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Dinner Guests Chronically Late

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

My sister-in-law and her husband are chronically late for dinner parties at our house. They call about 1/2 hour after the time that they should have been here, stating that they will be arriving in 15 minutes, but usually arrive even later. The other guests say that they don't mind waiting for them. So, the dinner is always served 1-2 hours later than I had planned. Should we wait for all guests to arrive before serving dinner? I don't like waiting that long, and sometimes the main course is not as tasty having been warmed over so long. What should I do?


Dinner Dilemma

Dear Dinner Dilemma,

Generally, waiting 15-30 minutes is considered long enough to wait for late arriving guests before the meal is served. When the guests finally show up, serve them the course on which everyone else is dining. You don't need to apologize for starting without them. Say nicely, something like, "glad you finally made it, we're just starting the main course." This may encourage your sister-in-law and her husband to be more punctual.

Also, for consistently late guests, you might try inviting them an hour earlier than everyone else. Their late arrival will coincide with everyone else who is on time.