’s journey. I don’t deny that some things are unexpected or inevitable but for me, its to do with planning, and being polite to notify if one is late, just as you do :)


sesame March 2, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I think there is some connection between being fashionable and not being punctual.

When I was younger and more fashionable, my friends and I would make sure we arrive the latest at a party to make a “dramatic entrance”. We were not like 30 mins or an hour late though, just late enough to be noticed. But those were like balls, proms and parties…

Anyway, as I grew older and became less fashionable, then I also became punctual and early. And of course I start to think that those who are fashionably late are just being lame. Haha…


ParisB March 2, 2010 at 1:41 pm

I guess I was just never very fashionable 😀 Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.


Nikki March 2, 2010 at 3:54 pm

as much as possible, I try to be on time, if I’m too early, I’ll probably spare some time doing something else, like relaxing, prepping myself in the wash room ,etc.. but I could never think being late is fashionable, that’s just me :)


Lilian March 2, 2010 at 5:22 pm

No, definitely not fashionable, being late is unacceptable for me! I try to be early, but of course if you are held up by traffic it’s understandable.


Jessica March 2, 2010 at 8:18 pm

I hate people who are unpunctual, especially fashionably ones. It’s so typically Malaysian and I feel that Clove should NOT have published that ‘tip’. Maybe the person in charge has never been on the waiting end coz it’s not fun loitering around or sitting down with no purpose while the friend/family member/anyone takes their own sweet time to reach. Now, those people who are unpunctual would have a valid reason and an article to cite upon.


Jyoan March 2, 2010 at 10:11 pm

I used to be really, really early. Then ended up having to wait for as long as hours, my early time + the person(s)’ late time(s). Then I decided to be as late as the group of friends who are always late, so I don’t have to wait. I ended up carrying over this bad habit to other groups of friends. Which I feel very bad. So now, I just turn on right, exactly, on the dot.


Kristine March 2, 2010 at 10:49 pm

My housemates and I hosted quite a few BBQs as well as steamboat back when we were in uni (ah good times 😀 ) and some of the closer friends will always turn up early to help out with preparations…which is VERY MUCH WELCOMED. After all its not too much work to be done at that point, but even just having them around playing games, kinda makes it cheerful. What’s the point of having the BBQ if not to hang out with friends and chat away?

Some of the regulars will ALWAYS come fashionably late….and we always make him buy extra soft drinks for us (penalty of sort)…which he did so very willingly. Eventho we’d much appreciate if he could turn up earlier for all the BBQs, at least he knew how to make up for being awfully late to such parties.


Shay March 2, 2010 at 11:01 pm

I hate people who are late and do not have a valid reason and do not inform before hand. In fact, I would feel very much taken for granted. As if my time is not as important as his/her time.

My tolerance is only 15mins. And the person has to inform me via a text message that he/she WILL BE late. Which means in advance. And if its after, it better be apolegetic with a very good reason.

Many of my friends had been given an earful from me when they were irresponsible to inform me when they are late.


gio March 3, 2010 at 4:48 am

Unless you have let the host know ahead of time, arriving late is always just rude, not fashionable! If you are 10 or 15 minutes late, that’s fine. Traffic can be awful, but even then, I would just text/call and let people know that I’ll be late and explain why. It’s just good manners really.

To turn up late on purpose is just very irrespectful and gives the impression that you’re not interested and didn’t wanna come in the first place. It’s also rude to expect people to hang around, like their time isn’t important. Like I don’t have anything better to do than wait and wait and wait for someone that can’t be bothered to show up on time.

Some of my friends used to turn up very late all the time without a notice or an explanation and I had to tell them a wrong time so they would arrive on time. I think they got the message cos now things changed and they rarely arrive late.


Kaoru March 3, 2010 at 7:24 am

I hate it when people arrive late. It’s not a cultural thing here (I live in California), it’s just the way for some people. My in-laws are always late, so I give them the wrong time. My mom can be so late that she has to cancel plans with me. I have no idea what is going through these people’s heads, because it’s not like we didn’t make plans before, and they had no idea when they were supposed to arrive. 6pm means 6pm, not when you feel like arriving. I think the worst is that they never have a valid excuse, not even a lame one.


Eileen March 3, 2010 at 8:16 am

If I arrived an hour late, most of my friends would have given up on me! Out of respect for the host/hostess you should arrive on time and, if you’re held up in traffic or something like that, you should call to explain. Being an hour late is definitely rude unless it is one of those free-flowing open house type of affairs where there is no such thing as early or late. If you accept an invitation, hopefully it is because you want to enjoy the company; not because you want to stage an entrance for your ego’s sake. Such self-preoccupation reflects a hollowness of character.


March 3, 2010 at 8:53 am

I think its incredibly rude!! You know, during my wedding, i had to push back my church wedding for half an hour, and the dinner for 1.5 freakin hours not because i was late (i was there wayyy before the first few guests arrived), but because not even HALF my guests arrived at the appointed time although i did mention in my wedding invitation that the dinner starts at 7pm sharp!! How rude to let the bride and groom wait for you huh!! lol!! 😛 Maybe they’re too used to Malaysian Time already!

And i echo some of the other commentor’s sentiments – I find it disgusting that Clove advocates this type of behaviour!!


a.min March 24, 2010 at 11:14 am

To me, those believe and do as CloveTwo are just out of their mind. I hate to wait for ppl to appear, and i believe everyone do, so why would anyone want to let others wait for them? it is completely rude!
I live in Malaysia, almost all banquet started an hour late due to guests’ casual late, some even worst! (I believe PB would understand that too, hahaha!) for those who arrive on time, it is bored and irritable to wait, and with an empty stomach, ppl get more and more irritate!
But I am glad some of our ppl realise it now, few weddings i went recently all start quite early according to schedule, maybe because the couples are younger generation or simply because ppl start to get their sense, i don’t know but anyway it seems better now!


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