Saying no can be hard, especially during the holidays. But it’s absolutely necessary at times, whether it’s turning down an invitation to a get-together, refusing another cup of brandy-spiked eggnog or declining a big slice of Aunt Betty’s jeans-busting pecan pie.
Saying no doesn’t have to hurt someone’s feelings if you do it with courtesy and integrity. Here are a few tips on how to say no, making it easier to decline anything:
An invitation: All you need to say is “I’m sorry that we’re going to have to miss your get-together.” A good host won’t probe you for details, but you can always provide more information if you’re comfortable doing so, such as “We already have other plans for that evening.” If you’re not sure what to say, you can always buy more time: “Thank you for the invitation! Let me check my calendar – or let me check with my spouse – and get back to you.” Then do it promptly.
Alcohol: Maybe you are the designated driver, maybe you simply don’t enjoy drinking or maybe you choose not to for health reasons. Whatever your reason, you can decline an alcoholic beverage without spoiling the party for everyone else: “No thanks, but please go right ahead.” Because it often seems that everyone is holding a glass in their hands at a party, it’s easy to feel self-conscious if you’re not drinking. Simply get yourself a drink to sip – sparkling water with lime, juice, soda, or anything else that tastes good to you – and blend in. Also, remember, you don’t have to divulge why you’re not drinking. Don’t feel pressured to share personal information (“I’m pregnant” or “I’m a recovering alcoholic”). Too much information (TMI) is not necessary.
Food: Food is often a focal point of many holiday celebrations. Still, you’re under no obligation to eat just to make others happy (unless you have been invited to a dinner party) – even if Uncle Harvey made his famous spicy cheese dip or grandma spent hours in the kitchen making her traditional holiday fruitcake. If pressed, take a small plate of food and “play” with it while you make dazzling conversation.
Avoiding food at a dinner party is another matter: if you’ve been invited for a meal and have dietary restrictions (such as vegetarian or gluten-free) let your host know upon accepting the invitation.