Sometimes friends overstay their welcome when you host a party, or they simply drop by unannounced during the day. If you wish to maintain the friendship -- but desperately need to end the visit -- using subtlety and polite signals usually alerts your friends that the party is over. At other times, brute honesty is necessary to get the point across, but if the friendship is strong, this will be accepted with grace.
Write the end time for the party when you send out invitations, whether it is for a New Year's bash or a simple dinner party. Most guests respect that and leave at the appropriate time. If you have a few stragglers who don't take the hint when other guests start to leave, ask them if they have a way home or offer to take them home yourself -- particularly if they have been drinking alcohol.
Start cleaning up from the evening's activities. Pick up glasses, dishes, lock the back doors, draw the drapes or any other indication that it is bedtime.
Beg for forgiveness by saying something like, "I'm so sorry, I truly hate to run you off, but I really must leave for a doctor's appointment," or some other statement to that effect. This is effective if the person drops by unannounced during the day and you have a hectic schedule to keep. Invite them along if this makes you feel better and it is appropriate for them to go with you.
Ask the friend what his schedule is for the next day or what time he has to be at work. Hopefully, this will jolt him into looking at his watch or cell phone and saying, "Gee, it's getting late, I'd better go."
Fake a yawn and bat your eyes sleepily a few times. If the friend pretends not to notice, do it a few minutes later and then loudly say, "Oh excuse me, I'm just so sleepy." Many people will take the hint and say something like, "Yeah, I guess I really should be leaving." Stand up quickly and say, "I'll walk you out" or "I'll get your coat." Do not say, "Oh no, don't rush off." The person may take you literally and you will be quite remorseful a few hours later when she is still talking without an end in sight.
Tell the truth. When you absolutely have to end the evening, just simply say, "I am so sorry, I hate to rush you, but I must get a good night's rest. I have an important business meeting in the morning and I have to be at my best." Immediately rise and retrieve the person's coat or state that you will walk him out.
Chelsea Fitzgerald covers topics related to family, health, green living and travel. Before her writing career, she worked in the medical field for 21 years. Fitzgerald studied education at the University of Arkansas and University of Memphis.