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Archived - How to say “thanks but no thanks” to a COVID-unWise holiday invite

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December 7, 2020
Feature Stories

Avoiding crowds is the norm this year, but what do you do if a friend, family member or coworker invites you to a holiday party? If you’re not on the same page in terms of pandemic precautions, it could get awkward.

Ottawa Public Health has resources to check out if you’re unsure of what’s in and what’s out this holiday season. And if you’re invited to a gathering that’s out of your comfort zone, we’ve got some tips to help you handle it with tact.

Give yourself permission to say no

… politely

We are raised to be polite, and that’s a good thing. It’s natural to consider that declining an invitation would disappoint the host, but frankly it's the lesser of two evils.

With a little thought, you can take the sting out of declining an invitation, while also being honest about your reasons. At a loss for words? Here’s a script you could follow:

“I really appreciate the invite, but I’m not going to be able to make it. With the pandemic, I’m just not comfortable in that kind of setting.” Consider following it up with an alternative meet-up: “I won’t be able to join, but it would be so great to catch up another time. Can we have a (FaceTime chat/outdoor coffee) sometime soon?”

… with humour

A red fawn French Bulldog looks at the camera with a disdainful expression. The dog is wearing a collar decorated with a green bow, a conifer sprig, and red and white ornaments. Next to the dog is text that reads: “Thanks but no thanks.”

If the nature of your relationship with the host allows, send your regrets with a dose of humour:

“I really wish I could make it, but my dog has smallpox so I should probably sit this one out.”

“I’d love to come, but I promised my (son/daughter/niece/nephew) we would get the Elf on the Shelf their flu shot that day.”

“I’m sorry I’m not available! I’ll be washing my face masks that night.”

“That’s one reindeer game I won’t be able to join in on. Maybe next year!”

“Sorry, my agent is only booking me in 2021.”

“I’d love to, but I don’t think you have enough wine for me this year.”

… and without guilt

Doing the right thing is not always easy. For the sake of our mental health, we need to be kind to ourselves. Instead of feeling bad for saying no, pat yourself on the back for doing the right thing for yourself, your family and your community.

Let go of any feelings of guilt and instead focus on fun, safe ways to recharge over the holidays.

Related stories:

Ten ways to celebrate safely during the holidays

Has a COVID Christmas got you feeling blue? Here are some things that you can do!

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