This depends entirely on the type of event. For adult birthday parties and nighttime events, four hours is usually appropriate. Formal affairs such as weddings, bat and bar mitzvahs, and sweet sixteens tend to last at least four hours but can go much longer. Cocktail parties should last around two hours when they precede another event, such as a concert, so as to not make the overall evening too long. Parties for young kids should also be kept to two hours, due to the limited attention span of young ones. Still not sure how long your event should last? Take your cue from similar events you’ve attended, as etiquette can vary by region.
Including an end time on your invitation can be helpful for you and your guests, particularly if you have to vacate a venue by a particular time or if your neighborhood has a noise curfew.