How to Refuse a Christmas Invitation While in Recovery

Question: How do I refuse a Christmas invitation without offending someone? How do I tell people I can’t drink? 

This is one of the most commonly asked questions during the holiday season. And no wonder: refusing Christmas invitations never occurs without a layer of awkardness.

  • Ask for advice. The first thing to do is to ask your sponsor or A.A. group what has worked for them. It may be as simple as, “No thank you. I’m not drinking tonight.” or  “Mom, I appreciate your help and input, but this Christmas, I’m not able to come.”
  • Make it your own. Everybody has a different way of doing it, and you need to use verbiage that works for you. Find something authentic, something that holds your integrity and doesn’t give away too much information.
  • Practice. Practice saying this out loud until it feels comfortable and natural.
  • Set Clear Guidelines. Sometimes, especially for family functions, you may be able to attend for a certain span of time, say dinnertime. Set clear guidelines and communicate these guidelines clearly. Call up your mother or grandmother, ask her what time dinner will be, and then explain that you can stay for only a certain length of time.

Again, remember you don’t have to go. If you know you will not be comfortable at a place where people are drinking, politely refuse the invitation.