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The How-To Lounge: Handling Guests Who Arrive Early

We all like to arrive fashionably late from time to time, but having guests who arrive unfashionably early can be a real inconvenience. If you often host parties or have friends over for dinner, however, you're bound to encounter some early arrivals.

The worst is when you haven't finished getting your house in order or you're still trying on clothes or fixing your hair. It can make you feel very frantic, but it's important to be a polite hostess and not let your guests know they are inconveniencing you. So whether you're putting the finishing touches on a meal or your makeup, I have some tips to help you deal gracefully. For my advice,


  • If you're not quite ready, gracefully acknowledge it, but don't make your guests feel self-conscious about arriving early. Try saying something like: "Oh, I'm so glad you guys are here. I'm just running a bit behind."
  • Ask them to please excuse you so that you can do a few more things to get ready. If you have tasks to finish in the kitchen, invite them keep you company while you finish up.
  • Meanwhile, give them a task so they're not just sitting there awkwardly. If your guests have brought a bottle of wine, invite them to open it, or if they have flowers, suggest they put them in water.
  • Or, if you need to finish getting yourself ready, offer them a drink and invite them to sit down while you finish up.
  • Try to relax. Remember, these are your friends, so you shouldn't stress too much. Feeling harried could put a damper on your enjoyment.

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motherof3 motherof3 8 years
We tell different people different times. My father in law is always early. He'll show up at 4:00 for a 6:00 party. So we tell him the party is at 8:00. My sister is always late so I tell her the party is at 5:00.
k8-rckstr k8-rckstr 8 years
If my friends came over early and I wasnt ready, I would tell them they're early and I'm not ready... I'm not going to lie and say I'M running behind when I'm not...they're my friends, they'll laugh and I'll laugh and I'll continue about my business and put them to work...thats how we roll :D
sparklestar sparklestar 8 years
I'm always ready in advance.. it's no big deal.
demeter demeter 8 years
I am always ready way ahead of time anyway because I'm like that so I handle early guests like they're a savior haha
chakra_healer chakra_healer 8 years
I may be a sucky friend or relative, but I assume if they're that early they must want something to do, hahaha! I always have some finishing touches to do, nothing serious, talking fluffing pillows. We also sometimes hit the jacuzzi with some drinks before bbqs, if they're a good while early,
lolabella lolabella 8 years
i had a friend who did this ... a lot. i used to send her to the store with a $20 bill and a list of things i *might* run out of! after 3x, she stopped showing up early (and yes, i told her repeatedly not to come so early before i sent her on the errands).
kiddylnd kiddylnd 8 years
Just a follow up - I also tend to stay late and clean at my friends house. I can't remember when it started. A few parties ago at least. I started to feel badly that the party was going into the wee hours and the place was sort of a mess from everyone just laying cups and plates everywhere. So I tidy, put away food that hasn't already been out too long, load the dishwasher, and make sure that the place is in tip top shape so they can sleep the next day away and not worry about the mess. :)
PJ-PJ-PJ PJ-PJ-PJ 8 years
I don't invite people to my house that would not feel comfortable hanging out, if they did get there early. My home is only for people that I'm familiar with. My friends & family know that if they arrive early, I'll put them to work, if needed, & none of them mind it. Otherwise, they can just keep me company while we wait for everyone else.
Marci Marci 8 years
I don't like to be the early guest because I know that when I'm the host, I'm always doing things up until the last second. So if I find myself on the early side, I just kill time somewhere.
onesong onesong 8 years
i usually make sure i am ready at least an hour before the party is supposed to begin...i usually leave my outfit off until 15 minutes before (i'm clumsy) but yeah. i used to arrive places punctually, and i can't tell you how many hosts/hostesses i caught unprepared, even arriving at the specified time! thus, i now make sure i am always ready for the first guest (unless they're 3 hours ahead of schedule) because i know how awkward it is to sit around with no one else there and your host/ess unable entertain you...and i arrive to all dinner parties 15 minutes late. lol. pet peeve i guess!
DeviousMuse DeviousMuse 8 years
I'm the person that tries to time everything down to the second. Living in Atlanta, though, traffic doesn't always comply - so I can end up somewhere anytime from 15 minutes early to an hour late! Thank goodness that my friends usually give a time frame to show up, knowing that all of our schedules are insane.
DeviousMuse DeviousMuse 8 years
I'm the person that tries to time everything down to the second. Living in Atlanta, though, traffic doesn't always comply - so I can end up somewhere anytime from 15 minutes early to an hour late!Thank goodness that my friends usually give a time frame to show up, knowing that all of our schedules are insane.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
If I want the party to begin at say 8 pm, i tell everyone to come at 9, therefore if there are early birds i am all set at 8. problem solved.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
If I want the party to begin at say 8 pm, i tell everyone to come at 9, therefore if there are early birds i am all set at 8. problem solved.
leilanidream leilanidream 8 years
great tips and these are things i have done when i have early arrivals...
AujahAcorn AujahAcorn 8 years
mbrown81 i agree.
AujahAcorn AujahAcorn 8 years
mbrown81 i agree.
mbrown81 mbrown81 8 years
My husband and I are so relaxed that I think if someone showed up way early I would just get them a drink and make them chat with me while I finished up.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 8 years
Hahah Greggie oh god, so true!I hate when people are early, and late too, I always try to be on time but my boyfriend is always running a bit behind scheduel makeing me late too!!!
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 8 years
Hahah Greggie oh god, so true! I hate when people are early, and late too, I always try to be on time but my boyfriend is always running a bit behind scheduel makeing me late too!!!
Greggie Greggie 8 years
"We all like to arrive fashionably late from time to time..." No. No "we" really all don't. *lol* Being late or being early is rude, I don't go for that. My solution? Never invite people over.
Greggie Greggie 8 years
"We all like to arrive fashionably late from time to time..."No. No "we" really all don't. *lol* Being late or being early is rude, I don't go for that.My solution? Never invite people over.
kiddylnd kiddylnd 8 years
I am chronically early to EVERYTHING. Luckily for me, my only friends that hold regular parties or gatherings are really close and I know how to make my self useful. For the last party they had I got there at 1:45 for a 7:00 event! This allowed one the time to clean house and not be in the kitchen (which she hates anyhow) and the other to shower, dress, and run to the store for last minute items while I did the hors de overs and cakes and set-up! :) If I wasn't as close with someone like that though, I'd show up right at 7 on the button. :wink:
kiddylnd kiddylnd 8 years
I am chronically early to EVERYTHING. Luckily for me, my only friends that hold regular parties or gatherings are really close and I know how to make my self useful. For the last party they had I got there at 1:45 for a 7:00 event! This allowed one the time to clean house and not be in the kitchen (which she hates anyhow) and the other to shower, dress, and run to the store for last minute items while I did the hors de overs and cakes and set-up! :)If I wasn't as close with someone like that though, I'd show up right at 7 on the button. :wink:
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