Wrap Up the Party With Grace and Style

The holidays are approaching—quickly!

When it comes to “wrapping up,” I’m not talking about wrapping up the gifts. I’m talking about how to end a holiday party (or even a dinner party) on time! 

I mean, how do you send your guests out the door in a time frame that works for you?

Is it ok to end a party when your guests are having a good time?

After I held a Fall Neighborhood Luncheon in October, a couple of my readers asked me these questions:

Sandy, I want to know how you were able to wrap things up at 1:30—i.e. encourage guests to leave graciously. This is sometimes a problem for me, although a good problem, as it means that people are still having a good time!

And …

How did you “wrap things up?” We had a family over for an impromptu casual dinner not too long ago and they stayed until 11:00 (on a school night too)! We even started putting the kids to bed and that didn’t work…

What’s worked for my family and me for many years is simple. Because we’ve all had guests or family members who won’t leave, we don’t want to feel “caught” or “stuck” and let our graciousness fly out the door. So I’ve come up with these tips to help “wrap up the party” – with grace and style!

  • When you’re holding a party, think ahead to the time when you’d like the party to end.
  • Be flexible—don’t be married to that time, because you may be having such a good time extending out the party.
  • If you have to be done by a certain time, let your guests know ahead of time. Most guests would be sensitive to the host’s needs.
  • After the last course is served, and conversation is winding down, stand up and head into the kitchen (you can even start on the dishes).
  • If the night is getting later than you had planned, go put your slippers on! 
  • Feel free to explain that you have to get up early —start moving toward the door.

Obviously, the sign of a great party is when the guests don’t want to leave. 

When I think about all of the entertaining we’ve done, I can’t think of a time when our guests weren’t sensitive to our family’s needs if we needed to wind it down by a certain time.

And my husband’s quick-witted humor always comes out as our friends leave, when he says, “Come back when you can’t stay as long!”

It’s been said in our home, as we’re saying good bye to our guests, for 18 years now!

This holiday season, when we’re “given to hospitality,” enjoying the spirit of the holiday with friends and family, and rejoicing in the birth of our Savior, let’s not be so quick to get to the next event, or fall into bed exhausted from cramming too much in to our schedules, that we lose our grace. 

Let’s be sensitive to each other’s needs, keeping our style and our grace, as we open our homes and extend hospitality to others.

This is a season of anticipating joys to come!
Feel free to Ask Sandy … by discussing these topics and more on Sandy’s blog, www.reluctantentertainer.com

©2008, Sandy Coughlin

4 comments for “Wrap Up the Party With Grace and Style

  1. December 1, 2008 at 10:58 AM

    Great column! I’m not the best entertainer, so I think I’ll glean a few tips from you. 🙂

  2. Bonnie
    December 1, 2008 at 1:45 PM

    Congratulations on the great column!

    In the days of the wind up alarm clocks, my father taught us to start winding the clock if you wanted guest to leave. It sent a clear message that you were getting ready for an early morning.

    Bonnie Hooley

  3. Kathleen
    December 2, 2008 at 1:39 PM

    My husband never fails to get guests to the door. He simply starts bringing them their coats and thanking them for coming. If it is summer, he starts thanking them for coming and offering to carry any promised leftovers or whatevers to theirs cars. It is actually kind of funny. Sometimes he has been asked if he is throwing them out and he just smiles and says it’s time to go home.

  4. December 10, 2008 at 7:01 PM

    Thanks for the lovely answer, Sandy!

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