The invitation says the event starts at 8 PM, but we get that sometimes you want to show up fashionably late. So when is it okay not to be punctual? The short answer: It depends.
Dinner parties, children’s birthdays or showers
You should generally plan on arriving within 15 minutes of the start time. It's a huge help to your hosts if you're on time if they have a schedule of events and activities, and you don’t want to leave your host wondering where you are. If you are running late, send the host a quick text so they know.
Cocktail parties, New Year’s Eve blowouts or other large parties
Your arrival is more flexible in this case, but we recommend planning to stay for at least an hour so you can be present, meet new people and hang out.
Weddings, graduations and funerals
Always be on time and if possible, 15 minutes early. These events tend to start promptly and also have set schedules, so being punctual is always a yes.
The above are general rules of thumb. If your host is laidback and the celebration is a come-by-whenever kind of event, then you don't have to worry about showing up by a certain time. In general, we recommend always communicating with your host to make their lives easier. If you know in advance that you will be unavoidably late to a party, give them a head's up.
There is also such a thing as being too early. Arriving more than 15 minutes early (unless you're helping set up) can put pressure on your host, who might still be getting ready and will have to split their prep time with making sure you're comfortable.