Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: perpetua on November 13, 2012, 06:09:34 AM

Title: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: perpetua on November 13, 2012, 06:09:34 AM
This is a spin off from the 'When dinner is significantly delayed' thread (am I doing this right?)

On that thread and generally throughout the forum (and I'm leaving out the 'got to get the kids home' issue here) I've noticed that many people seem to socialise on very fixed timescales. For example: if a dinner invitation is issued at 6.30 they expect to arrive at 6.30, eat at 7 at the very latest or they'll start to think the host rude, then go home soon afterwards.

In my circle, as a PP said on the other thread, a dinner invitation means 'come over for the evening'. Dinner is just one part of the evening. It's understood that there will be some general hanging out before and afterwards.

I am always surprised when I hear of people turning up for dinner, eating then leaving soon afterwards. To me, that's rude. That says 'I'm only here for the food'.

So, I've been wondering if this is a cultural thing. I am not in the US - I am in the UK. But I had an American friend who would socialise quite happily over the dinner itself, but call the visit to a halt at the end of coffee. In other words, once dinner was over, so was the evening. He really did come over 'for dinner' - and that's what I'm seeing on the forum from reading these threads.

I'd be interested to know what people think.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Sharnita on November 13, 2012, 06:22:11 AM
IMO, I don't undertasnd getting offended when people take you at your word.  If you mean something else, say somethign else.  It strikes me kind of funny to imagine somebody somewhere saying "Do you know that when I asked them over for dinner they only stayed for the dinner?" I mean, If I invited somebody over to watch the U of M game would it make sense for me to get huffy  that they didn't stay amd watch the Michigan State game too?

OP. it is great that people generally seem to know what you intend when you say "come over for dinner" but that does not make the odd person who thins it actually means dinner rude.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: CrochetFanatic on November 13, 2012, 06:31:10 AM
With family, I always took it to mean, "Come over, interact while dinner is being prepared or eat as soon as you get here, socialize over dinner, have coffee and/or dessert, interact some more but don't overstay your welcome."  I'm not a very social person myself, and I like to know (or have a basic idea of) how the event is to play out beforehand.  So, if dinner was several hours later than they said it was, there were very little or no snacks during a long visit (though snacks aren't a requirement), and conversation died before the visit ended, I'd probably be irked if I had to continue to stay.  It's one reason I prefer to drive myself rather than go with the family if I can get away with it, because I can only handle socializing in small doses.  I don't know if it's rude or not to leave a bit early, though.  I'm in the US, and I pretty much take my cues from what everyone else is doing.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: secretrebel on November 13, 2012, 06:35:09 AM
I think that was unnecessarily snarky, Sharnita. Idiomatic English is full of expressions that mean both more or less than the exact text of the invitation.

I think the OP may be right that there are cultural differences here. Like the OP, I am in the UK and as she says "come to dinner" does mean 'come and spend the evening with us including the meal of dinner'. That's understood by everyone I know. We'll also sometimes say "come to dinner, 6.30 for 7" which means come at 6.30 and we'll start eating at 7.

I remember Bill Bryson once said that in the UK when someone asks you out for "a drink" it means spending the evening at the pub while in the US it means meeting up, drinking one drink and saying goodbye. Maybe being invited out for diner has similar transatlantic variance?

I do find it strange the people who seem to think that a dinner invite means that they walk into the door, up to the table, the food will be brought out at once and they'll commence eating. To me that seems like treating your friend's house like a fast food restaurant.

In the UK a dinner party (even an informal one) would go something like this.
Guest arrives, is shown into the living room and offered a choice of drinks. Usually tea, juice or alcohol (not soda/pop unless they are a child).
Drinks are brought out by host and some nibble or canapes (nuts, olives, crudites)
People spend half an hour to an hour chatting and enjoying drinks and company.
Host says "shall we go through?" or "shall we move to the table" and company moves to the dining table or dining room and sits down. More drinks are offered, food is brought out and served.
People enjoy the good food, often lingering over courses.
After the end of the meal people continue to sit and talk at dining table or move back to more comfortable seats. More drinks are offered.
Eventually host says "i have an early start tomorrow" or "well it's getting late" and guests take their cue and begin to gather up possessions and say goodbye.
Saying goodbye can take a long time and if guests have travelled any distance the host will wave to them from the front door as they drive away!

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Sharnita on November 13, 2012, 06:40:20 AM
You know we have had threads about people who wondered why guests weren't going home in the evening.  Maybe some of these are cases where the hosts mean "dinner" by a dinner invitation and the guests assume it means somethign else.

secretrebel, I wasn't being sanrky.  I meant all of that genuinely.  I don't think this is a good example of idiomatic English, especially if the default is that people who don't know the hidden meaning are rude.

Out of curiosity, can people come over for dinner without it becoming a "dinner party"?
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: JenJay on November 13, 2012, 06:41:16 AM
For my family it would depend on the circumstances of the invitation. If it says "Come over on Saturday at around 6 for bbq and drinks. Adults only!" then I'm going to plan to show up at 6, eat at 7-7:30ish and hang out for a few hours after. If the invitation was "Come over Wednesday at 6 for pizza. I'll get a movie for the kids and the adults can play cards." I'm going to plan on eating fairly shortly after 6 and hanging out until probably 8, 8:30 at the latest (weeknight+kids = gotta get home for bed).
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: perpetua on November 13, 2012, 06:41:38 AM


I do find it strange the people who seem to think that a dinner invite means that they walk into the door, up to the table, the food will be brought out at once and they'll commence eating. To me that seems like treating your friend's house like a fast food restaurant.

Yes. This. Exactly this - that's what I was trying to convey, probably poorly, in the other thread.

To me, it's akin to treating your friends' house like a cafe.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: perpetua on November 13, 2012, 06:43:45 AM

Out of curiosity, can people come over for dinner without it becoming a "dinner party"?

Yep. It's just as likely to be a plate of spag bol on a tray in front of the telly as a full on sit at the table dinner.  More likely, in fact.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: cicero on November 13, 2012, 06:47:30 AM
it depends.

it depends on what the ocassion is - a t-giving dinner is different from a mid-week get together for families with young children. a meal where people just spent X hours in a church or synagogue or people just walked in after a full day of work, is different than a mid morning brunch.

It depends what kind of meal - a casual dinner with kids, a more formal dinner for adults only? a BBQ, for example, *usually* signifies a longer, drawn out, sitting around and eating for hours.

I've never gone to someone's house and just ate dinner and left. but i have had dinner (at my house with guests, or as a guest at someone else's house) where we did sit down to eat pretty immediately, and any "pre dinner socializing" was done *at* the table. so i would say that i expect *some* amount of socializing to be incorporated into the meal, be it before and/or during and/or after the actual food.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Sharnita on November 13, 2012, 06:55:44 AM
Yes, my experience is that you can and do socialize at the dinner table.  I also know a lot of people who don't drink so something like a cocktail hour isn't really a thing with a lot of my friends, nor do we do "nibbles" most of the time - meals are usually a bit more casual.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: guihong on November 13, 2012, 06:56:33 AM
I (in the US) was taught to leave after coffee or soon after you left the dinner table.  That's what "for dinner" meant.  Not sure of UK culture, but I've been to meals in other countries where "for lunch" would mean maybe getting back home at dinnertime.  I think this is just cultural.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Jones on November 13, 2012, 06:58:35 AM
Definitely thinking this is a cultural difference. If someone invites me "for dinner" it generally means "dinner".

If it's "dinner and games," "dinner and a movie," "dinner and see my new Gizmo Box," "Barbeque with alcohol" that means the evening is going on a bit longer.

Talking a half hour or hour after dinner over cleanup (very good friends) is the most expected after "dinner only", in my experience.

Exceptions in my circle can be a holiday dinner (Thanksgiving or Christmas) in which some social butterflies will flit from one place to another, leaving gifts and grabbing pie, or if they're me (not a butterfly at all), picking a house and making a day of it. Depends on the invitation and casualness of all invited affairs.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: perpetua on November 13, 2012, 07:01:23 AM
I (in the US) was taught to leave after coffee or soon after you left the dinner table.  That's what "for dinner" meant. 

That's interesting. So in the case of my US friend, who literally did come over 'for dinner', he's thinking he's being polite, while I'm thinking 'wait, you only came for the food?!'

To me - and most of my circle - dinner is really the precursor to the rest of the evening. The main part of the hanging out is done after the meal. So I found it very odd that he would leave just as it was getting into 'full swing', as it were.

Quote
Not sure of UK culture, but I've been to meals in other countries where "for lunch" would mean maybe getting back home at dinnertime.  I think this is just cultural.

Yes, that's true. If I invite someone for Sunday lunch, I budget for them to be there for most of the afternoon, probably heading home around tea-time.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Sharnita on November 13, 2012, 07:06:14 AM
perpetua, I think the idea is that the hosts have been preparing dinner, maybe cleaning, etc.  WHen the guests leave they can do any cleaning they saved for after the guests were gone, change into their comfy stuff and relax.  If it is a work night or school night it is especially important not to burdenthe host family by overstaying your welcome because that can seriously mess up theirschedule and even their sleep.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: perpetua on November 13, 2012, 07:08:43 AM
perpetua, I think the idea is that the hosts have been preparing dinner, maybe cleaning, etc.  WHen the guests leave they can do any cleaning they saved for after the guests were gone, change into their comfy stuff and relax.  If it is a work night or school night it is especially important not to burdenthe host family by overstaying your welcome because that can seriously mess up theirschedule and even their sleep.

Good point, but I don't think it really counts as 'overstaying your welcome' if your host has already budgeted for you to be there the entire evening.

Also, I'm more talking about casual dinners. Not a big production dinner party where there'd be a huge cleanup and hours of prep beforehand.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Quest_ on November 13, 2012, 07:19:07 AM
I'm in Australia. Amongst my peer group, to "come over for dinner" means to come over for the meal, but stay around for a few hours chatting, watching a movie, or playing board/video games.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: KenveeB on November 13, 2012, 07:27:28 AM
If I intend someone to come over to eat dinner, with a bit of socializing before and after, then I invite them to "come over for dinner." If I intend for them to come over for a whole evening and dinner is only one part of that, then I'll invite them to "come over for the evening". And if I hold an actual "dinner party", then I expect more socializing before and after the meal than just "coming for dinner," usually with cocktails or wine.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Sharnita on November 13, 2012, 07:29:28 AM
If there were a movie/video involved I would mention the name(s) when I extended the invite.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Samgirl2 on November 13, 2012, 07:32:08 AM
I'm in the UK.  Amongst everyone I know, whether its a formal or informal dinner, 'come over for dinner' means come and spend the evening with us. Unless it's specified otherwise, e.g. come over for dinner before we head over to the movie, something like that. Same with Sunday lunch, they would probably end up staying the whole afternoon.

Amongst my friends, and also observing my parents friends as I was growing up, guests come over a little earlier than dinner. If it's informal, more like, 'come share my food' then guests often end up offering to help, or at least having a drink in the kitchen with the host, or sitting in the living room with others if there's a number of guests. Then you eat, then you move back to the comfy seats and watch a movie, play a game, chat, share a drink.  The only difference if it's a formal dinner would be on the level of helping out and the type of food served really. 

Of course if it's a week night people will start leaving around 9.45-10pm and it could be anytime if it's a weekend.

If someone came only to eat and then left it would be considered rude, like you didn't actually want to be with the host/other guests.  Unless, again, specified in advance - maybe the guest says they have an early start etc. But they really should say in advance.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 13, 2012, 07:38:47 AM
I'm in the US south.  Come over for dinner on a weekend means come over, have drinks and apps, dinner will be about 45 min to an hour later and then you'll socilaize till people will call it a night.  Ive been to some where it starts at 7 and everyone is gone by 9:30 and others where the last guests werent out the door till 1am.  I never plan another activity to attend after being invited to dinner.  But as a host, I have people arrive around 7, serve around 8, and then a guest says around 9:30 they need to leave because of an early commitment the next morning, I'm not insulted at all.  To me your minimal time commitment for a dinner invitation is around 2 hrs, 30 min before, an hour at the table and another half hour after.  An afternoon BBQ would be longer.

A week night invitation, I'll serve within 30 of start time and figure most want to be home early. As a host, I would be distressed if my guests arrived at 6 a d didn't leave till midnight on a week might.

The hostess in the other thread was rude because the guests had stated they had a set time schedule which was implied would be adhered to. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: cheyne on November 13, 2012, 07:54:05 AM
It may also depend on your work hours and lifestyle.  I never accept invitations for a weeknight.  I am up for work at 5 am, so I am showered and ready for bed at 9 pm.  Since I work until at least 5 pm and have chores and work to do at home, that doesn't leave much time in the evening for socializing. 

A weekend invite for me means getting all my own household/outdoor work done before leaving for the evening.  I haven't stayed at anyone's home longer than about 3 hours for years.  When I was younger I could stay up late and still function in the morning, but it does get harder as I get older.  When I invite guests to my home, I extend the invite for 6:30, serve at 7 and expect that the evening will wrap up around 9-9:30.  Of course, none of our friends are "party-ers" anymore and most follow that schedule anyway.  When one has livestock, they still need to be taken care of around the same time every day-weekends are no exception.

I look forward to retirement (or at least cutting back on work hours) so I can get things done during the day and have more time for friends and family. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: staceym on November 13, 2012, 08:00:21 AM
I also think  (in the US) it is how the invitation was handled...

if it is "I'm going to make spaghetti tomorrow, why don't you come over for dinner' -  that is exactly what it means, come over for spaghetti dinner.  Now, if they tell me to come over at 6, I do not expect to eat exactly at 6 - but I go expecting it to be a few hours of dinner and chatting - not an all night thing.

if the invitation is - "what are you doing tomorrow night?  Why don't you come over and hang and I'll make some dinner and maybe we can do a movie or games or ...whatever", then I know that this is more than just dinner and will be an all night thing.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Sharnita on November 13, 2012, 08:03:33 AM
Good point cheyne.  I do accept weeknight invites on occassion but often from people who have similar schedules to mine so they would have similar time constraints.


staceym, I agree.  That is pretty much my idea of saying what you mean and in my experience it tends to be what actually happens. If there is a movie in the works somebody will mention it. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: MariaE on November 13, 2012, 08:05:23 AM
I also think  (in the US) it is how the invitation was handled...

if it is "I'm going to make spaghetti tomorrow, why don't you come over for dinner' -  that is exactly what it means, come over for spaghetti dinner.  Now, if they tell me to come over at 6, I do not expect to eat exactly at 6 - but I go expecting it to be a few hours of dinner and chatting - not an all night thing.

if the invitation is - "what are you doing tomorrow night?  Why don't you come over and hang and I'll make some dinner and maybe we can do a movie or games or ...whatever", then I know that this is more than just dinner and will be an all night thing.

Exactly the same goes for Denmark. NZ is more like the UK.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mindicherry on November 13, 2012, 08:08:45 AM
I (in the US) was taught to leave after coffee or soon after you left the dinner table.  That's what "for dinner" meant. 

That's interesting. So in the case of my US friend, who literally did come over 'for dinner', he's thinking he's being polite, while I'm thinking 'wait, you only came for the food?!'

To me - and most of my circle - dinner is really the precursor to the rest of the evening. The main part of the hanging out is done after the meal. So I found it very odd that he would leave just as it was getting into 'full swing', as it were.

Quote
Not sure of UK culture, but I've been to meals in other countries where "for lunch" would mean maybe getting back home at dinnertime.  I think this is just cultural.

Yes, that's true. If I invite someone for Sunday lunch, I budget for them to be there for most of the afternoon, probably heading home around tea-time.
And to me, your US friend was rude....and I'm in the US as well ;-)

Perhaps this comes down to, not a US/UK/Australian/NameYourCountry thing, but just how you were raised and how you choose to live your life. 

We tend to be very relaxed and casual in our social circles and naturally like to hang out with/socialize with people who are the same.  Someone who insisted (for lack of a better word) or got angry that dinner wasn't on the table within 20 minutes of their arrival would likely not be invited back.  They may still be nice people, but they would become "meet at a restaurant friends", not ones that I would host in my house because I don't need or want that pressure (when my whole point of inviting someone to dinner is not just to feed them, but to hang out and relax and socialize).

Weeknight dinners DO tend to be a more rushed event (and more often than not, mean just ordering a pizza or throwing burgers on the grill) and it is understood that they will be earlier evenings due to people needing to get up for work/get the kids to bed for school.  But if it is a weekend dinner and a guest showed up, ate and then left?  They would be considered very rude in my circles!
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: WillyNilly on November 13, 2012, 08:09:06 AM
I think there's a minor yet profound difference between saying "come over for dinner" and "come over, we'll have dinner, we'll catch-up..."  I have dinner with a family member (outside my household) every week.  Sometimes more family comes sometimes less and  its just us.  But its just dinner.  I also meet a few girlfriends, 2 different sets, at least twice a years of a "girls dinner".  Again we meet at a restaurant, have a few drinks, a meal, maybe a drink or two more, but for the most part when dinner is over we go home.  Dinner is dinner.

But certainly I also am invited to socialize for extended lengths of time that might include dinner, as well as sitting around the living room chatting, or going to bar afterwards to hang out longer, etc.

It might be a cultural thing insofar as time.  I'm at work for 9 hours a day plus 2 hours of commute. I want to have 1 hour between waking up and leaving in the morning and I want 7-8 hours of sleep at night.  I need to fit laundry and grocery shopping and housework into my weekly schedule.  This kind of time crunch is normal for the folks I know.  We honestly don't have several hours to sit around socializing much as we might like it.  We might only have 3 hours on a weeknight evening.  So to do dinner works - its 2 birds with one stone (evening meal + social time) but its still a rather fixed amount of time. 

Of course on a weekend or for a special occasion we extend things for many more hours, but for a casual weekday dinner?  I think 3 hours is pretty generous an amount of time.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: CrochetFanatic on November 13, 2012, 08:14:30 AM
I think it's rude to be like, "Hey, free food!" and leave as soon as the food is gone, but I don't really know anyone who does that.  Sometimes, though, there are extenuating circumstances.  A person leaving early might be tired or feeling unwell, but had promised to make an appearance.  And sometimes conversation just dies, and things get awkward.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: dharmaexpress on November 13, 2012, 08:34:04 AM
I think it's extremely variable how people interpret a dinner invitation, based on this:

When I was taking cultural anthropology, we had a long discussion about what it means when someone says "Dinner is ready."  In my house, that meant hot food was on the table or on its way, and you were to present yourself post-haste, ready to eat (hands clean).  With my SO at the time, it meant start getting ready to sit down in about 10-15 minutes.  We had some disagreements when I had dinner ready and was seated myself and he was still not there...hadn't quite finished what he was doing in his office.

Neither of us realized it was a regional or cultural thing until that discussion in my class.  Sure enough, we were from two different areas - he was from a midwest farm family where you needed to do some stuff to transition to dinner; I was from a west coast urban area.

Unless I know someone is rude in general, I just assume this kind of thing is based on different backgrounds and expectations.  (Incidentally, to me a dinner invitation means spend the evening and eat at some point, but you offer snacks with drinks prior to the meal.)
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Luci on November 13, 2012, 08:49:43 AM
Eventually host says "i have an early start tomorrow" or "well it's getting late" and guests take their cue and begin to gather up possessions and say goodbye.
Saying goodbye can take a long time and if guests have travelled any distance the host will wave to them from the front door as they drive away!

I'm going all the way back to this one. Oh, my! I do find it astoundingly rude that people would stick around so long that the hosts have to tell them to leave. How awkward for all involved in any situation I have been in. (Central US all of my life.) Guess I just learned something!

I also hate those 1/2 hour good-byes, but that is just me. You said you must go, we enjoyed your visit. So long. My husband on the other hand, will walk the guests to their cars and stand and chat in the freezing cold or mosquitoey heat for ages.

As for our own situtation, we have had variations of all of the above posts depending on where we were in life and place and I find them all, except overstaying one's welcome, acceptable and polite.

When we were doing yard work at our recreational property, for example, I often would wash up, put on an apron, fix lunch for us and our neighbors (soup and sandwich and chips and cookies, usually), we would have a lunch and get back to work. Now that's fast food! I gave us all more time to socialize over a campfire later in the evening.

Now, it's usually come at X, we'll eat at X:30, socialize until you must leave, which can be many hours. Sometimes we do end up going out for a light meal or ice cream if it has been many hours. Sometimes the guest will say after the after-dinner drink that it's an early day tomorrow, thanks, it was delicious, got'ta go, 'bye. It's all OK with me.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Gumbysqueak on November 13, 2012, 08:56:03 AM
As a person from USA Colorado it is incredibly rude and strange if someone stayed after a dinner party. I host parties and dinner parties. Parties include drinks and appetizers and stay as long as midnight. Dinner parties typically start at 6:30-7 pm. First course starts at 8 and by the time desert is served and people chat it is 10 pm. It is rude for a guest at that point to plop down on the couch and start watching TV.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Sharnita on November 13, 2012, 08:56:27 AM
Yeah, to me if your hosts are regularly mentioning that it is getting late, they have an early start, etc. then you are mireading the invite and overstaying your welcome.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: bloo on November 13, 2012, 09:08:15 AM
There are different definitions and, therefore, expectations in different regions and different social circles.

I've lived in several different states and seen things done different ways so I just try to 'roll with things' myself.

It surprised me to be invited for a yummy dinner and then saw that the 'getting to know you' part was out because they wanted us to sit and watch American Gladiator. Okay, whatever, it was fun. But when I invite someone for 'dinner' or an 'evening' the TV is not on.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Emmy on November 13, 2012, 09:08:42 AM
"Come over for dinner" sounds like a casual invitation and I wouldn't assume it meant staying several hours after for a movie or games.  I would expect to linger after dinner, have dessert and coffee and talk for a while.  I do think it would be rude to get up and leave as soon as my dinner was eaten.  Most of these invitations are to enjoy the other person's company as well as the meal.  If the guest comes, eats, and leaves within half an hour or so, it would seem that the guest was there only for the food and not the company.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Sharnita on November 13, 2012, 09:11:46 AM
"Come over for dinner" sounds like a casual invitation and I wouldn't assume it meant staying several hours after for a movie or games.  I would expect to linger after dinner, have dessert and coffee and talk for a while.  I do think it would be rude to get up and leave as soon as my dinner was eaten.  Most of these invitations are to enjoy the other person's company as well as the meal.  If the guest comes, eats, and leaves within half an hour or so, it would seem that the guest was there only for the food and not the company.

DOn't you have theur company while you are eating?
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Eden on November 13, 2012, 09:16:30 AM
To me this whole thing can be chalked up to what's typical in your social circle. With most of my friends and family, a dinner invitation includes hanging out before and after dinner unless the host/hostess or guest has explicitly said they have a time constraint. If I were invited to dine at the home of someone I did not know as well, I'd err on the side of not overstaying my welcome. I'd probably intend to hang out for awhile after dinner to socialize but not stay much more than an hour or so after dinner. That is probably a cultural thing being in the U.S. Visiting other countries I might not do that.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Free Range Hippy Chick on November 13, 2012, 09:18:22 AM
Another point - if you invite me over for dinner, I'm going to be surprised and slightly offended if the TV is on, unless the invitation was 'come over, I'll make dinner and we'll watch Whatever'. With family I might leave the TV on but only if it's close enough family for people to be wandering about, looking after themselves, or I might leave it on for the children, but adults? No. I can watch TV in my own house, thanks, and if that's all that's happening, and you aren't actually going to interact with me, why am I here?

Put me in the (UK) camp of a dinner invitation of 7 for 7:30 meaning I arrive between 7 and half past, we go to the table at about 7:30, give or take, eat, sit around with coffee and a glass of wine, take the rest of the wine into the conservatory, I'll expect to leave at about ten.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: CakeBeret on November 13, 2012, 09:19:03 AM
To me, it depends largely on two things: whether or not kids are involved, and how the invitation is worded.

If it's a child-free event, I expect to spend more time socializing. If kids are invited, I tend to expect that dinner will be served in a shorter timeframe and the evening will wrap up fairly soon after dinner. Generally there are more time constraints with children involved.

If I'm invited to "come over Saturday afternoon for a BBQ" I expect the event to last all of Saturday afternoon. If I'm invited to come over for dinner at 6, I expect to eat around 6-7, socialize a little bit after dinner, and then head home afterwards. If the invitation was for a formal dinner party, I would expect a longer evening than just a casual dinner.

Personally, I'm drained after having guests over for dinner (closest friends notwithstanding). I would like them to go home within an hour or so after dinner so that I have time to clean up the kitchen and get to bed.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Adelaide on November 13, 2012, 09:19:13 AM
"Come over for dinner" means different things to me depending on who is issuing the invitation.

Close family/friends: Come over a little before, maybe help put out certain dishes or get ice, stay to do a little light cleaning up or for coffee.

Family/friends: Come over right at dinner, help clean up a bit after, leave shortly after

Usually though, "Come over for dinner" means just that and would not lead me to believe that I should stay more than 15-30 minutes after it's over or get there more than 15-30 minutes before it's due to start. If you explicitly said "Come over for dinner + something else" that would lead me to believe that we would be doing something else, even if the "something else" was "so we can hang out/catch up".  I'd much rather leave a little early than make the mistake of overstaying my welcome. I have carpooled with people who did that and it made things a bit uncomfortable. If it helps I'm in the U.S.A.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Sharnita on November 13, 2012, 09:24:46 AM
Also, if somebody said "come over for dinner" and it turned out to be a dinner party when I showed up I would be extremely uncomfortable.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Samgirl2 on November 13, 2012, 09:27:27 AM
As a person from USA Colorado it is incredibly rude and strange if someone stayed after a dinner party. I host parties and dinner parties. Parties include drinks and appetizers and stay as long as midnight. Dinner parties typically start at 6:30-7 pm. First course starts at 8 and by the time desert is served and people chat it is 10 pm. It is rude for a guest at that point to plop down on the couch and start watching TV.

Good point. In my circle we rarely host full works dinner parties as Gumbysqueak mentions, but if we do, then yes, we would leave after coffee. If the dinner really has taken the whole evening and it's now getting on for 10pm then it is time to be going.

However usually it would be more casual, with a main and dessert and so there would still be plenty of time left for socialising.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Rohanna on November 13, 2012, 09:33:09 AM
The main point of the other thread wasn't that people expect to always "eat and run", but that if you are invited over for dinner,  you expect to eat dinner, not midnight snack. If someone says to me "come over for dinner", I expect to eat within 1/2 an hour or so and *then* socialize for a few hours- not vice versa. If it's going to be a dinner outside of the regional norm for timing, I would expect to be told. If I specifically say I have to be somewhere, so can we eat at "X" time, then it's particularly rude to agree to that and then ignore it. Most of my friends and family work medical shift work , so scheduling holiday dinners would give an air-traffic controller an aneurysm some years- it's just part of life.

I budget about 3 hours for a "come over for dinner", unless I'm told we will be doing other things like watching a movie or playing games. That, I think, gives lots of time to eat and chat- and if someone thinks that makes them a "cafe" they are welcome to simply not invite me back. I've never been offended if a friend with kids, or an early job or other commitments says "I'd love to stop by but I have to be home by 8" as long as they don't get offended if I'd rather reschedule or plan something different if that won't work. I don't think of it as being treated like a restaurant, I think of it as negotiating some time together. Maybe I'll choose to serve something simpler and quicker to eat- or plan a lunch with them instead. I

 wouldn't be offended if I invited a friend out and they said, I don't have time to meet for dinner today, how about we do coffee? I see that as the same thing.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Redsoil on November 13, 2012, 09:39:10 AM
Aussie here.  If someone says "come over for dinner", it's generally implied that it will be dinner and socialising after.  To simply leave right after the food would be an insult.  It's as much about enjoying relaxed time with friends as anything. Often, drinks would continue after dinner, along with chit-chat.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Judah on November 13, 2012, 09:44:11 AM
I'm in the US south.  Come over for dinner on a weekend means come over, have drinks and apps, dinner will be about 45 min to an hour later and then you'll socilaize till people will call it a night.  Ive been to some where it starts at 7 and everyone is gone by 9:30 and others where the last guests werent out the door till 1am.  I never plan another activity to attend after being invited to dinner.  But as a host, I have people arrive around 7, serve around 8, and then a guest says around 9:30 they need to leave because of an early commitment the next morning, I'm not insulted at all.  To me your minimal time commitment for a dinner invitation is around 2 hrs, 30 min before, an hour at the table and another half hour after.  An afternoon BBQ would be longer.

I'm in the US too and this has been my experience, except we usually start the evening at 6 or 6:30 and with good friends might go as late as midnight. A summer BBQ starts earlier, but probably doesn't end earlier. And whether kids are in attendance or not really does't have a bearing on the times involved.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: rose red on November 13, 2012, 09:47:11 AM
I'm with those who say it depends.  Normally, I expect to socialize a bit, sit down for dinner, and then socialize for another 30-60 minutes.

But there are those super casual invitations that are just for dinner and there are invitations that are all afternoon/evening.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: MariaE on November 13, 2012, 09:50:23 AM
I'm in the US south.  Come over for dinner on a weekend means come over, have drinks and apps, dinner will be about 45 min to an hour later and then you'll socilaize till people will call it a night.  Ive been to some where it starts at 7 and everyone is gone by 9:30 and others where the last guests werent out the door till 1am.  I never plan another activity to attend after being invited to dinner.  But as a host, I have people arrive around 7, serve around 8, and then a guest says around 9:30 they need to leave because of an early commitment the next morning, I'm not insulted at all.  To me your minimal time commitment for a dinner invitation is around 2 hrs, 30 min before, an hour at the table and another half hour after.  An afternoon BBQ would be longer.

Interesting. I'd never serve (or expect) pre-dinner drinks or apps for a casual get-together. They are for formal dinner parties only.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Sharnita on November 13, 2012, 09:52:42 AM
I'm in the US south.  Come over for dinner on a weekend means come over, have drinks and apps, dinner will be about 45 min to an hour later and then you'll socilaize till people will call it a night.  Ive been to some where it starts at 7 and everyone is gone by 9:30 and others where the last guests werent out the door till 1am.  I never plan another activity to attend after being invited to dinner.  But as a host, I have people arrive around 7, serve around 8, and then a guest says around 9:30 they need to leave because of an early commitment the next morning, I'm not insulted at all.  To me your minimal time commitment for a dinner invitation is around 2 hrs, 30 min before, an hour at the table and another half hour after.  An afternoon BBQ would be longer.

Interesting. I'd never serve (or expect) pre-dinner drinks or apps for a casual get-together. They are for formal dinner parties only.

Same here.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Jones on November 13, 2012, 09:53:41 AM
I am reading the answers and smiling because, TBH, I would feel uncomfortable staying at almost anyone's house past 9 pm. If I want to socialize, it needs to be much earlier than that, or my host will see me fall asleep on the couch.

But I am grateful for this thread. I don't have a lot of friends from other cultures, and this reminds me to watch the sensitivity in the future should I get to know someone from somewhere else, who acts outside my norm.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 13, 2012, 09:56:45 AM
I've never thought you should leave right after coffee. (where I grew up, people drink coffee WITH their meals)

And the socializing is the point, to me.

True, a big chunk of it DOES get done AT the dinner table. So the "time left for socializing" is a silly concept for me. Every single time I've gone to someone's home (or had them to my home), we've been socializing since the moment the guest walked in the door.

But I would expect to linger for a little while after dessert simply to continue the conversation.
 

So yes, I do sort of expect a dinner invitation means "the bulk of the evening"--minimum 1.5 hours, depending, but generally more. I wouldn't assume "stay until almost bedtime," however. No matter what we were doing, I would expect to leave by 10pm. If I lived in a more suburban area, I might expect to leave at 8:30.

Three hours is plenty. (If houseguests, like fish, start smelling after 3 days, then dinner guests begin to develop an odor at three house. Some "fish" keep better than others, of course.)  (to me, two hours is minimum)

And it would *always* be rude for a guest to plot down and watch TV!!!!
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Sharnita on November 13, 2012, 10:01:04 AM
Side note - does everyone consider dessert a de facto part of dinner?  Dessert and coffee are mentioned in a lot of posts and in my experience they might or might not be part of the dinner.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: MrsJWine on November 13, 2012, 10:06:13 AM
To me, it means, "Come over for however long you feel like it starting at X time, and we'll eat at Y time." But I really only feel comfortable inviting over people who I know like us. We do invite acquaintances over from time to time, but I'm a total stress case about it. However, I don't think I've ever had anyone over I was so insecure about that I would take them leaving earlyish to mean they just came for the food. As long as there's some socializing, I would just assume they had to get home to go to bed, or to run an errand, or because they get tired easily being out with other people. A typical "come over for dinner" around our place usually lasts 2-3 hours, I think, but if someone could only stay for an hour or an hour and a half, that would be fine.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: StuffedGrapeLeaves on November 13, 2012, 10:15:42 AM
To me this whole thing can be chalked up to what's typical in your social circle. With most of my friends and family, a dinner invitation includes hanging out before and after dinner unless the host/hostess or guest has explicitly said they have a time constraint. If I were invited to dine at the home of someone I did not know as well, I'd err on the side of not overstaying my welcome. I'd probably intend to hang out for awhile after dinner to socialize but not stay much more than an hour or so after dinner. That is probably a cultural thing being in the U.S. Visiting other countries I might not do that.

This is true in our circle as well.  For a typical "come over for dinner," it usually lasts about 2-3 hours.  It's considered rude around here to stay longer than an hour after dinner, unless there's a specific activity mentioned. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: MariaE on November 13, 2012, 10:15:50 AM
Side note - does everyone consider dessert a de facto part of dinner?  Dessert and coffee are mentioned in a lot of posts and in my experience they might or might not be part of the dinner.

Thanks! I was just coming here to ask the same thing. Neither dessert nor coffee would be a norm in my social circle. They might be offered, but they might just as well not.

Pre-dinner drinks, apps, dessert, coffee all scream 'formal dinner' to me. Not a casual dinner with friends.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: StuffedGrapeLeaves on November 13, 2012, 10:17:23 AM
Side note - does everyone consider dessert a de facto part of dinner?  Dessert and coffee are mentioned in a lot of posts and in my experience they might or might not be part of the dinner.

Thanks! I was just coming here to ask the same thing. Neither dessert nor coffee would be a norm in my social circle. They might be offered, but they might just as well not.

Pre-dinner drinks, apps, dessert, coffee all scream 'formal dinner' to me. Not a casual dinner with friends.

For us desserts and coffee are always part of dinner, whether it's formal or not.  Maybe our social circle just have a very sweet tooth.   ;D
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Judah on November 13, 2012, 10:20:25 AM
Side note - does everyone consider dessert a de facto part of dinner?  Dessert and coffee are mentioned in a lot of posts and in my experience they might or might not be part of the dinner.

Thanks! I was just coming here to ask the same thing. Neither dessert nor coffee would be a norm in my social circle. They might be offered, but they might just as well not.

Pre-dinner drinks, apps, dessert, coffee all scream 'formal dinner' to me. Not a casual dinner with friends.

Pre-dinner drinks, apps, dessert, and coffee are all standard for any but the most casual dinners, in my experience.  Now, I'm talking about having company over, not the everyday family dinner.  But yes, anytime I've had guests to dinner, if it wasn't a spur of the moment thing, we have pre-dinner drinks, apps, dessert, and coffee.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Jones on November 13, 2012, 10:24:56 AM
Coffee is a big No-no in my area, even those who drink it (I do) I don't think drink it after 4 or 5 pm. "Would you like a glass of water or juice?" will be offered but generally turned down after the meal.

Dessert or apps is a Sometimes, but not at all regular, thing. After I started surfing this site a year or more ago, I started offering snacks to visitors, even the most casual drop-ins from church. I was met with surprise for the most part, and little enough gratitude; most didn't take any("After that dinner I couldn't fit in another bite!" or "Oh, we're only staying for a few minutes, just wanted to talk about X."). I quit offering desserts this last spring, and no one has commented on the lack. I do have a basket of candy I keep out that occasionally is nibbled at by someone other than my family.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Bijou on November 13, 2012, 10:26:19 AM
If someone asked me over for dinner, I would go for dinner, stay a respectable time afterwards (maybe an hour)  and then leave.  If they say to come over to visit for the evening and that they'll also be serving dinner that's quite another kind of invitation. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: shivering on November 13, 2012, 10:27:47 AM
I'm from the Northeast U.S. While it does depend on the circumstances of who is inviting, the day of the week, etc., "come over for dinner" to me means that dinner is the main part of the evening.

A 6:30 dinner invitation to me means that dinner is served around 7 and we'll do most of our socializing at the table. I'd expect to leave around 9 or 9:30. This isn't a hard and fast rule, but if it's "come over and spend an evening" type of night, in my experience, the host will usually say, come over  around 6:30, we'll have dinner and drinks or dinner and hang out.

This is an interesting thread. The guests who leave early think they're being polite by not overstaying their welcome, while the hosts think it's rude to eat and run.

 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mlogica on November 13, 2012, 10:28:12 AM
In my social circle, most invitations for dinner are fairly casual and "why don't you come for dinner?"  means "come over for a meal and hang out afterwards for some unspecified period of time".  In my experience, the "hang out afterwards" almost never involves watching TV or a movie; it's just more conversation.  These gatherings most often happen on weekends so can easily run until midnight, which is about the point the first person says, "I'm tired and need to get going" and that usually triggers the rest to do the same.  I think it would be difficult for anyone to actually overstay their welcome, because this is the way it's always been and it's what I expect on the occasions that DH and I are hosting.

FWIW, DH and I, and the majority of our social circle, are in our late 40's and early 50's, and most people either don't have children or the children are adults themselves.  So that dynamic isn't a factor in determining what time we meet, what time we actually eat, and what time we call it a night and go home.  And these dinners are not "dinner parties", really.  Some are a litle more formal than others but they're all pretty relaxed.  And whoever is hosting always provides some kind of snacks beforehand, or has made arrangements with one of the guests to bring snacks.  There's usually something sweet afterwards, but not often a formal dessert.  Maybe cookies or brownies with the after dinner coffee/drinks.  Typically everyone brings something to drink, but that's more a courtesy than anything else, because the hosts always have enough food and drinks for everyone.  There is the occasional exception, like a spontaneous end of summer BBQ that was specifically "BYOB".

On the relatively rare occasions that we host or are hosted for dinner on a week night, it does tend to be more "arrive at X time, eat dinner shortly afterwards, leave within an hour of dinner".  But that's usually because the dinner part is incidental to something else; e.g.:  "when you come over on Thursday night to drop off those things you got for me at Costco, stay for dinner; I'll make some of that spaghetti that you like."
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Jaelle on November 13, 2012, 10:59:44 AM
Interesting topic. We're in the Northeast and had a slight clash even within the families when DH and I were first married.

To my MIL, coming for dinner meant, for example, come to the house about 5 p.m. Then she'd press snacks and drinks on people. Declining, even politely, seemed to horrify her.

My family and I soon realized why, in part ... it would likely be hours to dinner. The first time my folks went to dinner at her house, they declined the sweet stuff when they first walked in the door ... and then were ready to eat the placemats by the time dinner was actually served. Still getting the feel for DH's family myself, I didn't think to warn them. :P

Now, a meal with my family ... when guests arrived, the person getting the food ready would emerge to politely greet the guests, then return to the kitchen. The meal would be served within 30 minutes; apologies forthcoming if much later. There were generally no snacks or drinks beforehand. (I later learned MIL thought this was rude of us, although the meal was likely to be within 20-30 minutes, not 2-3 hours.)

To this day, with Thanksgiving and the like, DH and I have to remind each other that "at 1 p.m." to me means eating by 1:30 at latest, whereas with his family, it means "we'll probably eat by 3 or 4 p.m. Probably." :)

(Both families also socialized afterward, although to varying degrees.)
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 13, 2012, 11:08:26 AM
I'm in the US south.  Come over for dinner on a weekend means come over, have drinks and apps, dinner will be about 45 min to an hour later and then you'll socilaize till people will call it a night.  Ive been to some where it starts at 7 and everyone is gone by 9:30 and others where the last guests werent out the door till 1am.  I never plan another activity to attend after being invited to dinner.  But as a host, I have people arrive around 7, serve around 8, and then a guest says around 9:30 they need to leave because of an early commitment the next morning, I'm not insulted at all.  To me your minimal time commitment for a dinner invitation is around 2 hrs, 30 min before, an hour at the table and another half hour after.  An afternoon BBQ would be longer.

Interesting. I'd never serve (or expect) pre-dinner drinks or apps for a casual get-together. They are for formal dinner parties only.

Same here.

Really?  Even for the smallest, most causal get together we usually have something out when guest arrive and a drink (alcoholic or non) is in their hand within 5 min.  On this past Sunday my sister and her DH over for a casual Sunday meal to try out a corned beef I had cured.  But I still had a plate of cheese and olives set out even though we ate within 30 minutes of their arrival. 

But I also never plan to serve my guests before 30 minutes after the set start time, longer for more formal parties.  The 30 min leeway makes sure that if they are running late, it's not going to impact my meal.  And usually everything is already made other than any last minute prep needed like dressing a salad or letting the meat rest before carving. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Free Range Hippy Chick on November 13, 2012, 11:38:01 AM
Slightly off topic but as an Ulsterwoman who went to live in England... the rules about 'would you like' are different! Caught me out completely.

I'll ask if you would like a cup of coffee or tea if you enter my house... well just about for any reason other than because you're trying to sell me something. Now the way I was brought up? You say no, no, you couldn't trouble me, and that's you being polite. So I assure you that it's no trouble and then you may say yes or no as you please.

The English, as far as I can tell, take that first refusal as final. I can't tell you how many times I ended up with my tongue knotted with thirst because my upbringing wouldn't allow me to say yes the first time, and the second time never came!

Also, if you arrive at my house at or around a mealtime, I must invite you to stay. That's good etiquette where I come from. Equally, you must say no. This time it works slightly differently. If I don't ask again, then that means that it was purely a politeness thing, or we're having something that won't stretch to one more. But if I ask you a second time, then it's a casserole which will go round one more without too much trouble, and it's perfectly polite of you to say either yes or no as you please.

Let's not get started on the older-fashioned of us, for whom the inability to offer you a home made biscuit or scone or cake brought on soul-searing shame... or the fact that offering a shop-bought cake is a carefully honed insult, only to be wiped out in blood... 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 13, 2012, 11:41:28 AM
Interesting thread.

Even though I grew up in the US, my parents were English Canadian and that is the culture I was raised in. Having people over for dinner implied them spending some time with us after dinner. So I guess I relate more to the UK POV here.Not that I haven't had the dinner invites that meant we dispersed right after dessert, it just wasn't how it was done in my home.
And I recall my mom mentioning that cultural difference.

I think a few of us in the US have said that they do spend time after dinner, it's the length of time in question.  In my case, it's a minimum of 30 minutes from when everyone leaves the table to a couple of hours. 

What is the UK average amount of time to spend after dinner.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Judah on November 13, 2012, 11:48:27 AM
Slightly off topic but as an Ulsterwoman who went to live in England... the rules about 'would you like' are different! Caught me out completely.

I'll ask if you would like a cup of coffee or tea if you enter my house... well just about for any reason other than because you're trying to sell me something. Now the way I was brought up? You say no, no, you couldn't trouble me, and that's you being polite. So I assure you that it's no trouble and then you may say yes or no as you please.

The English, as far as I can tell, take that first refusal as final. I can't tell you how many times I ended up with my tongue knotted with thirst because my upbringing wouldn't allow me to say yes the first time, and the second time never came!

Also, if you arrive at my house at or around a mealtime, I must invite you to stay. That's good etiquette where I come from. Equally, you must say no. This time it works slightly differently. If I don't ask again, then that means that it was purely a politeness thing, or we're having something that won't stretch to one more. But if I ask you a second time, then it's a casserole which will go round one more without too much trouble, and it's perfectly polite of you to say either yes or no as you please.

Let's not get started on the older-fashioned of us, for whom the inability to offer you a home made biscuit or scone or cake brought on soul-searing shame... or the fact that offering a shop-bought cake is a carefully honed insult, only to be wiped out in blood...

It's this kind of game playing that drives me crazy.  I believe in saying what you mean and meaning what you say.  If you're thirsty, take the drink I offer. If you invite me to dinner, you can't really be surprised when I take you up on your offer.  I realize that these things are culturally ingrained in some people, but they make no sense at all.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 13, 2012, 11:52:03 AM
Interesting thread.

Even though I grew up in the US, my parents were English Canadian and that is the culture I was raised in. Having people over for dinner implied them spending some time with us after dinner. So I guess I relate more to the UK POV here.
Not that I haven't had the dinner invites that meant we dispersed right after dessert, it just wasn't how it was done in my home.
And I recall my mom mentioning that cultural difference.

there *is* no "UK POV" difference here.

I was raised completely in the U.S. and I married into a NYC/Italian/Yugoslavian family.

in BOTH those subculture, there is an expectation that time will be spent after dinner. Often it morphs into DURING dinner--people sit at the table long after the food has been consumed.

But there is not "eating and running"--and staying until 9:30pm *is* "spending some time."

Heck, if it takes you an hour to eat the meal because you're talking, that's "spending some time."

This is not a "UK/USA" difference.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 13, 2012, 11:54:34 AM
Slightly off topic but as an Ulsterwoman who went to live in England... the rules about 'would you like' are different! Caught me out completely.

I'll ask if you would like a cup of coffee or tea if you enter my house... well just about for any reason other than because you're trying to sell me something. Now the way I was brought up? You say no, no, you couldn't trouble me, and that's you being polite. So I assure you that it's no trouble and then you may say yes or no as you please.

The English, as far as I can tell, take that first refusal as final. I can't tell you how many times I ended up with my tongue knotted with thirst because my upbringing wouldn't allow me to say yes the first time, and the second time never came!


You're supposed to refuse in a specific way. You say, "Oh, I couldn't put you to the trouble." That leaves the idea that you would *like* tea, but you don't want to be bother. A wistful tone is a good idea.

You don't say, "No, thank you" because that implies you don't want one.
If you say, "That's not necessary," you are saying that you realize it was a  pro forma offer, and that they don't need to repeat it; the etiquette niceties have been checked off the list.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 13, 2012, 12:09:27 PM
actually, that's my point.

it's FAR more individual and "UK/USA."

I'll confess that one of my pet peeves is the assumption that something is "regional"or "national" because it's what *you* experienced.

There are plenty of Americans who think it would be rude to eat and run.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: StuffedGrapeLeaves on November 13, 2012, 12:36:30 PM

There are plenty of Americans who think it would be rude to eat and run.

I also think there are different interpretations of "eat and run."  For some posters here, leaving 30 minutes after dinner would be considered "eat and run," while other posters like me think that's perfectly fine.   I have never been in a situation where a person gets up after dinner and immediately leaves, at least without advance warning. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Venus193 on November 13, 2012, 12:43:31 PM
Absolutely.  I think that there is too much variation for anyone to make any specific assumption about a dinner invitation that doesn't include the word "party."

When my college buddy lived in my building a long time ago (before he was married) I used to have him up for dinner during the week from time to time.  He'd arrive at 7:30, food would be ready at 8, and he'd leave at 9:30 or 10.  Usually no chips or bread and cheese before the meal. 

Weekends, however, were the time to invite people who lived further away and we'd start earlier and/or go later.  Bread and cheese, fruit, chips, or canapes served and the meal would be about 45 minutes later.    Meal was usually a salad and an entree, nothing very formal as I don't have a dining room.

Music in background, no TV unless there was some kind of "event TV" thing being led up to.

With Brunhilde's family, there is always coffee and dessert, but that's usually an hour after the main meal.

I once had a disagreement with my mother that I posted about here with regard to the quality and "class" of food that is appropriate to serve to guests.  My only requirement is that an invitation to dinner means that a meal is served and it should be freshly prepared in adequate quantity for the occasion and served within a reasonable time.  To invite people to dinner and not serve a meal -- even if it's Chinese or pizza delivery -- is rude.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Jones on November 13, 2012, 12:44:47 PM

There are plenty of Americans who think it would be rude to eat and run.

I also think there are different interpretations of "eat and run."  For some posters here, leaving 30 minutes after dinner would be considered "eat and run," while other posters like me think that's perfectly fine.   I have never been in a situation where a person gets up after dinner and immediately leaves, at least without advance warning.
Yes, I can definitely see how leaving while the dishes are still on the table is rude. But after everything is cleared and the conversation comes to a general ending point (20 minutes? 30 minutes? 45 minutes?), and there are no other "plans" for the evening (a game or showing off a gizmo) I don't see any rudeness in taking one's leave so the host can finish cleaning up. Most of the socialization should have happened prior to dinner/during dinner IME.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: sparksals on November 13, 2012, 12:45:58 PM
I'm from Canada and my experience and upbringing is like the OP and Secretbel.  I would find guests horribly rude to eat and run. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Horace on November 13, 2012, 12:51:16 PM
actually, that's my point.

it's FAR more individual and "UK/USA."

I'll confess that one of my pet peeves is the assumption that something is "regional"or "national" because it's what *you* experienced.

There are plenty of Americans who think it would be rude to eat and run.

Several different posters have said that things appear to be done differently in their country.  It has not just been one single person's opinion, so yes I think this is a regional or national difference. 

I'm in the UK, I would never go to someone's house just for a meal and leave shortly afterwards - I expect to be spending the better part of an afternoon or evening with them.  Why does it bother you so much when several people have said that that is how things are done in that part of the world?
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 13, 2012, 12:52:52 PM
I'm from Canada and my experience and upbringing is like the OP and Secretbel.  I would find guests horribly rude to eat and run.

Can you define your idea of eat and run?  To me it implies I put my fork down on my dessert plate, wipe my mouth and say "Thanks for dinner, it was great. See you later." But if you've spent an hour before hand visiting, an hour eating and visiting at the table, and then hang around for another half hour, I just can't see that as eat and runnng. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Deetee on November 13, 2012, 12:55:40 PM
I'm from Canada and my experience and upbringing is like the OP and Secretbel.  I would find guests horribly rude to eat and run.

Also Canadian. I have always thought "dinner" meant "evening".

My favorite dinner parties (as both guest and host) start around 7, eat around 9 and end around 2 or 3 am. Those were some fantastic dinners.

In general (pre-kids) I would expect to eat within about an hour of arriving (but there would be snacks and drinks before hand). I did have one friend who would say dinner at 6 and I would arrive at 6:05 to find the food on the table and people serving the food.


Now, I and most my friends have kids and we issue invites for 4:30, eat at 5:30 and have everything good to go by 7 so the kids can get to bed. (Actually that was exactly the dinner I hosted last night)
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 13, 2012, 12:58:23 PM
actually, that's my point.

it's FAR more individual and "UK/USA."

I'll confess that one of my pet peeves is the assumption that something is "regional"or "national" because it's what *you* experienced.

There are plenty of Americans who think it would be rude to eat and run.

Several different posters have said that things appear to be done differently in their country. It has not just been one single person's opinion, so yes I think this is a regional or national difference. 

I'm in the UK, I would never go to someone's house just for a meal and leave shortly afterwards - I expect to be spending the better part of an afternoon or evening with them.  Why does it bother you so much when several people have said that that is how things are done in that part of the world?

But they haven't been to the other country. Or, people from that other country have directly contradicted them.

In fact, the only clear trend seems to be that MOST of us--no matter what country we're from--think you shouldn't "eat and run," and that SOME socializing *should* take place after the last bite.

We may not be able to codify that, and as Hmmmmm says, we may differ on how much it should be, and we may feel that different factors will influence it (small kids in the family; weeknight; suburb/urban; travel distances).
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Deetee on November 13, 2012, 01:02:05 PM
I'm from Canada and my experience and upbringing is like the OP and Secretbel.  I would find guests horribly rude to eat and run.

Can you define your idea of eat and run?  To me it implies I put my fork down on my dessert plate, wipe my mouth and say "Thanks for dinner, it was great. See you later." But if you've spent an hour before hand visiting, an hour eating and visiting at the table, and then hang around for another half hour, I just can't see that as eat and runnng.

To me, a mere half hour after the last food is eaten is "eating and running". I did have friends who did that. I knew she got up very early, so I moved dinner earlier and they still did that. I honestly thought they didn't like me much. This was confusing as we seemed to get along just fine and enjoyed each others company at other times.

Then, I was invited over to their place for dinner with their best friends and all the guests left at that time. It was a bit of a relief honestly to realise that it wasn't me.

edit: At other times I was invited for "dinner and event" like others have mentioned and that would run the entire evening.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Horace on November 13, 2012, 01:04:18 PM
actually, that's my point.

it's FAR more individual and "UK/USA."

I'll confess that one of my pet peeves is the assumption that something is "regional"or "national" because it's what *you* experienced.

There are plenty of Americans who think it would be rude to eat and run.

Several different posters have said that things appear to be done differently in their country. It has not just been one single person's opinion, so yes I think this is a regional or national difference. 

I'm in the UK, I would never go to someone's house just for a meal and leave shortly afterwards - I expect to be spending the better part of an afternoon or evening with them.  Why does it bother you so much when several people have said that that is how things are done in that part of the world?

But they haven't been to the other country. Or, people from that other country have directly contradicted them.

In fact, the only clear trend seems to be that MOST of us--no matter what country we're from--think you shouldn't "eat and run," and that SOME socializing *should* take place after the last bite.

We may not be able to codify that, and as Hmmmmm says, we may differ on how much it should be, and we may feel that different factors will influence it (small kids in the family; weeknight; suburb/urban; travel distances).

Not everyone in the same country behaves the same.  If person A eats and dashes out of the door but persons B, C and D stay for an afternoon or an evening then the trend for that country is the behaviour of persons B, C and D and not A.  How do you know that the posters here haven't had dinner with person A instead of person B, C or D. 

From personal experience whenever I go to someone's house for a meal I always arrive around an hour before food is served, eat with them and stay for at least another hour, maybe two.  If I'm going there for lunch I may also be invited to stay for dinner. 

If someone said "come over for dinner" I would expect to arrive before dinner, eat there and then spend the rest of my evening with them.  If we ate at 7 I would not be planning on doing anything else that evening as I would intend to be there between 6pm and 10pm, or later on a weekend night and I know of no-one in my family or circle of friends who would do any different.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Deetee on November 13, 2012, 01:09:21 PM
One more note from the dinner=evening camp

I have issued and recieved invitations for dinner as just dinner, but those are issued differently. For a guest who was around when dinner is about to be served "Did you want to stay and eat with us? We have plenty" or to a guest who has an event nearby "Oh why don't you swing by and eat dinner with us before the play?"

There is an emphasis on eating and an understanding that it is a partial invite "Come, eat, leave-we are all busy"
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 13, 2012, 01:13:50 PM
One more note from the dinner=evening camp

I have issued and recieved invitations for dinner as just dinner, but those are issued differently. For a guest who was around when dinner is about to be served "Did you want to stay and eat with us? We have plenty" or to a guest who has an event nearby "Oh why don't you swing by and eat dinner with us before the play?"

There is an emphasis on eating and an understanding that it is a partial invite "Come, eat, leave-we are all busy"

I think what is also throwing me is being at someone's home from 7 to 10pm is being there for the evening.  I get the impression your idea of how long the "evening" is is different from mine. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Deetee on November 13, 2012, 01:20:29 PM
One more note from the dinner=evening camp

I have issued and recieved invitations for dinner as just dinner, but those are issued differently. For a guest who was around when dinner is about to be served "Did you want to stay and eat with us? We have plenty" or to a guest who has an event nearby "Oh why don't you swing by and eat dinner with us before the play?"

There is an emphasis on eating and an understanding that it is a partial invite "Come, eat, leave-we are all busy"

I think what is also throwing me is being at someone's home from 7 to 10pm is being there for the evening.  I get the impression your idea of how long the "evening" is is different from mine.

Nope, 7-10 is a reasonable period of time to me (maybe on the shortish end, but not short).

The epic dinner parties are not the norm. I just mention them as what I consider within the possibility of a dinner party.

I think that, as a rule of thumb,  I would expect to spend more time at a dinner party than at a North American  restaurant. So at a  standard restaurant, you are usually in and out in an hour or so and I would expect dinner to at a friends house to be longer than that.

 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Dandelion on November 13, 2012, 01:26:13 PM
I am also a Canadian, born and raised in Southern Ontario, and living on the west coast with my husband for the last twenty years.

To me, "come over for dinner" means come over, short socialising session with a drink while dinner is made ready for presentation, a fairly leisurely time spent eating, followed by another socialising time, usually an hour or two. It's a specific invitation for a fairly formal home-cooked dinner. Tablecloths and wine are involved.

There are variations, of course. Once, after having done the "come over for dinner" thing the day before, for example, I found myself left with more food than I could possibly eat before it went bad. I had another friend who was interested in the particular style of cooking, so I asked him to come over the next day, to help me eat the leftovers. He did the thing that people are calling 'eat and run,' but I don't think - as he is a young bachelor - that he gets invited to non-family dinner meals very often. I was more amused than anything, and feeding him certainly did put a large dent in the leftovers!

 I sew with a close friend on a particular weekday evening, and she knows that she is welcome to share dinner with me that evening if she wishes. It is extremely informal - she gets whatever I'm having that evening for myself, which might be nothing more than a can of tinned soup with buttered bread. Since we normally eat at completely different times (dinner to me is early - 5-6pm, while she eats at 9pm or later!) there are days when she doesn't share my dinner at all as she had eaten a late lunch, or will be planning dinner later at home. (My husband doesn't generally figure into normal meals, as he and I eat completely different foods, and he makes his own dinner. It sounds strange, I know, but it works for us.)

We have no ceremony when we do this, and she is welcome to wander around my kitchen to find what she needs if she decides she wants something later. So while it's an invitation for dinner, it's more like having a family member at home than a guest.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Margo on November 13, 2012, 01:55:18 PM
Slightly off topic but as an Ulsterwoman who went to live in England... the rules about 'would you like' are different! Caught me out completely.

I'll ask if you would like a cup of coffee or tea if you enter my house... well just about for any reason other than because you're trying to sell me something. Now the way I was brought up? You say no, no, you couldn't trouble me, and that's you being polite. So I assure you that it's no trouble and then you may say yes or no as you please.

The English, as far as I can tell, take that first refusal as final. I can't tell you how many times I ended up with my tongue knotted with thirst because my upbringing wouldn't allow me to say yes the first time, and the second time never came!

Also, if you arrive at my house at or around a mealtime, I must invite you to stay. That's good etiquette where I come from. Equally, you must say no. This time it works slightly differently. If I don't ask again, then that means that it was purely a politeness thing, or we're having something that won't stretch to one more. But if I ask you a second time, then it's a casserole which will go round one more without too much trouble, and it's perfectly polite of you to say either yes or no as you please.

Let's not get started on the older-fashioned of us, for whom the inability to offer you a home made biscuit or scone or cake brought on soul-searing shame... or the fact that offering a shop-bought cake is a carefully honed insult, only to be wiped out in blood...

This made me smile. And then think about how I (as one of the English!) would interpret it.

I would usually offer tea (or coffee) to anyone, pretty much as soon as they arrive, but if they said no, I'd accept it as no. If they said "I don't want to bother you" then I would not take it as a final refusal, and would reassure them that it was no bother.

I wouldn't feel that I *had* to invite someone to stay for a meal so if I were invited I would assume that the invitation was 'real', and that you were happy to feed me if I said yes, so (unless I was determined to refuse) I wouldn't say "no", although I would be doing the 'I don't want to be a bother / I wouldn't want to put you to the trouble' and would only accept if there was a further assurance that yes, you really have a lot and it's no bother! I do have friends who will automatically invite you to stay if you're there near a meal time - they are not Irish, they are all long-established farming families..

I feel slightly guilty if I don't have home made cake or biscuits to offer, but only slightly. And mostly if I invited you.


Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: #borecore on November 13, 2012, 02:03:29 PM
In my informal, mostly childless crowd, it's typical for a dinner invitation to include hanging out while dinner is made or finished, drinking and maybe snacking, then to socialize and slowly eat, then maybe dessert and almost certainly more socializing. I'd say 7-10 on a weeknight or 7:30-12 in a weekend, give or take a half hour, an hour at most.

Thinking about it, I don't know people with a table that seats more than six -- we have just a bar that seats two -- so "formal dinner parties" are pretty much nonexistent.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 13, 2012, 02:14:25 PM
Slightly off topic but as an Ulsterwoman who went to live in England... the rules about 'would you like' are different! Caught me out completely.

I'll ask if you would like a cup of coffee or tea if you enter my house... well just about for any reason other than because you're trying to sell me something. Now the way I was brought up? You say no, no, you couldn't trouble me, and that's you being polite. So I assure you that it's no trouble and then you may say yes or no as you please.

The English, as far as I can tell, take that first refusal as final. I can't tell you how many times I ended up with my tongue knotted with thirst because my upbringing wouldn't allow me to say yes the first time, and the second time never came!

Also, if you arrive at my house at or around a mealtime, I must invite you to stay. That's good etiquette where I come from. Equally, you must say no. This time it works slightly differently. If I don't ask again, then that means that it was purely a politeness thing, or we're having something that won't stretch to one more. But if I ask you a second time, then it's a casserole which will go round one more without too much trouble, and it's perfectly polite of you to say either yes or no as you please.

Let's not get started on the older-fashioned of us, for whom the inability to offer you a home made biscuit or scone or cake brought on soul-searing shame... or the fact that offering a shop-bought cake is a carefully honed insult, only to be wiped out in blood...

I think I grew up as your neighbor.  A drink is offered as soon as someone arrives and a "Oh, I don't wont to bother you" means "yes, I'd love one" but a "no thanks, I just finished a cup" means I really don't want anything.  And the proper reply to "I don't want to bother you" is "it's no trouble, I was just about to make one for me."

Dinner is always offered and always refused and if you really wanted them you said "Oh, I'm making fried chicken and have enough for an army and it would really help me out if you stayed."  at which time you are then obligated to stay unless you really do have a pressing engagement.

And I do remember when store bought bakery goods were a no-no.  But I can now happily serve "speciality" baked goods to a guest, but never anything pre-packaged without feeling like I'm letting my dear GM down. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Barney girl on November 13, 2012, 05:27:53 PM
The variation I sometimes have at work is - "we'll, only if you're having one"
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: blarg314 on November 13, 2012, 06:58:33 PM

In my experience, 'coming over for dinner' usually implies that dinner will be served at a culturally normal time for the meal. In North America, that tends to be somewhere between about 5:30 and 7 when kids are involved or on a weeknight, sometimes later for weekend special meals.

So an invitation to come over at about 4 would imply that we'd socialize for a while, and then eat later. An invitation to come over at 6:30 would imply that dinner would follow fairly soon afterwards.

An invitation to dinner would also include pre-dinner socialization, and post dinner chatting, probably with coffee and tea. How long to stay would depend on the people, but if I didn't know, I wouldn't stay past about 9:30 or 10 without some urging on the part of the hosts.  Events with small children would probably wind down by 8:30 or 9, because people have to get the kids home, bathed and in bed at a reasonable hour.

The postings I've seen where people had problems and left early were something like "Dinner invitation to come over at 3.  By 9 pm, no food has appeared, the host is still prepping ingredients, the guest hasn't eaten since lunch and is ready to chew their own leg off, the kids have already eating the emergency snack, and are getting cranky and tired. The guest has to choose between staying an arbitrary amount of time, with increasingly shrill children, in hopes that food will eventually appear, or making their good-byes and stopping at a take-out on the way home."
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Allyson on November 13, 2012, 09:26:33 PM
I think everyone's experiences vary so wildly that I would never call someone 'rude' for leaving half an hour after they ate. It is far more likely that in their experience, that's what they feel is appropriate than that they thought 'I don't really like Bertie and Matilda, but free food! and we can bolt as soon as we're done so as not to have to socialise!'

In my experience, 'come over for dinner at 6:30' would mean being served a meal at 7 or so, and an hour or so to eat. Then likely there'd be some conversation, and maybe an offer of 'want to put a movie on?' and either 'that sounds great!' or 'actually, I'm pretty wiped and should take off soon' are equally acceptable answers.

Social codes like this make me nervous of accidentally offending (when two people could have opposite ideas and be offended by the other), so I would usually give the benefit of the doubt here. Same with guests who stay too long.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: O'Dell on November 13, 2012, 09:38:20 PM
I'm in the dinner = evening camp as well. But I have no problem with it not being an evening if I know up front. Say the person says they'd like to accept my invitation but they have to eat early because of the kids or something they have going on later that night or early next morning, etc. If they tell me that, then we hash it out. Maybe we put a dinner/evening off until a better time or make it a lunch or maybe they even come over for an early dinner and they dash out the door after the last bite. With close friends or family it's all good in my opinion.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: MrsJWine on November 13, 2012, 09:39:12 PM
I think everyone's experiences vary so wildly that I would never call someone 'rude' for leaving half an hour after they ate. It is far more likely that in their experience, that's what they feel is appropriate than that they thought 'I don't really like Bertie and Matilda, but free food! and we can bolt as soon as we're done so as not to have to socialise!'

My thoughts exactly. I've often left someone's house only because I was afraid of overstaying my welcome, not because I actually wanted to go. Some people's experience may tell them that half an hour after dinner is about where you start overstaying your welcome. Without more substantial evidence, I think it's a bit paranoid and mean-spirited to automatically assume the worst.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: sparksals on November 14, 2012, 02:15:37 AM
I'm from Canada and my experience and upbringing is like the OP and Secretbel.  I would find guests horribly rude to eat and run.

Can you define your idea of eat and run?  To me it implies I put my fork down on my dessert plate, wipe my mouth and say "Thanks for dinner, it was great. See you later." But if you've spent an hour before hand visiting, an hour eating and visiting at the table, and then hang around for another half hour, I just can't see that as eat and runnng.

Like the OP , it seems some people expect dinner to be on the table when they arrive.   I NEVER have dinner ready to eat when guests arrive.  We have appetizers, beverages, chit chat.. maybe an hour or two after arrival,we eat.  Then we sit at the table, have dessert, liqueurs, and chat some more.  When I invite people over for dinner, it is for the evening.  Leaving 30 minutes after eating is eating and running to me.     The point of the evening is to eat, drink, be merry and socialize.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: sparksals on November 14, 2012, 02:18:40 AM
I'm from Canada and my experience and upbringing is like the OP and Secretbel.  I would find guests horribly rude to eat and run.

Also Canadian. I have always thought "dinner" meant "evening".

My favorite dinner parties (as both guest and host) start around 7, eat around 9 and end around 2 or 3 am. Those were some fantastic dinners.

In general (pre-kids) I would expect to eat within about an hour of arriving (but there would be snacks and drinks before hand). I did have one friend who would say dinner at 6 and I would arrive at 6:05 to find the food on the table and people serving the food.


Now, I and most my friends have kids and we issue invites for 4:30, eat at 5:30 and have everything good to go by 7 so the kids can get to bed. (Actually that was exactly the dinner I hosted last night)

One time my ex and I were in Winnipeg and invited to his aunt and uncle's house for dinner. We were to arrive at 6 PM.  We arrived on time and immediately sat down to dinner.  It was the weirdest experience for me.  We weren't even offered a beverage before sitting down.   It almost felt like THEY expected us to eat and run. 

Besides that one time, I have never gone to anyone's house for dinner to sit down immediately.  That is foreign to me.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: sparksals on November 14, 2012, 02:21:15 AM
actually, that's my point.

it's FAR more individual and "UK/USA."

I'll confess that one of my pet peeves is the assumption that something is "regional"or "national" because it's what *you* experienced.

There are plenty of Americans who think it would be rude to eat and run.

Several different posters have said that things appear to be done differently in their country. It has not just been one single person's opinion, so yes I think this is a regional or national difference. 

I'm in the UK, I would never go to someone's house just for a meal and leave shortly afterwards - I expect to be spending the better part of an afternoon or evening with them.  Why does it bother you so much when several people have said that that is how things are done in that part of the world?

But they haven't been to the other country. Or, people from that other country have directly contradicted them.

In fact, the only clear trend seems to be that MOST of us--no matter what country we're from--think you shouldn't "eat and run," and that SOME socializing *should* take place after the last bite.

We may not be able to codify that, and as Hmmmmm says, we may differ on how much it should be, and we may feel that different factors will influence it (small kids in the family; weeknight; suburb/urban; travel distances).

How do you know they haven't been to X country, Toots?  I grew up in Canada, live in the US and have been to the UK.   In Canada and the UK, it seems the norm is for a dinner to last all evening, not to sit down and eat and leave shortly after.  It is a social occasion in those countries. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Itza on November 14, 2012, 03:09:18 AM
I do find it strange the people who seem to think that a dinner invite means that they walk into the door, up to the table, the food will be brought out at once and they'll commence eating. To me that seems like treating your friend's house like a fast food restaurant.

You've just basically summed up my Dad's behaviour. If the food isn't on the table as he arrives he asks where it is and why it isn't ready. When the food is being served, he looks at it and asks, "Where's me steak? Hehehehe. I like steak. Hehehehe." He thinks he's being funny. We are not amused.  Then he'll expect to leave as soon as he's finished.

In the UK a dinner party (even an informal one) would go something like this.
Guest arrives, is shown into the living room and offered a choice of drinks. Usually tea, juice or alcohol (not soda/pop unless they are a child).
Drinks are brought out by host and some nibble or canapes (nuts, olives, crudites)
People spend half an hour to an hour chatting and enjoying drinks and company.
Host says "shall we go through?" or "shall we move to the table" and company moves to the dining table or dining room and sits down. More drinks are offered, food is brought out and served.
People enjoy the good food, often lingering over courses.
After the end of the meal people continue to sit and talk at dining table or move back to more comfortable seats. More drinks are offered.
Eventually host says "i have an early start tomorrow" or "well it's getting late" and guests take their cue and begin to gather up possessions and say goodbye.
Saying goodbye can take a long time and if guests have travelled any distance the host will wave to them from the front door as they drive away!

This is how we've done it (also UK) and when I've attended meals at others' homes, it's pretty much the same format.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Jape on November 14, 2012, 04:55:16 AM
I've only read the first and last pages, but I would say in Australia, my experience is similar to the OP in the UK.  It would be very unusual for someone to 'come for dinner' and be there for less than 4 hours.  In fact, it's not that unheard of for someone to come to my home for dinner at 6pm and leave at 1am!

The general understanding of phrases is something that I notice a lot between countries.  We have a very common turn of phrase here which is "Bring a plate".  Often this will be a large gathering, maybe a school or church function.  People new to Australia will sometimes show up with an empty plate.  But "bring a plate" in Australia means bring a plate of food to share.  Like "come for dinner", it's the way it has abbreviated over time in our society.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Anniissa on November 14, 2012, 06:01:03 AM
Interesting thread.

Even though I grew up in the US, my parents were English Canadian and that is the culture I was raised in. Having people over for dinner implied them spending some time with us after dinner. So I guess I relate more to the UK POV here.Not that I haven't had the dinner invites that meant we dispersed right after dessert, it just wasn't how it was done in my home.
And I recall my mom mentioning that cultural difference.

I think a few of us in the US have said that they do spend time after dinner, it's the length of time in question.  In my case, it's a minimum of 30 minutes from when everyone leaves the table to a couple of hours. 

What is the UK average amount of time to spend after dinner.

I guess it depends on the circumstances - on a weeknight it is likely to end earlier as people have to get home and be up for work the next day whereas at the weekend it is a lot more flexible. On a weeknight, in my experience it is unlikely that people will arrive much before 7pm for drinks and nibbles. Food will usually be served at some point in the next hour. Dessert is usually done by about 9-9.30pm and followed by more drinks and chat either at the table or in comfy seats. I would be very surprised to see someone leave 30 mins after dinner is done unless they'd already explained explained that they had to dash off for a specific reason (v early start/important meeting to prep for next day etc). As most people would generally socialise for another hour or so after dinner, anyone who expects to leave early usually says so when they are invited and apologises for having to do so. The host gets a heads up and can then either agree that's no problem or suggest an alternate date/plan.

At the weekend, if invited for dinner it is typical to be invited to arrive earlier (usually about 6pm but sometimes mid afternoon). Drinks will be served on arrival with nibbles/canapes to tide you over until dinner is served. The earlier start doesn't mean dinner will be any earlier - you would still most likely not sit down to eat until 7-7.30pm. After dinner, more drinks and socialising means that people might start drifting off home somewhere after 10.30pm but it is quite common for people to not leave much before midnight (or later if its a big night...)
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: secretrebel on November 14, 2012, 06:29:36 AM
This thread is fascinating. I never realised how much variation there was over what an invite to dinner meant.

Sharnita, I'm sorry for thinking you were being snarky. I thought you were being over literal about the invite to "dinner" but it seems lots of people do take it just that literally.
Yeah, to me if your hosts are regularly mentioning that it is getting late, they have an early start, etc. then you are mireading the invite and overstaying your welcome.
I was trying to think about how evenings generally wind down and usually someone (but not always the host) eventually takes about making a move and then others agree and the evening breaks up. Or someone says "I'm good to keep chatting" and the host either agrees or says they're tired. Most gatherings among my friends end this way unless there's been a pre-agreed end time. Usually we're all enjoying visiting and only bring things to an end reluctantly. I say this as both guest and host and my friends have confirmed it.

More generally i think that the dinner=dinner people don't like that categorised as "eating and running" even if it seems that way to the dinner=evening people. I think that's fair enough because "eat and run" sounds pejorative. I wouldn't like to be called "stays until the host can't keep their eyes open" person.

I know now that outside my social group I should be clear if a dinner invite includes the evening or not!
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Yvaine on November 14, 2012, 07:06:50 AM
The general understanding of phrases is something that I notice a lot between countries.  We have a very common turn of phrase here which is "Bring a plate".  Often this will be a large gathering, maybe a school or church function.  People new to Australia will sometimes show up with an empty plate.  But "bring a plate" in Australia means bring a plate of food to share.  Like "come for dinner", it's the way it has abbreviated over time in our society.

 ;D I'd probably have brought an empty plate too! I'd think the hosts didn't have enough dishes for the number of people coming over! But if you said "bring a dish," I'd interpret it as bring food. That's funny.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: veryfluffy on November 14, 2012, 08:52:47 AM
Yes, I'm in the UK and I would say a "come over for dinner" invitation (ie not an elaborate dinner party, more like casually inviting the couple from next door over for a meal) would mean an evening around  3 to 4 hours. So we might say "around 7 pm", and then sit with wine and nibbles for around 45 minutes, then move to the table for dinner by 8. Dinner takes about an hour to 1.5 hours with starters, main course and lots of wine, then sit for a while at the table before a not-elaborate dessert. After that it's probably move back to the sitting room for more wine and maybe chocolates, liqueurs, tea or coffee and chat for at least another hour.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: ladyknight1 on November 14, 2012, 09:12:51 AM
I only entertain friends who would not have the awkward socialization issue, and only go to homes where it would be the same. Our idea of dinners would be a half hour to an hour of snacks (not anything fancy) and drinks with conversation before dinner, then dessert (again, something simple) or fruit after with coffee. We are more likely to have people over for a late lunch on a weekend day, and usually spend 5 hours together.

I know people who expect dinner to be on the table immediately, even for major holiday meals like Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Rohanna on November 14, 2012, 09:25:32 AM
I really don't see why 2-3  hours of socializing and eating would be an "eat and run", and resent the implication that if I can't stay over burning the midnight oil I'd be a bad guest. I think people aren't distinguishing well between what holiday meals, dinner parties and casual get-togethers might mean to different people. Maybe a lot of people only throw dinner parties, not more casual events. How often do you see the people you'd expect to stay over for the entire evening? Do they have work, pets or kids to get home for?

If I invite my best friend and her 2 year old over for a casual week-day dinner, I'm not going to mind if she only has an hour and a half before she has to leave.

If I invite friends over for a dinner party, I expect that they will probably be over for at least 3 hours, unless they tell me otherwise.

If I have a big family holiday dinner, I'll be lucky to get some of them out by the next morning- and most will be there from around 2 til well past midnight.

I've found that younger people and people without children (or children who do well without schedules) tend to expect longer evenings of just "hanging out"- I remember pre-kids that's what my friends and I tended to do. Think the typical university lazy night in of pizza and bad movies. Now, however, for most of us we have "career" jobs that we have to get up early for, or packs of small sprogs that need babysitters or early bedtimes- and "come over for dinner" tends to mean an earlier start and end, unless it's a "big" occasion. I have single, younger childless friends who- while not being rude about it, just don't *get* that I can't come over after work and hang out playing wii for 5 hours on a moments notice. It's not that either of us are the least bit wrong, we're just at totally different lifestyle places at the moment. I think as long as guests and hosts communicate, it's not rude to meet for shorter times than a whole evening. If my friends had to give up their whole evening to see me, I'd *never* see them, because between sports practices, recitals, work meetings, doctors visits, shift work, children's bedtimes, sitter limitations.... it would never ever happen.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 14, 2012, 09:41:39 AM
I do find it strange the people who seem to think that a dinner invite means that they walk into the door, up to the table, the food will be brought out at once and they'll commence eating. To me that seems like treating your friend's house like a fast food restaurant.

You've just basically summed up my Dad's behaviour. If the food isn't on the table as he arrives he asks where it is and why it isn't ready. When the food is being served, he looks at it and asks, "Where's me steak? Hehehehe. I like steak. Hehehehe." He thinks he's being funny. We are not amused.  Then he'll expect to leave as soon as he's finished.

In the UK a dinner party (even an informal one) would go something like this.
Guest arrives, is shown into the living room and offered a choice of drinks. Usually tea, juice or alcohol (not soda/pop unless they are a child).
Drinks are brought out by host and some nibble or canapes (nuts, olives, crudites)
People spend half an hour to an hour chatting and enjoying drinks and company.
Host says "shall we go through?" or "shall we move to the table" and company moves to the dining table or dining room and sits down. More drinks are offered, food is brought out and served.
People enjoy the good food, often lingering over courses.
After the end of the meal people continue to sit and talk at dining table or move back to more comfortable seats. More drinks are offered.
Eventually host says "i have an early start tomorrow" or "well it's getting late" and guests take their cue and begin to gather up possessions and say goodbye.
Saying goodbye can take a long time and if guests have travelled any distance the host will wave to them from the front door as they drive away!

This is how we've done it (also UK) and when I've attended meals at others' homes, it's pretty much the same format.

That's how I've done it in the U.S.

See?

Yes, I'm in the UK and I would say a "come over for dinner" invitation (ie not an elaborate dinner party, more like casually inviting the couple from next door over for a meal) would mean an evening around  3 to 4 hours. So we might say "around 7 pm", and then sit with wine and nibbles for around 45 minutes, then move to the table for dinner by 8. Dinner takes about an hour to 1.5 hours with starters, main course and lots of wine, then sit for a while at the table before a not-elaborate dessert. After that it's probably move back to the sitting room for more wine and maybe chocolates, liqueurs, tea or coffee and chat for at least another hour.



I'm in the US, and every time I've invited someone for dinner, that is how it has gone.

I think most of us in the US are saying the same thing.

Again--I don't think it's regional, or national.

I think the variations are smaller--like, "social circle" or "people with little kids tend to stay shorter" or "my mother always taught me one thing, and I didn't realize other people have other backgrounds."
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: perpetua on November 14, 2012, 10:11:20 AM
I really don't see why 2-3  hours of socializing and eating would be an "eat and run", and resent the implication that if I can't stay over burning the midnight oil I'd be a bad guest.

I don't think that's what the 'don't eat and run' crowd are saying, though.

For me, it hinges on the amount of time spent after the meal.

If you (not you you, you general) leave 20, 30 minutes after you put your fork down, I can see how that implies 'I've socialised with you for just long enough to eat your food, and now the food is gone I'm leaving' and that to me is what comes over as rude.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: TootsNYC on November 14, 2012, 10:20:10 AM
Of course, your host needs to serve the meal so that you *can* finish an hour before you need to leave...
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: WillyNilly on November 14, 2012, 10:21:36 AM
I really don't see why 2-3  hours of socializing and eating would be an "eat and run", and resent the implication that if I can't stay over burning the midnight oil I'd be a bad guest.

I don't think that's what the 'don't eat and run' crowd are saying, though.

For me, it hinges on the amount of time spent after the meal.

If you (not you you, you general) leave 20, 30 minutes after you put your fork down, I can see how that implies 'I've socialised with you for just long enough to eat your food, and now the food is gone I'm leaving' and that to me is what comes over as rude.

I don't understand your reply!

If I get to my friend's house at 6:30, dinner is served at 7:00, we eat for 60 minutes (nibbles, main, dessert) and then I leave 30 minutes after I put my fork down that's 2 hours.  So if you are saying it is rude to leave 30 minutes after dinner you are exactly saying staying for 2 hours is rude.  That's absolutely what you are saying.

And like Rohanna, I don't see that as "eat & run" nor do I think its rude.  It might be different then what you are used to.  It might not be what you thought in your head about the invite when you said "come for dinner", but its not "eating and running" nor is it rude.

I really what it boils down to is "dinner" does not actually mean "evening" in normal language.  Sure for many posters dinner = evening in their heads, and perhaps in their experience, but thoughts are silent and experiences aren't universal, so really the burden of clear communication is on the person issuing the invitation.  If you want to invite someone for the evening, including a dinner meal, why not just be 100% clear and say that?  Why play the coy game of "I'll say 'dinner' but I'll mean 'evening' and expect people to know the difference without me saying so."
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: perpetua on November 14, 2012, 10:40:01 AM
I don't understand your reply!

If I get to my friend's house at 6:30, dinner is served at 7:00, we eat for 60 minutes (nibbles, main, dessert) and then I leave 30 minutes after I put my fork down that's 2 hours.  So if you are saying it is rude to leave 30 minutes after dinner you are exactly saying staying for 2 hours is rude.  That's absolutely what you are saying.

And like Rohanna, I don't see that as "eat & run" nor do I think its rude.  It might be different then what you are used to.  It might not be what you thought in your head about the invite when you said "come for dinner", but its not "eating and running" nor is it rude.

We'll have to agree to differ in that case. Leaving that short a time after you've finished eating implies to me - and a lot of others, it would seem - that you only showed up for the food.

I don't see that as any different from going to a cafe or a restaurant (where of course it wouldn't be rude).


Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 10:45:54 AM
WillyNilly said it best.  I think this is what people should be keeping in mind:

Quote
If you want to invite someone for the evening, including a dinner meal, why not just be 100% clear and say that?  Why play the coy game of "I'll say 'dinner' but I'll mean 'evening' and expect people to know the difference without me saying so."

Since we all now know that there IS a difference between what the concept of "come for dinner" means, can we all agree to just compromise and cut out the games?  Just say what you want your guests to do, and then everyone's on the same page.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Sharnita on November 14, 2012, 10:46:56 AM
You don't see any difference? I imagine the guests aren't ordering off of a menu. The cook is sharing the meal at the same table, conversing with the guests. The guests are not presented with a bill at the end. I think there are plenty of differences. Saying it is the same is no more logical than me saying guests who stay for 5 hours are no different than a hostage situaion.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: O'Dell on November 14, 2012, 10:48:15 AM
I really don't see why 2-3  hours of socializing and eating would be an "eat and run", and resent the implication that if I can't stay over burning the midnight oil I'd be a bad guest.

I don't think that's what the 'don't eat and run' crowd are saying, though.

For me, it hinges on the amount of time spent after the meal.

If you (not you you, you general) leave 20, 30 minutes after you put your fork down, I can see how that implies 'I've socialised with you for just long enough to eat your food, and now the food is gone I'm leaving' and that to me is what comes over as rude.

I don't understand your reply!

If I get to my friend's house at 6:30, dinner is served at 7:00, we eat for 60 minutes (nibbles, main, dessert) and then I leave 30 minutes after I put my fork down that's 2 hours.  So if you are saying it is rude to leave 30 minutes after dinner you are exactly saying staying for 2 hours is rude.  That's absolutely what you are saying.

And like Rohanna, I don't see that as "eat & run" nor do I think its rude.  It might be different then what you are used to.  It might not be what you thought in your head about the invite when you said "come for dinner", but its not "eating and running" nor is it rude.

I really what it boils down to is "dinner" does not actually mean "evening" in normal language.  Sure for many posters dinner = evening in their heads, and perhaps in their experience, but thoughts are silent and experiences aren't universal, so really the burden of clear communication is on the person issuing the invitation.  If you want to invite someone for the evening, including a dinner meal, why not just be 100% clear and say that?  Why play the coy game of "I'll say 'dinner' but I'll mean 'evening' and expect people to know the difference without me saying so."

That's an interesting point. Now that I think about it, oftentimes people we know mention what we might do after we eat for the more casual get-togethers. Like "we'll have dinner and have a fire on the patio if the weather permits" or dinner and board games or movies.

If I expect someone to spend the evening, then I also have some entertainment options in mind if we don't have enough to chat about. I confess that I much prefer the dinner/evening that is spent lingering over the meal with good conversation. That can take a couple of hours with coffee/drinks after if the conversation is engaging enough. Love that!
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 10:48:22 AM
Quote
In fact, it's not that unheard of for someone to come to my home for dinner at 6pm and leave at 1am!

Oh my goodness.  Unless it's a dinner party or special occasion, please do not do that if I invite you over to my home.  I'd so be wondering why you weren't leaving way before then.  I'd be confused and wondering how in the world I was going to get you to realize that you needed to go home.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Anniissa on November 14, 2012, 10:52:11 AM
Quote
In fact, it's not that unheard of for someone to come to my home for dinner at 6pm and leave at 1am!

Oh my goodness.  Unless it's a dinner party or special occasion, please do not do that if I invite you over to my home.  I'd so be wondering why you weren't leaving way before then.  I'd be confused and wondering how in the world I was going to get you to realize that you needed to go home.

I think that's when the host needs to say something like "Gosh, I can't believe how late it's getting - doesn't time fly when you're having fun..." or mentioning the need to get up early in the morning. Guests then take the hint and head off (hopefully  ;D)
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: secretrebel on November 14, 2012, 11:49:13 AM
WillyNilly said it best.  I think this is what people should be keeping in mind:

Quote
If you want to invite someone for the evening, including a dinner meal, why not just be 100% clear and say that?  Why play the coy game of "I'll say 'dinner' but I'll mean 'evening' and expect people to know the difference without me saying so."

Since we all now know that there IS a difference between what the concept of "come for dinner" means, can we all agree to just compromise and cut out the games?  Just say what you want your guests to do, and then everyone's on the same page.

Dotty, people aren't playing games when they say "come over for dinner" and mean come for the evening. It's not meant to catch people out. It's a difference in style. Like the "bring a dish/plate" example. It's not that either side is Right.

I think my friends would find it pretty weird if I started saying "would you like to come and spend the evening together including a meal which I will cook" or something similar when "come  for dinner" is already understood by them. It genuinely does seem to be the norm in the UK according to this thread (haven't noticed any UK folk disagreeing yet although there do seem to be variances in the US replies).
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: sparksals on November 14, 2012, 11:54:13 AM
I don't understand your reply!

If I get to my friend's house at 6:30, dinner is served at 7:00, we eat for 60 minutes (nibbles, main, dessert) and then I leave 30 minutes after I put my fork down that's 2 hours.  So if you are saying it is rude to leave 30 minutes after dinner you are exactly saying staying for 2 hours is rude.  That's absolutely what you are saying.

And like Rohanna, I don't see that as "eat & run" nor do I think its rude.  It might be different then what you are used to.  It might not be what you thought in your head about the invite when you said "come for dinner", but its not "eating and running" nor is it rude.

We'll have to agree to differ in that case. Leaving that short a time after you've finished eating implies to me - and a lot of others, it would seem - that you only showed up for the food.

I don't see that as any different from going to a cafe or a restaurant (where of course it wouldn't be rude).

Totally agree!
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: sparksals on November 14, 2012, 11:57:33 AM
WillyNilly said it best.  I think this is what people should be keeping in mind:

Quote
If you want to invite someone for the evening, including a dinner meal, why not just be 100% clear and say that?  Why play the coy game of "I'll say 'dinner' but I'll mean 'evening' and expect people to know the difference without me saying so."

Since we all now know that there IS a difference between what the concept of "come for dinner" means, can we all agree to just compromise and cut out the games?  Just say what you want your guests to do, and then everyone's on the same page.

Because there are more than enough people who have stated dinner is an evening affair that they shouldn't have to specify.  Perhaps those who like to eat and leave right after should specify that is how they understand the invitation.   IINM, those from the UK, Australia, Canada and NZ have all posted the same thing:  That a dinner invitation is an invitation to spend the evening wiht the hosts, not just to show up, eat and leave shortly after dinner is finished.

I don't believe there any games here whatsoever.  It appears that many people from differing countries view it the same way. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: sparksals on November 14, 2012, 11:59:29 AM
Quote
In fact, it's not that unheard of for someone to come to my home for dinner at 6pm and leave at 1am!

Oh my goodness.  Unless it's a dinner party or special occasion, please do not do that if I invite you over to my home.  I'd so be wondering why you weren't leaving way before then.  I'd be confused and wondering how in the world I was going to get you to realize that you needed to go home.

Unless early leavers are not the norm in your social circle, best thing to do is specify in your invitation, just like you suggested for hosts who expect it to be the full evening. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 12:00:12 PM
secretrebel, ok.  Then could the compromise be that, should you (generic) find yourself faced with someone who eats and doesn't stay until the time you thought they'd stay to, you might consider that it could be something like what's been described here?  That they're not "treating you like a diner" and that it truly could be that, in their "culture" (whatever "culture" is decided as being - familial, regional, whatever), they are actually being polite to you by leaving rather than staying.

In other words, maybe (now that we all know that there's a difference in understanding), we can all (and that includes both sides) not jump to the conclusion that the other party is being rude, but is actually doing what they feel IS the most polite way of doing it?
 
 
 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: sparksals on November 14, 2012, 12:04:22 PM
secretrebel, ok.  Then could the compromise be that, should you (generic) find yourself faced with someone who eats and doesn't stay until the time you thought they'd stay to, you might consider that it could be something like what's been described here?  That they're not "treating you like a diner" and that it truly could be that, in their "culture" (whatever "culture" is decided as being - familial, regional, whatever), they are actually being polite to you by leaving rather than staying.

In other words, maybe (now that we all know that there's a difference in understanding), we can all (and that includes both sides) not jump to the conclusion that the other party is being rude, but is actually doing what they feel IS the most polite way of doing it?

The thing, Dotty, is that in Secretbel's circle and country, what she describes IS the norm.  Therefore, those diverging from it should be the one to express their expectation of the invite. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 12:08:37 PM
sparksal, but if I'm there, I'm not going to know that that's the "norm."  Neither would any of my friends or family.  If I were there as a visitor and invited to supper, I wouldn't, necessarily, realize that the "norm" for you is something other than what I know.  So a little understanding and not jumping to the conclusion that I'm rude wouldn't hurt.

My point is that, instead of always seeing others as "rude" (and this applies to situations other than this one), maybe we all need to start allowing for a little more understanding.  Maybe the other person isn't always "rude" but is actually doing what they feel is polite.*
 
 
* This has, increasingly, become a pet peeve of mine here at EHell, to be honest.  There are so many situations that I read about where I think, "that person wasn't rude!  They just did something different than what you do.  That's not rude - it's merely different!"  That is not to say that there aren't rude people out there.  But I hate the fact that "different than the way I do it" is sometimes designated as "rude" right off the bat.
 


 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Jones on November 14, 2012, 12:11:21 PM
But is it allowed for a guest to specify the terms of the invite?

I would be highly embarrassed to say anything, if I found out my host expected me to stay until 1 AM but I was yawning all over myself at 9. In fact, I'd probably turn down the invite had I known ahead of time; no offense meant to the would-be host at all, simply that I am not good company after my regular bedtime. Would the host feel slighted if I turned down a late dinner/late night with that explanation?

So many questions I've never had to consider before!  :-\
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: sourwolf on November 14, 2012, 12:14:31 PM
sparksal, but if I'm there, I'm not going to know that that's the "norm."  Neither would any of my friends or family.  If I were there as a visitor and invited to supper, I wouldn't, necessarily, realize that the "norm" for you is something other than what I know.  So a little understanding and not jumping to the conclusion that I'm rude wouldn't hurt.

My point is that, instead of always seeing others as "rude" (and this applies to situations other than this one), maybe we all need to start allowing for a little more understanding.  Maybe the other person isn't always "rude" but is actually doing what they feel is polite.*
 
 
* This has, increasingly, become a pet peeve of mine here at EHell, to be honest.  There are so many situations that I read about where I think, "that person wasn't rude!  They just did something different than what you do.  That's not rude - it's merely different!"  That is not to say that there aren't rude people out there.  But I hate the fact that "different than the way I do it" is sometimes designated as "rude" right off the bat.

Well now you know it might be an issue and you can do some research before you visit another country to see what their norms are  :D
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 12:15:34 PM
Or we could all just be nice to each other and realize that the people we invite over are not rude just because they don't stay until 1 AM.

Honestly, this thread makes me not really want to accept an invitation to a dinner if I'm visiting somewhere.  Because it sounds like hosts are going to apply whatever "norm" they choose and automatically assume I'm rude if I don't comply with it if I don't know about it.  I shouldn't have to spend hours of research before accepting an invitation to supper.  If you like me enough to have me over, I would assume that you like me enough to realize that I'm not going to be rude to you in exchange.  If you don't like me enough to be understanding of me, then don't invite me to start with.  (That's coming across snarky, and I'm not intending it to.  I'm trying to say that the people that you invite should be people that you know aren't going to be rude.)
 
 
 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: sourwolf on November 14, 2012, 12:16:24 PM
Or we could all just be nice to each other and realize that the people we invite over are not rude just because they don't stay until 1 AM.

Please point out the post that said you would be rude if you didn't stay till 1am.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Deetee on November 14, 2012, 12:19:27 PM
I think I have a good example so bear me out as this may take a while. It is a comparison of two dinners with two seperate couples around the same time. It is also a real example so that makes it even better.

Random Background: When I meet someone at work and we get along, there is generally a progression. We chat, we go for coffee, we eat lunch together, we plan to eat a nice lunch together, we go to work related events together. At some point, if I want to "take the friendship to the next level" (out of work and into social) I will invite the person to dinner (or some other event-but for the purposes of this we are going with dinner).

So my husband and I both moved to a new city in US and got jobs. There were two people at work that were invited to dinner around the same time. Both had spouses. Let's call them UK couple (as they were from the UK) and US couple (as they were from the US).

They were invited to dinner at seperate times.

Dinner with the UK couple lasted until late into the evening. At least until midnight. We all had a great time and I felt good that the friendship was off to a good start. I tumbled into bed laughed out, tired and content.

Dinner with the US couple was very nice, but they left about 30 minutes after dinner was over. I didn't think they were rude at all, but my feeling was that my overture of friendship was slightly rejected. It wasn't that we weren't friends, but maybe I should tone it down. I felt that they were accepting the bare minimum of friendship that I would offer so they didn't need to feel beholden. I was not heartbroken, but I took a half step back emotionally and wondered if we were really work friends only.

Now I think this demonstrates how people can react to social norms without realising it.

It is worth mentioning that both these stories have happy endings. Both couples reciprocated and our friendships grew.  We hung out and had a good time. I realised that the US couples closest friends also ended dinner abruptly (to my mind) and it wasn't a reflection of me. It was just how they did dinner.

We all live in three seperate countries, but both couples have visited us and we have visited one couple and I visited one on my own and lived with them for 2 weeks. In other words, we got past the "hiccup" of the  first dinner very easily. But I do remember that small feeling of disappointment as my guests left and I still had the evening before me.

As a final thought, I will say that almost all late evenings have involved guests who drink, so this may also be a drinking culture versus non-drinking attitude.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: sparksals on November 14, 2012, 12:34:15 PM
sparksal, but if I'm there, I'm not going to know that that's the "norm."  Neither would any of my friends or family.  If I were there as a visitor and invited to supper, I wouldn't, necessarily, realize that the "norm" for you is something other than what I know.  So a little understanding and not jumping to the conclusion that I'm rude wouldn't hurt.

My point is that, instead of always seeing others as "rude" (and this applies to situations other than this one), maybe we all need to start allowing for a little more understanding.  Maybe the other person isn't always "rude" but is actually doing what they feel is polite.*
 
 
* This has, increasingly, become a pet peeve of mine here at EHell, to be honest.  There are so many situations that I read about where I think, "that person wasn't rude!  They just did something different than what you do.  That's not rude - it's merely different!"  That is not to say that there aren't rude people out there.  But I hate the fact that "different than the way I do it" is sometimes designated as "rude" right off the bat.

I get what you are saying, Dotty.   The 'understanding' goes both ways.  There have been some posts here that delaying serving dinner in a delayed manner is rude, when it is just *different* for the people who expect it to be a full evening event. 

In the UK case, your way is a huge departure from how it is done there.  So, I can see how people in that country would think leaving so soon after dinner would be rude *for them*.  I would feel the same way if I had a dinner party in Canada.  My circle of friends in the US also stay for the evening and I would think it very strange if they left so soon after dinner.  So much so, they would not be invited back because it would appear to me that they ate and ran after I went to so much effort to make a nice dinner for them.   

When the norm is a certain way in an area, those departing from it should communicate their expectations.  If you ever go to the UK, now you know to let the hostess know you will leave shortly after dinner.  Although, when in their country, you should probably adhere to their cultural norm.  AKA When in Rome thing.   

It can also be a 'know your audience' thing too.  Our friends are late stayers.  We start out with appies, lots of bevvies, long sit down dinner, socializing, more bevvies (usually wine) and on a weekend, it can easily go to 1 or 2 AM.  On a weeknight, it is much earlier because people have to work, but the invitation time is usually earlier too, say 5:30 instead of 6:30 or 7. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: sparksals on November 14, 2012, 12:39:31 PM
Quote
Dinner with the US couple was very nice, but they left about 30 minutes after dinner was over. I didn't think they were rude at all, but my feeling was that my overture of friendship was slightly rejected. It wasn't that we weren't friends, but maybe I should tone it down. I felt that they were accepting the bare minimum of friendship that I would offer so they didn't need to feel beholden. I was not heartbroken, but I took a half step back emotionally and wondered if we were really work friends only.

Deetee - you nailed it. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Sharnita on November 14, 2012, 12:41:29 PM
But then, for me, come to dinner  and dimner party are two different phrases withtwo different meanings.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: WillyNilly on November 14, 2012, 12:43:22 PM
I don't understand your reply!

If I get to my friend's house at 6:30, dinner is served at 7:00, we eat for 60 minutes (nibbles, main, dessert) and then I leave 30 minutes after I put my fork down that's 2 hours.  So if you are saying it is rude to leave 30 minutes after dinner you are exactly saying staying for 2 hours is rude.  That's absolutely what you are saying.

And like Rohanna, I don't see that as "eat & run" nor do I think its rude.  It might be different then what you are used to.  It might not be what you thought in your head about the invite when you said "come for dinner", but its not "eating and running" nor is it rude.

We'll have to agree to differ in that case. Leaving that short a time after you've finished eating implies to me - and a lot of others, it would seem - that you only showed up for the food.


I don't see that as any different from going to a cafe or a restaurant (where of course it wouldn't be rude).

And thats fine for you think that.  But why on earth did you say

Quote
I don't think that's what the 'don't eat and run' crowd are saying, though.

For me, it hinges on the amount of time spent after the meal.

If you (not you you, you general) leave 20, 30 minutes after you put your fork down, I can see how that implies 'I've socialised with you for just long enough to eat your food, and now the food is gone I'm leaving' and that to me is what comes over as rude.

In response to a poster who was defending a 2-3 hour evening? 

If you think 2-3 hours for the whole evening is rude (because a 2 hour evening would almost certainly mean leaving 30 minutes or so after fork was put down), then that's what you think.  I disagree but I believe you are entitled to your differing opinion.  What I don't understand is how you can "oh no, no one is saying A is rude, they are simply saying is actions that equal A are rude."

...Perhaps those who like to eat and leave right after should specify that is how they understand the invitation.   IINM, those from the UK, Australia, Canada and NZ have all posted the same thing:  That a dinner invitation is an invitation to spend the evening wiht the hosts, not just to show up, eat and leave shortly after dinner is finished...

How would that work?  You ask me to dinner and I'm supposed to ask in return "what exactly are you inviting me for?  Is dinner a meal or is dinner code for evening?"  I can't think of anyway to not have that be a bizarre clarification for a guest to make.

Sure if you have people who you are 100% sure know your verbal shorthand, who have demonstrated previously that they too think dinner = evening, go ahead and simply say dinner.  But if you are the one saying dinner and meaning evening, the burden of clarification is on you (all "you"s general).  Its really not weird or awkward to say "hey would you like to come over Tuesday evening?  We can catch up, chat, have dinner, we'll have an evening of it!"  Sure its a few more words then "would like to come dinner Tuesday?" but not really so many more and if you plan to spend hours chatting with them in person on Tuesday surely you are comfortable with 20 seconds of extra verbiage when inviting them.

(Also for the record its not a case of "those who like to eat and leave right after" so much as those of us who think its rude to stay longer.  We might actually like to stay, but if we haven't been clearly invited to do so we don't feel comfortable assuming we are welcome.  Its not a "like" situation so much as a "this is what I was taught is proper and polite" situation.)
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 12:43:49 PM
Sharnita is right.  There are times when I might stay until late hours.  But "come for dinner" implies something different.  It's a terminology thing.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 12:46:43 PM
Quote
We might actually like to stay, but if we haven't been clearly invited to do so we don't feel comfortable assuming we are welcome.  Its not a "like" situation so much as a "this is what I was taught is proper and polite" situation.)

YES!

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Deetee on November 14, 2012, 12:50:01 PM
Quote
We might actually like to stay, but if we haven't been clearly invited to do so we don't feel comfortable assuming we are welcome.  Its not a "like" situation so much as a "this is what I was taught is proper and polite" situation.)

YES!

If you are at my house, it's pretty easy. If I am offering you food and/or drink, you are free to stay. If I stop offering you drink, you are more free to go.

But I'm even more blunt than that. I am happy to say "It has been great having you here. I'm going to kick you out now and go to bed". I find that when said very cheerfully people leave and seem happy.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 12:52:29 PM
Quote
If you are at my house, it's pretty easy. If I am offering you food and/or drink, you are free to stay. If I stop offering you drink, you are more free to go.

So there IS a game to it. ;)  I don't want to play games when I go to someone's house! :D  ("Ok, she's stopped refilling my water glass.  Yikes!  Time to grab my purse and run!")

All these "rules" are a lot of stress.  I'm glad the people I have supper with just want me to relax and enjoy the time together rather than watch for hidden signals as to when I'm supposed to come and go!  To me, the evenings seem to have a natural "end" to them.  I don't have to watch for whether I'm being offered food and drink.  There's just a natural flow to them.  And that flow isn't always staying X number of hours after I put down my fork.  I think we're getting so caught up in the amount of time after finishing the meal here that we're forgetting the main purpose of the evenings.
 
 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: WillyNilly on November 14, 2012, 12:54:36 PM
Quote
We might actually like to stay, but if we haven't been clearly invited to do so we don't feel comfortable assuming we are welcome.  Its not a "like" situation so much as a "this is what I was taught is proper and polite" situation.)

YES!

If you are at my house, it's pretty easy. If I am offering you food and/or drink, you are free to stay. If I stop offering you drink, you are more free to go.

But I'm even more blunt than that. I am happy to say "It has been great having you here. I'm going to kick you out now and go to bed". I find that when said very cheerfully people leave and seem happy.

That might seem clear to you but I don't see how that clear and easy for your guests.  You know whats clear and easy?  Saying out loud "stay for a while" with a smile.  That's super clear and easy to understand.  Deciphering "hmmm I haven't been offered another drink in the last 20 minutes... I guess that means my welcome has expired?" is not clear.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: perpetua on November 14, 2012, 12:54:54 PM

And thats fine for you think that.  But why on earth did you say

Quote
I don't think that's what the 'don't eat and run' crowd are saying, though.

For me, it hinges on the amount of time spent after the meal.

If you (not you you, you general) leave 20, 30 minutes after you put your fork down, I can see how that implies 'I've socialised with you for just long enough to eat your food, and now the food is gone I'm leaving' and that to me is what comes over as rude.

In response to a poster who was defending a 2-3 hour evening? 

If you think 2-3 hours for the whole evening is rude (because a 2 hour evening would almost certainly mean leaving 30 minutes or so after fork was put down), then that's what you think.  I disagree but I believe you are entitled to your differing opinion.  What I don't understand is how you can "oh no, no one is saying A is rude, they are simply saying is actions that equal A are rude."


I said that it hinges on the amount of time spent after the meal, because... well, it just does for me, and a lot of others. I can't see eating and running - and to me, and a lot of others, leaving so soon after a meal is exactly that - as anything other than rude.

It implies that you're only staying for as long as it takes to get the food down you and then leaving.

Others don't see it like that though, and I understand that.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: rashea on November 14, 2012, 01:02:57 PM
I think for me, if the hostess invites me into the living room (or whatever) I'll assume I should stay a while. If a half an hour later I'm still sitting at the table, I'm going to assume that maybe it's not a late night.

Either way, I tend to leave by 9:30, because I get tired. Close friends, no issue.

Weekday versus weekend changes things too. I assume most people aren't planning a late night on weekdays. A weekend invitation is likely to result in me staying later.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Deetee on November 14, 2012, 01:04:34 PM
Quote
We might actually like to stay, but if we haven't been clearly invited to do so we don't feel comfortable assuming we are welcome.  Its not a "like" situation so much as a "this is what I was taught is proper and polite" situation.)

YES!

If you are at my house, it's pretty easy. If I am offering you food and/or drink, you are free to stay. If I stop offering you drink, you are more free to go.

But I'm even more blunt than that. I am happy to say "It has been great having you here. I'm going to kick you out now and go to bed". I find that when said very cheerfully people leave and seem happy.

That might seem clear to you but I don't see how that clear and easy for your guests.  You know whats clear and easy?  Saying out loud "stay for a while" with a smile.  That's super clear and easy to understand.  Deciphering "hmmm I haven't been offered another drink in the last 20 minutes... I guess that means my welcome has expired?" is not clear.

Of course not. I almost feel that you are deliberately misunderstanding. A rule of good hosting is that if a guest's glass is empty, I should offer to refill it. That's Hostessing 101.  It doesn't mean I continually offer stuff every half hour and start some ticking time bomb to unwelcomeness. That's just weird and cruel. Please don't think that.

Also, please remember I was a proponent of the long dinner party, so my guests are welcome to stay and shouldn't be looking for any subtle signs that I am kicking them out.

(Though, as I also said, I have kids now and most parties wrap up around 7-8 so kids can get to bed)

Anyhow, I think my example above is the best description that I can give of the difference in culture. I think this should be recognised as a cultural difference and not as some sort of "trick".

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: sparksals on November 14, 2012, 01:21:34 PM
But then, for me, come to dinner  and dimner party are two different phrases withtwo different meanings.

To me, dinner party and come to dinner mean the same in terms of spending the evening.  However, the difference for me is the number of invitees.  Dinner party is a group, say 3 couples.  Come to dinner could be one, two or five people.   Dinner party is more formal.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: secretrebel on November 14, 2012, 01:26:46 PM
secretrebel, ok.  Then could the compromise be that, should you (generic) find yourself faced with someone who eats and doesn't stay until the time you thought they'd stay to, you might consider that it could be something like what's been described here?  That they're not "treating you like a diner" and that it truly could be that, in their "culture" (whatever "culture" is decided as being - familial, regional, whatever), they are actually being polite to you by leaving rather than staying.

In other words, maybe (now that we all know that there's a difference in understanding), we can all (and that includes both sides) not jump to the conclusion that the other party is being rude, but is actually doing what they feel IS the most polite way of doing it?

That's what I suggested in post 94! And I also said there that I don't think it's fair to describe the dinner=dinner people as rude even though I am a dinner=evening person. It's obviously (to me) a cultural variance.

But I don't think it's fair to expect me to change my own style of speech in my own country among people who understand it well - or to have that characterised as playing games. That's not being sensitive to cultural variance. If you're worried that you might outstay your welcome, please ask. Using your words is always better than assuming. And on my side if I'm visiting another country or region ask how long I should plan to stay.

On the UK/US divide I found Deetee's story fascinating. I genuinely do think the dinner=evening is the norm in the UK although the US seems to be more varied from what's been reported her. I posted a poll on a UK forum about an hour ago and so far 60 people are dinner=evening, 4 are somewhere in the middle and only 1 is dinner=dinner.


OT: Does all this "dinner dinner dinner" make anyone else want to shout "BATMAN!" ?

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: sparksals on November 14, 2012, 01:29:16 PM
Quote
If you are at my house, it's pretty easy. If I am offering you food and/or drink, you are free to stay. If I stop offering you drink, you are more free to go.

So there IS a game to it. ;)  I don't want to play games when I go to someone's house! :D  ("Ok, she's stopped refilling my water glass.  Yikes!  Time to grab my purse and run!")

All these "rules" are a lot of stress.  I'm glad the people I have supper with just want me to relax and enjoy the time together rather than watch for hidden signals as to when I'm supposed to come and go!  To me, the evenings seem to have a natural "end" to them.  I don't have to watch for whether I'm being offered food and drink.  There's just a natural flow to them.  And that flow isn't always staying X number of hours after I put down my fork.  I think we're getting so caught up in the amount of time after finishing the meal here that we're forgetting the main purpose of the evenings.

Dotty... I"m getting the impression that you expect those differing from you to adhere to your line of thinking, yet you are professing understanding.  It seems the only 'side' who gets understanding is yours.  Am I misinterpreting?  I don't see you understanding the side that has explained the norm for their circle, country etc.  Instead, you refer to it as a game.

This is no game and I think that is really uncalled for to refer to it that way when it is the norm for many people.  Your way differs.  That is fine.   No one is playing a game and it is kind of underhanded to refer to it that way when it is the cultural norm for a large group here. 

WillyNilly - you raise a valid point.  Although, if you go to UK, Canada, Australia or NZ, chances are it will be an evening invitation since you have seen this thread.  ;)   :-*   I do see your point, though.  I guess it is a know your audience thing.  I don't invite people I don't know to my house for dinner.  When they do get invited, I usually know they are of the same mind.  At least I hope they are.  If they are not then I revisit the situation. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Cat-Fu on November 14, 2012, 01:42:25 PM
Generally speaking, (and I'm from the NE US) I'd be a bit weirded out if I invited someone over for dinner and they left a half hour after dinner... I'd probably be far more understanding if the issue was bedtime for the kids, but otherwise I'd imagine it would feel a bit like eating and running.

I hope my guests who are of the literal dinner mindset don't get too annoyed with me; usually close to a half hour after dinner is when I serve dessert and/or coffee, and then I talk my guests' ears off until they can bear it no longer.  ;) I think it's actually pretty easy to tell when the night is over whether you're the host or a guest: you start running out of things to chat about, you catch them checking the clock repeatedly, yawning, all of that subtle body language.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 01:53:20 PM
"Game" may have been the wrong word to use there.  I wasn't sure of the word I was looking for, so I used one - perhaps incorrectly.  I'm sorry.  I didn't mean it to come across the way it might have sounded.

"Clues" maybe?  I'm not sure.  But, in any case, I was responding to Deetee's post more than the general thread with that comment.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 01:54:54 PM
Quote
I guess it is a know your audience thing.  I don't invite people I don't know to my house for dinner.  When they do get invited, I usually know they are of the same mind.  At least I hope they are.  If they are not then I revisit the situation.

And this was what I was trying to say at one point as well.  I do agree.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 14, 2012, 01:55:11 PM
I really don't see why 2-3  hours of socializing and eating would be an "eat and run", and resent the implication that if I can't stay over burning the midnight oil I'd be a bad guest.

I don't think that's what the 'don't eat and run' crowd are saying, though.

For me, it hinges on the amount of time spent after the meal.

If you (not you you, you general) leave 20, 30 minutes after you put your fork down, I can see how that implies 'I've socialised with you for just long enough to eat your food, and now the food is gone I'm leaving' and that to me is what comes over as rude.

I just can't see why the amount of time spent AFTER the meal is so much more important than before or during the meal.  Would you be offended if we arrived around 6pm, spent 2 hours engaged in an activity or visiting, you served at 8pm, we all left the table after an hour and a half, and then spend 30 minutes in the sitting room with coffee which gets me to 10pm. So if I say at 10 "Thanks for a lovely evening, but I think we need to head home" your saying though I've spent 4 hours with you, because I left 30 minutes after adjurning from the dining room that I'm eating and running? 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 01:57:48 PM
And Hmmmmmmmm is getting at what I meant by the fact that it could be that we're focusing more on "X amount of time after putting down our forks" than what we're really all talking about - spending time socializing together as friends.

I think there are a lot more people actually agreeing here than it appears.  We're (generic - not everyone) just so focused on that magical "amount of time after supper" that we're not really seeing that we're all saying the same thing in terms of getting to be with friends.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: sourwolf on November 14, 2012, 01:59:09 PM
Or we could all just be nice to each other and realize that the people we invite over are not rude just because they don't stay until 1 AM.

Please point out the post that said you would be rude if you didn't stay till 1am.

I think my post got missed because it was at the bottom of the page, can someone please point out to me the post where someone said it's rude to not stay till 1 am, because I'm not finding it.

If this was actually hyperbole, then it's a bit ridiculous.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 02:04:31 PM
I understood this as saying that - perhaps I was wrong in that.  Although, if you invite me over for supper at 7 or 8 (yes, I see the 6pm there - but I'm also going by the assumption that there is a bit of variance on times the meal starts even with that 6pm), expect at least 4 hours afterwards, we are getting into the midnight/morning hours.  Hence my understanding of the statement.  If my understanding is incorrect, I retract my post.

Quote
It would be very unusual for someone to 'come for dinner' and be there for less than 4 hours.  In fact, it's not that unheard of for someone to come to my home for dinner at 6pm and leave at 1am!
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: sourwolf on November 14, 2012, 02:06:37 PM
I understood this as saying that - perhaps I was wrong in that.  Although, if you invite me over for supper at 7 or 8 (yes, I see the 6pm there - but I'm also going by the assumption that there is a bit of variance on times the meal starts even with that 6pm), expect at least 4 hours afterwards, we are getting into the midnight/morning hours.  Hence my understanding of the statement.  If my understanding is incorrect, I retract my post.

Quote
It would be very unusual for someone to 'come for dinner' and be there for less than 4 hours.  In fact, it's not that unheard of for someone to come to my home for dinner at 6pm and leave at 1am!

I'm still not seeing where that poster said it would be rude, just unusual.  Also I don't know that you can base what someone else is saying on your changing the assumption of what they meant versus what they actually posted.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Sharnita on November 14, 2012, 02:10:34 PM
So if guests stayed until 1 am and had drinks wouldn't the same logic OP is using lead us to the cunclusion that they are only in it for the booze and say it is no different from a tavern that is having last call? Personally, I thought the initial assumption and comparison was flawed bur if people cling to it I think it would be just about as logical or gracipus to go the opposite way with guests who stay later - which is to say not very logical or gracious.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 02:24:13 PM
Quote
Also I don't know that you can base what someone else is saying on your changing the assumption of what they meant versus what they actually posted.

You totally lost me there! :D

Regardless, as I said, if I misunderstood, I retract my post.
 
 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 14, 2012, 02:24:42 PM
Generally speaking, (and I'm from the NE US) I'd be a bit weirded out if I invited someone over for dinner and they left a half hour after dinner... I'd probably be far more understanding if the issue was bedtime for the kids, but otherwise I'd imagine it would feel a bit like eating and running.I hope my guests who are of the literal dinner mindset don't get too annoyed with me; usually close to a half hour after dinner is when I serve dessert and/or coffee, and then I talk my guests' ears off until they can bear it no longer.  ;) I think it's actually pretty easy to tell when the night is over whether you're the host or a guest: you start running out of things to chat about, you catch them checking the clock repeatedly, yawning, all of that subtle body language.

But the 30 minute remark I stated was a MINIMUM.  Not the average, not the maximum, but the minimum any guest should stay after dinner even if they did have other pressing issues. 

So if you invite me to dinner at 7, but I need to be gone by 10, I would make you aware that I need to be gone by 10 before accepting the invitation so that you could time the dinner so that we would have some minimal time after the meal for socializing.  I would really hope you wouldn't be delaying dinner till 9, because then I really would be eating and running. Or you could say, "Let's schedule for another day" if you couldn't accept that deadline.

Or if you invited me to dinner at 7, served at 8, dinner was over at 9 and we'd retired to the sitting room for coffee, I'd feel like I need to wait until at least 9:30 before I started making comments about needing to leave even if I had come down with a terrible headache before dinner started. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: rose red on November 14, 2012, 02:36:15 PM
I'm also not sure why some keep focusing on the 30 minutes.  Nobody is keeping time and saying "Oh, it's 30 minutes since I put my fork down.  Gotta go.  Don't want to spend any more time with you people."  Like many said, you may have already spent hours of quality time already and it's come to a natural end whether it's 30 minutes or 6 hours later.  Nobody here is being rude.  Nobody here is just visiting for the food.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 02:36:56 PM
red rose, I do agree with you there.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: lollylegs on November 14, 2012, 03:53:48 PM
Finally got through the thread! Just wanted to say how interesting and informative it has been - as an Aussie, I too take 'come for dinner' to mean 'come hang out with us for the night'. My partner and I are visiting the US for the first time next year so it's good to know that there's that cultural difference there.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Judah on November 14, 2012, 04:16:51 PM
Finally got through the thread! Just wanted to say how interesting and informative it has been - as an Aussie, I too take 'come for dinner' to mean 'come hang out with us for the night'. My partner and I are visiting the US for the first time next year so it's good to know that there's that cultural difference there.

But that's what some posters are trying to get across: For some people in the U.S., dinner = dinner, but for others it doesn't.  I live in the U.S. and I'm in the dinner = evening camp.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: #borecore on November 14, 2012, 04:22:49 PM
Finally got through the thread! Just wanted to say how interesting and informative it has been - as an Aussie, I too take 'come for dinner' to mean 'come hang out with us for the night'. My partner and I are visiting the US for the first time next year so it's good to know that there's that cultural difference there.

Just to reiterate, I think a few people have argued pretty strongly for their own US experiences, but I do think a greater number of posters have said they expect dinner visitors to stay a good while, so please don't be worried about some strict taboo. Stay as long as you and your hosts are obviously enjoying yourselves!
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: MariaE on November 14, 2012, 04:23:04 PM
I've been thinking about this a bit more. If somebody told me, "Come over for dinner" I would hear that as "I'd love to see you, but only have time for the dinner itself, rather than spending an entire evening, but I would still love to see you! :)

Otherwise I'd expect "Why don't you come on over tonight?"

That said, most of the casual get-togethers in my social circle start immediately after work, so it would be more likely to be "meet up at 5, play a few games, help make dinner, eat dinner at 7'ish, lingering over the food, leave at 8:30-9, 10 if it's a weekend".
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 04:35:58 PM
Quote
so please don't be worried about some strict taboo. Stay as long as you and your hosts are obviously enjoying yourselves!

I agree with this.  I said this in another post, but evenings just have a "flow" about them.  There does seem to be a natural "end" to them a lot of times.  It's not an X number of hours after eating thing; it's just a feeling that things are at an end and people go home.  The difference in that might just be in what the hosts of another culture (again, defining "culture" in many ways - familial, locational, etc) feel the flow is.

And, I do have to say that, if a host says, "Oh, don't go!  I'd love to have you stay a while longer" with a smile on their face, there may be people who think they're supposed to leave who might decide to stay a while longer, too.

I still think that, should one of us extend an invitation to another EHellion here, we might be surprised in that we're actually not going to be offending each other after all - despite this thread.  I think we'd find that we've looked at the trees of this post so closely that we've missed that we'd, actually, be more in tune with each other's hosting style than we think.  (At least, I hope so!  I hope that should I be invited to your home, or I invited you to mine, we'd still be friends afterwards! :D)


 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: stargazer on November 14, 2012, 05:01:32 PM
Is it just the time AFTER dinner that people are counting?  Because if I got there at 5pm, dinner was served at 5:30, and we were done by 6pm I would probably feel a little rude leaving at 6:30. 

But if I get there at 5pm, dinner isn't served until 7pm, and is a more lengthy affair (more courses, etc) and we don't finish until 8pm, I wouldn't feel rude leaving at 8:30pm because now I've been there for 3.5 hours and surely it should be obvious at that point I'm not just there for a free meal?  Doesn't the time before dinner count for anything?  I apologize if I'm misunderstanding, but what I've read really does seem to focus on the time after dinner before leaving that has people thinking whether others are rude or not.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: kherbert05 on November 14, 2012, 07:00:59 PM
In my family we get invitations like this - Come at 1 and we will eat about 2 (that was my Thanksgiving Invite).
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: blarg314 on November 14, 2012, 08:14:31 PM
I'm curious how much this is a cultural thing (country-to-country) and how much it is a social group thing (age, environment, kids). In university, hanging out until all hours of the night was common for me. But now, with a job with regular hours and friends with kids, social events tend to end by about 10pm at the latest, earlier when kids are involved.

Are there any people who regularly do dinner events involving children between the ages of about 3 and 10 (ie, young, but beyond the baby age) that go until late at night?  If so, where are you located?

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mindicherry on November 14, 2012, 08:52:59 PM
The general understanding of phrases is something that I notice a lot between countries.  We have a very common turn of phrase here which is "Bring a plate".  Often this will be a large gathering, maybe a school or church function.  People new to Australia will sometimes show up with an empty plate.  But "bring a plate" in Australia means bring a plate of food to share.  Like "come for dinner", it's the way it has abbreviated over time in our society.

 ;D I'd probably have brought an empty plate too! I'd think the hosts didn't have enough dishes for the number of people coming over! But if you said "bring a dish," I'd interpret it as bring food. That's funny.
This thread is hilarious (and enlightening), because it would never occur to me that "Bring a Plate" means anything other than "bring a dish to share" ;)
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mindicherry on November 14, 2012, 09:02:29 PM
I really don't see why 2-3  hours of socializing and eating would be an "eat and run", and resent the implication that if I can't stay over burning the midnight oil I'd be a bad guest. I think people aren't distinguishing well between what holiday meals, dinner parties and casual get-togethers might mean to different people. Maybe a lot of people only throw dinner parties, not more casual events. How often do you see the people you'd expect to stay over for the entire evening? Do they have work, pets or kids to get home for?

If I invite my best friend and her 2 year old over for a casual week-day dinner, I'm not going to mind if she only has an hour and a half before she has to leave.

If I invite friends over for a dinner party, I expect that they will probably be over for at least 3 hours, unless they tell me otherwise.

If I have a big family holiday dinner, I'll be lucky to get some of them out by the next morning- and most will be there from around 2 til well past midnight.

I've found that younger people and people without children (or children who do well without schedules) tend to expect longer evenings of just "hanging out"- I remember pre-kids that's what my friends and I tended to do. Think the typical university lazy night in of pizza and bad movies. Now, however, for most of us we have "career" jobs that we have to get up early for, or packs of small sprogs that need babysitters or early bedtimes- and "come over for dinner" tends to mean an earlier start and end, unless it's a "big" occasion. I have single, younger childless friends who- while not being rude about it, just don't *get* that I can't come over after work and hang out playing wii for 5 hours on a moments notice. It's not that either of us are the least bit wrong, we're just at totally different lifestyle places at the moment. I think as long as guests and hosts communicate, it's not rude to meet for shorter times than a whole evening. If my friends had to give up their whole evening to see me, I'd *never* see them, because between sports practices, recitals, work meetings, doctors visits, shift work, children's bedtimes, sitter limitations.... it would never ever happen.
Here's my deal....

If I invite people over for anything other than an impromptu BBQ on a school night ("what do you have in the freezer?  I have this! let's just throw it all on the grill so that the kids can keep playing!"), I go through a great deal of time & effort planning the dish, shopping, cooking, etc.

I don't "do" formal dinner parties - ever. But I have done plenty of dinners with friends where I spent upwards of $100-$200 in order to have a great meal with great friends.

And if any of those friends ditched out after 90 minutes because they were "only invited to dinner"?  They would be forever be assigned to my "Applebees friends" (where I NEVER go)

inviting someone for dinner at your home is not the same as inviting someone to dinner at a restaurant (where you are expected to be out in 90-120 minutes).

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 09:06:42 PM
I think "ditched out" is a loaded term for what the other side has described they thought was the correct and polite thing to do. That seems to imply a rudeness that isn't there and isn't really a nice thing to say.

If I'm going to be called out for using the word "games", I think the same applies here.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mindicherry on November 14, 2012, 09:12:56 PM
I really don't see why 2-3  hours of socializing and eating would be an "eat and run", and resent the implication that if I can't stay over burning the midnight oil I'd be a bad guest.

I don't think that's what the 'don't eat and run' crowd are saying, though.

For me, it hinges on the amount of time spent after the meal.

If you (not you you, you general) leave 20, 30 minutes after you put your fork down, I can see how that implies 'I've socialised with you for just long enough to eat your food, and now the food is gone I'm leaving' and that to me is what comes over as rude.

I don't understand your reply!

If I get to my friend's house at 6:30, dinner is served at 7:00, we eat for 60 minutes (nibbles, main, dessert) and then I leave 30 minutes after I put my fork down that's 2 hours.  So if you are saying it is rude to leave 30 minutes after dinner you are exactly saying staying for 2 hours is rude.  That's absolutely what you are saying.

And like Rohanna, I don't see that as "eat & run" nor do I think its rude.  It might be different then what you are used to.  It might not be what you thought in your head about the invite when you said "come for dinner", but its not "eating and running" nor is it rude.

I really what it boils down to is "dinner" does not actually mean "evening" in normal language.  Sure for many posters dinner = evening in their heads, and perhaps in their experience, but thoughts are silent and experiences aren't universal, so really the burden of clear communication is on the person issuing the invitation.  If you want to invite someone for the evening, including a dinner meal, why not just be 100% clear and say that?  Why play the coy game of "I'll say 'dinner' but I'll mean 'evening' and expect people to know the difference without me saying so."
Because that is what this forum is for - to understand etiquette rules.  You may think that I should say "Come for dinner.  Just so you know - if you leave less than 45 minutes after you put your fork down, I will think you rude"

I say - I long ago learned which of my friends have the same viewpoint as I do and which don't.  The ones that won't pressure me to have dinner on the table or make me feel like a fast-food restaurant are the ones that I will invite back to my home.

And it is not rude of me to feel that way about who I want to invite to my home for dinner....just as it isn't rude for them to think that 2 hours or less is a reasonable amount of time when if comes to "come to dinner"
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mindicherry on November 14, 2012, 09:21:07 PM
Or we could all just be nice to each other and realize that the people we invite over are not rude just because they don't stay until 1 AM.

Honestly, this thread makes me not really want to accept an invitation to a dinner if I'm visiting somewhere.  Because it sounds like hosts are going to apply whatever "norm" they choose and automatically assume I'm rude if I don't comply with it if I don't know about it.  I shouldn't have to spend hours of research before accepting an invitation to supper.  If you like me enough to have me over, I would assume that you like me enough to realize that I'm not going to be rude to you in exchange.  If you don't like me enough to be understanding of me, then don't invite me to start with.  (That's coming across snarky, and I'm not intending it to.  I'm trying to say that the people that you invite should be people that you know aren't going to be rude.)
No - and I assume that you don't have to worry about this in your own family/social circle, because you KNOW what is expected.

But if you are invited to an entirely new environment, just do a little research with mutual friends and family about what is expected of you (such as, I am going to a luncheon at a home this Sunday for my brother and his new wife at the home of the wife's stepparents.  Aside from the foreign-to-me religous aspect, I needed to know how long I was expected to be there to line up a babysitter.  With that family - is a lunch a 2-hour deal?  4-hours?  Does it turn in to dinner)
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 09:23:04 PM
Wait, how did religion get into this? ???

We're on a totally different topic than I thought.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 09:27:24 PM
And, I disagree to some extent. The reason that I know when to leave with my friends and family is what I've said several times now. It's the flow of the evening. Sometimes that flow means I'm there late and sometimes it means that I leave earlier.  I've said this before, I can usually "feel" when it seems right to leave - be that at 8 o'clock or 1 o'clock.

My point has been this arbitrary "x number of hours" thing seems odd. I don't judge my dinners at someone's house by the number of hours I've spent there since I put my fork down. It's based on other things.

And I still kind of resent the "ditching out" comment if I end up leaving earlier than someone thought I should. That is attributing a rudeness that I more than likely wasn't portraying. And, if a host felt that way, I wouldn't be accepting any more invitations anyway - it's an attitude that I'd be hurt by as the guest. :(


Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Sharnita on November 14, 2012, 09:29:05 PM
Althogh, anybody rember saying people didn't need to worry about being judged when the invites gad nothing to do with religion? Apparently accepting but staying the wrong length of time could result in a lot of judgement from some people.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mindicherry on November 14, 2012, 09:32:54 PM
Wait, how did religion get into this? ???

We're on a totally different topic than I thought.
I didn't bring religion in to it.  Merely mentioned that I was unsure about the "tone" of the event for various reasons

Please don't put words in my mouth
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 09:35:21 PM
Mindicherry, I get the feeling you think I'm an eat and run person. I can assure you that I've been at homes well into the evening as well. I've stayed hours after suppers are over. I'm not saying that I always leave right after I eat. It depends on the situation and party I'm at.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 09:38:04 PM
You said something about religion, and I've heard that there may be a backstory regarding religion to this thread. I thought that's what you were referring to. I'm not putting words in your mouth - just thought you were referring to something that I'm now finding out could be related to the responses here.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mindicherry on November 14, 2012, 09:41:56 PM
Mindicherry, I get the feeling you think I'm an eat and run person. I can assure you that I've been at homes well into the evening as well. I've stayed hours after suppers are over. I'm not saying that I always leave right after I eat. It depends on the situation and party I'm at.
DottyG - I can honestly say that I have never thought about what you do specifically do if you were invited to my home.

What I HAVE said consistently is that I operate my life a certain way.  I surround myself with people who operate the same.  I am lucky that my family is all the same.

That being said - if a newcomer to my house for dinner got all up in arms about me not conforming to HER way of life/serving dinner, I would feel bad in the short-term, but then just not worry about them and not invite them back to my home for a dinner event. 

Neither way is wrong in how we choose to live our lives,  We just may not be compatible "come for dinner" friends.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: baglady on November 14, 2012, 09:45:48 PM
Wait, how did religion get into this? ???

We're on a totally different topic than I thought.

I think she means because they are of a different religion there will be some unfamiliar customs to deal with, along with the issue of what's considered an appropriate length of visit. That's all. The "other issue" could have been a plain old secular cultural difference, or a language barrier; it just happens to be a religious difference in Mindicherry's case.

In a situation like this, I'd ask the sister-in-law what the norm is in her family ... does the usual "company" lunch run two hours? Four? Longer? Explain that you're trying to plan for babysitting, and she's unlikely to take offense.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mindicherry on November 14, 2012, 09:45:54 PM
You said something about religion, and I've heard that there may be a backstory regarding religion to this thread. I thought that's what you were referring to. I'm not putting words in your mouth - just thought you were referring to something that I'm now finding out could be related to the responses here.
There is no backstory of religion to this thread.

The backstory of this thread is that the OP in another thread has to leave because dinner was just starting to be prepared when it was about 10 minutes from her childrens bedtime and she needed to leave
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Yvaine on November 14, 2012, 09:47:57 PM
The general understanding of phrases is something that I notice a lot between countries.  We have a very common turn of phrase here which is "Bring a plate".  Often this will be a large gathering, maybe a school or church function.  People new to Australia will sometimes show up with an empty plate.  But "bring a plate" in Australia means bring a plate of food to share.  Like "come for dinner", it's the way it has abbreviated over time in our society.

 ;D I'd probably have brought an empty plate too! I'd think the hosts didn't have enough dishes for the number of people coming over! But if you said "bring a dish," I'd interpret it as bring food. That's funny.
This thread is hilarious (and enlightening), because it would never occur to me that "Bring a Plate" means anything other than "bring a dish to share" ;)

You've got to keep in mind that I've been to way too many parties where one was supposed to bring things like chairs.  ;D But that's a whole 'nother thread's worth of discussion.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: KenveeB on November 14, 2012, 09:48:49 PM
Mindicherry, I get the feeling you think I'm an eat and run person. I can assure you that I've been at homes well into the evening as well. I've stayed hours after suppers are over. I'm not saying that I always leave right after I eat. It depends on the situation and party I'm at.
DottyG - I can honestly say that I have never thought about what you would specifically do if you were invited to my home.

What I HAVE said consistently is that I operate my life a certain way.  I surround myself with people who operate the same.  I am lucky that my family is all the same.

That being said - if a newcomer to my house for dinner got all up in arms about me not conforming to HER way of life/serving dinner, I would feel bad in the short-term, but then just not worry about them and not invite them back to my home for a dinner event. 

Neither way is wrong in how we choose to live our lives,  We just may not be compatible "come for dinner" friends.

Honestly, the only one I've seen "up in arms" is you. It is perfectly possible for someone to go to a dinner invitation, behave completely politely the entire time, and leave around 30 minutes after dinner. The only idea in this thread that someone is going to be all upset at dinner not being served early in the evening has come from you. I'm a "dinner=dinner" person. If I showed up at an invitation and we had lengthy appetizers followed by a later-than-I-expect meal, I wouldn't be "up in arms", and I'm annoyed at the implication that anyone who thinks "come for dinner" means "come for dinner" would behave like that. If I went to an evening that was an entire night instead of just dinner, I would think "they have a different idea of entertaining than I do", not "they're horrible people for acting like that!" I think the same courtesy should be extended on both sides.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Sharnita on November 14, 2012, 09:51:05 PM
Dotty there was another thread abou religious invites at work. I don't want to go into it too deeply but one of the topics covered was whether those invites were different from other invites. Several people felt that you might get judged over religious invites but things like movies or dinner were safe. I have known people to catch grief for eating veal or even meat at all but the idea that staying for the wrong amount of time will result in the level of judgement makes me think dinner is a high risk invite. If I leave too early will I by deemed a free loader? If I stay too late do they think I am a squatter?
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: kareng57 on November 14, 2012, 09:52:20 PM
actually, that's my point.

it's FAR more individual and "UK/USA."

I'll confess that one of my pet peeves is the assumption that something is "regional"or "national" because it's what *you* experienced.

There are plenty of Americans who think it would be rude to eat and run.

Several different posters have said that things appear to be done differently in their country. It has not just been one single person's opinion, so yes I think this is a regional or national difference. 

I'm in the UK, I would never go to someone's house just for a meal and leave shortly afterwards - I expect to be spending the better part of an afternoon or evening with them.  Why does it bother you so much when several people have said that that is how things are done in that part of the world?

But they haven't been to the other country. Or, people from that other country have directly contradicted them.

In fact, the only clear trend seems to be that MOST of us--no matter what country we're from--think you shouldn't "eat and run," and that SOME socializing *should* take place after the last bite.

We may not be able to codify that, and as Hmmmmm says, we may differ on how much it should be, and we may feel that different factors will influence it (small kids in the family; weeknight; suburb/urban; travel distances).

How do you know they haven't been to X country, Toots?  I grew up in Canada, live in the US and have been to the UK.   In Canada and the UK, it seems the norm is for a dinner to last all evening, not to sit down and eat and leave shortly after.  It is a social occasion in those countries.


But honestly, I don't think that this would be universal anywhere.

I'd never be offended/upset that anyone left shortly after coffee.  Perhaps they have a babysitter at home and have to get back to young kids (either because they want to minimise the time with the sitter, or don't want to have to pay for another couple of hours).  Or, they work shifts and have to be available at something like 11 or 12 midnight.  Even if it's a couple of hours prior, they might need to get home and take a short nap beforehand.

My late Dh worked shifts and we had friends who did also, so perhaps that's colouring my response.  Overall, I just don't think it's something to get very upset about (i.e. "they only came for the dinner").
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Deetee on November 14, 2012, 09:53:40 PM
You said something about religion, and I've heard that there may be a backstory regarding religion to this thread. I thought that's what you were referring to. I'm not putting words in your mouth - just thought you were referring to something that I'm now finding out could be related to the responses here.
There is no backstory of religion to this thread.

The backstory of this thread is that the OP in another thread has to leave because dinner was just starting to be prepared when it was about 10 minutes from her childrens bedtime and she needed to leave

This is more a spin off than related to that as backstory. I am fairly certain that every member of the thread that expects longish dinners would view the hostess there as rude. There is no requirement to adjust an invite to accomadate a guest's schedule, but once you say you will, the onus is on the hosts to follow up on the promise.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 09:53:56 PM
Ah. Thanks Sharnita. :)

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mindicherry on November 14, 2012, 09:56:33 PM
The general understanding of phrases is something that I notice a lot between countries.  We have a very common turn of phrase here which is "Bring a plate".  Often this will be a large gathering, maybe a school or church function.  People new to Australia will sometimes show up with an empty plate.  But "bring a plate" in Australia means bring a plate of food to share.  Like "come for dinner", it's the way it has abbreviated over time in our society.

 ;D I'd probably have brought an empty plate too! I'd think the hosts didn't have enough dishes for the number of people coming over! But if you said "bring a dish," I'd interpret it as bring food. That's funny.
This thread is hilarious (and enlightening), because it would never occur to me that "Bring a Plate" means anything other than "bring a dish to share" ;)

You've got to keep in mind that I've been to way too many parties where one was supposed to bring things like chairs.  ;D But that's a whole 'nother thread's worth of discussion.
Oh please - if we are going to get in to college parties, this could get INTERESTING  >:D
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mindicherry on November 14, 2012, 09:59:54 PM
Dotty there was another thread abou religious invites at work. I don't want to go into it too deeply but one of the topics covered was whether those invites were different from other invites. Several people felt that you might get judged over religious invites but things like movies or dinner were safe. I have known people to catch grief for eating veal or even meat at all but the idea that staying for the wrong amount of time will result in the level of judgement makes me think dinner is a high risk invite. If I leave too early will I by deemed a free loader? If I stay too late do they think I am a squatter?
I missed that thread, but I have to say - it makes me glad that I work at home for myself!
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mindicherry on November 14, 2012, 10:34:57 PM
Mindicherry, I get the feeling you think I'm an eat and run person. I can assure you that I've been at homes well into the evening as well. I've stayed hours after suppers are over. I'm not saying that I always leave right after I eat. It depends on the situation and party I'm at.
DottyG - I can honestly say that I have never thought about what you would specifically do if you were invited to my home.

What I HAVE said consistently is that I operate my life a certain way.  I surround myself with people who operate the same.  I am lucky that my family is all the same.

That being said - if a newcomer to my house for dinner got all up in arms about me not conforming to HER way of life/serving dinner, I would feel bad in the short-term, but then just not worry about them and not invite them back to my home for a dinner event. 

Neither way is wrong in how we choose to live our lives,  We just may not be compatible "come for dinner" friends.

Honestly, the only one I've seen "up in arms" is you. It is perfectly possible for someone to go to a dinner invitation, behave completely politely the entire time, and leave around 30 minutes after dinner. The only idea in this thread that someone is going to be all upset at dinner not being served early in the evening has come from you. I'm a "dinner=dinner" person. If I showed up at an invitation and we had lengthy appetizers followed by a later-than-I-expect meal, I wouldn't be "up in arms", and I'm annoyed at the implication that anyone who thinks "come for dinner" means "come for dinner" would behave like that. If I went to an evening that was an entire night instead of just dinner, I would think "they have a different idea of entertaining than I do", not "they're horrible people for acting like that!" I think the same courtesy should be extended on both sides.
I'm not "up in arms".  Life is too short for that.

12 pages of posts with people agreeing with my point of view (ok - let's say only 5-6 pages of those posts) and you are going to say "The only idea in this thread that someone is going to be all upset at dinner not being served early in the evening has come from you"?  Seriously?

I have NEVER said that people with a different viewpoint of "come to dinner" are horrible people.  I have friends who are like that.  I just don't invite them to my dinner parties because BOTH of us would be stressed (me trying to conform to their schedule while still being ME and them trying to ask when dinner would be served without beating me to death with a pepperoni stick or canape). They are my "restaurant friends".  They want to have dinner together?  Fine?  We pick a tine, we go out, the dinner ends and we all go home. 

But when I host dinner in my home, I go "all-out" (at a considerable expense, by my choice).  I don't spend the time, energy and money so that my friends can treat me like an Applebee's where they have to turn the table in 90 minutes!

It's just a DIFFERENT WAY OF LIVING YOUR LIFE, and neither one is wrong.  it just may mean you aren't compatible or invited with my "come to dinner friends"
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 10:42:24 PM
We get it! No need to yell!

You still didn't address the "ditching out" phrasing, by the way.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: KenveeB on November 14, 2012, 10:43:44 PM
12 pages of posts with people agreeing with my point of view (ok - let's say only 5-6 pages of those posts) and you are going to say "The only idea in this thread that someone is going to be all upset at dinner not being served early in the evening has come from you"?  Seriously?

Many people have agreed with the idea that dinner=evening and that "eating and running" is bad. (Actually, I think everyone has agreed on the latter. It's just a question of how long do you have to stay for it to not be eating and running.) You are the only one I've seen who has talked about people getting "up in arms" about your not serving dinner early or how they're upset at you for "not conforming to HER way of life/serving dinner." Everyone else seems to get the concept that you can just have different ways of eating dinner. Someone having a different way of eating dinner or visiting isn't remotely the same thing as them being up in arms or mad at you for not conforming. That's the attitude I find mind-boggling. You have no problem assigning bad motives to others by saying they're "ditching" you or trying to make you conform to their way of life. That's not just saying "I don't want to have dinner with you," that's saying "You're rude because you don't subscribe to my same beliefs about how things should be done."

Invite whomever you want to invite for dinner and host dinner however you like. But stop ascribing rude motives to people who do it differently.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mindicherry on November 14, 2012, 10:51:58 PM
We get it! No need to yell!

You still didn't address the "ditching out" phrasing, by the way.
Seriously DottyG - are you just trying to be disagreeable?

I get that I may be the "new kid on the block", but was this really necessary?

(and yes - I do consider leaving within 30 minutes of the end of the meal "ditching out", barring any pre-agreed-upon arrangements)
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 10:53:48 PM
No, I'm not trying to be disagreeable. In this forum, it is considered to be yelling when you use all caps. I think that may be in the actual rules. I'll check.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mindicherry on November 14, 2012, 10:56:41 PM
No, I'm not trying to be disagreeable. In this forum, it is considered to be yelling when you use all caps. I think that may be in the actual rules. I'll check.
All caps can also be used for emphasis.  had my entire post been in all caps, you may have had a point
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 11:02:04 PM
Yes. It can be emphasis. But, the usual thought here at EHell is to bold or italicize for emphasis, unless it's a "difficult to do because of using the phone to type messages thing". Which is something I hadn't considered. If you're in that situation, I apologize. That was wrong of me to make an assumption there.



Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Rohanna on November 14, 2012, 11:03:04 PM
A host is in charge of setting the "tone" of the party through the invitation. If you do not communicate to your guests the "type" of dinner you expect to have, then you can hardly get annoyed if your guests don't know what you expect either.

If you are putting a lot of effort and money into something, then it's incumbant upon you to discretely word the invite (even a verbal one) so that people know it's an "event" meal and not just a casual night over. Perhaps something like "I have this fantastic recipe for skewered LaDeeDah, and a great red wine I've been dying to open- [when] would you be free to come over for dinner and cards/a nice catch-up/movie".  If I *don't* tell you that "Well, I'd love to come over but jr has to be home by 9, so I wouldn't be able to stay all that late" I'd be rude.  By letting you know this, you can either tell me that's fine or plan something different/do it another time. This is what I do all the time- I consider it being thoughtful of my guests schedules while making sure I don't end up disappointed in my plans. Now, someone that knows you well will know how you do dinner, so you don't usually  need to spell it out anymore.
 
If I get invited to dinner and you don't know me well enough for me to *know* how you do dinner, you'd better tell me what you had in mind before I come over if you are going to get offended or put out if I don't do it. Especially if what you expect is such a large commitment of my day- I've been to weddings that haven't lasted as long as some people expect every dinner guest to stay for.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 14, 2012, 11:24:41 PM
Mindi, I sent you a PM, but I wanted to do this here. I have come across as unnecessarily snarky to you. And I wanted to say that I'm sorry for that.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: kareng57 on November 14, 2012, 11:27:45 PM
We get it! No need to yell!

You still didn't address the "ditching out" phrasing, by the way.
Seriously DottyG - are you just trying to be disagreeable?

I get that I may be the "new kid on the block", but was this really necessary?

(and yes - I do consider leaving within 30 minutes of the end of the meal "ditching out", barring any pre-agreed-upon arrangements)


It's actually pretty universal as an etiquette-rule on the Web - not just here.  Blocked-capitals = shouting.

Emphasis is better done by something such as using italics.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: stargazer on November 14, 2012, 11:29:33 PM
We get it! No need to yell!

You still didn't address the "ditching out" phrasing, by the way.
Seriously DottyG - are you just trying to be disagreeable?

I get that I may be the "new kid on the block", but was this really necessary?

(and yes - I do consider leaving within 30 minutes of the end of the meal "ditching out", barring any pre-agreed-upon arrangements)

Can you address my post where the person comes at 5pm, you eat at 7pm-8pm, and they leave at 8:30pm.  They have been there 3.5 hours.  Are they still "ditching out"?  They are clearly not there just for the "free food" as you have socialized that entire time. 
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mindicherry on November 14, 2012, 11:43:42 PM
We get it! No need to yell!

You still didn't address the "ditching out" phrasing, by the way.
Seriously DottyG - are you just trying to be disagreeable?

I get that I may be the "new kid on the block", but was this really necessary?

(and yes - I do consider leaving within 30 minutes of the end of the meal "ditching out", barring any pre-agreed-upon arrangements)

Can you address my post where the person comes at 5pm, you eat at 7pm-8pm, and they leave at 8:30pm.  They have been there 3.5 hours.  Are they still "ditching out"?  They are clearly not there just for the "free food" as you have socialized that entire time.
COMPLETELY Legit complaint! (oh - wait - was that too many all caps ;-) ? )

But I think this goes back to "know your audience".

The first time it happens? ok - come and post on eHell about it!

But if it is the 3rd, 4th, 5th time that you have been "subjected" to these kinds of invites or guests, you forfeit your right to complain.

Who cares if they are your best friend from college/Dh's friend/Playgroup friend?  If they cause you this much stress, just STOP extending/accepting invites! Assuming they are grown-uos - why do you think you going to change them?

Either confront the issue with the offending person, or stop inviting them/accepting invites.

It's really that simple!

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: MariaE on November 14, 2012, 11:52:18 PM
But when I host dinner in my home, I go "all-out" (at a considerable expense, by my choice).  I don't spend the time, energy and money so that my friends can treat me like an Applebee's where they have to turn the table in 90 minutes!

It's just a DIFFERENT WAY OF LIVING YOUR LIFE, and neither one is wrong.  it just may mean you aren't compatible or invited with my "come to dinner friends"

Actually, I think it is wrong to assume people are "treating you like an Applebee", when they might think they are being polite to leave early.

That your expectations are incompatible is perfectly reasonable, but after 13 pages of some people saying "this is polite/the norm where I am" it surprises me that you would still see it as "I'm only here for the food" rather than cultural differences.

I don't understand your reply to stargazer at all (post above mine). Did you mean to quote a different post?
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: kareng57 on November 14, 2012, 11:53:08 PM
We get it! No need to yell!

You still didn't address the "ditching out" phrasing, by the way.
Seriously DottyG - are you just trying to be disagreeable?

I get that I may be the "new kid on the block", but was this really necessary?

(and yes - I do consider leaving within 30 minutes of the end of the meal "ditching out", barring any pre-agreed-upon arrangements)

Can you address my post where the person comes at 5pm, you eat at 7pm-8pm, and they leave at 8:30pm.  They have been there 3.5 hours.  Are they still "ditching out"?  They are clearly not there just for the "free food" as you have socialized that entire time.
COMPLETELY Legit complaint! (oh - wait - was that too many all caps ;-) ? )

But I think this goes back to "know your audience".

The first time it happens? ok - come and post on eHell about it!

But if it is the 3rd, 4th, 5th time that you have been "subjected" to these kinds of invites or guests, you forfeit your right to complain.

Who cares if they are your best friend from college/Dh's friend/Playgroup friend?  If they cause you this much stress, just STOP extending/accepting invites! Assuming they are grown-uos - why do you think you going to change them?

Either confront the issue with the offending person, or stop inviting them/accepting invites.

It's really that simple!



I'm truly puzzled.  I figure that it's completely okay for someone for someone who has been invited for a 3 hour dinner to leave shortly after that time.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mindicherry on November 14, 2012, 11:55:11 PM
We get it! No need to yell!

You still didn't address the "ditching out" phrasing, by the way.
Seriously DottyG - are you just trying to be disagreeable?

I get that I may be the "new kid on the block", but was this really necessary?

(and yes - I do consider leaving within 30 minutes of the end of the meal "ditching out", barring any pre-agreed-upon arrangements)

Can you address my post where the person comes at 5pm, you eat at 7pm-8pm, and they leave at 8:30pm.  They have been there 3.5 hours.  Are they still "ditching out"?  They are clearly not there just for the "free food" as you have socialized that entire time.
COMPLETELY Legit complaint! (oh - wait - was that too many all caps ;-) ? )

But I think this goes back to "know your audience".

The first time it happens? ok - come and post on eHell about it!

But if it is the 3rd, 4th, 5th time that you have been "subjected" to these kinds of invites or guests, you forfeit your right to complain.

Who cares if they are your best friend from college/Dh's friend/Playgroup friend?  If they cause you this much stress, just STOP extending/accepting invites! Assuming they are grown-uos - why do you think you going to change them?

Either confront the issue with the offending person, or stop inviting them/accepting invites.

It's really that simple!
ETA: and I say this because if there was anyone that I offended THAT MUCH that they would come on eHell to complain about me, I hope they would know that they have the option of just not associating with me.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: MariaE on November 14, 2012, 11:58:55 PM
We get it! No need to yell!

You still didn't address the "ditching out" phrasing, by the way.
Seriously DottyG - are you just trying to be disagreeable?

I get that I may be the "new kid on the block", but was this really necessary?

(and yes - I do consider leaving within 30 minutes of the end of the meal "ditching out", barring any pre-agreed-upon arrangements)

Can you address my post where the person comes at 5pm, you eat at 7pm-8pm, and they leave at 8:30pm.  They have been there 3.5 hours.  Are they still "ditching out"?  They are clearly not there just for the "free food" as you have socialized that entire time.
COMPLETELY Legit complaint! (oh - wait - was that too many all caps ;-) ? )

But I think this goes back to "know your audience".

The first time it happens? ok - come and post on eHell about it!

But if it is the 3rd, 4th, 5th time that you have been "subjected" to these kinds of invites or guests, you forfeit your right to complain.

Who cares if they are your best friend from college/Dh's friend/Playgroup friend?  If they cause you this much stress, just STOP extending/accepting invites! Assuming they are grown-uos - why do you think you going to change them?

Either confront the issue with the offending person, or stop inviting them/accepting invites.

It's really that simple!
ETA: and I say this because if there was anyone that I offended THAT MUCH that they would come on eHell to complain about me, I hope they would know that they have the option of just not associating with me.

Offended by what? How is any of this a reply to what stargazer wrote?
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Moray on November 15, 2012, 12:05:32 AM
I'm a little confused at all the hand-wringing. I've honestly never had friends over for dinner where there wasn't a natural conclusion to the evening. Sometimes evenings that I'd initially planned on us all playing board games over a bottle (or three) of wine ended prematurely due to tiredness or whathaveyou. I've also had evenings that we'd initially planned as a quick supper turn into all-night gab fests. If I've planned a specific after-dinner activity, I will let my guests know, but other than that, I just play it by ear.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mindicherry on November 15, 2012, 12:07:29 AM
We get it! No need to yell!

You still didn't address the "ditching out" phrasing, by the way.
Seriously DottyG - are you just trying to be disagreeable?

I get that I may be the "new kid on the block", but was this really necessary?

(and yes - I do consider leaving within 30 minutes of the end of the meal "ditching out", barring any pre-agreed-upon arrangements)

Can you address my post where the person comes at 5pm, you eat at 7pm-8pm, and they leave at 8:30pm.  They have been there 3.5 hours.  Are they still "ditching out"?  They are clearly not there just for the "free food" as you have socialized that entire time.

Well - first - I would not invite anyone at 5 with the intention of not really feeding them (without MASSIVE appetizers) until 7:30pm, unless is was a Super Bowl Party.  You can't keep moving the invite time earlier and expect the same argument to "stick"
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 15, 2012, 12:10:43 AM
I'm a little confused at all the hand-wringing. I've honestly never had friends over for dinner where there wasn't a natural conclusion to the evening. Sometimes evenings that I'd initially planned on us all playing board games over a bottle (or three) of wine ended prematurely due to tiredness or whathaveyou. I've also had evenings that we'd initially planned as a quick supper turn into all-night gab fests. If I've planned a specific after-dinner activity, I will let my guests know, but other than that, I just play it by ear.

Exactly! The "flow" that I've been talking about! I agree with you, Moray.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: stargazer on November 15, 2012, 12:18:51 AM
We get it! No need to yell!

You still didn't address the "ditching out" phrasing, by the way.
Seriously DottyG - are you just trying to be disagreeable?

I get that I may be the "new kid on the block", but was this really necessary?

(and yes - I do consider leaving within 30 minutes of the end of the meal "ditching out", barring any pre-agreed-upon arrangements)

Can you address my post where the person comes at 5pm, you eat at 7pm-8pm, and they leave at 8:30pm.  They have been there 3.5 hours.  Are they still "ditching out"?  They are clearly not there just for the "free food" as you have socialized that entire time.
COMPLETELY Legit complaint! (oh - wait - was that too many all caps ;-) ? )

But I think this goes back to "know your audience".

The first time it happens? ok - come and post on eHell about it!

But if it is the 3rd, 4th, 5th time that you have been "subjected" to these kinds of invites or guests, you forfeit your right to complain.

Who cares if they are your best friend from college/Dh's friend/Playgroup friend?  If they cause you this much stress, just STOP extending/accepting invites! Assuming they are grown-uos - why do you think you going to change them?

Either confront the issue with the offending person, or stop inviting them/accepting invites.

It's really that simple!
ETA: and I say this because if there was anyone that I offended THAT MUCH that they would come on eHell to complain about me, I hope they would know that they have the option of just not associating with me.

Offended by what? How is any of this a reply to what stargazer wrote?

Thank you - I was totally baffled by the response as well.  Let me simplify.  People are focusing on the time after dinner.  I'm asking why the time before doesn't seem to count when they could be there 3-4 hours but only 30 min after dinner.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: cass2591 on November 15, 2012, 12:58:42 AM
Mindicherry, I suggest you dial it back a bit. You're coming across as aggressive and argumentative and neither is welcomed. As for the all caps, we discourage it but we can't be everywhere all the time. I've given in to the occasional EMPHASIS although I don't like it, but I will not accept I'M EMPHASIZING THIS SENTENCE.

So don't do it.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: Moray on November 15, 2012, 01:41:08 AM
I'm a little confused at all the hand-wringing. I've honestly never had friends over for dinner where there wasn't a natural conclusion to the evening. Sometimes evenings that I'd initially planned on us all playing board games over a bottle (or three) of wine ended prematurely due to tiredness or whathaveyou. I've also had evenings that we'd initially planned as a quick supper turn into all-night gab fests. If I've planned a specific after-dinner activity, I will let my guests know, but other than that, I just play it by ear.

Exactly! The "flow" that I've been talking about! I agree with you, Moray.

I'm confused; you said earlier that you were confused by the "games" people were playing. What I'm saying is that assuming people are playing "games" just because they may mean different things by "come over for dinner" is silly. Full stop.
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 15, 2012, 01:51:33 AM
I don't think people should play games. I think there is a natural flow (maybe im not using the right word to convey my meaning the way i intend? That might be) to an evening. As such, playing games (and I'm using that word only because you just did - not as a repeat of my earlier error) isn't necessary. Both of my statements are true.

It also goes to show that what I said earlier about how many of us are actually agreeing with each other without realizing it is true.  Many of us are, I think, more in agreement that we think - we're just approaching it from a different angle.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: mindicherry on November 15, 2012, 01:54:50 AM
Mindicherry, I suggest you dial it back a bit. You're coming across as aggressive and argumentative and neither is welcomed. As for the all caps, we discourage it but we can't be everywhere all the time. I've given in to the occasional EMPHASIS although I don't like it, but I will not accept I'M EMPHASIZING THIS SENTENCE.

So don't do it.
Are you serious? 

if I was going to be "flagged" at all, I would have thought it would have been for me and DottyG back & forth - and we are now fine.

Please explain me to me how I am being aggessive and argumentative.  In most of my posts, I have said that people who don't agree with me when it comes to hosting a dinner party (for lack of a better word) are FINE.  I am not demonizing them - just saying that they wouldn't be part of my social circle because that is "not how I roll"

As for the all caps issue - I looked back and I have about a 15% rate of all caps in my posts (used only for emphasis, not obnoxiousness). Are you telling me that is excessive?
Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: DottyG on November 15, 2012, 02:06:00 AM
Moray, I went back through my posts to see what I said. I don't want to sound like I'm being confusing! So I wanted to make sure. I think I'm not, but I might be after all!

But I'm seeing your post above as basically the same as my

Quote
I agree with this.  I said this in another post, but evenings just have a "flow" about them.  There does seem to be a natural "end" to them a lot of times.  It's not an X number of hours after eating thing; it's just a feeling that things are at an end and people go home.  The difference in that might just be in what the hosts of another culture (again, defining "culture" in many ways - familial, locational, etc) feel the flow is.

I'm saying it shouldn't be stressful, either. There are times when a dinner ends sooner and times when it ends later. There's no stress about it - people just kind of know based on the evening and what's taking place.

Title: Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
Post by: cass2591 on November 15, 2012, 02:14:10 AM
Mindicherry if you don't understand how combative your posts have been I can't help you. Figure it out.

As for the caps, all I was doing was clarifying.

Yes I'm serious. And this thread is locked.