How to Handle Late Relatives on Thanksgiving

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,
Every year we host Thanksgiving for the relatives on my mother’s side. They are all very nice, and we really enjoy having them all come over. However, we have two relatives who arrive late, and as a result, like to stay really late. How do we politely get them to leave with everyone else?

Dear SW,
People often do not understand when it is time to leave. Or they know they should, but keep on staying and talking, because they are having fun. (I know I have been guilty of this.) Take it as a compliment that your guests are having fun. When the big group is leaving, I would say to the couple who stays too long, “Let me get your coats and handbag.” Then try to walk them to the door. If they say, “Oh no, we do not have to go yet.” I would say, “You are so sweet to want to stay. I am exhausted from cooking all day and having everyone over. Let’s plan a time to have you come again. This way I will be more conversational and with it.”

If you do not catch them on the initial round of everyone else leaving, then I would find them, stay standing, and say “That was such a fun day. I really appreciate you being here. I cannot thank you enough for coming.” Lean in for a hug, which will encourage them to get up. If they have drinks in their hand, I would take them and say, “I can take these to the sink for you.” Then say, “I have your coats and handbag. Let me help you get on your coats.” Once they have them on, walk them to the door. If they continue to talk at the door, tell them that you once again you appreciate them coming over. You can then add, “I am about to fall asleep just standing here. I feel so rude to not completely listen to what you are saying. Let’s talk next week and plan a day to get together when it is not so hectic.” This should get them out the door.