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How to Get a Guest to Leave

Updated on April 2, 2011

Time is Ticking: Time to GO.

There's a polite way to send a clear message: Go home.
There's a polite way to send a clear message: Go home.
Telling a guest to leave can be done, if done politely.
Telling a guest to leave can be done, if done politely.

Throwing a guest out with style.

In every corner of the world, there are subtle differences in the way to say:

“Here’s your hat: what’s your hurry?”

In other words: your party’s over. Everyone but ONE or TWO GUESTS seems to have gotten the message.

You don’t want to be rude. In fact, you never have to be. But you don’t have to excuse yourself, get into a pair of pajamas and your curlers, start yawning and turning out lights to send the message.

Neither do you have to bald-faced say: “Come ON. Don’t you have somewhere to go? I mean, you can keep drinking, and you don’t have to go home, you just can’t stay HERE.”

It all depends, of course, on where you live, how strict the etiquette is. In Washington, D.C.’s Beltway area, for instance, if a hostess asks you if you’d like a second cup of coffee, anyone with any degree of manners knows better than to say: “yes, please.”

Because THAT, my friend, is the secret signal for: “Get out of my house, please, as fast as you possibly can find your coat.”

Almost anywhere in California, however, etiquette is far more relaxed.

In between coasts? The following options ought to do you nicely.


When faced with a guest who is overstaying their welcome, consider the degree to which you are acquainted with them. If said guest is a good friend, and this is a relatively common problem, you might wish to have a word with them ahead of time – before the event – letting them know their so-called “deadline,” in order to avoid awkwardness later on.

Feel free to place the “blame” on innocent third parties, such as spouses, children, upcoming events the next day, or even the Moon being in the Seventh House of Aquarius. Anything you think might work will do nicely; little white lies – in THIS case – are excused from the strict truthtelling called for by Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative here. It’s etiquette, remember?

Etiquette is for sending a clear message comfortably. It is NOT a moral system; it’s a social system meant to move the wheels of society along smoothly. That is ALL it is.


When faced with a guest or two whom you do not know well enough to call to the side and speak with privately, one has no choice but to exert etiquette with “force,” so to speak.

One must, of course, try the “second cup of coffee” trick, but be certain to phrase it thus:

“Would you like a second (or another) cup of coffee before you leave ?”

If there IS no fresh coffee made – which would be a wonderful thing – your guest may or may not respond thus:

“Only if it’s made…”

If it is not made, respond thus, and be sure to respond quickly enough to disallow any chance for a reply from your guest:

“Oh, what a shame. Pot’s empty. I’ll get your things.”

Dash off and retrieve their things, but go directly to your door with them; do not hand them their own things until they are actually moving outside as you yourself are opening the door. This ensures they must follow you to the door; if you do not physically go to the door, you risk more chatting as they hold their things, standing.

You will, of course, open the door, commenting cheerfully on either the bugs from the heat or the bitter chill from the wind (to ensure their actual – and hasty – exit out of the door.)

Although the wording you use may be different, the sentiments remain the same. You must be ever-polite, ever-smiling, but constantly ASSUMING they are leaving, and ever-helpfully moving them along, by fetching their belongings and helping them to the exit.

Politeness pays off. You will have, quite frankly, thrown your guests out of your house – but you will have done it politely, and they will be delighted to return – if, indeed, they are ever invited back. 


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      5 years ago

      Real brain power on diasypl. Thanks for that answer!


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