How To Avoid Party Burnout: Our Guide To Saying No (Nicely!)

We’re fast approaching one of the most exciting times of the year: Christmas party season. But with an abundance of invites - from office gatherings to girly get-togethers - it’s common to feel overwhelmed. Party burnout is not a good look, not to mention damaging to both your body and wellbeing.


So how can we say no without being the bad guy? Marie Claire asks the experts….

The Party Planner: Safia Rahman

‘As an event planner, I always appreciate speedy RSVP’s. That way I have enough time to adjust my guest lists, catering orders and seating plans relatively stress-free. It’s always a thoughtful touch when I receive cards from the guests who can’t make the party, wishing me a fabulous time and a successful event.’

Safia Rahman is an Event Co-ordinator at Collection 26

The Self-Help Author: Debra Johanyak
‘Begin by saying thanks, your host will appreciate your gratitude for being invited. Decline politely, by explaining that you have already scheduled another event for that date and regretfully cannot attend this one. Avoid detailed explanations, there is usually no need to go into detail about your personal life. Keep it simple by saying that a situation has arisen, followed by a brief apology. Be clear and firm, but polite, when saying no. Saying it bluntly could hurt someone’s feelings. I invited a friend to dinner once and he said, “I choose not to attend.” Being that direct can be disconcerting to the host!’

‘Say What You Really Mean!: How Women Can Learn to Speak Up’, by Debra Johanyak, out December 1st 2014 (Rowan & Littlefield)

The Doctor: Dr. Melanie Greenberg
‘Try not to use the word “but” in your response, you don’t want to invalidate your own positive comments about the party. If appropriate, suggest getting together at a future time, for example: “Let’s meet for tea or coffee in the new year.” Don’t automatically say yes. Ask yourself: Will I enjoy this party? Is it a good networking opportunity? Is this a friend I want to support? Does it help my career to attend? If the answer is no to all of the above, don’t go. Realise that your time is valuable and make decisions to attend in line with your values and priorities.’

Dr. Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D, is a clinical psychologist in Marin County, California who specialises in relationships and health

The Celebrity Psychologist: Dr Linda Papadopoulos
‘Attend the invitations that you absolutely have to for professional or social reasons and then pick a couple that you are genuinely looking forward to. Your focus should be on celebrating and connecting with colleagues and close friends rather than packing in as much as possible. A good way to decide on which invitations to decline is to think that if it’s someone you wouldn’t organise drinks with when not included in a big event group together, then it doesn’t matter if you miss that one out. Prioritising close friends and family and practicing good self-care (however tempting it can be to throw it all out the window come December!) is a good idea.’

‘Whose Life Is It Anyway?’ by Dr Linda Papadopoulos, out now (Piatkus)

The Etiquette Expert: William Hanson
‘Formally, invitations get responded to in writing and the protocol is for you to simply use the line “regrettably cannot attend”. There is no etiquette rule that states you have to say why you can’t go and the same applies for verbal responses. You can get yourself into trouble if you start giving reasons. Some hosts don’t understand that a guest declining is not usually a snub! If you can’t attend the party of a good friend then send some flowers the day before the party – allowing that extra day for the flowers to be in their prime the night of the event – with a note saying how sorry you are that you can’t come. Who could get annoyed with flowers?’

The Bluffer’s Guide to Etiquette, by William Hanson, out now, (Bluffer’s; New title edition)

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