One of the best parts of the holiday season is the increased social activity that occurs at this time of year. Friends and family make Herculean efforts to gather for meals, d activities and parties. People will circle the globe to get home for the holidays.

One of the worst parts of the holiday season is the increased social activity that occurs at this time of year. Friends and family have high expectations for gathering for meals, d activities and parties. Everyone wants to be included in special events. Everyone vies for your time and attention.

All of these festive gatherings can take their toll on your time and energy. As unfortunate as it may seem, there can come a time when you have to turn down some of these holiday invitations either because of other time commitments or simply wanting to allow some time for yourself. Doing that without guilt or without offending anyone is almost an art form. It’s always good to have a few exit strategies available when that inevitable invitation comes.

• Establish your priorities well in advance of the holiday season. Knowing who the key players are in your social sphere will help you to identify where to draw the line on invitations and where to make a special effort to be in attendance.

• Don’t feel obligated to accept every holiday invitation. Believe it or not, some people will be relieved that you cannot attend their gathering. They don’t want to offend their friends and family either so many invitations are blanket efforts to include everyone with the underlying hope that not everyone can attend.

• Offer up an alternative plan to the invitation that doesn’t fit your schedule. Perhaps you can get together after the holidays for dinner or drinks instead of attending the holiday gala. Spread the joy of the season even further by making plans for the new year.

• A gracious and forthright negative reply is always better than beating around the bush with lame excuses or indecisive replies. If you can’t attend a holiday function, regardless of the reason, being upfront saves a lot of discomfort for everyone. Most people are in the same boat as you when it comes to being overextended in life.

• The absolutely worst way to avoid an invitation to a holiday function is by ignoring the invitation altogether and not even bothering to respond. When someone is gracious enough to invite you into their world, you owe it to them to provide a prompt and courteous reply. Having an accurate head count is key to a successful event.

Holiday gatherings are a huge part of what makes the season fun and festive. It’s important to make sure you don’t let those festivities drain you of your holiday spirit by overextending your time and energy. Knowing how to turn down holiday invitations will help you make the most of your holiday enjoyment. If you’re going to accept the party invitation, consider gifting the host one of these Top 12 Holiday Season Tablecloths. It will be totally unexpected and very much appreciated.