By: Maralee McKee, Manners Mentor
On several occasions when I had to RSVP that I couldn’t attend a party, the host asked me, “Why not?” Do you have any scripted answers for the next time this happens?
Answer: Your question brings up a great learning point for every host. When people decline our invitations, it’s gracious not to put them in the awkward position of having to explain.
It’s best to bite our tongue to keep from asking why. It’s kinder just to say “You’ll be missed!” or “Thanks for letting me know. I hope you’ll be able to make it next time!” This way, we make sure we’re not forcing the issue.
Truthful stock answers for when someone insists on knowing our reasons are nonexistent if our reasons for not wanting to attend are less than flattering to the hosts. Here are a few things to help:
RSVP by email when an email address is given on the invitation. It avoids the back-to-back questioning that can occur in a conversation.
If you’re caught by the host in person, say, “May I let you know by email in the next day or so?” An email is better than a text when replying no because there are not the immediate back-and-forth answers that are expected when texting.
When cornered by the host in person and you fear they won’t accept a simple no, pay a compliment, be vague about why you’re not attending if the reason would hurt the host’s feelings, repeat yourself if needed, and be ready to change the subject. “You’re always so kind to invite us, Jen! Thanks again for asking. This year we want to spend quiet evenings at home. What about you? Are you going to Michigan to visit your mom like last year?”
More About How To Accept or Decline an Invitation
For the ultimate guide on how to RSVP to any invitation, check out this very popular post: RSVP Etiquette for Guests and Hosts: The Newest Manners for This Fading Art! It covers what to say if you’re a guest responding. And it also covers the all too common problem of a host or hostess NOT receiving replies from guests and what to do when you desperately need them to let you know if you should prepare a place for them at the party!