An Etiquette Expert’s 3-Step Guide for Kicking Out Guests Who Overstay Their Welcome

Photo: Getty Images/MilosStankovic
When I first signed the lease for my apartment, my landlady informed me of a house rule that quickly turned out to be a blessing: no guests after 10 p.m. To me—and classic introverts everywhere—this was not even close to a bummer of a guideline, but still, knowing how to kick someone out of your house is a delicate art form. At least for the time being, though, it was an art form I no longer had to worry about mastering. Anytime I host a dinner party or a birthday gathering, I can be like, "WELP, it's almost 10, you're going to have to roll out or Rosie will be upset."

But since I don't think Rosie will forever preside over my social choices at my place of living, I'd be wise to learn some go-to methods for knowing how to kick someone out of your house. As an initial point of research, I crowdsourced my coworkers for ideas—and they offered some pretty stellar ones:

"I just get up and start doing the dishes, or I say something like, 'Don’t worry about the dishes! I got them.' Alternatively, I will go to the bathroom, get my toothbrush, and start brushing my teeth or getting ready for bed. You have to know the people who are over pretty well for this second method to not be so weird, though."

"I say something like 'I have a 6 a.m. workout class tomorrow—bedtime for this bitch.' OR 'Okay, guys, this is the time that I turn into a pumpkin, time to go'…aka I'm just very honest. 

"I just yawn. It's contagious, so you can actually will your guests to think they're tired. It's like physiological inception"

"A friend of mine from college kept to a strict 10:30 p.m. bedtime and would literally kick you out if you were in her room past 10 p.m. She’d shout 'Oh my God, it’s bedtime you gotta leave!' And that works even if you're secretly a night owl. Just make sure you're not active on social media or anything as soon as your guests leave."

All of those are great sources of inspiration, but are any the correct, totally polite answer to how to kick someone out of your house when just can't (or don't want) to hang anymore? To direct those answers, etiquette expert Lisa Orr has tips for handling this oh-so common social issue. "Every host has been in the situation where their guests missed the memo of the party being over," she says. "And, to be clear, when you’re the host you don’t need a reason for it." Below, find Orr's three-step guide for how to kick someone out of your house when the party's definitely over.

1. Turn off the music

Depending on how late it's getting in my apartment and whether it's me or my roommate controlling the tunes, this is either a carefully curated playlist that I've spent five months working on or a "Summer Jams of the '90s" Spotify list. Whatever your poison though, press pause. "Turning the music off sends clueless guests the clear message that the party is over," Orr says.

2. Turn all the lights up to full bright

"No one enjoys the power of full lighting, and it’s the fastest way to get people moving," Orr says. Not convinced? Consider how closing time at a bar looks, with the bartender trying to essentially blind patrons into leaving by, yep, stopping the music and turning up the lights.

3. Make an announcement

The most polite mode of operation is to set your boundary, and be direct. "Thank your guests for attending, but let them know that it’s time to head home," says Orr. "The most important thing to remember when you’re hosting is that it’s up to you to set the boundaries. Otherwise, guests will stay as late as they can get away with to continue enjoying your hospitality."

So be polite, be firm, and…oh, um. 10 p.m. Gotta go!

BTW, if you need any advice on how to tell people you'd rather not "catch up," we have a few scripts for you. And one introvert shares why reading a book is her go-to party move

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