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Guests outstaying their welcome

Guests outstaying their welcome

I know this may seem like a trivial issue in the grand scheme of things, but my husband and I are exasperated. We live on a street along with a number of other couples and we all love throwing dinner parties for each other. But whenever we’re the hosts, there is one couple in particular who will never leave. They stay until the early hours, making one brandy last an eternity – and we just don’t know how to get rid of them! Hints, yawns, putting the cat out… nothing seems to work, and now we dread hosting because we know what will happen. We’ve tried dropping a few hints to the other couples but they don’t seem to have the same problem. What can we do?

This is not a trivial issue at all. First, congratulate yourselves on being such wonderful hosts and such sparkling company that people want to stay for as long as possible. Second, realise that there's only one way to do this. At a moment you feel is right for you, get up and firmly say goodbye to your guests. While your partner opens the door, you stand in front of them and say, ‘Thank you so much for coming, it's been a wonderful evening. Goodbye.' At that point, there's nothing your guests can do but get up and leave. If you feel nervous about this, it might be helpful to say when they arrive that you have an early start the next day, and will have to bring the party to a close earlier than usual. The bad manners are not on your side, but theirs. No properly brought-up guest overstays their welcome - ever.
Published March 2006

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