Christmas is a time of giving, hospitality and spending precious time with relatives.
That is until you’ve lumbered with house guests who, come the 27th, show no sign of making a move.
Let’s be clear: It’s a lovely gesture to have your friends and family to stay, but a few days in it’s likely your hosting skills are wearing thin. That’s especially true if you’re fatigued after multiple supermarket trips and preparing festive meals, or if you’ve got limited annual leave from work.
But is it ever acceptable to ask your guests to leave – or as the host do you have an obligation to let them stay until they leave of their own accord?
Should you ever ask guests to leave?
We put the question out to Twitter.
One user shared her zero tolerance approach to house guests overstaying their welcome.
Nah, everyone out the door at 9am on 27th. Leave their bags at the front door to collect on their way out 😂— Jessica Noah Morgan (@jnoahmorgan) December 19, 2019
Another user shared her grandmother’s tried and tested technique for shoo-ing guests.
My grandma always made it clear to guests when they asked to stay with her, how long they were staying. The day before, she confirmed they had "everything they brought" together and didn't need anything washed. Seemed to work well.— Jupiter Hadley (@Jupiter_Hadley) December 19, 2019
Hinting at your guests that they should leave seemed to be the go-to method – perhaps unsurprisingly for us non-confrontational Brits.
Yes it's acceptable! Always ask them when they're heading back home before they arrive... and if they say they don't know, say you have plans on 27th... or, if you're like me, just always go to theirs and never host so you can leave when you want 🤷♀️— Becca Peel (@BeccaPeelPr) December 19, 2019
Etiquette expert William Hansom, the author of The Bluffer’s Guide to Etiquette, shares his thoughts with Yahoo UK.
Clarity is key, he advised, so try to manage expectations before your guests arrive. If this involves day guests, then try to check in with them as to whether they will stay through to the evening – just so you can plan accordingly.
“If you are inviting guests for Christmas lunch, tell them there and then if they’d like to stay through until supper,” he advises.
Jenny Holden – a communications coach at Chorus Communications – recommends being open about your own plans for the coming days after Christmas.
She says: “Talk to them about your special plans for Christmas – be specific and detail timings and dates. Those plans don’t have to be anything elaborate – it could be a TV programme you want to watch together, a game you want to play or even just some quality time with your loved ones.”
If you’ve left it too late and your house guests are dragging their feet, there are subtle hints you can give them to leave – although you should “avoid asking people to leave in such explicit terms”, says Hanson.
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“If you need to drop some hints,” he says, “then try asking them things like what are they doing tomorrow, have they got a busy few days coming up, or – the most passive-aggressive and the last resort – how long should it take them to get home.”
Holden says: “Half an hour in advance, ask your guests if they’d like a final drink or cup of tea – a polite way of saying you’re on limited time. And when that time comes (and there’s still no movement), bring in their coat and thank them again for coming over and that now’s the time to have our special family get-together.
“If you feel especially awkward doing this, why not arrange another meet-up soon – and stick to it.”