If you need to decline an invitation to dinner, it’s important you do so promptly and in a way that doesn’t offend the host.
Depending on how well you know the host will affect the tone and words you use, but I can certainly help out with some examples of what I’d write!
Here are some examples of how to politely decline an invitation to dinner (sample included):
How to Politely Decline an Invitation to Dinner Samples
Examples when responding to friends and family you know well:
Thanks so much for inviting me to dinner but I’m sorry to say that I won’t be able to make it.
I’m [insert reason] on that night and I’ve already committed to going!
I hope you have a great time and please don’t let this stop you from inviting me to the next one!
I wish I could come but I’m already booked that night with something I really can’t get out of at this late notice.
Thanks for thinking of me and have a great time!
Examples when responding to acquaintances or people you don’t know well:
Thank you for inviting me to dinner. I appreciate you thinking of me but unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it.
I would have loved to have attended, but I already have other plans that night!
Thank you for the invitation to dinner on [date] but regretfully I have to decline.
I have a scheduling conflict (it’s nice to be so popular!) so it’s just not possible for me to attend.
I’m sure your dinner will go well and it’s my loss!
Examples when responding to formal invitations:
Thank you very much for inviting me to attend a dinner on [date].
I would have loved to have attended but unfortunately, I have another engagement that night.
Thank you again for inviting me and I hope to be able to attend a future event.
It was a lovely surprise to be invited to dinner on [date].
Please accept my sincere apologies but I’m not able to attend.
Thank you for inviting me and I’m looking forward to the next time!
I hope these examples help give you some ideas on how to turn down an invitation to dinner in a polite way!
How to Decline an Invitation to Dinner without Giving a Reason
If you don’t want to give a reason for why you’re declining the invitation, that’s perfectly okay!
You can still be polite without giving an explanation and should never feel like you have to give a reason.
I know some people, especially pushy friends or family members might not take no for an answer easily.
If this is the case, you can simply say that you’re ‘busy’ or have a ‘scheduling conflict’ if you really want to give a vague reason.
This is essentially you saying you are not able to make it because you’re doing something else, so the recipient shouldn’t push you for a reason or ask you again.
You don’t have to elaborate and come up with the exact thing you’re doing on that date if there is anything at all that you’re doing.
If they do push you and ask what you’re doing, just say it’s something that you had already said yes to and it’s not something you can talk about right now.
Why You Shouldn’t Make up A Lie when Declining an Invitation
Making up a lie as to why you can’t attend a dinner that you really do not want to go to is the worst thing you can do.
If you tell them a lie, even a little white lie, there is a good chance it will come back to haunt you!
That’s going to be super embarrassing. No matter what you think of the person who’s invited you to dinner, they didn’t have to invite you.
They obviously think a lot of you, so I think it’s only fair that you’re honest with them about why you can’t attend.
If you don’t have a real reason other than you just don’t want to go, then be vague about it as I covered above.
That’s much better than coming up with a lie that you’ll have to remember later on.
Things to Remember when Declining an Invitation to Dinner (Or Any Invitation)
I thought I’d cover some basic etiquette and things to remember when writing an email, text, or even calling someone and declining their invitation.
You should always:
- Be prompt about replying – the sooner you reply, the better. If you wait too long, it might seem like you’re not interested or that you forgot about their invitation.
- Thank them for the invitation – even if you don’t want to go, they still took the time to invite you. A simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way.
- Keep it short and sweet – you don’t need to write a novel about why you’re declining the invitation or go into too much detail. A sentence or two is perfectly fine.
- Follow up after the event – if you decline an invitation to an event that interested you or want to be kept in mind for the next event, drop the host a message after the event asking how it went!
Image credits – Photo by Christine Siracusa on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.