Never Overstay Your Welcome Again: This Etiquette Expert Tells You Exactly When to Leave a Dinner Party

published Oct 30, 2017
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A group of three girlfriends laughing on the couch with cocktails
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

As holiday party season quickly approaches, you may find yourself revisiting all of your party habits. Do you show up early, same bottle of wine in tow? Arrive late empty-handed but full of good cheer? Keep a series of excuses in a draft folder on your phone and just sit the whole thing out all together? There’s a lot of guess work that goes into being a good guest, but one etiquette expert is able to alleviate some of our social anxiety by providing us with the best times to leave a dinner party.

Thomas Blaikie is a columnist with The Lady magazine, where he offered up the exact times one should remove oneself from a dinner party. If you’re at a weeknight party you should say your goodbyes by 10:30 pm and if you’re attending a weeknight shindig you should leave by 11:15 pm. He recommends leaving at a natural stopping point in the evening and turning down any after dinner cocktails or coffee that are offered.

The rule is good for both hosts and guests as he says, “Left to their own devices, guests can reach a point beyond which they’ve lost the will and the energy to leave, having previously perhaps been wishing to leave but feeling it was too early and all their energy went into that agony, so there is none left when the time to leave has long passed.” Like a more specific version of the Costanza school of leaving on a high note, Blaikie’s advice strikes a balance between spending enough time so the host isn’t insulted and leaving before everyone is too loopy or the host is maxed out.

But as we all know, rules are meant to be broken. If you know the host well or they’re encouraging you to linger at their “crappy dinner party” in the name hygge, you can make your own call. But if you’re at a friend of a friend’s or just an introvert who loves knowing when they can leave, Blaikie’s suggestions should certainly come in handy while you’re making your holiday rounds.

More on making a graceful exit: