The Art Of Leaving A Party Early Without Ruffling Any Feathers

published Oct 8, 2016
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(Image credit: Nicole Caldwell)

Say you’re at a soiree with pink champagne cocktails and more guacamole than you know what to do with, and you find yourself yawning between all the mingling. Or maybe you’re standing in front of your bathroom mirror — applying the night’s lipstick — and it dawns on you that getting into a taxi cab and legging it across town is the last thing you want to be doing that night. Whichever scenario you find yourself in, the idea of ghosting is already percolating in your mind and you definitely won’t be making it to the coffee portion of the night.

While some people might feel terribly guilty slinking away from a friend’s get-together or parting ways from a bash when the hosts had the foresight to buy out the neighborhood’s supply of wine, if you’re not feeling it, you can’t fake it. But there are ways to grab your hat and slip out the door early without ruffling many (if any!) feathers. Read on and become an expert party Houdini.

1. Make Your Excuses Beforehand

If you’re getting ready for your shindig and it hits you all at once that you would rather be staying in with Chinese takeout, set the groundwork for your bail by letting your host know ahead of time. Once you step into their living room and start removing your coat, let them know that you’ll be needing to take off from the party early, but you can’t wait to make the most out of the next couple of hours.

2. Don’t Look Like You’re Watching the Clock

If you hover by the bean dip looking bored, your final goodbyes might carry a bit of a sting. Instead, make an effort to look like you’re having a gas, and when it’s time to make your exit your host won’t feel like it’s because of the atmosphere. Say something along the lines of, “I’m so sorry to have to leave early. This is such a wonderful party!”

3. Try to Pin the Host in the Kitchen

If you’re taking off in the early stages of the party, announcing your goodbyes in the hub of the gathering might give off the impression that people are leaving and the bash is a dud. To avoid that, try to catch your host while he or she is in the kitchen or the porch (or the balcony, hallway, pantry – you get the idea!) and make your goodbyes there.

(Image credit: Kristin Teig)

4. Praise The Party

Assure your host that the party was a hit by specifically listing what you loved about the shindig. For example, ask for the blood orange cocktail recipe, share how much you loved the Pinterest-inspired centerpieces, and fawn over how hilarious the guests are. Plumping the host up a bit with love will assure them you’re not leaving because the soiree is a miss — it’s just time for you to head out.

5. Avoid Excuses Like the Plague

Don’t tell your host you’re leaving, tell them that you’re heading out. If it’s followed up by a dismayed “Oh no, but why!” avoid your knee jerk reach for an excuse. Just steamroll them with a happy, “Thank you SO much for inviting me. I absolutely loved the cheesecake bites and that dance party in the kitchen was amazing.”

In all actuality, your host probably asked you to stay in a knee jerk way, too. They doesn’t really need you to stick around till it’s time to clean up the chip bowls.

6. Leave with the Group Laughing

A seamless way to get yourself from sitting to standing and heading out the door in a smaller party is to spin out a short story. Make it a snappy, funny little number, and as you’re close to the end of it start standing up. As you reach the peak, grab your clutch, hug the host, and knock it out by getting them all to laugh with your punchline. As they’re wiping the tears out of their eyes tell them how fun it was spending an evening together and make your exit.

7. Ghost It

While this might seem like it’ll have the host dramatically throwing your seating card into the garbage disposal, most people would actually prefer if you legged it without a goodbye. Lifestyle blogger Joanna Goddard from A Cup of Jo recalled her own hosting experience, “For the entire second half of the party, polite friends kept coming up to say goodbye as they put on their coats and wished us a happy rest-of-the-weekend. Finally I turned to Alex, perplexed, and asked, ‘Why is everyone leaving?’ And he pointed out that dozens of people were still there; it just felt like a mass exodus because we were consumed with saying goodbye to every single person who was heading home.” Don’t make the party feel over only halfway through. Just grab your hat and slip out.

8. Plan to Touch Base with the Host the Next Day

Smooth down any potentially ruffled feathers by touching base with the host the next day and sharing how much you enjoyed the party. You can email them, send a text, or go the traditional route and send a sweet thank you note through the mail.

Either way, the trick to sneaking out early is to make the soiree-thrower feel like their party was amazing. Get that across and you can hop back into your cab before midnight strikes!