When Holiday Guests Won’t Leave

The holidays are here, and there will be lots of comings and goings — and perhaps a bit too much

The holidays are here, and there will be lots of comings and goings — and perhaps a bit too much of staying. Sometimes friends and family are having such a good time at your celebration that they forget to go home. Of course, all good things must come to an end — and hosts need their sleep. Here’s a lighthearted look at handling party stragglers and houseguests who won’t leave.

Know How to Say Good-Bye
If guests won’t leave after a party, it’s perfectly acceptable to suggest politely that it’s time to go. Practice these phrases from expert socialites.

Abigail van Buren (Dear Abby): “Oh, dear, just look at the time! I didn’t realize it was so late. I’m going to let you nice people go home, so you can retire.”

Judith Martin (Miss Manners): “It’s been wonderful having you. We really enjoyed it. I’ll get you the train schedule. Will you be needing a ride to the station?”

Walter Sickert (British Impressionist painter): “Do come back when you’ve a little less time to spare.”

Outwit the Long-Term Lodger
If you don’t want to play host for a few days, tell aspiring guests that it will be impossible for them to stay with you, saying, perhaps, “It’s just not a good time for me.” If you don’t mind having someone stay over, be very clear about how long the person is invited to stay: “Make yourself at home, but only through Friday night — I’m having the living room painted this weekend.” Then make arrangements to have the living room painted. Here are some other ideas you might want to try (but probably shouldn’t!).

  • Avoid buying a sofa bed. Offer your guests the floor.
  • Put a rock under the guest mattress. Or a typewriter.
  • Make sure the refrigerator is empty, or full of dairy products and turned off.
  • Tell them your key is hard to use, then change the locks.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest