If you haven’t actually had to say “no” most of this year, you’re probably a master in the art of avoidance:
- Needy people’s calls roll to voice mail on your smart phone. “What? I never got your call.”
- Your children and their “darn activities” block most unwanted advances the rest of the year. But now it’s winter break, so that won’t work.
The holidays prove difficult because some things people want you to do come with actual invitations or in the form of something called family tradition and you’re expected to be there and participate. By your employers. your family and friends. Your own mother!
How do you say no, especially when you have enough to do? Plus, you’re out of practice because…avoidance.
Here are 10 of the best ways to say no without, for the most part, actually saying no:
Ahh, now you can experience a holiday with enough good cheer and energy to do the things you actually want to do.
1. I need to check with my partner/spouse.
It makes sense to check with a significant other. Always.
Use if: You’re in a rip-cord situation. You know all those books that say just say no— you don’t have to give people a reason? Well, they have never met your pushy aunty. Who wants an answer now. This will buy you time.
2. I need to check on a few things and get back to you.
This is the time of year that the term “crazy-busy” was invented. People will understand.
Use if: You want to act as if you’re weighing your options, but the answer is a definite nope.
3. I can’t. The holiday calendar is filled.
This is an honest answer, right? And “filled” doesn’t have to mean the calendar is booked down to the nano second.
Use if: Drinking expired eggnog sounds more appealing than saying yes.
4. We’re skipping anything that isn’t immediate family-only this year.
We call this throwing elbows. This is a way to keep unwanted invitations that don’t come from people who share your same last name at bay.
Use if: You still need time to program the DVR with holiday favorites to watch.
5. I may have to work.
It works the rest of the year. Chances are good that it will work now as well. I mean, everyone can’t be off around the holiday right?
Use if: Any unwanted invitations come from people who aren’t overly familiar with what you do, where you work and your employer’s holiday scheduling.
6. We did that once, you’re going to enjoy it.
Use if: You want to imply you’ve been there/done that, but are not interested in doing again. If pressed, just say, “We thought we might try something different this year.”
7. It’s my turn for Elf on the Shelf duty.
Use if: You have a small child who expects an Elf engaged in overnight mischief. Finding something creative to do with the Elf night after night takes creativity, elbow grease and often, endless Pinterest perusal.
READ MORE: 25 places to hide your Elf on the Shelf
8. We’ve started a new tradition. We’re not scheduling any more activities that haven’t already made it onto the December calendar.
Use if: Someone’s likely to get butt-hurt. Let them know declining their offer isn’t about them. It’s about tradition and process.
9. I don’t think I should commit to anything right now.
Use if: You’re emboldened to say no but can’t quite pull the trigger. If the person pries (or he/she is an ass), just tell them you don’t care to get sick or stressed this holiday, thank you very much.
10. No, thank you. I’m trying/We’re trying to leave some free time for ourselves this holiday.
Use if: You’re practicing your it’s-OK-to-say-no muscle. Good on you!
By the way, you’re not selfish for saying no.
Overdoing it only means you’ll end up checked-out at a time when you really want to be taking in the joys of the holiday.
The season is about giving, but you can’t give what you don’t have.
So say no to a calendar filled with dread. Don’t set yourself up to toast the end of the holiday season before it’s even really over.