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Respectfully Yours: How to say, ‘The party’s over.’

Dear Jacquelyn,

I recently hosted a large family party and it went very well. However, as the party wound down, some guests lingered longer than I had hoped. I’d like to know how do you usher your guests out the door subtly and politely?

Dear Reader,

Consider it a compliment when your guests want to stay. Thanks to your planning skills and hospitality, your guests have had a great time.

However, when some guests linger a little too long, it ends up creating an awkward, uncomfortable situation for the host.

There are some steps you can incorporate to help navigate the final stages of winding down a party. When you’re ready, start cleaning up from the evening’s activities. Gather cups and plates, and draw the drapes to indicate the party is over.

These are subtle, non-verbal signals that party-goers should immediately understand. This step will convey the message that the gathering is wrapping up and guests should prepare to leave.

Next comes the verbal exchange of farewells, which you can begin by thanking everyone for attending. Addressing the guests as a group or each guest individually with “I had so much fun tonight, and we should do this again soon” will end the gathering on a positive note.

If guests don’t show signs of budging, the phrase “I have an early morning tomorrow and should get some sleep” should prompt their departure.

After the non-verbal and verbal signals, the last step in wrapping up the party is, of course, physical movement toward the door. The host should gather everyone’s coats, thank them again for coming, and walk guests to the door.

The best way to get out of an awkward social situation is to avoid it altogether. When you issue your invitation, whether written or verbal, include an end time as well as a start time.

Respectfully Yours,


Have a question? Email: jacquelyn@ptd.net. Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training. She is on the board of directors of the National Civility Foundation.

All Rights Reserved &Copy; 2021 Jacquelyn Youst