Party Planning: Tips for Ending an Evening Gracefully

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You don't have to go home...but you've got to get out of here

We've all thought it. So how do you say it without words? 

As the host, you clearly are all for party planning and having guests over to enjoy themselves. Be it the holidays, a girls wine night, work get-together, your party is set for success. But you know those moments when the guests stay a little too long? Heard of 'overstaying your welcome'? Sure, sometimes you're down for the kind of dinner party that stretches into breakfast. But for those nights when you love your guests but also love to see ‘em go (but hate to watch 'em leave), these tips are for you. When thinking of how to throw a party at home, consider this your fool-proof guide to ensure your guests leave before you're yawning. And uphold your grace while you're at it.

Plan for the end

When deciding what time to invite people over, consider what time you’d like them to hit the road. Then schedule the evening accordingly! And if you’re having such a great time that you don’t want the evening to end, you can always throw your schedule out the window.

Give your guests cues

If you notice that things are starting to wind down – i.e. guests are yawning, people are turning down refills, the playlist has ended and no one has selected a new one – start to wrap things up with gentle nudges to your guests. We like humor in this situation, something like, “Come back when you can’t stay as long!” Or go with the classic, “Well, we’ll have to do this again soon.”

Let dessert speak for you

Dessert isn’t only the best thing in life – it’s also a signal to your guests of where things are headed. If you serve a plated dessert at the dinner table, expect guests to settle in and linger awhile. If you serve bite-sized treats in the living room, you’ll be gradually moving your guests toward the door.

Do a lap

While we do not advocate starting full-blown party cleanup before everyone has gone home, we do support doing what we call “a light lap” around the room to collect glasses and plates. It’s an easy, indirect nod to your guests that things are coming to a close.

Help guests leave with leftovers

If there’s food left over at the end of the night, pack up “doggy bags” for your guests! Extra points for packaging them in tinfoil swans.

Thank guests for their presence with... presents

Get something small and thoughtful for your guests to commemorate the evening and keep it by the front door. When you’re ready to say your goodbyes, tell everyone you have something special to thank them for coming and guide them to the door. It’ll be a natural jumping-off point for good night hugs.

Have a cleanup plan mapped out before the party, so that when your guests leave, you can relax, too!

And that, hostesses, is how you lead your guests to leaving the party at a reasonable hour, all while showcasing your most gracious host self. Agent Gracie Hart of Miss Congeniality would be proud.


Need more party planning tips from the pros? Tune in with our team of party people at

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