We never gave much thought to this issue until recently when the subject came up at, of course, a dinner party. And really, it's an interesting question to think about. After all, we always set a time when we want guests to arrive - so should we specify when they should leave?
A friend of ours from Puerto Rico said that in her culture setting an end time would be considered very odd and even rude - like kicking your guests out before they even get to the party. Someone else (a New Englander, if it makes a difference) made the argument that how would guests know if they're overstaying their welcome if no ending time is specified.
For our part, we don't usually set an ending time, but we've also never really had an issue. If the party is going strong, generally we want people to stay no matter the hour of the night. And if the party is obviously winding down, guests don't usually linger. Also, our crowd of friends generally keep the same hours, so everyone's idea of an appropriate ending time tends to be the same.
What do you do?
Related: Dinner Party Strategy: Dealing with Early Arriving Guests
(Image: Flickr member laffy4k licensed under Creative Commons)