Can you believe how quickly the holidays arrived this year? And now that Christmas is over, we get to look forward to New Year’s Eve and Day!

When it comes to a party, I wonder how many of us worry about it going on too long, what’s the etiquette way of ending a party (when you’re exhausted and ready for your guests to leave), and how do you do it all with class?

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?

A couple of readers asked me these questions:

Sandy, I want to know how you were able to wrap things up and 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 hardly 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 our family joke.)

With New Year’s right around the corner, when we’re “given to hospitality,” enjoying the spirit of the holidays with friends and family, 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.

Being sensitive, but keeping our style and our grace as we open our homes and extend hospitality to others, is a good thing to keep in mind.

What are your tips for gracious ways of ending a party?

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