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How do I (politely) shut down a dinner party at my house?

We had some (old and new) friends over for dinner on the weekend. Since some people showed up late and we were all having a great time, we ended up serving dessert at around midnight, thinking that people would leave around 1 or 2am. My husband waved the white flag and went to bed around 1:30.

The wine was flowing, we were all chatting and having a great time and the next thing I knew it was 4am! By that time I had cleaned up the entire kitchen and put away dishes from the dishwasher.

Since some of the friends were new friends, I did not feel right about asking them to leave.

What's the polite way of asking people to leave your house?

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  1. "I hate to cut the good time short but I'm exhausted. Let's do this again sometime."

    1. I don't know if you saw this thread. Old, but the advice is still good.


      Here are some suggestions for next time:
      1) Dessert didn't have to be served late. Don't let late guests dictate the flow of the evening.
      How to handle late guests : http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/820935
      2) Husband went to bed @ 1:30. Could have just said, "Guess it's bedtime. Thanks for coming over"
      3) Stop w/the wine and move on to coffee
      4) Start cleaning up.

      But you know what? You were chatting, having a great time, and didn't realize it was getting late. Sounds like a success! I would have just put off the cleaning.

      1. As I stated in the other thread, I have put my jammies on at times to get people to leave. :-)

        1. As LeoLioness said, politely but directly is always best. Perhaps something like, "Hey gang, you know we all have to work tomorrow; I'm beat. This has been such fun but now we need to close it up and everybody head home." When I throw I dinner party or a musical party, I always put a time range, like from 7pm - 9pm. That way people know in advance that there is a definite end time.

          1. I am not quite sure there is a problem stated in the OP.

            "We were all chatting and having a great time"

            Sounds wonderful to me.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Steve

              I agree Steve; I was having a great time but also wished that I could have gone to bed a couple of hours earlier! Part of the conversation was planning our next outing/dinner together so I know we will be partying with this group again. I was also a little concerned that our neighbours would squawk about the noise and send condo security to our suite.

              Also since our guests parked on the street they all got parking tickets since they were parked past 2am. I'll use that as ammunition for next time!

              I have hosted dinners where I just get so tired that I do change into pyjamas and slink downstairs, only to have guests comment on how cute my PJs are. :)

              Maybe next time I'll make hot toddies for everyone to help them realize how sleepy they are!!

              1. re: ladooShoppe

                No! No hot toddies. They'll stay until the sun comes up. The food and drink must stop coming out if you want them to go home.

              2. re: Steve

                I'm with Steve! To have a group of friends that just enjoy themselves (and their drinkies) so much they lose track of time is a WONDERFUL thing.


              3. Holy Cow, 4am!?!?!

                My group tends to settle in for the long haul, arriving at 6pm and staying until midnight is normal, but 4am shocks me.

                The fact that some were new friends is interesting.....you must report back on the next gathering, especially if it extends into breakfast!

                As long as everyone was having a great time, no harm done but I would probably be prepared to take the bull by the horns next time and move everyone out the door much earlier.

                1. Probably the easiest way would be to put times for both start and end fo the soiree on any invitation. If no invitation sent, then make sure the guests are well aware of the timeframe. Then, when the table starts getting cleared, noone is offended and you don't have to model your bed clothes for anyone to get the hint.

                  1. Your husband went to bed at 1:30 and that wasn't enough of a hint? I have the feeling this is one of those evenings that continued along because as you posted "The wine was flowing, we were all chatting and having a great time." I''ve found the most effective way to end an evening is to stop pouring wine and instead open a couple bottles of water....usually does the trick for me.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: escondido123

                      My thoughts exactly. One of the two hosts actually saying good night and going to bed - I may be getting old but I thought universally that meant the party's over unless... the wine was REALLY flowing and the remaining host was right in the middle of the revelry. Then all bets are off. I'm a night owl but by 4 AM I'm handing out pillows and blankets and joining my spouse.

                    2. Excuse yourself momentarily......come back down in a nightgown and robe with your face covered in cold cream and say Good night and thanks for coming.

                      1. It sounds like you were having a great time, so I'm wondering why you wanted to shut this down? My personal rule of thumb is this ... "Let the good parties come to a natural end". You only need to shut down boring, tiring, long past their prime parties where people just don't seem to want to leave even though you are at the point of gouging your eyeballs out. In the latter case, a simple "Oh my gosh, look at the time! DH and I have an early morning appointment, so lets call it quits for tonight and do this again in a few weeks!" while ushering people towards the front door and having spouse collect coats from the spare room as required.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: freia

                          I suppose I sort of enabled the long night as I was the one who kept offering wine. I WAS having a great time but the whole while was thinking "how can I get these people out of my house?" When I finally crawled into bed at 4:30am my husband asked, "who the hell stays at someone's house until 4am?!"

                          I received a really nice email from one of the people who attended and she said, "the only thing I would have wanted was to laugh and talk for longer".


                          Next time my plan of action is to get the coffee pot out, put the wine away and run the dishwasher earlier!

                          1. re: ladooShoppe

                            When I finally crawled into bed at 4:30am my husband asked, "who the hell stays at someone's house until 4am?!"

                            Oh that is funny! Like I mentioned upthread, our group can put in a shift (my husband is the enabler, pouring wine like water) but I agree with your husband, 4am is WAY outside the norm.

                            1. re: ladooShoppe

                              I don't think you were sort of enabling. You were totally enabling! :) You were pouring the wine. You were the one setting the example that you did not care if people stayed or left. I''m surprised the designated drivers didn't give their rides the stink eye at 1:30 am when your husband went to bed. Next time, remind the drivers of the 2AM cutoff for parking and stop pouring wine a half hour before you want people to leave. Save a glass for yourself for cleanup!

                              1. re: lbs

                                Haha, ok ok, it seems that I have nothing to complain about because you've all made me realize that I wanted to party like a rockstar too. Next time however I will use LeoLioness's line "I hate to cut the good time short but I'm exhausted. Let's do this again sometime." Pretty sure those rockstars would go to a bar after leaving my house anyway.

                                1. re: ladooShoppe

                                  Ha! I've been in your shoes before (maybe more than once) and it is always a shock to see the kitchen clock and realize that it is so late! "Where did the time go? And why are these people still here? And why do I still have wine in my glass?"

                          2. I see nothing wrong with this approach (1:40 minute mark).


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                            1. The polite way to indicate to guests that it's time for them to leave is to begin flossing your teeth.

                              1. Years ago staying up until 4am with friends after a dinner party was kind of fun. Sometimes later that day there may have been a few regrets however. These days, our dinner party crowd wraps these evenings up well before midnight. Dinner is served no later than 7pm and dessert usually by 9pm. and everybody is on their way home by 10pm. That's enough conversation for an evening for me.