You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here

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you don't have to go home but you can't stay here
The last few parties I’ve hosted made me gunshy about wrapping the night up. There have been a couple people who stick around long after I’d like to go to bed. They don’t get the hint — there’s an ending time on my Facebook invites, I start cleaning up the kitchen, I’ve even changed into my pajamas before only to have the guests keep hanging out. It’s not like they’re deep in conversation! They actually seem sort of bored.

I’m just not frank enough to say, “Guys, I’ve got an early morning tomorrow. I’d love it if you leave.” How else can I prevent my guests from overstaying their welcome? -Anton

Oof, that’s tough. What have you got, Homies?

Comments on You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here

  1. Thanks for all the helpful hints, we seem to have this problem too with some friends. To the point where I’ve fallen asleep at the couch and people still haven’t taken the hint after telling them we are going to bed and time to go. It is difficult for sure, and I don’t want people to drive if they have been drinking, that’s okay to stay then, but hanging out past me leaving for work in the morning has led me to not invite certain people back.

  2. Maybe employ a friend to help start getting everyone out, like going around and quietly asking if they want anything else since the party is ending soon. That way you are still playing the good hostess, but you can sort of give everyone a “last call” sort of notice. And if that doesn’t work, have that friend do the booting for you!

  3. I find the direct message is the best! I’ve had to get comfortable with saying, “It’s been a terrific evening, guys, but it’s past my bedtime and I am *wrecked*. Thanks for coming! Let’s do it again [insert near date].” with a big smile, and offering hugs. I’ve never had anyone get offended, and it saves the “Why won’t they read between the lines, damn them?!” frustration of subtler cues; at the end of the day, hints can be a very inefficient way to communicate. It certainly is difficult initially pushing past the social programming that it’s rude to let guests know when it’s time to leave, but once you do, it takes a lot of stress out of entertaining.


  4. The 10-minute warning is good, as in “once this episode-level-last round, I need to get to bed”, or turn up the lights and ask “does anyone want a coffe for the road”. After that start assigning chores – “hey, could you load the dishwasher while I clear up”. This usually gets rid of everyone and if it doesn’t, at least they’re helping clean!

  5. I have to admit – I’m a socially awkward non-leaver, but it’s not because I don’t want to go, or don’t get the hint, it’s mostly because I’m not quite sure how to end the evening and tell them I’m leaving without feeling rude. Could that be the problem?

    • could well be. claiming tiredness or another engagement always works if you want to leave and not be awkward. “i have to do X before i go to bed” or “i’m getting up early tomorrow for X reason”. if you really are leaving early (due to boredom or otherwise) and you’re excuse sounds sad, be sure to say goodbye to the host and tell them you had a great time, wish you could stay longer, etc. everyone’s busy nowadays, you’re not being rude by leaving.

  6. Oh my gosh why didn’t I read this article three months ago? I’ve had a serious problem with the women in a Bible study overstaying their visit. I have told the group leader that they have to be done by X time, I’ve sent messages to the whole group, and I’ve straight up gone to bed while they were still in my living room.

    It sounds like everyone is leaving pretty much the same advice – speak up – and I agree. This is especially important in more formal groups like a Bible study or a book club. Set boundaries at the beginning, and it makes it easier throughout. I did not set strict boundaries at first, but in case someone is in that boat and afraid to speak up because of the inconsistency, I will add this. My facebook message “I didn’t realize how hard it was waking up early the morning after Bible study, but as I’ve been having trouble getting to work on time because of how late I’ve been up, I’d appreciate everyone being out by 10pm. Thanks!” went over really well.

    If all else fails, enjoy the extra practice in boundary setting, hostessing situations, and conflict resolution – all while tired!

  7. i’ve been known to say (in a friendly, silly manner) “ok guys, i have to get up in not many hours. i love you very much, now get out of my house.”

  8. heh sometimes i feel like my FH is one of those people. but i think it’s the beer that makes him stick around a friend’s house long after we should have left. anyway he has one friend that cracks me up. the guy will just say, “okay it’s time to get out of my house. i’m tired. leave.” but he doesn’t say it like an ass. it’s friendly but firm and we all know he loves having us over or he wouldn’t ask in the first place. we all smile, chuckle, and most importantly, we leave.

    as for me, i usually just say, “welp i’m tired and need to go to bed.” then stand up and head for the door… that usually gets people moving. you can pretty much ask friends to leave in any way you want, just do it with a polite smile and they should understand. it was a party, not a sleepover!

  9. I like the funny/sarcastic things people have mentioned, but I’d be more likely to say, “Well, it was wonderful seeing you! Can I help you get your things?” while standing up and offering a handshake/hug. I would not feel comfortable directly saying “it’s time to leave now” so I basically act as if they were the ones who’d initiated leaving and go from there. I suppose in general my response to awkward social situations is to pretend the other person did what they were supposed to do–it works an astounding amount of the time.

  10. I agree with many people here, the friendly but honest way works fine. My husband goes to bed later than I do so I usually say : “Well, thank you all for coming but now I think I’m going to go to bed.” I don’t have to kick them out because my husband would be there to see them out if they stayed, but they usually get the hint and leave.

    One time I had invited an author for a conference at work, we had dinner and he seemed very comfortable, but I was thinking that I still had to clean the venue, drive an hour back home then get up really early for work the next day. I cleared the dessert plates and cutlery and asked as I took my own glass to clean it : “Do you wish to keep your glass a little longer? Would you like anything else?” so he realized I wanted to do the washing up. He thanked me, gave me his glass and left shortly after that.

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