WE'VE all experienced guests who can't seem to take a hint that the night's festivities are over.
So, as Christmas fast approaches, journalist and author Harry Wallop has revealed 15 clever tricks you can use if you want to politely give your friends and family their marching orders.
First up, Harry suggests going to brush your teeth.
Recalling one moment at a previous party that earned him the title of the "rudest man in Britain" from his wife, Harry told the Daily Mail Online: "I got so frustrated at the final straggle of guests shuffling around the carpet to Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town and drinking my last bottle of cherry brandy that I went to the bathroom, grabbed my toothbrush and Colgate, and re-entered the sitting room cleaning my teeth."
Once he told his guests that he was "getting ready for bed", they got the message, and quickly left.
If that's a bit too rude for you, you could consider putting an end time on your invitations for Christmas drinks.
"Don’t think it’s impolite to state — when you issue the invitation — the timings of the evening: 'Christmas drinks, 6pm to 9pm'," he said, adding: "Forewarned is forearmed."
Harry's third suggestion is to start the washing up to signal that the evening is coming to a close, or hiding the drink to give the impression that you've run out of alcohol – therefore the evening is automatically finished.
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The fifth option is to "power down" your heating and lighting at 11pm – which can even often be done with a smart-home app on your phone.
Or you could try serving soft drinks around the time you want the party to end, signalling that the boozing is done, so the partying is done.
Another way is to get your guests to order taxis for themselves by suggesting you live in something of a "taxi desert".
Harry suggested saying: "'We’ve found it’s been a nightmare getting a cab recently in this part of the country. Can we order you a cab now, just in case it takes another 45 minutes to turn up?’
"Look shocked when it arrives seven minutes later."
Eighth up is nominating a guest before the party, who will state at a previously agreed hour: "Oh, is that the time? We must leave and give this poor couple some peace."
Or you could try the blame game – either by blaming the dog, claiming he's not a fan of people being in the house after midnight – or by alleging that the neighbours had called you to tell you to keep the noise down.
Another very obvious sign that people should leave is if you take the bins out.
"With a bit of performative huffing and puffing, take the empty bottles to your recycling bin outside, with an exclamation of, ‘Wow, we’ve got through a lot of prosecco this evening'," Harry explained.
"This should prompt some guests into deciding their current glass of fizz is their last."
Using food and drink is another way to hint that the evening has come to an end – either by offering guests a relaxing herbal tea, or by getting your breakfast ready for the next day – "as breakfast is only a few hours away".
You could also try bringing guests' coats down from the spare room, stating that you'd had to clear the bed for a poorly child – which is guaranteed to prompt a hasty exit.
Harry's last suggestion is perhaps the most blunt way of bringing the night to a close – simply going to bed.
"This weekend when there were still people around my kitchen table at 1.40am, I got up and left," he said. "No explanation, no, ‘I’m so sorry, but I can not keep my eyelids open a second longer’. I just exited.
"Eventually the guests took the hint that if the host had left, maybe they should, too."
For other Christmas tips, check out this clever way of sealing a gift bag without using cellotape.
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