How do I not be an asshole when I invite people over for an early dinner, because I have young kids and still want to be social, but want to kick them out by 8PM because we are all exhausted…
Congratulations on raising tiny humans! From what I understand, that’s kind of a lot of work, especially when they are still wee ones who need lots of direct attention at all hours.
I don’t think that setting an end time on an event is an asshole move, regardless of the reason. If you want to have people over for brunch but need to get to an appointment by 2, you should tell folks that brunch is from 11-1. It’s frankly none of their business whether you’re off to get your hair trimmed, or to meet with your therapist, or just need to sign into XBox Live to play video games with your best friend who lives in another state.
Same goes with an early dinner invite, although there’s also nothing wrong with telling them the reason why, either. Friends with kids will likely understand, and friends without kids may not have thought about it but should quickly be able to recognize that schedules need to be adjusted to accommodate earlier bedtimes.
If you’re inviting people over for an early dinner, my one suggestion is to consider scheduling it for Saturday or Sunday evening. Many people who work outside the home are not able to leave the office until well after 5, which means they might not make it to your place until 6 or 6:30, at which point you all only have 90 minutes to eat and catch up.