How to decline Christmas party invitations

I know lots of people feel guilty about not wanting to attend every festive event they’re invited to – including me. So in this blog post I’m sharing techniques to help you decline Christmas party invitations quickly, easily – and without feeling bad.

When you think about it, promptly and politely saying ‘no’ to an invitation is not something we should be anxious about.

Whether it’s because it’s not how you want to spend your precious time, you can’t afford it, or you’re simply already fully booked, you’re well within your rights to turn it down.

It’s okay to say ‘no’

We all have different priorities and budgets; and a large part of creating the Christmas you really want is about identifying and sticking to these.

So if it doesn’t serve you, just say ‘no’ – it’s perfectly acceptable.

I don’t always succeed, but I try my hardest to shift to this way of thinking about invitations and free myself from the guilt – it’s so liberating!

Most friends, family and colleagues will want you to spend Christmas in exactly the way you want to – and in fact they probably wish they could say ‘no’ to an invitation or two themselves.

It’s easy to think that you’re letting them down in a big way, but (no offence) it’s quite likely the host won’t miss you much anyway!

So it’s really not worth getting stressed, running yourself ragged and/or getting in debt for social events you’d rather not attend.


Decline invitations gracefully

Of course it’s important to be polite and tactful when you decline invitations – there’s no point causing unnecessary offence or upset.

It’s also a good idea to RSVP promptly.

You might be tempted to put off what feels like an awkward conversation – but it will only play on your mind, plus it’s usually more helpful for the host if you let them know straight away that you can’t attend.

For example, they might need to know guest numbers if they’re organising food and drink, or they could invite someone else in your place.

Which brings me on to an important point: only accept an invitation if you truly intend to go.

As a host there’s nothing worse than people who say ‘yes’ only to change their minds later on – or worse still, just not turn up.


Honesty is the best policy

So what exactly should you say to the host when declining their invitation?

I recommend keeping it short and honest, avoiding detailed excuses as sometimes they can come across as ‘protesting too much.’

In fact you’re under no obligation to give a reason why you can’t attend (this isn’t your school homework, after all!), and as a rule it’s a bad idea to make something up as there’s a high chance you’ll be caught out.

A simple: ‘Thank you for the invitation but I can’t make it this year’ – is perfectly acceptable in my view.

You could also say something like: ‘Thank you for inviting me – it sounds like lots of fun! I’m afraid I’m unable to attend, but I hope you have a brilliant time’ – but only if it’s true!

When turning down an invitation from a friend, colleague or family member you’d genuinely like to see another time, you could suggest an alternative date for a meet-up to help keep the relationship going.

Stick to your guns

Occasionally someone might give you a hard time for saying no to an invitation – but try not to cave in to peer pressure.

You made your decision for a good reason – you don’t have to change your mind, apologise, explain, worry about what other people think or feel bad about it.

If someone puts pressure on you to change your mind, remember you don’t have to respond.

Alternatively you could reply with a simple repetition that you’re not able to attend this year and you hope they have a great time.

Remember: your top responsibility is to look after yourself, have boundaries – and have the Christmas that you really want!

I hope these tips on how to decline a Christmas party invitation help you have the festive season you really want.

Let me know your experiences and if you have any tips of your own!

Alex x

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