Monday, June 21, 2010

Manners Monday: How to Avoid Overstaying Your Welcome

Last week, in our first post of the new  'Manners Monday' series we discussed how to treat a guest and be a good host when they visit, as it pertains to offering food and beverages. This week it's all about timing: When and how long to visit without overstaying your welcome.

We all know that person who drinks a little too much wine and stays hours after a party to the point of being obnoxious. There are those that show up at your door before you're even fully dressed or ready for company and then yet still, there are those that have a complete lack of respect and disregard for your time by showing up more than fashionably late to an event or dinner party.

Avoid Overstaying Your Welcome

1. The Drop-In- If you are just dropping by to visit a friend and have not called them to inform them first, the visit should last no longer than 20 minutes, unless those you are visiting urge you to stay longer and were truly delighted by the surprise. Do try to avoid the drop-in no matter how much you wish to surprise someone. You never know what their day entails and may catch them off guard.

2. The House Party or Casual BBQ- If you are invited to a more casual venue, your host may deem it a 'drop-in throughout the day' sort of affair or there may be a specific time listed on your invite. If there is a range of time such as between 1-5pm, be sure to stay no longer than the 5pm time listed and try to arrive at least an our before the party is due to end.  Don't show up early before the time specified, as your host may still be finding her perfect attire and avoid sipping on a glass of wine and staying for hours afterwards, even if other guests do. Your hosts may have something else to attend to afterwards but aren't interested in sharing those details.

3. The Dinner Party- If you are invited to a home for dinner, treat it as you would a restaurant and don't be late. Arrive no later than 10 minutes after the specified time on the invitation. Also, it's important to put in some face time, don't attend if you have to leave quickly after dinner or you will appear as though you are dining and dashing. Always offer to assist with the clean up and any dishes, your host will usually decline but it is only polite. Do stay for an after dinner drink or coffee if offered and some conversation but be sure to leave as other guests leave. You don't want to get to the point where you're chatting up your hosts well into the late evening hours while they're rubbing their eyes to give you a hint to leave because they're tired.

4. You: The House Guest- If you're staying for a weekend, week or longer, be sure to define the time frame upfront with your host and don't deviate from it unless discussing with them first. They should know exactly when you are to arrive and leave and you should also plan to use a cab or rental car unless they suggest otherwise or offer to pick you up from the airport. It's never appropriate to assume that they will be your chauffeur and it gives you your own independence while visiting. Be sure to tidy up and leave your room or space just as you found it and always leave your host or hostess with a special gift to thank them for their hospitality, even if they are close family members.

5. The Overnight Date- Don't turn an evening at your man's apartment into an overnight date-unless he suggests it and you are comfortable. If a man has invited you to stay in his home for a night or a weekend, regardless of how serious the relationship is, it's never okay to overstay or leave your personal belongings behind-he'll be onto you! As with any other situation, be neat while you stay and take everything home that you came with. Don't extend a longer stay by taking time off of work or planning a fun day for the two of you. Treat the situation as you would any other host. Leave when you are supposed to unless he's begging you to stay longer. However, even then in a relationship as a woman you risk being less mysterious and he may not be longing for more time with you.

Have you ever hosted such a great party that some of your guests just wouldn't leave? Maybe you entertained weekend guests that stayed well past the time they promised? Perhaps you see yourself as the guest who has overstayed? Leave a comment and share your experiences!

Thank you for reading!



  1. I can always use tips on etiquette and am adding you as a follower and to my twitter as well.

  2. Excellent advice as always Karla.

    Here is a situation that I'd love you to cover, Etiquette regarding R.S.V.P's. I am hosting our a pre-party before another event that is a short distance from my home. This is an annual event and we've been hosting this party for years. I sent an e-vite because it's a casual affair, but I'd still like to know how many I should count on for cocktails and snacks. There are a few guests who never R.S.V.P. among this group. In some situations they call the day of the event to let me know. One person occasionally
    doesn't R.S.V.P but comes anyway.

    My question: Is there a tactful way of wording the invitation that might result in a better response? Also, for those who don't respond to invitations in general, is it appropriate to give them a call or mention at a later time that I wished I'd known if they were coming?

  3. Awesome question Karen! I will tackle this one as a reader request on this Thursday's post. :)

    This happens a lot in the entertaining world. One of my closest friends overspent and had too much food after a party as a results of no-shows that promised to attend. It takes some of the joy out of entertaining. I definitely have some suggestions though that might be helpful.


  4. I really like all of these tips, although I personally disagree with the last one. I say this as a married woman to whom this no longer applies, so maybe I'm just out of the loop :) Of course I support the idea of treating your dating partner like any other host (i.e. with respect). However, I think that if you're being less mysterious and your partner is no longer pining for more time with you, you're probably not meant to be together! And hopefully, if you've overstayed your welcome with your partner, he or she would be comfortable telling you.

  5. Katie: I welcome differing opinions, thank you for your comment! My message is always conveyed with the 'classy woman' in mind. :) I know of too many women that do linger and overstay their welcome, become less mysterious especially in the earlier dating days and then wonder why he just doesn't seem that interested anymore. Men are funny like that-they love the thrill of the chase, whether they are willing to admit it or not. ;)

  6. I'm afraid I am here to inquire about a very sticky situation with my boyfriend. I recently had a crisis, as in a few days ago, that we don't need to get into-nothing ongoing or recurring. but a one time event that his family is aware of and almost had to assist with financially as it affected my boyfriend as well, however fortunately I was able to handle it on my own. unfortunately they had already found out and suffered the momentary shock. The week following this crisis, naturally, is a weekend long party on a farm they own, which many of their family friends are attending, and which I and my boyfriend have been looking forward to for months. I have made ammends with his mother over the shock, and she reiterated that if I were to still come out for the weekend it would be relaxing for me. I said I should talk with my boyfriend and see what he thinks, thanking her, and he said 'Yeah, I think it would be fine if you came." (text message, haven't seen him in person yet). I want to give my answer to his mother asap so we can get the plane tickets (or not, in my case)--do you think I should step down on this family event, or do you think, that because its going to be a party with a lot of distraction, rather than in intimate family gathering, I could simply make myself useful, keep a low and dignified profile, and be responsible for showing up at an event I had planned to come to for months, rather than cower and not come in an attempt to avoid scandal?

  7. @Anonymous- Without knowing the finer details, based on your boyfriend's mother's response, it sounds as though she is welcoming you to attend. If you do go, try to enjoy yourself and not think about the 'crisis' you mentioned.

    However, you did mention needing to pay for airfare to attend this farm party. Attending may not show you in a responsible light after previously mentioning that you got yourself into a situation that involved his parents almost needed to help you both with financially. I'm sure there will be other parties, ultimately I would advise both saving your money low and letting the 'issue' blow over.

  8. Do you apologize if you were the the person lingering or do you just not do it again?

  9. @USDeuro- Thank you for question! Both are appropriate actually. If you see your host yawning, that is typically a sign that they are ready to call it a night. Admittedly, I've overstayed a few times with friends that I just adore and can't get enough of spending time with. I always let them know I'm sorry I've kept them up so late (if that's the case) and then I get on my way. I make sure not to do it again. Your good friends or family probably won't think too much of it other than gee, she was chatty tonight, etc. With those you don't know as well, they might be forming their first impression thoughts based on it. Either way, as a classy woman our goal is to do our best and when we mess up, we make every effort to correct it and be more pro-active the next time. :) Have a great week! Warmly, Karla

  10. About a year ago, a man in our community asked if he can stay by us because his apartment got heavy smoke damage from a fire next door to him. My father told him no problem and that he can stay as long as he wants. Originally we thought he was just staying by us until he can find a temporary place to stay until his apartment got fixed but he never left. Around 6 months later his apartment was done but he still never left. At first he said the place still has a smokey smell. It's been another 6 months and he is still by us. Now he says hid place is a mess and he never has time to clean it. He has been by us for around a year already and his place has been fixed and ready to live in for around 6 months. Anyone in their right mind would clearly see that we don't enjoy his presence in our house anymore. We have hinted it to him so many times but he still hasn't left. My father doesn't know how to tell him to leave. He is afraid that he'll hurt the guys feelings and it will be awkward but we can't take it anymore. I have begged bothe my parents to please tell him to leave but they just won't do what needs to be done. The man has clearly overstayed his welcome a long time ago. What am I to do?

  11. Karla,

    Thank you a lot for your most helpful advice.

    I am in a situation where I was invited to a friend's house in Italy (when I told my friend I was going to travel to Italy with a friend, he emailed me back and wrote "why don't you come, we have an extra room"), but never clearly defined when I would leave.

    While corresponding with my host prior arriving, I told him my friend and I were thinking of leaving on the 17th but my friend's plans changed and he had to leave on the 15th. I told my host I was not sure what to do, but he told me "you're welcome to stay". I even offered to contribute financially but his answer was "relax!"

    Now I told my host I did not want to overstay my welcome but he keeps telling me "don't worry about it".
    I hope he's no just being polite.

    Any suggestion is welcome!


    1. Hi Emilie,

      Thanks for your questions, I'm so glad you found this post helpful. :)

      Based on what you shared with me, I don't think your friend is just being polite, I believe he truly does want you to stay. Since your plans were originally for the 17th, even though your friend who was traveling with you left earlier, your host would have been prepared for you to stay those 2 extra days anyhow.

      Before your departure, be sure to leave a thoughtful gift and a card or treat him out to dinner as a way to say thanks, that is something any host would appreciate.

      Enjoy your time in Italy!



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