No lie, we’ve all had people who just wouldn’t shut up and wouldn’t leave.
Me. I’m a talker so this is often me.
In my defense, my age has certainly brought with it an appreciation for a good visit with a timely closure. It’s not them. It’s me. I’m an extroverted introvert or maybe an introverted extrovert. I don’t know. I love connecting on a big scale but then I also love sitting alone on my couch in tall fuzzy socks with a big wool cape and nothing but the crackle of my favorite candle.
I know – it can feel so wrong to feel that way. I personally LOVE people. I love my friends and family. I love hosting get-togethers, feeding them and just enjoying the laughter and rich conversations around the table. With that, it can be very hard to express any readiness to just key things down for the evening without feeling like I’m making my guests feel unwanted.
“I want to be your favorite hello and your hardest goodbye.”
Don’t hate. I’m sure you’ve been there too.
To be fair, it can often be felt the same the other way around by your guests. As much as they surely love your home and company, some guests struggle with wanting to leave but not wanting to just come out and say it. For this, I ever wrestle with which is better – open ended invitations or parties with a clear start and end time. The former says “you are all I have planned this evening, stay as long as you’d like.” The latter gives everyone a clear out but the time can be overridden if the company or discussion warrant as much. Would REALLY love to hear your thoughts on this. Which way do you lean?
So, I thought now would be as good a time as any to share some ideas on how we can humorously, tactfully and lovingly encourage people to be okay with calling it a night and looking forward to future fun to come.
Note: Don’t take all of these to heart. Really, the most important thing is to be light-hearted and subtle and not come off as insulting. After all, you most likely want them to visit later in the future. Here, we discuss the funny and polite ways to tell people to leave your house.
Now that’s just ridiculous…
Okay, so I love a good laugh. While I thought these were funny, they may also surely warrant a “don’t try this at home warning.” I don’t know. You tell me.
- Excuse yourself and come back out fully dressed for bed. (For extra on this one, you could always ask if they care to snuggle or spoon.)
- Start yelling at the kids to get their teeth brushed and be ready to be tucked in in the next 5.
- Start bringing them their things (shoes, coat, keys and all) and set them in front of them while they keep talking.
- Offer to call them an uber (yes, even if they drove themselves).
- Pat them on the shoulder and endearingly assure them “Someday you’ll see the reason why, there’s good in goodbye.”
When you don’t want them to come back:
- Let the dog clean their plate and stash it straight back in the cabinet as they watch.
- Get wild-eyed and start ranting about a good conspiracy theory. (Beware of the possibility that this could back-fire and they could be “right there with you.” If this happens, abort mission or play devil’s advocate depending which way you want things to go.)
- Scratch a lot and talk about the weird rash or the cream your doctor gave you while you’re prepping and serving food.
- Sit close – like, creepy close.
And onto a few lighthearted suggestions:
1. Suggest Continuing the Party Somewhere Else
If you’ve had people over for a party, many might stay behind thinking of continuing the party. One of the best ways to get them out is to suggest moving the party somewhere else. This could become a joke or a hint, but you should always offer an alternative rather than just telling them to get the heck out. You might suggest outdoor activities or other fun places to go.
If you don’t plan on tagging along, you can always just ask what they have planned next.
2. Assume They Are Ready to Leave
Instead of telling them to leave, make it look like you’re the one keeping them behind. For example, you might apologize for holding them up or comment on how you just don’t see how they do it, having had such a long full day only to still be so gracious in sticking around and listening to you gab. Don’t be a butt. The key is to say it with a look of concern (as you should genuinely be concerned for them anyhow).
3. Offer to Pack Them a Care Pack To-Go
Make sure you keep goodie boxes and travel cups on hand. Ask if you can pack them an extra plate/bowl for themselves (or maybe a spouse/whoever that couldn’t make it). Offer to prep them a coffee or tea for the road. This one is subtle enough but a cue no less that they’re not expected to stay and are welcome to prep to head out.
4. Talk about the Time
Talk about the time and how late it is. “Wow, it’s already eleven; I can’t believe that we’ve spent five hours.” This is a social cue that most people will immediately understand, and they’ll start leaving.
5. Yawn Continuously
This is perhaps one of the funniest ways to tell people to leave (particularly as yawns are so dang contagious). Yawning signifies tiredness, and even if you’re faking it, your guest will immediately notice that. If looking to really double down, you can start rubbing the eyes and face as well to underscore the point. (I’m sure there are friends that have caught me doing this not evening trying to drop hints. It’s just something I personally catch myself unintentionally doing when I’m tired so if you’ve encountered this at my house – I love you and don’t think it was personal. [haha])
6. Start Doing End of the Night Tasks
They say action speaks louder than words, and it also works when you’re trying to get guests to leave your home. You can start doing everything you do before going to bed, such as stopping the music, blowing out the candles, turning off lights that aren’t used, clearing the table, etc. Once your guests see this, they can also start preparing to leave.
7. Joke About Going Home
If hints aren’t working, you might have to talk your way out of getting people to leave your house. Directly telling them to leave might be impolite, so joke about it. For example, telling them to switch off the lights when leaving because you’re going to bed could pass the message. This is easier done with several guests that you can leave to each other’s company especially if gathering in a dedicated space like a patio, media/billiard room or similar. “I adore you guys. You’re welcome to stay and chat but I really have to crash.”
Maybe not a stellar option number one but an option no less if they just don’t want to budge.
8. Ask If There’s Something Else They Need
A final drink or snack could be a good way to tell people it’s time to go home. It could be anything ranging from water to leftover food. Just make sure that whatever you are offering is a parting gift and not another reason to kick the party into the next gear. You can ask if anyone needs anything before you pack what’s left in the kitchen.
9. Share a Busy Schedule
Your guests should be understanding of your schedule, and this is one of the best ways to get people to leave. Tell them you’ve got something else to do, a task to complete, or work to resume the next day. They probably have the same commitment, and if they don’t, they’ll still respect yours enough to leave.
Okay, we’re done here.
We’ve all been in situations where we want/need to get to the goodbye but wrestle in how to do so tactfully and lovingly. If you’re the guest, keep this in mind. People enjoy visiting with you better when they know their time with you is limited. You might even note in advance that you’re looking forward to the time with them and hate that you can’t stay too long but are grateful for the visit no less.
If you’re the host, be gracious and remember that of all the things we have to do, enjoying and loving on the people in our lives is most important. Plan to be open to whatever changes may come in schedules and just enjoy.