The Sneaky Ways You Can Tell Lingering Party Guests That It’s Time to Leave

published Nov 18, 2016
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(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Entertaining at home is practically addicting. You always catch a little natural high getting ready to share your space with friends and family. But later that night as the clock winds forward, you’ll find yourself yawning in the kitchen wishing you could just straighten up a little and hit the sheets.

You may think many parties just come to an end naturally, but I guarantee that at the last great bash you attended, you missed some subtle signals that your host was sending, telling everyone without a word that it’s time they take off.

You see, there are tried and true tricks to shutting down a dinner party (or any other event), and we got some of our favorite hosts to spill.

And psst… Want to learn more about our experts? Check out their “table cred” right here: Meet the Entertaining Experts

(Image credit: Courtesy of Camille Styles)

“Music off, lights on.”

— Camille Styles,

(Image credit: Courtesy of Kate Arends)

“Start cleaning dishes, turn up the lights, and blow out the candles!”

— Kate Arends, Wit & Delight

(Image credit: Courtesy of Chantal Aida Gordon)

“‘I’m so glad you came!’ / Thank you so much for coming!’ / ‘Can I get you anything else?'”

— Chantal Aida Gordon, The Horticult

(Image credit: Courtesy of Ashley Rose)

“Handing out to-go favors or treats for the drive home is always a safe bet!”

— Ashley Rose, Sugar & Cloth

(Image credit: Courtesy of Michiel Perry)

“I generally start by offering if anyone wants to take anything home. It makes guests feel like they are getting a gift but signals that the night is coming to a close. Also helps me not have to eat all the leftover biscuits.”

— Michiel Perry, Black Southern Belle

(Image credit: Jonas Jungblut)

“I just tell the truth and give them a big hug… out the door.”

— Danny Seo, Naturally, Danny Seo

(Image credit: Courtesy of Roxy Te Owens)

“Easy. Don’t open that next bottle of wine!”

— Roxy Te, Society Social

(Image credit: Courtesy of Mandy Kellogg Rye)

“I’ll start cleaning up, blowing out candles and putting on slower, sappier music. Once guests see that you’re winding down for the evening, they’ll get the hint. If that doesn’t work, roll that bar cart right out of the room—a lack of libations tends to get rid of guests quite quickly.”

— Mandy Kellogg Rye, Waiting on Martha

(Image credit: Courtesy of Sarah Ashley Schiear)

“If you start to clean up, they usually get the hint. If not, you can ask for help bringing plates into the kitchen. This way, people start getting up and you can easily segue into thanking them for coming and goodbye hugs.”

— Sarah Ashley Schiear, Salt House Market

(Image credit: Courtesy of Holly Becker)

“I make a quick announcement that everyone can keep chatting and enjoy themselves but I need to start wrapping things up. Then, I’ll start cleaning and clearing, turn off the music, start blowing out candles and I turn on the ‘house lights.’ By then, others have joined in to help me and some start to leave. It’s not awkward this way AND by the time the last guest leaves, you can barely tell I’ve had a party so I don’t have to wake up to a war zone the next day.”

— Holly Becker, Decor8

(Image credit: Casey Brodley for Oh Joy!)

“I put my PJ’s on. Those lingering last few guests always get the clue.”

— Joy Cho, Oh Joy!

(Image credit: Yoni Goldberg)

“Yawn a lot? Usually people get the hint when most of the party has left.”

— Lauren Conrad, The Little Market

(Image credit: Courtesy of Jordan Ferney)

“It’s usually the other way around. My guests are usually the ones sighing and saying ‘It’s late.’ I’m always the one saying ‘But it’s so early!'”

— Jordan Ferney, Oh Happy Day!

Read More of Our Experts’ Advice