Tips for Politely Declining Party Invitations

Parties can be a lot of fun. They’re an opportunity to let your hair down, relax and have fun in an environment that’s packed full of your friends and loved ones. Some parties are also celebrations of important events, like weddings, birthdays, or even promotions.

In an ideal world, we’d all have the time (and money) to go to every party that we’re invited to. However, often, schedule conflicts and other demands can get in the way of a thriving social life. That means that you’re left wondering how you can decline an invitation, without making it look like you don’t care about someone special in your life. 

The good news? We’re going to guide you through the basics for politely declining party invitations in any situation. Here’s what you need to know.


Remember: You’re Allowed to Say No
Party invitations are a request from someone who wants to share your company at a specific time, on a certain date. These invitations aren’t orders or legally binding contracts. You shouldn’t feel guilty about having to say no. However, it is worth making sure that your friend or loved one knows why you’re not going to be showing up to their event. Be apologetic when you’re preparing to say no to someone, but also ensure that you’re as honest as possible. You need to explain why this situation is happening. Don’t make up a false excuse that someone’s going to find out about later. Even if you just say that you don’t’ feel up to being there, your loved one will appreciate your candid response.

Be Prompt and Practical
The first thing you need to do when you’re declining a party invitation, is get in touch as quickly as possible. Don’t just ignore the invitation and try to bury your head in the sand until the last minute. The person inviting you to their party needs to know whether you’re going to be there so she or he can make the appropriate plans.

As soon as you get the invitation, get back in touch and let the person know that you’re not going to be able to attend. This will save them some money on things like hiring space, or getting catering sorted for the event.

Don’t Over Explain

Try not to panic and spend hours explaining why you can’t be there. Instead, thank the person for the invitation and let them know that you would have gone if the circumstances were different. Show the person that you appreciate their thought. Once you’ve said thank you for the invitation, and expressed your sorrow that you can’t attend, explain your situation as quickly as possible.

If the person has any questions or wants to discuss a different time for an event with you, then you can always follow up later. Don’t try and prepare for any eventuality or outcome in the conversation just in case – or this might make you look inauthentic.

Send a Gift
Most of the time, not having enough money for a gift won’t be a good reason to reject a party invitation. Your friends and loved ones will want your presence more than a gift. However, if you’re declining for another reason, don’t forget to send a present anyway. There’s nothing wrong with getting a gift to your pal in the mail if you can’t visit in person. You can also attach a card that once again explains your absence and apologises for it.

If possible, you can even give the gift in person at another time. This is a great chance to show your loved one how keen you are to spend time together. Following up after the party is also a chance to catch up and learn what happened at the event.


Be Prepared for Disappointment
Any good friend or relative won’t be mad at you for declining a party invitation – particularly if you have a good reason. However, that doesn’t mean that they won’t be disappointed. You’ll need to be prepared for your friend sounding downhearted or unhappy when you tell them that you can’t go. Don’t take this as an opportunity to shout at your friend for not being understanding or making you feel guilty.
Remember that your loved one is going to be a bit put out when they find out that you can’t attend their event. The best thing you can do is be apologetic and patient. Let them know you’ll do your best to be there for them next time around.

*Collaborative post