What Time Should Your Party Be? Picking a Start Time

I’ve hosted hundreds of parties with a variety of start times. There’s one thing I know for sure: you must include both a start and an end time.

In this article, I’ll tell you why a 2-hour party length is the best for most situations. And I’ll discuss what the best time to start your party is.

What party time works best?

Start your party at 7:00 p.m. and end at 9:00 p.m.

An event that starts at 7:00 p.m. gives people time to finish their workday and come straight to your party or eat dinner before arriving. 

They also go home early, so you can do it on a weekday without feeling guilty.

Other party times

While 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. works best for me, I know a few hosts who throw parties from 8:00 to 10:00 or even 6:30 to 8:30.

After your first party, you can experiment to find the time block that works best for you and your community.

If you want to have a bit of fun with the start and end time, you can pick a random minute around 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.

Sol Orwell: How he does it

Sol Orwell, the co-founder of the scientific research database Examine.com, started hosting parties because he wanted to commiserate with his fellow entrepreneurs in Toronto. He always uses quirky start and end times like 6:57 p.m. to 9:02 p.m. 

It sets his parties apart from boring networking events, and I have a hunch the novelty might encourage people to show up on time.

Provide clear start and finish times

Two hours is the perfect length of time for a cocktail party. It’s long enough for people to meet and talk, yet short enough to prevent the party from fizzling out. 

Keep your party concise in order to:

  • Encourage guests to show up on time and not be fashionably late.
  • Make your parties easier to say yes to, especially on a weekday.
  • Reduce your stress by setting expectations for when guests should leave.

The clear ending time tells guests that your party isn’t an opportunity for a blowout or a crazy long night. Everyone needs to get up for work, family, or school the next day.

How to end your party

You might worry about what to do at the end of your party.

If your guests want to hang out and continue socializing after your party is over, congratulations! That means you’ve done a great job creating connections. 

But that chatter and reluctance to leave doesn’t mean you need to continue hosting. 

Recommend a nearby bar or restaurant that guests can go to, then finish the party at the time you stated in the invitation. 

Read this article for more information: 

How to end your party article featured image

How to End Your Party


Time plays a crucial role in determining the success of your events. Make sure to set strict start and end times so that your party maintains its structure.

It is OK if your party goes a little late. But picking a good start time, and always including an end time, will help your event be a big success.

Read my how-to guide, The 2-Hour Cocktail Party, to learn more about how to end your party gracefully and on a high note.

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About the author

Howdy! I'm Nick Gray. Most people know me as the Founder of Museum Hack. I wrote a book, The 2-Hour Cocktail Party, about making new friends and building big relationships through small gatherings.