How to Know When the Party is Over

Signs that the Host Wants You to Go Home

Group of friends in kitchen for dinner party
Enjoy the party while it's in full swing, but don't overstay your welcome. Porta Images/Taxi/Getty Images

You've been invited to the party of the century, and you're having a blast. Suddenly you look up at the clock and see that it's way past midnight. Since most adult party invitations don't include the time the get-together is supposed to end, you glance over at the host for a sign. As a well-mannered guest, you don't want to overstay your welcome.

Signs That the Host is Ready to Say Goodbye

How to tell when your host is ready to end the party:

  1. She glances at her watch every 15 seconds. Although your host may be time conscious throughout the night – to make sure the hors d'oeuvres come out of the oven on time or simply because she likes to know what time it is – if she continues doing so as the evening wears on, take it as a hint.
  2. He starts cleaning up. Most hosts will pick up stray items during the party, but if you see a major cleaning going on with garbage bags and vacuum cleaners, offer to pitch in. Then thank the host, get your coat, and leave.
  3. She has turned on every light in the house. Most skilled hosts know that dim lighting makes everyone look better, and they want everyone to be comfortable…that is, until it's time to end the party. Turning on the lights can be jarring, but it's also effective if people are hanging around too long.
  4. The music stops playing, and the only sounds are the voices of people who don't know when to leave. Another thing that can jar the senses and let you know it's time to leave is silence. A good host will choose music that she knows her guests will like. However, when that ends, consider it a powerful sign that the host is ready to call it a night. Resist the urge to insist on just one more song. That would be rude.
  1. He's offering to call a cab for anyone who has had too much to drink. At the first sign of the host showing people the door, you need to wrap up your conversation, give a few air kisses to the kind people who hosted your party, and leave.
  2. The coats that were graciously placed in the back room have made an appearance on the arm of the sofa. If your host took your coat and made it disappear to another room when you arrived, and then it shows up again just as quickly, the host is letting you know he wants you to take it…and go. Thank the host for getting your coat, give him or her a hug with a heartfelt thank you, and find the door.
  1. She hasn't offered anyone a drink in the past hour. As long as the refreshments are flowing, you can rest assured that the host is still enjoying her guests. However, when she's had enough or thinks that her guests have, she'll end the drinks. Or she may call "last round," a not-so-subtle way of saying that she's ready for everyone to leave.
  2. He is standing at the door and thanking everyone for coming. He may be doing this because someone has left early, so don't worry about it if he refreshes his drink and rejoins the crowd. However, if he remains by the door, be the next one to say goodbye.
  3. She yawns every few seconds. Even the best hosts get tired. After all, hosting a party is an exhausting undertaking. All the planning, purchasing, preparation, and cleaning can take their toll on someone. When you see her yawning, be kind and ask if you can help clean up. Chances are, unless you're a relative or very close friend since childhood, she'll say, "No thank you." Tell her you had a great time, find whomever you came with, and go home.

Say Goodbye

If you witness any of the signs that the party host is ready to shut the party down, find your hat, coat, and purse, and then approach the host.

Say that you had a wonderful time and you'd like to get together again sometime, and then leave.

Thank You Note

As always, a thank you note is in order. It's never too soon to get one in the mail, so why not go ahead and do it as soon as you get home? Mail it first thing the next morning, and your host will probably bump you to the top of the guest list for the next big party.