If you love entertaining, a person who doesn’t know when it’s time to leave can throw a major wrench in party plans. We all know at least one of them. Whether it’s the friend who comes over and ends up spending the night and the next day or the party guests who don’t seem to notice everyone’s falling asleep, guests who don’t know when it’s time to leave can tempt a person to stop entertaining altogether. While there’s no surefire method for dealing with the obnoxious behavior of guests who can’t take a hint and won’t leave, there are several strategies you can use. Each of these varies in its level of directness, so find the one that you’re most comfortable with and try it.
The queen of manners herself, Judith Martin (aka Miss Manners), recommends standing up and saying to guests, “It’s been so lovely to have you. We’ll see you again soon.” Remain standing until the guests leave. You’ve managed to kick them out while complimenting them, so score one for etiquette!
Say You Have To Leave
If you have a midday guest or party and it’s time for people to go home, explain to people that you have a work function to attend and must leave in ten minutes. This will give people time to get their things together and leave, and may also signal to them that they’ve stayed too long.
Put on Pajamas
If you’re having a night guest or party and can’t get people to leave, stop dropping subtle hints. Instead tell people, “It’s been lovely having you all. I am going to go get ready for bed.” Then put on your pajamas.
Go To Bed
The truly stubborn guests may not respond to the pajama ploy. In this case,you must be more direct: “John, it’s been lovely having you, but we are exhausted and must go to bed now. It seems that you are not yet ready to leave, so please feel free to enjoy the house until you are ready.” This draws the person’s attention to the fact that they have overstayed their welcome in a polite way, which may help you avoid the problem in the future.
Blame Someone Else
Normally it’s bad manners to blame someone else for much of anything, but in the case of the guest who won’t leave, you get a free pass. Try telling them your child wants some one on one time with you or that your mother is coming over for family time.
Talk It Out
It may not be easy to do, but if the guest who won’t leave is a recurring problem with a particular friend, the mannerly and compassionate thing to do is to talk to them. Explain to them that you love having them over, and you’ve noticed that you and them end up having so much fun that they stay later than anyone else. Explain that you love their company, but that when they stay late it prevents you from doing other things you need to do. The key is to act as if you’re having so much fun with them that you are distracted from the things you need to do, not to say that their presence prevents you from doing something better.