Dear Annie: We occasionally will have friends over for dinner, and there have been times when they simply won’t leave. I’m not talking about an hour or two; many times it’s three or four hours after dinner!

We love our friends and are happy that they feel very comfortable with us to stay that long. My wife and I are both retired, so it’s not like we have to be up early the next morning, but we do have other things we’d like to get done before turning in. I try to drop subtle hints but to no avail.

What’s a polite way to wrap up a delightful evening that shouldn’t be more than a few hours?

— To Leave or Not To Leave

Dear To Leave or Not To Leave: It sounds like your subtle hints are not working, so it’s time to start from the beginning. Next time you invite your friends over, instead of just putting the start time, add an end time. That way, everything is clear before the dinner even begins. Another tip could be to have a goody bag with a cookie in it. You could drop a subtle hint like, “Here, don’t forget your cookie on your way out.” Honesty coupled with kindness is always appreciated.

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