15 Ways to Say ‘No’​ This Holiday Season – And Mean It!

Move over, FOMO. JOMO is home for the holidays.

Thrive Global invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

JOMO: Joy Of Missing Out

1 of 3 Americans experience Holiday Burnout before Dec 25th. Not surprising!  The gatherings, the cooking (over 9 hours on average), the cleaning, the decorating (7 hours) the shopping (13 hours). No wonder 2 of 3 Americans label the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas as ‘stressful.’ 

For many of us, the holidays bring added stress or grief.  Uncomfortable political conversations with that outspoken uncle. Heartache over lost love ones. Being pulled in many directions by multiple family units. The loneliness of not having a family to visit. Awkward questions from well-intentioned family members: “Are you dating?” “When are you having kids?” “You are still searching for a job?” [I can feel my cortisol levels increasing as I write this!] 

Add on top of it the constant holiday music and commercials [I can only handle ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ so much before screaming!], and it’s not surprising the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is truly the “Most Stressful Time of the Year” for many of us. 

A simple Google search for “Holiday Stress” yields article after article on how to recharge during this time of year. Of course, self-care such as taking long baths and reading by the fire are wonderful ideas to combat the overwhelm.

Yet, there is one fail-safe tool that works to prevent overwhelm and burnout in the first place.


The Power of 2 Letters

For many of us, saying “No” can be hard.  [Any other over-achieving, people-pleasing, multitaskers out there? FOMO anyone? Let me see those hands!] We feel obligated. And when we don’t feel a pressing sense of obligation, we feel like we need an elaborate explanation with a side-dish of over-apologizing. 

I’m here to remind you that “No.” is a full sentence. You do not need permission. You do not need to apologize. You do not need to explain.

Why? Because you are worth it! Your emotional and physical health is way more important than attending and doing all the things. Let me repeat that louder for those in the back.

You Are Worth It!

Deciding to Opt-Out

Of course, it is hard to know when we should (and can) say “No.”  Ask yourself these questions:

“Is it taking more from me than it is giving to me?” 

Imagine you have a battery (like that adorable Energizer Bunny). Will the task or activity drain your battery or charge it?

Will saying No create more stress or problems in the situation?” 

For example, saying No to buying your kid Christmas presents is likely to yield an upset kiddo on Christmas day (and perhaps some expensive therapy for weeks following!)

15 Ways to Say ‘No’

Once you’ve assessed the situation and choose No, it might be uncomfortable to keep it to a one-word answer. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite 15 ways to opt-out. Regardless of how to say it, don’t let anyone guilt or push you. Remember, you are worth it! No need for permission, apologies, or explanations!

  1. “I don’t have the capacity.”
  2. “I won’t be doing that again this year.”
  3. “Nope. I’ve decided to start new traditions.”
  4. “I’m working hard to avoid overbooking myself.”
  5. “I’m taking the NOvember, challenge.”
  6. “Currently, my plate is full.”
  7. “It’s not the right fit for me.”
  8. “I appreciate you thinking of me. My schedule won’t allow it.” 
  9. “As soon as you find a way to clone humans, I’m in.”
  10. “I’ll have to decline. Thanks for the offer!”
  11.  “I cannot make it.”
  12. “I’m making time to rest and recharge this season.”
  13. “I’m booked.”
  14. “Thanks. I have another commitment.”
  15. “Sounds wonderful. Unfortunately, I can’t.”

When I feel that discomfort when saying ‘No’, I hear a voice in my head saying, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” If we overextend ourselves, we will experience Holiday Burnout before the holiday season is over. A burnout person can never be the best parent, wife, friend, daughter, employee, coworker, grandfather. So do it for your loved ones. Most importantly, do it for you.

You are worth it. 

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


3 Gift Ideas Employees Will Actually Value

by Sue Hawkes

Managing Mental Wellness During Stressful Holiday Times: “Have something special planned for yourself once the holidays are over” with Sarah Thacker

by Yitzi Weiner

When It’s Not the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

by Thomas G. Bognanno
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.