Avoiding Holiday Headaches

There are many occasions during which we might need a handy excuse for, well, opting out of one activity or another. This is especially true around the holidays, when we find ourselves deluged by invitations from friends, neighbors and family members. It may be hard to believe, but some of us simply don’t relish the idea of getting into themed clothing and working the room with spiked eggnog in one hand and Little Smokies in the other. For them, my advice is as follows: Have a plausible excuse ready at all times. Below are some you can work with.


Because Thanksgiving centers on food, this is an easy one to work with. Suggest you’re allergic to the antibiotics those virus-prone birds are crammed with. If your prospective host insists she’ll customize something for you, continue to protest, citing last year’s traumatic experience, when you ‘lost your dinner’ all over the holiday table at your in-laws’.

When someone invites you to go shopping with them before dawn the day after Thanksgiving, divulge your Druid heritage: The last days of November are when you pray at a replica of Stonehenge.


Regarding those long, boring letters some people send with Christmas cards, simply don’t read them. If the sender ever questions you about details, explain that the dog ate all your Christmas cards. Depending on your adversary, explain that you had the dog euthanized as punishment. Or that you were with it when its stomach was pumped in a vain attempt to salvage the letter.  

When you’re invited to a Christmas church service and don’t want to go, tell the inviter you’re Jewish. (You may have to eat Chinese that day.)  If invited to a Hanukkah service, explain that you just observed Ramadan, and are all ‘churched out.’ If that elicits an unwanted dinner invitation instead, you might suggest that you experienced inner peace from all that fasting, so you plan to do it permanently.

Accepting/returning a gift you hate: Suggest you will exchange it for another color, size, model because you were already given one by the prisoners at the local jail where you volunteer.

If you’ve forgotten a gift, tell the offended party that you have made a donation in their name to the AIDS orphans in Darfur, and that they will be getting a thank you note soon. If they complain later about not receiving said note, simply say, Those damn Janjaweed.

If there is a debate over whether to spend $80 on a real tree or buy an artificial one for $150 and use it forever, insist that your preference for the latter has nothing to do with money. Allergies are a useful ploy, but overuse can taint your credibility. You might argue that you read a story about an infestation of deer ticks caused by a real tree from the country. If you are met with skepticism, add that the ticks sucked the blood from the family’s golden retriever and killed it.

New Years Eve

No problem here; do what I do. Tell friends inviting you to one of those ‘really fun parties’ that you normally go to bed at 9:30 p.m. Then go to bed at 9:30. Telling the truth for once will feel good. And, it’s a great way to end the old year and start the new.

Don Marsh is the author of How to be Rude Politely and hosts St. Louis on the Air on KWMU.