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The How-To Lounge: Declining an Invitation

Sometimes you just don't want to go to happy hour with a friend or to a co-worker's housewarming party. Maybe the location is inconvenient or perhaps you just don't feel like making the effort, either way, all you want to do is refuse. Unfortunately most of us end up going anyway because we just can't say "no." Guilt and obligation can be brutal, but it's important to learn how to politely decline invitations, otherwise you can really run yourself ragged and end up resenting your friends. To get some great tips,

  • First of all, let the person know that you won't be going. It's far less rude to say no then to just not respond at all.
  • Give as much notice as possible. It's far better to be the first to decline than the tenth.
  • If you decline, try to make an effort to attend your friend's next invitation. If the issue of not going gets pressed, acknowledge her disappointment but don't dwell on it.
  • If the invitation is for a formal event like an engagement party or shower, it's a nice gesture to send a gift if you won't be attending. I don't personally love this particular bit of etiquette, but it will show the invitee that you were thinking of them even though you weren't there.
  • If you were planning on going, but at the last minute had a change of heart or weren't feeling up for it, it's okay to say so. I've done so before, and though your friends will be bummed out, they'll usually understand.
  • In some cases backing out at the last minute will result in a serious tongue lashing — we all have those friends, so sometimes a little white lie is in order. Your friends, family, and coworkers will notice if you start to make a habit of this, only do this in cases of desperation!
  • What are your tips when it comes to declining an invitation? Please share them in the comments section below.


reeeeka reeeeka 9 years
just say maybe...or I dunno. I feel so bad and usually end up going anyway. I need to figure out a way to stop letting the guilt get too me! was just invited for a babys 1st birthday (ex coworkers son) and I don't really want to go as I don't know anyone plus I'm not really friends with her...just loved when she brought her baby in while we worked together lol
cubadog cubadog 9 years
I just say no thank you. I don't think everyone needs to hear or wants to hear some lengthy well thought out explanation as to why you aren't going.
aistea311 aistea311 9 years
i am in that boat with a baby shower this weekend. Though I <3 the momma to be I just dont feel comfortable going.
partysugar partysugar 9 years
Nice tips Dear!
looseseal looseseal 9 years
It might also be good to soften it by first saying whatever they're inviting you to sounds great. Give off an air of "Oh, I want to, but sadly I can't." That would help the inviter feel not so rejected. And add a "Maybe next time?" If you really might consider going the next time.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
Oh i can Say No, Its a gift of mine, guilt free.
pixelsugar pixelsugar 9 years
This is something I've been working really hard on lately. I'm proud to say that I've finally gotten decent at saying no. It takes a lot of practice!
YAYitsErin YAYitsErin 9 years
i think it's harder when it's a friend rather than a co-worker you see everyday. if i really didn't feel up to it, i'd be honest and tell them i'm really looking forward to vegging out after work.
remedios remedios 9 years
I meant "I don't agree it requires formally declining the invite"
remedios remedios 9 years
If it's a happy hour, I don't agree it requires a formal invite, unless you're one of the key participants. Happy hours are usually a few people deciding to go then asking others if they want to come along. I don't see a problem with a maybe if you're not sure. If it's a relatively close friend, you can just say that you're not feeling well (emotionally) and would rather just be alone.
Greggie Greggie 9 years
"Unfortunately most of us end up going anyway because we just can't say "no."" Seriously? That makes me sad.
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