3 Ways to Make Saying “No” Easier During the Holidays

Even Santa Can’t Please Everyone…
Do you remember the disappointment you felt when you didn’t get what you wanted for Christmas as a child?  Although you may have felt devastated in the moment, you got over it and enjoyed the other gifts and time with your family.  The truth is that even Santa can’t please everyone so why do we think we can? 

If we are going to enjoy the holidays, we have to come to terms with the fact that no matter how much we want to…we just can’t please everyone.  Let’s face it, we just have to say “no” to some of our loved ones, friends, and co-workers during the holidays.  We simply can’t please everyone – no matter how much we want to.  Unfortunately, there will be parties, events, and family get-togethers we will not be able to attend because of overlapping schedules, finances, and priorities.  To avoid feeling overwhelmed or guilty when you have to say “no”, make sure you spend some time prioritizing and deciding what you can and can’t do ahead of time regarding finances, events, and traditions. 

1.  Saying “No” will be much easier when you and your family create a budget and decide how to spend the money together.  Creating a holiday budget only takes a short amount of time, but can save a large amount of stress during this time of year.  Decide on a dollar amount to spend over the Holiday season for gifts, parties, outfits, food, and travel – and stick to it!  Without a budget, you will overspend and the financial strain will be a source of stress long after the holidays are over.  

First, decide on the amount of money you can spend over the entire season.  If you are married, make this decision with your spouse so the two of you work together as a team to support each other and have accountability to avoid over spending. 

Second, make a list of costs beginning with “Have To” and ending with “Want To”.   Be sure to create the list with your spouse and children so you can designate money for everyone that allows you to stay within your budget.  If there is not enough money for all the “want to” items, try being creative as a family and come up with ideas to reduce gift, food, and travel costs that may allow you to afford the “want to’s” on your list.

 2.  Saying “No” will be much easier when you decide what events you can and can’t attend after prioritizing them according to your family’s schedule and financial budget.  Job, neighborhood and organization parties, church and school programs, family gatherings, and community events!  The invitations and commitments can be overwhelming.  Attending all of these events will be impossible, but the thoughts of missing any of them can be so disappointing.   As your calendar begins to fill up, set aside some time to prioritize what events you will attend – and prepare to decline the ones you will not be attending.   The most difficult part of saying “No” to attending an event is telling the person who invited you because you don’t want to hurt their feeling or miss an opportunity to spend time with the people attending.  The worst thing to do is to not RSVP or just not show up.  Understand that the person may be disappointed and may not understand why you can’t attend, but responding to the invitation is the best way to keep a good relationship with them.  Don’t feel you have to always give a detailed reason for not attending, because people may not understand your priorities.  Simply letting them know you have another obligation is a sufficient decline.  Be sure to be kind and genuine in letting them know that you appreciate the invitation, but will not be able to attend and remind yourself that you have to say “no” at times to events you want to attend – even during the holidays.

3.  Saying “No” will be much easier when you and your spouse decide what Traditions are important to your family.  Every family has annual holiday traditions they enjoy year after year and are an important part of creating special memories.  However, when you get married and start your own family, it is impossible to continue to meet the expectations of keeping all the traditions you both grew up with including pleasing both sets of in-laws every year while also trying to accommodate traditions with your friends and co-workers. 

Trying to make your boss, in-laws, and friends happy can place an enormous amount of stress on your marriage and family.  Take some time with your spouse to talk about the family traditions you each cherish from childhood, the ones you would like to continue, and the new ones you would like to begin with your family.  Once you decide on the traditions for your family, saying “No” to in-laws, co-workers, and friends will be much easier.   For example, telling your in-laws you will be spending the day at your own home instead of coming to theirs may hurt their feelings, but being in agreement as a couple will help you come up with ways to compromise some aspects of the changes and continue to enjoy the holidays.  Perhaps inviting your in-laws, friends, and co-workers to join one of your new traditions, or informing each of these groups about traditions you have with the other groups may help in scheduling events that will enable you to attend, or at least increase the understanding of why you may not be able to attend. 

Saying “No” is a must during the holidays in order to avoid financial, emotional, physical and/or marital stress.   Try these ideas to make saying “No” easier and then just enjoy creating special memories instead of being stressed out trying to please everyone.    

Side bar