1. Julie

    I don’t see the Open Thread option in May so far, so I apologize if this is not the right location for a question.

    I have read numerous etiquette columns and books, and they are all pretty consistent in how to handle invitations to events that you are not interested in attending. It seems that saying “I’m sorry, I will not be able to make it” is the standard response to barbecues, parties, etc. that one may not wish to attend for whatever reason. However, in my experience, I have some friends who accept this response and others who dig deeper. Just last night I was asked about going out tonight and I said “I’m sorry, I can’t go.” My friend then responded with “oh, you have work?” and I had to scramble with “There’s just some stuff I have to do.” Quite frankly, I just don’t feel like going to this particular dinner. I have never seen advice on how to handle those that do not accept the initial response and want further information. I feel like I have to walk around armed with excuses all the time, whether they are true or not, and I really hate lying. Thanks in advance for the help!

    • Graceandhonor

      Dear Julie,

      You have responded correctly in politely declining and are not required to state why you have declined unless you care to. However, your scenario illustrates that sometimes people do inquire as to why we say no. Unless you are prepared to tell a white lie, it is best to remain vague, “I would love to come but am afraid I’ve already made other plans.” Those plans may be watching paint dry, but that is your perogative. It is best for hosts to take the initial decline of the invitation at face value and not make it an awkward situation by putting an invitee on the spot.

      Best wishes,


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