The holiday season often comes with loads of invitations to attend social gatherings. It also means there will be some gatherings you’d prefer to skip. Why? The reasons are many, yet, this year, you may prefer to say “no” to events based on Covid vaccination status.
At best, the evidence is mixed and evolving as to how risky dining, parties, and caroling might be. But, regardless, individuals are and should be free to choose what feels right to them.
Scientific debates aside, deciding not to gather requires some tact and timing.
How does one graciously get out of attending a gathering right now? Let’s explore a few self-care dynamics and some relationship-honoring options.
A Few Tips For Graciously Getting Out of Gatherings
1. Do Not Ignore the Invite
It’s tempting. You feel uncomfortable. You feel declining will only add to the discomfort. So you might toss or bury the invite aside and try to forget about it. Spoiler alert: Avoidance never makes relationships run smoothly. Unless the invitation is random or out of the blue from a very distant acquaintance, the other party deserves your attention.
2. Respond in a Timely Manner
Following up on #1 above, do not let this fester. If someone took the time to invite you, it’s only fair that you respond within the socially expected time period. Neither of you needs the stress or uncertainty. Despite the potential awkwardness, you’ll feel better about yourself for doing the right thing and preempting misunderstanding.
3. You May Not Have to Do It Over the Phone
We live in the digital age. Phone calls are no longer always required. If you fear a confrontation, you are well within your rights to send a carefully worded email or text. Of course, situations may vary. Deep down, we all know whether a phone call or digital reply is appropriate. So, again, do, and if in doubt ask a trusted friend to weigh in.
4. Express Appreciation First
Whatever method you use to reply, start off with a sincere “thank you.” Express appreciation for the invitation and desire to connect. Stay upbeat and authentic before getting to the point. The goal, ideally, is to extricate yourself from the gathering without severing a relationship. So, start with appreciation. Politely decline the offer. Then end with more appreciation and well wishes. There’s enough division these days. You needn’t add to it or assign any judgment to either of your choices.
5. Be Ready for Questions but Don’t Over-Explain
The host just may inquire to get more details. If you go the digital route, it’s easier to take your time with a reply via text or email. If you Zoom or call, you must be prepared. You may be tempted to employ a white lie to spare feelings. However, constructing an elaborate cover story is strongly discouraged. You may not be ready for the ensuing “cross-examination.” Be honest, but do not fall into the trap of over-explaining or justifying your choice.
6. Send a Gift
This may not always be necessary but it is certainly a strong conciliatory gesture. Since circumstances can vary widely, it’s tough to suggest anything in particular. Find a healthy balance. There’s no need to go overboard out of guilt but underscore that you would have been there under different circumstances.
Pandemic Life Feels Overwhelming
The above situation reveals how much all of our lives have changed in the past two years. People may disagree on a broad range of topics but all of them have been impacted in their own way. This epidemic of Covid fallout requires careful navigation. In fact, it makes a whole lot of sense to consider sessions with a mental health professional.
It’s more than just social invitations. Everyone needs support right now. Committing to regular therapy sessions, online or in-person, can provide you with a safe space to explore your state of min and the state of your relationships. This exploration can, in turn, make it easier for you to negotiate those tricky times when you have to share your perspective and set boundaries with someone else. Please read more about anxiety treatment. Then please reach out and let’s connect soon.