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How to Say "No" During the Holidays
Whether itís a drink, food or an invitation saying "No" to holiday requests can be difficult. Here are several ways to help decline with class.

To slow down and enjoy the holiday season, learn how to say "no" to events that will wear you too thin.

If someone is insistent on you drinking liquor, a firm (but not aggressive), 'I just don't enjoy the taste' is all that is necessary.”
When everyone is saying, "Ho, ho, ho," how do you say, "No, no, no?" The holiday season is in full swing and you may find yourself having difficulty saying "no" to a party invitation, a drink or a decadent dessert. A little finessing can help make, "No thank you" a bit more palatable. Here are a few of my tips:

How to Decline an Invitation

1. While it is not necessary to give a lengthy reason for not attending, it is important to give a sincere, "I'm so sorry that I am going to have to miss your party, it sounds like it is going to be loads of fun" or, "Thank you for thinking of me but, unfortunately, I have already committed to another event." A good host will not continue to pry or make you feel guilty.

2. If you need to bide some time, another alternative is, "I appreciate the offer, I will check with my husband (or wife) and get back with you by tomorrow afternoon." Giving the other person a specific date that you will be following up is a courteous gesture.

3. You may legitimately be waiting for another invitation that is mandatory you attend, such as a holiday office party. Tell the truth by saying, "I am obligated to attend a business function and I'm still waiting for the details." Undoubtedly your host will say that it's not a problem and encourage you to let him or her know of your decision as soon as you receive the information that you are anticipating.

4. You should RSVP in the same manner as you were invited. If the invitation is extended by e-mail, you may respond back by e-mail. An evite invitation has a special place to respond "Yes" or "No," as well. If the invitation was extended by telephone, you may respond the same way. A written invitation requires you follow the request that is stated on the invitation, either responding by telephone or e-mail, whatever form of response is requested on the card. When an RSVP card is enclosed, it is necessary to send the card back with your response.

How to Say No To a Drink

1. If someone offers you a mixed drink or wine at a meal or holiday event, offer a comment like, "Thanks, I'm going to pass on the wine, but please go right ahead."

2. Order a soda or fruit juice combination that resembles a cocktail. Whatever you would enjoy drinking is the most important factor when deciding what to order as your drink.

3. If someone is insistent on you drinking liquor, a firm (but not aggressive), "I just don't enjoy the taste" is all that is necessary. If they continue, remove yourself from the conversation or situation.

4. If you are a recovering alcoholic, it is not necessary to divulge this information nor should you feel pressured to share sensitive information until, when and if, you become comfortable with your group of guests, colleagues or friends. Another "No" option would be to say, "I have an intense allergic reaction to alcohol."

5. When wine is offered, never turn the wine glass upside down to signal you do not want any wine. Placing your hand above the glass, not on top of the glass, signals the server you do not want to be served the wine.

Declining Food

How do you politely turn down your friendís homemade holiday cookies, pass up the cheese plate or escape grandmaís fruitcake? Here's how:

1. Expressing appreciation by saying, "That looks wonderful!" lets them know that you truly appreciate their hospitality.

2. A, "No, thank you" may suffice, but if you feel the need to elaborate, a genuine, "I really have to pass, but it looks delicious" comment may also work well.

3. In many cases itís best to avoid going into detail as to why youíre not eating the offerings. Declining food that your host has prepared by saying, "Iím trying to avoid fatty, greasy foods" could be interpreted an unnecessary critique of their cooking. If you are not eating a particular food for medical reasons, you can say, "Iím sorry, but Iím temporarily on a strict diet these days for health reasons." You can even add a comment about how difficult it is to pass up such wonderful holiday food.

4. Tempted to make up a story about food allergies? Donít. It may come back to haunt you later when youíre sampling the cheese ball at another New Yearís Eve party and your friends marvel that youíve miraculously recovered from the "lactose intolerance" that plagued you in December at their holiday event.

There are many reasons you may choose to skip a party, forego the cocktails, or pass on the pie. You should never feel obligated to attend a holiday party (unless itís your office party) or accept a drink just for the sake of fitting in or to make someone else feel comfortable. Being respectful, thoughtful and honest are the hallmarks of good etiquette. Whatever the situation, an infusion of sincere gratitude can help your, "No thank you" be graciously accepted.

Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.protocolschooloftexas.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @: www.twitter.com/DianeGottsman.

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