How to Handle Party Guests Who Won't Leave

11/28/2017 11:20 am ET

The holiday season is full of celebrations and some of the best parties tend to last longer than expected. As a host, you may find the guests lingering later than you planned. If your visitors are overstaying their welcome, here are some polite steps to “move them along” without looking like a Grinch.

Stop Serving

As long as there is food and drinks, your guests will think the celebration is still in full swing. As the festivities are winding down, switch from liquor to coffee, and then stop refreshing the coffee pot. Have someone discreetly remove the snack trays and remove the dessert platters from the buffet.  

Get the “To Go” Boxes Ready

If you plan on sending sweet treats or leftovers home, starting the preparation will signal to your guests the party is coming to an end. Handing them a few sweet memories will soften the blow as you reach for their coats from the closet.

Turn the Lights Off

Start systematically shutting things down and turning off lamps in rooms you aren’t using. Blow out candles throughout the house and start closing the shutters for the night. While I’m not suggesting you turn off the lights in the area your guests are sitting, letting your friends know you are preparing to “go dark” soon will give them the push they need to start collecting their belongings.

Assign Housekeeping Duties

You might as well take advantage of the extra hands to assist you so you won’t have so much to do when your guests leave. After all, it’s already early morning and you need to get your beauty sleep.

Hand Out Coats

Nothing says “goodbye” as clearly as handing them their winter snow boots, coat and scarf. Say something like, “I’m so happy you came. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to call it a night. I hope you enjoyed the evening as much as I did.” Offer them their holiday gift bag and hug them goodbye!

While a good host would never want to offend their guests, guiding the lingerers towards the door when the party is clearly over may take some gentle decorum and delicate finesse. When the sun is coming up and you are still awake, it’s fair to call it a night.

For more of Diane’s etiquette tips, you may enjoy reading 7 Ingredients to Hosting a Successful Holiday Gathering. You can also visit Diane’s blog, connect with her here on HuffPost, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Buy her new book, Modern Etiquette for a Better Life.

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.
CONVERSATIONS