It’s OK To Say “No” This Holiday Season.

Thanksgiving and Christmas time, as well as all the other holidays we enjoy during this time period, can be a bit overwhelming. We are going to be bombarded with things to do, places to go and oodles of invites. If we’re fortunate. Eventually we will be burdened down with ‘decision fatigue’ or simply just burn out.

Don’t let that happen to you. You don’t have to accept every invite, you don’t have to bake cookies for every event, you don’t have to invite every Tom, Dick and Henrietta to your home for cocktails. It’s OK to say ‘no’. You can say ‘no’ as often as you like. I used to think that if I said ‘no’ I might not get another invite ever again. If that’s true, then so be it. People will take advantage of you every holiday season. They seem to know who has the weakest link, surest sore spot and they aim directly towards it.

Last year, DH and I were invited to a house party. At first DH and I were excited to go because it was a new friend and she and her husband were very popular. The hostess told us she was having a professional cook come over and demonstrate paella. To offset the cost, the hostess asked each party attendee to contribute $20 each. I did a quick calculation in my head and figured the hostess was collecting $440 from her 22 guests. I made the idiotic mistake asking the hostess if there was anything I could bring? “Yes“, she emphatically said. “Can you make flan for twenty people?” So, not only were we paying for the chef, the hostess was expecting me to cater it also. No thanks. I politely told her I was allergic to shrimp and declined the invitation. This was not the kind of friend I wanted nor would I welcome any future invites to any of her parties. BTW, she never asked us to one of them ever again.

I read a blog post the other day that confirms my inner fears. We can do More With Less and we can avoid holiday overwhelm by saying no to almost everything. Here’s a quote:

If you honor every request with a yes, you will compromise your health, family, peace of mind, and the joy of living your life. If you don’t say no, there will be nothing left of you to say yes to. You will find more time, freedom and energy when you start saying no. At first saying no might feel like you are missing out and hurting people’s feelings but after a while, you begin to see that by protecting your time and energy, you are able to better engage in and experience your yeses.

lasagnaA few weeks ago, our best friends invited us to a party they were having at their home next Saturday. Again, I foolishly asked ‘Can I bring anything?’ I was told yes and to prepare enough for 20 people. OK. Fair enough. DH and I calculated we could make a lasagna large enough for twenty people. Last week, the same friend texted me some more information about her party. It was actually a gathering of her church club. They were doing a gift exchange and were asking everyone to bring one gift, wrapped in holiday paper, must be new and valued between $15 and $20. That meant in addition to the very expensive lasagna ($30) I was bringing, DH and I now had to go out and buy $40 worth of presents for their gift exchange. Side Note: I don’t like gift exchanges because I always wind up with junk or at least something I don’t need.

Yesterday, this best friend texted me and told me her oven door broke and could my husband cook their turkey for them. They’ll drop it off on Friday. Really? They didn’t ask to use my oven. They asked if my husband could cook a 25 pound turkey for them. The party is 10 days away. Surely they can get their oven door fixed in time for their own party? What about the other 20 people who were coming to the party? They live closer to them. I texted back and told them they were free to use my oven but Nick wasn’t cooking their turkey. Do you realize how much work that entails? The hours required to cook a 25 pound turkey? Plus the responsibility?

They told me they will get back with me.

As I said, it’s OK to say no to people this holiday season. If these ‘best’ friends never invite us to another get-together, there will be no loss on our side. People seem to take advantage of good souls, such as DH and myself. It felt good to say ‘no’!

Say yes to love, yes to delight and no to almost everything else. The holidays will still be as magical and meaningful if you scale back, say no and do a little less. You may even discover that because you decided to do things differently this year, the holidays are better than before.



  1. Sounds awful ..I always had tons of friends in my younger days and slowly through the years they pitter pattered away . Can’t be bothered with all that madness. I’m always happy when holiday season is over . It’s even more annoying with blended religious holidays. You are just too darn popular … don’t cook that bird !!!


    • Ev, I have absolutely no intention of cooking that 26 pound bird! OMG! Nick was having nightmares. We stopped going to holiday parties years ago. Now I remember why.
      This will be the first year we’re back home in 4. The kids aren’t seeing us. We’ll be alone both holidays. Meanwhile we used to go to The Club and for $36 pp they served everything from soup to nuts on Thanksgiving. Ditto for Xmas. Oh well. Time to resharpen the pencil. 😦


  2. You could skip the gift exchange and just enjoy others’ delight. Why not make a lower cost fixing? Lasagna is a main course. You could make a simple side dish. I hope you enjoy the rest of your holidays!


    • Hi Janette. If we don’t bring an exchange gift someone at the party will not get anything and we don’t want to do that to an innocent. I already bought the lasagna ingredients. Everything was on sale so that’s a good thing.
      This is the last invitation we will accept for the rest of the season.
      I want to make this season my best ever as I will be with my daughters and granddaughters a lot. We have a lot of family time together planned. I’m looking very forward to it all!
      Thank you for your comment. I wish you and your family the best this season.


  3. No one will be without a gift 18 people will swap with eighteen people since you and Nick won’t bring or take one. My favorite line” I have trouble picking gifts for family and those I know, so I won’t disappoint a stranger with what I would chose.” I went to a school staff party that half the teachers didn’t exchange gifts but brought the hostess a homemade Christmas ornament in her pink theme. I stop doing a cookie exchange when I realize the hostess was asking for six dozen to exchange and six extras to go along with our coffee but always brought up dieting and set out a homemade tray of veggies and dip. Most of the attendees were shamed into not having the cookies and she got all the extras. I do one or two parties total each year. Both require either an appetizer or dessert. I get the ingredients on sale and usually do a large cheesecake and spinach artichoke dip with crackers or French bread. Sincerely,Lara


    • Lara, I do an artichoke dip too! Another thing we have in common.
      I’m still on the shelf about the gift. There won’t be an odd person out if we don’t accept a gift. Duh!
      All I know is that our lasagna just got smaller and I’ll either be freezing the rest of the ricotta and mozzarella OR maybe I’ll make myself a nice Italian cheese pie and some home made pizza!
      Thanks for some good ideas!


  4. If I were you I make a two lasagna and freeze it in individual size portions or make stuff shells also freezes well in individual portions in four and three minutes in the microwave From the freezer to table. Wa la.


    • Lara you read my mind! We are making two. Freezing one. I already have frozen shells and manicotti in the freezer. Separate marinara sauce. The ricotta I bought at Shop Rite is good till February 12. I’m going to make some calzone with it.
      I’m going to be a very busy Italian cook!! Lol


  5. All are so very yummy! Great minds think alike! Did you cancel going to the party or just decided to do a smaller lasagna?
    So I saw a few pictures from the Christmas Spectacular yesterday! How was your day in the city? Lara


    • The day was fantastic. Going to write a post later on today about it. we’re going to the party, as they are really good friends BUT we’re making a smaller lasagna. I had no idea they were serving a big turkey like that. BTW, their oven miraculously repaired itself. I think they just wanted Nick to do the cooking and in his health condition, he just couldn’t do it.


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