Spending quality time with friends, in laws, and your own family is important. But you can’t always accept their invites, whether you want to or not.
It shouldn’t be a problem, as long as you know how to decline an invitation with authenticity and a good reason.
You’ll have to emphasize your own boundaries and needs, while acknowledging that they thought of you with their invite. By accomplishing this, you’ll be able to decline an invitation (in most cases) without confrontation.
Before you decide which invitations to decline, figure out which will make it harder to maintain your emotional wellness.
Also, if attending feels like an obligation meant to maintain appearances, you may be better off opting out or spending limited time at that event.
Here are some phrase ideas for how you can break the news and decline an invitation with grace:
Seriously, no matter what your reason, it’s ok to decline the invite. Your emotional wellness is always the priority.
Whatever you say, make sure to emphasize “I” vs “you” statements to avoid conflict. And try to clarify that your absence is due to your own needs or struggles.
If you are stressed about splitting time between two sets of in-laws, or between the homes of your divorced parents, do not despair! Many people face this issue, and many find solutions.
If the two families live close enough, you could spend half of the day with one family and the rest with the other. For a specific event, this could look something like a Thanksgiving lunch at one house and then a Thanksgiving dinner at another. Long-term, you could alternate annually between each side of the family or each friend group.
Of course, there’s also the option of proposing a blended family gathering.
Kill two birds with one stone and bring both your favorite groups together! This way, you avoid declining an invitation, get to see everyone you love, and bring together two sets of great people.
If you decide to bring two separate groups together (family or not), consider preparing a game or activity that everyone can share in, to relieve the pressure of getting to know each other.
Even if you’ve already declined a few invitations, you might still have a pileup of events to navigate! Planning ahead will greatly ease the stress of visiting multiple holiday gatherings.
Plan out your timeline: whether for a week of dinners, or single day of marathon parties, know in advance how long to spend at each location, and how and when you will travel between.
Making a timeline will also help you think of other tasks and errands you’ll have to do, leading up to the events (e.g. buying plane tickets, doing laundry, using up your groceries, or finding a gift).
In the rush between multiple gatherings, you’re not going to remember everything, so don’t expect yourself to! Make a single list of all your to-do’s (on your phone, so you won’t misplace it), and set reminders so nothing gets forgotten.
By following these steps, choosing your battles, and thinking ahead, you’ll keep the chaos of multiple events in check.
Sometimes, things just don’t work, and good friends or family should understand that.
If you are feeling guilty or frustrated about responding to an invitation, feel free to reach out to Supportiv. You’ll get to vent productively, with a group of people who are eager to empathize.