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people partying and hooking up at a jam you won't want to make excuses for being late to a party for

19 Hostess Approved Excuses for Being Late to a Party

Are you running late for a party and need a solid excuse? We’ve all been there, and while it can be embarrassing and even disrespectful, sometimes things just don’t go as planned. Don’t panic! In this article, we’ve got you covered with the best excuses for being late to a party, including last-minute excuses for arriving late, excuses for being late to your own party, and excuses for being late to a birthday party.

Excuses for Being Late to a Party

Parties are fun stuff, and the mood should always be light, which helps take some of the pressure off if you’re arriving late.  There is such a thing as being fashionably late (by like 5 minutes), but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your best to be on time, but being late does happen.  That’s when it’s common courtesy to at least have an excuse for arriving late to the party ready, to help you save face, but also to stop other people from feeling disrespected.

1. You got stuck in a traffic jam 

The most common excuse for being late to a party is traffic. You can blame it on the heavy traffic and apologize for the inconvenience caused. Commuting can be unpredictable, and it’s a common excuse that most people can relate to. So make sure to leave early enough to give yourself enough time to account for traffic, but if you get caught, remember to remain calm, explain the situation, and apologize.

2. There was an emergency at work

If you had an urgent work assignment to complete, you can explain the situation and apologize for being unable to make it on time. Sometimes work emergencies are unavoidable, and they can easily cause delays. In such situations, it’s always better to inform the host in advance so that they can make the necessary arrangements.

3. You had to take care of a family member 

A family emergency is a valid excuse for being late to a party. You can explain the situation and apologize for not being able to make it on time. This is a sensitive excuse, so explain the situation in detail and express your regret for not being able to attend.

4. Your car is a POS 

asian goth looks upset as she stares under the hood of her broken down car

Car trouble is another common excuse for being late to a party. You can explain that your car broke down on the way, and you had to wait for a tow truck. This is a genuine excuse that can happen to anyone, but make sure to be honest about the situation and inform the host as soon as possible.  Darn it!  You should’ve bought a Toyota!

5. You got lost on the way

 If you got lost on the way to the party, you can blame it on the confusing directions and apologize for being late. This is a common excuse that many people can relate to. Ask for directions or use a GPS app to avoid getting lost in the future.

6. Your dog has diarrhea

You were just about to step out your front door when your beloved Fido started to arch his back and made like he was going to deuce all over the hallway carpet. Luckily, you managed to rush him outside, where he proceeded to ruin the sidewalk, but at least he made it. You then had to walk him around for a bit to make sure he got it all out before putting him back inside and getting on your way.

7. You couldn’t decide what to wear

How often have you been late to a party because it took you too long to choose an outfit? It’s happened to us many times (looking good matter, right?), which is why this is one of our best excuses for being late to a party.

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8. Your dealer made you wait

Continuing from the last excuse, if you were in charge of bringing some extra recreational party favors to the jam, then this is the perfect excuse. Dealers are notoriously untrustworthy with their timing, so having to wait is a totally believable excuse for being late to a party.

9. Your friends made you late

Many times when going to a party, a group of your friends will coordinate to arrive together. Whether that’s because you’re carpooling or meeting at the subway station, someone is unavoidably tardy, and the whole group has to wait.

Last-minute excuses for arriving late to a party

woman drives her car in a rush to get to a party on time

You were looking forward to the party all week and all day – it was the only thing you were focused on – yet somehow you still ended up being late.  Here are some reasonable explanations as to why you were late for the party.

10. You slipped in some mud on the way over

You were dressed to impress and had a real strut going as you headed to the jam. Unfortunately, with your head in the clouds, you didn’t see the mud patch on the ground, which you then stepped in, slipped on, and ruined your clothing in. So you had to turn back to change, which is why you’re arriving late for the festivities.  You might be able to use this as an excuse for being late to a wedding too.

11. You got held up in a roadside sobriety check

On your drive over to the party, you got stuck in a roadside sobriety test lineup. It took a while to get through (you can either add that you had to blow a breathalyzer, or not), but that’s why you couldn’t be on time.

12. You forgot your wallet

Cash is king, and you wouldn’t make it very far (party or otherwise) if you didn’t have your wallet. 

Unfortunately, you’re absent-minded and forgot your wallet in your other pants (or purse). Going back to collect it took some time, and you’re late to the party as a result.

13. You stopped to grab a last-minute gift

You were on your way when you realized that you probably shouldn’t show up empty-handed. Birthday parties require a gift, a bottle of wine is suggested for dinner parties, and some party favor (wink, wink) is a cool idea for a house party.  If you need help deciding what to bring to a party, check here.

14. You got stuck talking to your neighbor/landlord/parents on your way out

You step out the door, and bam, you get cornered by a chatty person who just seems to want to talk your ear off. They have no regard that you obviously have somewhere to be, but that doesn’t mean you can be rude either. This happens more than we’d like but it makes for a good excuse for arriving late to a party.

Good reasons for being late to a party

blonde gen z makes pouty lips because he sees a plate full of cupcakes that's just within his reach

You screwed up and arrived late to a party, but hey, sometimes things just get in the way of your timeliness.  That’s not to say you should just shrug it off, a good excuse as to why you were late should still be offered, which is why you should keep reading to see if you like any of the excuses we provide below.

15. There was a long line at…

If you had to wait in a long queue at the gift shop, you can use this as an excuse for being late. This is a common excuse that can be genuine, but remember to apologize for the inconvenience caused.

16. You felt ill all of a sudden

If you suddenly fell sick or had a migraine, you can use this as an excuse for arriving late and apologize for the inconvenience caused. Health issues are a valid excuse, but remember to take care of yourself and avoid spreading the sickness to other party-goers.

17. You just couldn’t avoid it

Sometimes, things beyond our control happen, like a sudden power outage, which can be a valid excuse for arriving late. These situations can be frustrating, but they are genuine reasons for being late. Make sure to inform the host as soon as possible and offer to help in any way you can once you arrive.

Don’t feel like hanging out?

73 Good Excuses To Not Hang Out With Someone

Believable excuses for being late to a birthday party

Birthday parties are a special breed, and being timely here is pretty important.  That’s because they’re often dinner reservations, or get together at someone’s home.  Sometimes there are also little kids involved, and we all know that asking a 5-year-old to be patient before opening gifts is a definite “do not ask”.  If you do end up being late, at least have a believable excuse ready to deliver.

18. You needed a last-minute gift

Yes, you should have planned this out better, and no, you shouldn’t be buying something on the way over – but hey, it happens – and it usually will make you late. You can explain that you were caught up in gift shopping and apologize for not being able to make it on time.

19. You read the invite wrong

You remembered the time wrong when you read (glanced) at the birthday party invitation. You thought dinner was at 7 pm, not 6 pm… You’re very sorry, but you’re here now, so… Happy Birthday!

In conclusion

We all know that arriving late to a party can be an uncomfortable situation, but with the right excuse, you can make a lasting impression and show that you respect the host’s time and effort. Always inform the host in advance if possible, apologize sincerely, and make up for the delay by bringing a thoughtful gift or helping out in any way you can. With these excuses for being late to a party, you can leave a positive impression and enjoy the party without any guilt or embarrassment.

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