Ideas for the Party Human

Tip 7: Terminate with Tact

Posted on: October 12, 2009

             Probably the most discouraging thing for a host is for guests to leave early out of boredom.  Not quite as bad, but still aggravating, is when you can’t get them to leave at all.

            My mother always told us that the party should end while everyone’s still having fun, so they will leave with good memories.  At first, we hated to see people have to leave when the fun seemed at its peak, but we soon came to realize that she was right.  When people leave wishing for more, they will think of your party as a lot of fun, and they will more likely be back next time!

            So how do you conclude a party before it begins to drag?  The best way is to be specific on the invitations.  Give a starting and an ending time (unless you really don’t care when or if they leave).  That way, parents know when to pick up their children.  If the guests have driven themselves, the party might run a little over, but someone will have a watch, and once one person leaves they’ll all start doing it.

            After you’ve made everyone aware of closing time, be sure you plan more than enough activities to take you through that time.  But don’t think you have to do them all!  (Flexibility, remember?)  You just want to keep the guests busy and happy, so they don’t have time to get bored and decide to “blow this joint” of their own accord.  You want them to leave with a twinge of regret, hoping they won’t be missing too much more.

            If all this fails, and the guests are hanging around with no sign of leaving, the last resort is to begin dropping hints.  You can ask if your clock is correct; you may begin clearing away garbage and maybe even some food; you might ask if anybody has an idea for another game.  Sometimes, the guests just feel so comfortable and pleasant that they would rather sleep at your house than get up and go home, but most will be able to take a little hint.  Nevertheless, I sincerely hope that your clarity on the invitation will suffice and that you will not need to resort to such crass and less-than-gracious touches as glancing at your watch repeatedly, yawning or mentioning an early appointment in the morning.  One friend tells the story of her grandfather, who, when guests had stayed too long, would come out, snap his suspenders and say loudly, “It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if you’d all go home now.”  I do not recommend this kind of bluntness!


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