If you’re a partygoer with a gregarious personality and full closet of evening outfits, each invitation represents a new opportunity for fun and excitement. However, those less receptive to constant mingling may consider an ongoing stream of invitations as an unwelcome demand on their time.
If you choose not to attend a particular event, keep in mind that you should always observe proper etiquette when declining an invitation. This will not only spare feelings, but will also make the task of planning for the occasion a lot easier on the hostess.
The only question is, how do you properly decline? Here’s where a little tact and thoughtfulness can go a long way.
If you get invited to an event and have a previous engagement, honesty is the best policy. An immediate response that you already have another engagement might disappoint the hostess. However, it will allow her to obtain an accurate head count and properly prepare for the party.
Suppose you have no idea why you were invited to an event or you dislike the hostess, but you have no other plans. In this situation, the best reply would be something like, “We’re very sorry. Unfortunately we’re busy that evening”. This excuse gives you a choice to accept another invitation that might be forthcoming from another source, and will have the hostess wondering whether or not to invite you again for the next event
If it’s a personal matter, such as not being able to attend due to financial reasons, simply state, "Regrets due to personal commitments". If the invitation was extended by a close friend, they will more than likely get the hint. If they are well mannered, they will not ask additional questions.
For special occasions that usually entail a gift (such as a wedding), you may want to consider including a small present or card when sending your regrets. This shows that you truly are sorry you can’t attend. However, if you have no idea why you were invited, a short, polite decline without a gift will be sufficient, and might not get you invited next time.
Keep in mind, that it is never too late to respond to an invitation, especially if you are declining. It is better to call the hostess and explain the reason behind your lack of promptness than not to call at all or send a response.
Mail does get lost and life does get in the way, but people generally understand those things. Not replying at all shows a lack of consideration and manners on your part, and is usually seen as a snub of the worst kind.
So don’t let an avalanche of invitations cause you unwanted stress. Reply promptly, use a little tact, and you can decline an invitation with courtesy and the right amount of social grace.
All the best,
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