Author Topic: When to have dinner ready  (Read 1961 times)

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aline

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When to have dinner ready
« on: March 02, 2007, 05:36:55 PM »
I've been thinking about this lately and wanted to run it by all of you to see what you think. I enjoy throwing smallish (4-6 people) dinner parties and try to make it a pleasant experience for everyone.

It seems that there are usually one or two people running a bit behind (15 -20 minutes - not a big deal), so it doesn't make sense to have everything ready to eat right at the scheduled start time, but I don't want anyone to have to wait too long either.

So my question is, if everyone is set to arrive at say 6 p.m. expecting dinner, how long after 6 should I plan on having all of the food ready without being too early, or causing anyone to be hungry and miserable?

I've been aiming for 20-30 minutes past 6, but that seems to be a bit early (everyone is still trying to get in, get something to drink, say hello, etc.), and the food's gotten cold the last couple of times.

Thanks in advance for your ideas!

Chocolate Cake

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Re: When to have dinner ready
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2007, 05:56:32 PM »
Have appetizers/drinks available at 6:00 and dinner ready no later than 6:30- 6:35.  If the latecomers don't have enough of a chance to socialize first or aren't there by 6:30, too bad for them.   Maybe next time, they'll make a point of arriving on time.

Shoo

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Re: When to have dinner ready
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2007, 06:32:25 PM »
I usually plan dinner to be served 30 to 45 minutes after the guests arrive.  That gives us time to chat and have appetizers and drinks.  It also makes things more relaxed and less rushed.

Jaywalker

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Re: When to have dinner ready
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2007, 03:19:00 AM »
is this a worknight thing or a weekend dinner party?  6 seems very early for a dinner party

obviously timing is somewhat contingent on the culture -- but I would find it very rushed if people sat down to dinner at 6:30 when invited for 6 for dinner (unless is were a casual functional working night dinner and not a social occasion)

we normally serve about an hour after guests are asked to arrive -- we have champagne or other drinks, cheeses, grapes etc and people talk in the living room -- we normally head for the table about an hour after arrival time

I have almost never been to a dinner party where the meal begins in less than an hour after arrival time -- the cocktail time is part of the event --

Summrs

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Re: When to have dinner ready
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2007, 04:35:33 AM »
What Jay said.  When I invite people for 6, it's usually understood that there will be drinks and appetizers (so no one starves), and dinner will be about 7.  That leaves enough time for stragglers.  If someone hasn't arrived by 7, we go ahead with dinner.

FoxPaws

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Re: When to have dinner ready
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2007, 05:17:34 AM »
Agree with the one hour time frame, but not waiting past that. Less than an hour would feel rushed to me - I like my drinks and nibbles! 8)
I am so a lady. And if you say I'm not, I'll slug you. - Cindy Brady

mindibrad

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Re: When to have dinner ready
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2007, 07:46:50 AM »
One thing I would like to mention....and this might not apply to you....

But - if children are going to be part of the evening, please give your guests advance warning if dinner won't be served within 20 minutes...or, have kid-friendly nibbles available.

I say this because my mom's BF's daughter is a complete PITA about this whenever they invite her family over for a meal.  If, for example they tell her to come at noon for brunch, she gets quite put out if brunch isn't on the table by 12:05 because "her kids are on an eating schedule" (there is no medical reason for this....her family just eats PROMPTLY at 7:30am, 12:00pm and 5:45pm...and woe to anyone who disrupts their schedule!). 

Despite the fact that BF's daughter is an over-rigid nutjob, my Mom started making sure that there were little pb&j sandwiches, cheese cubes and grapes available the minute they walk in the door.  That way, the kids COULD eat a lunch if waiting 45 minutes to eat was going to cause them to freak out.

And before anyone says that my mom should just make sure that brunch is ready by 12:05 when BF's daughter comes over....that's not going to happen.  Mom does things on her schedule and always serves within an hour (with plenty of nibbles available).  Anyone who comes to her house more than once knows that the food won't be on the table upon arrival.  Mom and her BF have been together more than 12 years, so there is no question that BF's daughter knows that this is how it is "done" in my Mom's house

oogyda

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Re: When to have dinner ready
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2007, 09:44:02 AM »

And before anyone says that my mom should just make sure that brunch is ready by 12:05 when BF's daughter comes over....that's not going to happen.  Mom does things on her schedule and always serves within an hour (with plenty of nibbles available).  Anyone who comes to her house more than once knows that the food won't be on the table upon arrival.  Mom and her BF have been together more than 12 years, so there is no question that BF's daughter knows that this is how it is "done" in my Mom's house

I'm not sure why anyone would say your mom should do anything to change her plans.  She is the hostess, she's not doing anything rude or obnoxious.  It's BF's daughter that is.  It seems like she has an overinflated sense of entitlement.
It's not what we gather along the way that matters.  It's what we scatter.

FoxPaws

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Re: When to have dinner ready
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2007, 11:18:35 AM »
I say this because my mom's BF's daughter is a complete PITA about this whenever they invite her family over for a meal.  If, for example they tell her to come at noon for brunch, she gets quite put out if brunch isn't on the table by 12:05 because "her kids are on an eating schedule" (there is no medical reason for this....her family just eats PROMPTLY at 7:30am, 12:00pm and 5:45pm...and woe to anyone who disrupts their schedule!).

Expecting dinner to be on the table literally minutes after she arrives sounds like her only interest is a free meal - not fellowship with the family or other guests. PITA pretty much sums it up. :-\
I am so a lady. And if you say I'm not, I'll slug you. - Cindy Brady

aline

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Re: When to have dinner ready
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2007, 08:47:55 AM »
is this a worknight thing or a weekend dinner party?  6 seems very early for a dinner party

obviously timing is somewhat contingent on the culture -- but I would find it very rushed if people sat down to dinner at 6:30 when invited for 6 for dinner (unless is were a casual functional working night dinner and not a social occasion)

we normally serve about an hour after guests are asked to arrive -- we have champagne or other drinks, cheeses, grapes etc and people talk in the living room -- we normally head for the table about an hour after arrival time

I have almost never been to a dinner party where the meal begins in less than an hour after arrival time -- the cocktail time is part of the event --

Generally just weekends - the 6 o'clock part was really just meant as a sample time and not indicative of exactly when I might start every time. Sort of depends on the event and the guests who are coming. And yes, the drinks and appetizers are a must.

Thanks to everyone who responded with advice - it sounds like an hour is just about the right amount of time.