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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

How to say goodbye at a party

Last year, we threw a holiday party, and fifty friends squeezed into our teeny apartment. We drank sparking wine, ate kettle chips and climbed onto the fire escape to tell stories. Everything was going well, but then something started happening...

For the entire second half of the party, polite friends kept coming up to say goodbye as they put on their coats and wished us a happy rest-of-the-weekend. For the entire second half of the party, most of our conversations were goodbyes. Finally I turned to Alex, perplexed, and asked, "Why is everyone leaving?" And he pointed out that dozens of people were still there; it just felt like a mass exodus because we were consumed with saying goodbye to every single person who was heading home. It felt like the party was over halfway through.

The next morning, we made a decision: We would never say goodbye to the hosts of parties. We would simply slip out the door.

"Goodbyes are, by their very nature, at least a mild bummer," agrees Seth Stevenson in this Slate post, and he encourages people to leave parties without saying goodbye. What if your friends wonder where you've gone? "This is key," he says, "They probably won’t even notice that you’ve left." You can then send a thank-you email to the hosts the next morning.

Would you do this? Do you already? Or do you think it's rude? Would love to hear your thoughts...

(Via Kottke)

258 comments:

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Lorraine said...

Just plain rude!

Lorraine said...

Just plain rude!

Conny said...

If it's a small party I say goodbye to everybody, but if it's a big one, with a loooot of people, I just say goodbye to the people around me, with whom I am having a conversation and to the ones I meet on the way out and of course to the host if he/she/they are very busy, just wave and smile.

Ofri said...

very Intresting but I was educated for years by my parents to go and say goodbye.
It's intresting what you are saying but I believe it is concernng only parties with many people and not few so when you are disappearing no one will notice.

peppysis said...

My husband and I almost never say goodbye at parties. The drunks never want us to leave! So we just casually give each other a certain look when we have both agreed it's time to exit and make our way to the truck without being seen. It's kindof our little game but works fabulously for us.

kristina said...

"... or the grocery store ..." Hahaha love this!!! Gotta love your culture. (I'm Russian) For us, it's stand at the door half an hour and talk. We say goodbye and then don't leave!

Margie said...

Did you every hear of an "Irish Goodbye"? In my family we are known for quickly sneaking out of parties. Just disappearing. The party goes on and everyone knows where you are…. Irish Goodbye.

a/k/a Nadine said...

I've always been a just slip out the door kind of gal, but unfortunately my husband's family is the opposite. Everyone must get a hug and a personal goodbye. It KILLS me every time. When I'm ready to go, I want to GO.

Isabelle said...

I'd do it at a work/business gathering, maybe if there is a huge party (like a wedding) so not to annoy the bride and groom but never at a friend's or family party. No thanking the host is rude !
And being able to understand that your guests are leaving and being polite without it creating some "people are leaving, omg !" anxiety in you is called "being a good host"

Btw I am French, my husband is Irish... and I don't see the point

kristina said...

That's a tough one. I think if it's a larger gathering, it's ok, but I would never leave a good friend's party without a quick goodbye...especially if it was a smaller crowd...seems so rude and ungrateful of their hospitality.

collette said...

Seems rude to me. Like, you'd never slip out of a wedding without talking to the bride and groom...so why hosts?

catbee said...

we call just slipping out "the irish goodbye". it's great as a guest, but as a host i don't always have the chance to talk with everyone and i'd be bummed out if i didn't get to at least say goodbye to one of my friends!

Kelly Ramstack said...

Hmmm, my husband's family is Norwegian. Perhaps there's a connection!

Mandee said...

I think it is really rude to leave without saying goodbye! Slipping out the door without saying goodbye is sketchy! And yes, people will wonder where you went and think that you are rude/weird for just taking off secretly.

Unknown said...

At big parties I always duck out, saying goodbyes to whomever happens to be close to the door/coat room/hallway--basically whoever I might pass on my way out. Then I always call or email the next morning with thanks. Smaller parties are a different story, of course, but it's too hard to track people down, break into their conversations or distract them from the fun just to say a silly goodbye. Slipping out is way better!

Unknown said...

At big parties I always duck out, saying goodbyes to whomever happens to be close to the door/coat room/hallway--basically whoever I might pass on my way out. Then I always call or email the next morning with thanks. Smaller parties are a different story, of course, but it's too hard to track people down, break into their conversations or distract them from the fun just to say a silly goodbye. Slipping out is way better!

Bird said...

I have a natural tendancy to just slip out not wanting to interrupt and it seems most people don't like it. I always get a message later "where did you run off to? why didn't you say good-bye?"...

Erma B. said...

I've always said goodbye to the host or the person being celebrated (if it was a baby shower or something) but I never thought about it from the host's point of view! It does seem like a bummer when it feels like you're saying goodbye to guests for the latter half of a party. I don't mind slipping out and the sending of a thank you note the next day sounds respectful, but I'd probably gauge it by the person or event on how many goodbyes I say.

Erma B. said...

I've always said goodbye to the host or the person being celebrated (if it was a baby shower or something) but I never thought about it from the host's point of view! It does seem like a bummer when it feels like you're saying goodbye to guests for the latter half of a party. I don't mind slipping out and the sending of a thank you note the next day sounds respectful, but I'd probably gauge it by the person or event on how many goodbyes I say.

Erma B. said...

I've always said goodbye to the host or the person being celebrated (if it was a baby shower or something) but I never thought about it from the host's point of view! It does seem like a bummer when it feels like you're saying goodbye to guests for the latter half of a party. I don't mind slipping out and the sending of a thank you note the next day sounds respectful, but I'd probably gauge it by the person or event on how many goodbyes I say.

Erma B. said...

I've always said goodbye to the host or the person being celebrated (if it was a baby shower or something) but I never thought about it from the host's point of view! It does seem like a bummer when it feels like you're saying goodbye to guests for the latter half of a party. I don't mind slipping out and the sending of a thank you note the next day sounds respectful, but I'd probably gauge it by the person or event on how many goodbyes I say.

Erma B. said...

I've always said goodbye to the host or the person being celebrated (if it was a baby shower or something) but I never thought about it from the host's point of view! It does seem like a bummer when it feels like you're saying goodbye to guests for the latter half of a party. I don't mind slipping out and the sending of a thank you note the next day sounds respectful, but I'd probably gauge it by the person or event on how many goodbyes I say.

Erma B. said...

I've always said goodbye to the host or the person being celebrated (if it was a baby shower or something) but I never thought about it from the host's point of view! It does seem like a bummer when it feels like you're saying goodbye to guests for the latter half of a party. I don't mind slipping out and the sending of a thank you note the next day sounds respectful, but I'd probably gauge it by the person or event on how many goodbyes I say.

Bryn Johnson said...

This has become the norm in my circle of friends. We tell a "couple" not the host that we must leave and exit. It is very common and accepted. I agree with the mild bummer and think its always awkward to interrupt a host/hostess just for formality.

art lover said...

Depends on the cirumstances. Personally, if I was at a family gathering, visit with friends (where there wasn't such a large crowd) I would find it rude and frankly, odd to slip out without saying goodbye. I think it's important to thank the hosts and show your appreciation.

The only times I feel comfortable slipping out are the following: a wedding (the night flies by so fast as it is you don't want to waste their precious time saying goodbye along with 100 other people!), a large party where I don't know the hosts very well.

Good manners are so few and far between these days...a simple Thank You takes little of your or anyone else's time.

art lover said...

Depends on the cirumstances. Personally, if I was at a family gathering, visit with friends (where there wasn't such a large crowd) I would find it rude and frankly, odd to slip out without saying goodbye. I think it's important to thank the hosts and show your appreciation.

The only times I feel comfortable slipping out are the following: a wedding (the night flies by so fast as it is you don't want to waste their precious time saying goodbye along with 100 other people!), a large party where I don't know the hosts very well.

Good manners are so few and far between these days...a simple Thank You takes little of your or anyone else's time.

cascadiadays.com said...

It's called the "Irish Exit" and it's awesome.

cascadiadays.com said...

it's called the "Irish Exit" and it's awesome

Annie Green said...

I agree. I loathe saying goodbye. I'd much rather give a cheery wave and kiss and then send a thank you. And I'd rather people did it to me as well. Must try it.

NeatoKeen@Etsy said...

I always bring a little gift (usually a candle and pretty matches) and tuck it where the hosts will find it later. It's my way of saying thank you and nighty night.

@ElisaMarkus said...

Perhaps leaving a big dry-erase board in the kitchen that says, "Goodbye Board" on it that everyone can sign off on when they go! ;)

Kalli said...

I don't really see why it has to ruin any conversations or be a big deal to catch the host's eye in between (don't interrupt!) conversations they're having, and just wave or say a discreet "bye!" or "we gotta get going, thanks!" - I would be a little bit concerned or annoyed if I was hosting a party and guests started to mysteriously disappear. Like, "Was I too busy talking to one person while that person felt neglected? Was the food I spent time/money/effort on so awful they had to escape? " If you tend to get antsy at parties it's always an option when you arrive to casually slip in that you're happy to be there, but may have to run off to another engagement later, or go relieve the babysitter, etc. so that if you do wind up slipping out, they'd have an idea of why you're gone without taking it personally.

With a gathering of family or smallish circle of friends I think would be rude to leave without making a small, quick effort to say goodbye and maybe give your favorite people hugs/kisses.

cozyurbanhome.blogspot.com said...

Lol I'm so glad you feel my pain! Can't we just say goodbye and get out?

Leah said...

I think it depends on the size of the party and how close you are with the hosts. If it is a large wedding, you can generally get away with slipping out unless you are close friends with the bride or the groom. Also, if the hosts of the party are your closest friends and you may have helped plan to party, you may want to say bye. BUT generally I'm a fan of just slipping out. No host ever wants anyone to leave :)

Mandina said...

I call this "Ninja Bombing". I've been doing this for years! I think it's less intrusive on conversations :) Key is to definitely follow up the next day!

Mel said...

I've only heard of the lingering goodbyes referred to as the Jewish goodbye. Not just in reference to Jewish weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs, but any sort of social gathering, such as the oneg reception following Friday night services. It takes forever to leave b/c you end up chatting with everyone in your path on your way out the door. You just have to decide what time you really want to be in the car on the way home and "leave" about 45 minutes before that time. ;-)

Lucie Isabella Boshier said...

I love slipping out the door!

Joanne said...

This suggestion is absolutely mortifying to me. As someone who's hosted many parties, I would totally notice and never forgive my friends for just "slipping out." Not to say that goodbyes need to be drawn out and said to every single person left at the party, but I think a quick "thank you I had a lovely time" to the host is necessary and expected.

I feel like the mere suggestion of this kind of disappearance being acceptable reflects the diminishing courtesies and general good manners in the digital age.

Philly said...

I can't believe this is even up for debate!

You might find it tiresome but I think it's bad manners to leave without saying thanks and goodbye to your host. Simple as that.

Coco Cake Land said...

ahh i cannot leave a party without saying goodbye and thanks! but i personally like to keep the goodbye short and non-distracting, and i follow up with an email the next day. but i totally hear you about feeling like you're saying goodbye to everyone at your own party and not being able to enjoy just partying it up!? perhaps it's one of the wish-we-didn't-have-to-but-have-to jobs of the hostess, to know you'll be spending a while both greeting and saying bye to people that we have to suck up ... people just don't want to seem impolite by fading like a party ghost out the door.

Kimmielovesparis said...

I most always slip out of large parties or events but feel guilty for doing so. I love your post, gives me permission and I totally agree. I hate the long good byes. I also like the followup "thank you".

Kimmielovesparis said...

I most always slip out of large parties or events but feel guilty for doing so. I love your post, gives me permission and I totally agree. I hate the long good byes. I also like the followup "thank you".

Reina said...

I think it would be cute to slip out from a party unnoticed, but leave behind and little thank you card for the host(s) to find

lara gabato said...

I find that saying goodbye is one way to be acknowledged at the party by the host. Depending on the guest list, some folks never even get a chance to have a conversation with the host so the 'goodbye' is an informal way of tying ends together.

Amy @ The American-Made Guide to Life said...

I'm a big fan of the Irish goodbye. Especially with children.

Melissa Jade said...

Irish goodbye where I'm from ;)

Stacia, the Homey Owl said...

So I read this and shared your idea of not saying goodbye with my husband who loved it but I found it incredibly stressful. I think you really need to take in to consideration who your hosts are. As an introvert and a people-pleaser, it is deeply important to me to connect with all my guests and when some slip out and don't say goodbye (especially when I have no idea how long they actually stuck around) I will worry for days that I did something wrong or offended them in some way. Even if they send a thank you later. But I also don't mind all the little goodbye conversations. I think you just need to consider who it is.

Kassi Kotkoski said...

I always heard of Irish Goodbyes, which is where you just leave.

thefolia said...

An interesting concept. It makes me wonder how people who have huge weddings deal with this--their entire night would feel like a goodbye instead of a fresh start! I had a small wedding 33 people and we never once said goodbye that night because it was a destination wedding and everyone had a room at the chateau that entire week. I will rethink about saying goodbyes now however, when I am invited to a larger party for the sake of the host.

Joanna Goddard said...

so fascinating to hear everyone's thoughts!! thanks for these comments:)

Gina said...

As a recent bride, I have to say I am totally grateful that our guests did not say good-bye before leaving! That being said, I always thought drawn out good-byes were perfectly normal, based on my family gatherings (on both sides!)... the price to pay with large families!

Alice Barton said...

I live in Spain and here you can easily spend an hour saying goodbye. at a friends, at a party, restaurant even if you just meet for a coffee, they spend MIN 15 minutes saying goodbye. I try to stand up, say bye and leave, but most people think I am rude but say "she's english, she's different"... so I kinda get away with it. In any case, I always try to sneak out, not making people feel that since i have to gi, it's time for them too. great.

Suneeta Chilukuri said...

I had no idea that so many people slipped out of parties without saying goodbye! I would find it extremely rude if someone left a party I was hosting without a goodbye. It can be a quick wave and thank you if I'm busy but just slipping out would make me wonder if something was wrong! So naturally when I'm leaving someone else's party, if the host is busy, I'll do a quick wave and mouth 'thanks' but if they're not, then sometimes that's the best time to have a little conversation with them before leaving. I think that people who leave without saying bye probably haven't hosted too many parties themselves. I hope this isn't a trend that is going to catch on!

Laura D said...

So funny, this wouldn't even occur to me--I guess I've never hosted a party with enough people!

Check out my blog, if you'd like: http://greenmountainglobetrotter.blogspot.com/

absolutelyabbie said...

I think this is a great idea! I completely agree that good byes are typically a downer. Unconsciously I have been doing this for years even with big good byes. Living abroad I realized that having my mother drop me at the airport to return to Spain was a disaster for all of us. Tsa questioning if I was "ok" to fly was never fun. Yes I was ok, can't a girl miss her momma????
So from a small party like yours to a going away party I have always snuck out. I always send some sort of text email or card that encompasses my sentiment that would have been the formal and in person good bye.

mccart said...



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Amelia Kate Smith said...

I do this all the time! I find it easier than tracking the host down (when they're usually in conversation with someone else already), and then bursting their happy bubble with a goodbye. I always send a hand written note the next morning to say thank-you. If they did notice me slip out the door without saying goodbye, their joy at receiving a handmade thank you card eclipses any upset that may have been caused!

The Red Crew said...

Upon first reading this, I thought this concept was absolutely brilliant . A lingering awkwardness almost always accompanies a goodbye, and so avoiding that uneasiness all together is lovely. However, I went to a party the next Sunday, after I had read this, at my oldest brother's home. All my family, consisting of 7 siblings, all of our kids plus our parents attended. I left without a thank you or our usual hug goodbye.
Unfortunately, my brother unexpectedly died the next morning due to an undetected atrial fibrillation and more than anything I wish I had taken the opportunity to give him one last thank you and hug goodbye.
My case in point: Never skip a chance to show appreciation and love to those who mean the most to you...even if leaving a large gathering.

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