How to politely tell your guests the party is over

It’s party time. Friends, family and acquaintances file through the door, some bearing gifts and all bearing smiles. You enjoy a lovely evening together, heralding the holiday spirit. Moments melt into minutes which turn into hours.

And, let’s be honest, you’re exhausted. It took nothing short of a Herculean effort to coordinate the party, and you’re truly happy you did and grateful for the guests who came. But now it’s time for them to leave.

How do you usher the lingerers out of your home without feeling like a bad hostess?

According to Southern Etiquette‘s Gerald Glascock, it’s not as hard as you might think. “What you would do is you would go around and shake their hand and say, ‘I’m so glad that you were able to attend. I’ll look forward to seeing you again,” he said.

If you’re throwing a party during a cooler season, you can also couple that with asking if you can grab your guests’ jackets or coats.

“Most people will get the hint,” explained Glascock

Of course, not everyone is so quick to pick up on subtle implications. “You have family, and you have people who are afraid they are going to miss something. They want to be the last ones to leave,” Glascock said.

Still, the approach remains virtually unchanged.

“You approach them the same way,” he said, “but for family, you can also include ‘Be sure to call me tomorrow’ and ‘Let’s set a time when we can get together and talk.’ That way, you’re not offending anybody, but you’re gently showing them the door.”

Of course, there will always be those lingerers — the ones who, despite your best efforts, seem to ignore your persistent hinting.

“Now, there are some people who are just stubborn,” said Glascock. “You’re going to get the ones who have had one or two glasses of wine more than they should have.”

Thus, essentially, my entire family at every holiday gathering. (Disclaimer: Don’t invite us to your holiday party if you don’t want to have to break out the etiquette hardball.)

“What you have to do is you have to be a little bit more firm — but not apologetic — and say, ‘We’re going to wrap up the party. Thank you so much for attending, and let’s plan on getting together again soon.'”

So, as you gear up to throw your next party, keep these pointers in mind. And, remember… if guests merit an invite, then clearly you care about them and vice versa. Even if they fall under the umbrella of stubborn-ones-who-drank-too-much-wine, they won’t hold it against you if you have to nudge them out the door.

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