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Letting Them Down Gently

I have an etiquette question that I hope you can help me with. For the past several years, I have been invited to a fabulous annual event due to some work connections. In past years, I have been offered a handful of tickets, allowing me to invite 3 or 4 other couples along, and we have had so much fun that we talk about it throughout the year.

This year, however, there are not as many tickets available, so I will only be able to invite one other couple. I’ll be inviting a couple who is clearly closest to myself and my fiance.

I made it a point to mention, when it comes up, that I think the tickets will be limited, so I don’t think that anyone is expecting an invitation, but how do I handle this gracefully? Do I ask the other couple not to post photos, and not to discuss the event? Or do I just let it be known that I can only invite our closest friends? I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but it’s not possible for me to get additional tickets and I don’t want to let the tickets go to waste. 0319-13

If it has been your tradition for more than 2 years in a row to invite these same 3 to 4 couples to this event, then you might want to gently inform them that due to a scarcity of tickets this year, you are unable to secure no more than a couple.   What you want to convey to them to avoid any hurt feelings is that you regret not being able to continue this fun tradition this year, that you enjoy your time at this event with all of them but that you look forward to next year when perhaps the ticket scarcity will not be so severe.

I am disappointed to inform you that this year I was unable to secure any additional tickets to the fabulous event we have all enjoyed due to the scarcity of available tickets.  Fiance and I have had so much fun in prior years with you all and it won’t be the same this year without you.   My hope is that next year I can once again pass on the generous offering from work of many free tickets to share with you all.  


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • AnaLuisa March 27, 2013, 4:06 am

    I agree with Admin – I? gently inform those who are not going that I was unable to get as many tickets as in previous years, that it won’t be the same without them, and that I would be more than glad to invite them again if and when more tickets are available.

    I’d certainly mention that I am able to “accommodate” just one couple of friends; however, I’d avoid mentioning that I am giving the tickets to them BECAUSE I feel the closest to them. I think a normal person should accept without any bitter feelings that a friend doesn’t have tickets for everyone, and that he/she decided to give them to another couple, but I’d be hurt if they expressly mentioned that the reason was that they felt closer to them than to me (although it may be obvious).

  • Lo March 27, 2013, 5:40 am

    On the issue of photos which I assume you mean are being posted to Facebook, I’m of the opinion that it’s definitely okay to insist your gusts don’t post photos the event because it would be unfair to others who have attended in the past, even if they know they aren’t attending this time because you’ve politely told them so. (I agree with admin’s advice to do this)

    If they want to take pictures for their family albums, that’s fine, but I think that exclusive events like these shouldn’t be plastered all over the internet so everyone else can see what they’re missing out on. One of the reasons I quit using Facebook was the realization that it made cutting down on my guest list impossible when those who were invited would inevitably just throw it in the faces of those who weren’t by posting photos the next day. At least being detached from the whole system helped me to avoid any dramatic fallout, even if I can’t stop people from posting those photos online.

    If you can get your guests to see that posting these photos would be unfair to the other couples, by all means please do so.

  • E March 27, 2013, 8:00 am

    I would NOT mention that you only have tickets for one other couple – but each one will wonder why they are not the chosen couple. There’s no reason to include this information, IMO it would be JADEing. Instead, you can simply say “I know we were all looking forward to going to Event again this year, but unfortunately I don’t have the quantity of tickets that I did last time. Hopefully I will again in the future!”

  • just4kicks March 27, 2013, 8:27 am

    To avoid hurt feelings in deeming one couple priority over the others, I would say maybe that I put all three couples names in a hat and picked one at random. Even though you know better, the other two couples will chalk it up to “luck of the draw”. However, if you’re in the same situation next year, that won’t work. Hopefully, everyone can attend next year. Kudos to you for wanting to spare hurt feelings!

  • Saucygirl March 27, 2013, 9:05 am

    I understand that no more Free tickets are available, but what about purchasing tickets? If it’s possible, and you truly enjoy having this other couple there, could the three couples split the cost? Then you can either continue to enjoy the event together, or if they say no, know that you did as much as possible to enable them to attend, and enjoy the evening without feeling bad.

  • A March 27, 2013, 9:42 am

    Why should they have to refrain from posting and talking about an event they attend? Sure it’s sad not to be invited, but so long as others aren’t so inconsiderate as to gloat about it directly to the non-attendees, I think it would be silly to get upset about it.

  • Mer March 27, 2013, 9:49 am

    Lo: I’m bit in two minds about what you say. Personally I feel that if you are an adult, you must understand that you won’t be invited to every happening, party and whatever. Part of growing up is to realize that world does not revolve around you and most probably others are not out there to insult just you but they have their own liver where you may or may not play some part. Yes, you may be left out from something or invited to other. That is just how life goes. And sometimes you invite someone and left someone out.

    I agree, there might be someone out there who does not realize this and will cause some drama. But actually that is just their personal problem. Then the question is, do you want to have friends that cannot act like reasonable adults but expect the world be one big playschool. I also agree of course there is a line one might cross. Exessive discussion about past or future happenings other may not attend is rude, but I feel not because they cannot attend the party but because you are deliberately choosing a discussion topic the other person may not join, just as it is rude to have a lenghty discussion with your sportmates about your thing when there is one in the company that does not even know the basics about it.

  • Mer March 27, 2013, 9:54 am

    Oh, and sorry about double post, but I fully agree with admin in this. Better to be clear why you cannot invite them this time if this has been your tradition. Being secretive just makes it look like you have something to hide. With what I said in my previous post, not being invited is normal thing that happens. Not being invited and everyone goes miles off their way to hide the event and those who are invited, starts to feel more like “we are not especially inviting YOU” rather than the normal “this time we invited these friends”.

  • Allie March 27, 2013, 11:42 am

    I would simply say to the univited couples “I’m very sorry I could not get tickets for you this year. Hopefully, we can all go again next year”. These are adults. If they were 8, I would agree with the suggestion that you ask the couple you do take not to post pictures. As adults, we have to accept that life isn’t always fair and we don’t always make the cut.

  • Chris March 27, 2013, 12:38 pm

    Have you considered either of these options?

    1) Instead of taking any of the usual couples with you, incl whichever you are closest to, take a different set of friends? A set who may never have had the opportunity to attend this event. In this way if either of the 3 couples learn about it, you can say you couldn’t get enough tickets for everyone so you treated someone who has never experienced it.

    2) Instead of taking the closest friends, maybe try to find the couple who needs the greatest pick-me-up? Has anyone had an exceptionally difficult time lately- lost a family member, fired, medical issues, etc? If any of the couples question why “so & so was invite and WE weren’t” you can honestly say that you couldn’t secure enough tickets for everyone and since invited couple recently had their house foreclosed on after husband lost his job cause wife was in the hospital needing emergency surgery you felt that they needed something nice to help put life in perspective.

  • LadyPhoenix March 27, 2013, 1:40 pm

    Invite who you want to invite. If you can get any tickets for the other couples, explain it to them and make it up to them by taking them to lunch or a movie.

  • Lynette March 27, 2013, 3:02 pm

    The tickets are yours to do with as you like, of course, but I do like Chris’s suggestion. As a person of limited funds, I often miss out on fun things and have to make do with whatever I can come up with at home. You can’t help sometimes feeling a twinge of envy or resentment at what others are enjoying that you can’t afford (even when you immediately chide yourself about being childish). So, I think taking into consideration the finances of your friends and taking the couple who are dealing most with a financial crunch would be a lovely thing to do.

    Also, you might consider throwing a small evening event in your home for all of them, because, honestly, a lot of what we enjoy and look forward to with these things is the company as much as the event itself.

  • Marozia March 27, 2013, 3:36 pm

    Why not take family members instead of friends? I’m sure your friends will understand that only a certain amount of tickets are available. Certainly I agree about the postings on the social media sites.
    Make it a family affair this year.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith March 27, 2013, 5:12 pm

    It’s easy to over-think this. A nice event, even a spectacularly nice event, isn’t going to dent a friendship if the relationship has other “legs” to stand on besides the excitement of this annual gala. Go, have a good time. Invite the couple you already plan to include. Omit emphasizing the event in the interim and feel free to say some version of “those tickets are very few this year and I do hope that this won’t be the case next year!’. No need to mention who you invited, who you didn’t or why. Any version of that statement is explanation enough and life can continue free of both drama and regret. If someone is so crass as to demand an explanation of your failure to provide tickets for them, well, you know that your generosity to date has been misplaced.

  • hakayama March 27, 2013, 5:41 pm

    @Chris– I was going to refrain from commenting since the ground was thickly covered already.
    However, your suggestion is so lovely that I have to congratulate you on it. Thanks for a breath of fresh air!

  • Jess March 27, 2013, 9:39 pm

    I disagree about posting it on social media. Seriously why cant the couple that attended share photos of their night out? It would be utterly ridiculous for any of the other couples to be offended. They are lucky getting free tickets the other years, it does not entitle them to go every year so they cannot be upset. It is up to the couple with the tickets to decide who they take, getting upset you were not chosen and being offended by the photos is pure jealousy. I heard this saying and it has always stayed with me “Th difference between jealous and envious is that Envy means you wish you had what other people had too, Jealousy means you wish you had it INSTEAD of them. Its ok to feel a bit envious sometimes but jealousy is not good. The people just need to be grateful they wen all the other years, not angry they miss out once.

  • hakayama March 27, 2013, 10:56 pm

    @Jess… I had to check your “saying” for accuracy of word definitions. And the easily available sources have a quite different take on the two words.
    But, regardless of one’s preference in meanings, there can be no argument that they are not satisfying sins at all. There’s no joy in envy nor in jealousy…

  • Jess March 28, 2013, 4:58 am

    Personally I cant see anything wrong with wanting something, it doesn’t mean you throw a tantrum if you cant have it or think life owes it to you or go to any lengths to get it. Simply wishing for something is a good thing, it keeps dreams alive. Envy means you want the same thing http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/envy

    Jealousy means you are upset over losing out to someone else. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jealous

  • Angela March 28, 2013, 6:06 am

    Regarding Facebook: FB has privacy settings. The couple involved could be asked to set the posted pictures in such a way that they are unlikely to appear in the uninivited friends’ news feeds. It doesn’t have to be all or none.

  • LawGeek March 28, 2013, 8:18 pm

    I would ask the whole group out a few weeks after the annual event. Of course, I would request the invited couple’s discretion extend to that evening as well. If you get together every year, this could replace that particular group dynamic and let the excluded couples clearly know you value their company.

  • Jo April 2, 2013, 1:40 pm

    While I certainly understand and appreciate someone not wanting to hurt others’ feelings, on the other hand I don’t think that the ones who do attend should hide their attendance. The entire point of Facebook and the like is to share photos and thoughts about happy times, so why not this one? I’m sure there are many events that friends didn’t or couldn’t attend, but it doesn’t mean we have to pretend they didn’t happen.

  • Thomas April 5, 2013, 7:21 am

    I too understand your dissappointment regarding the shortage of tickets I think you must try http://clickit4ticket.co.uk.They provide the online ticket service in UK(Manchester).I make you sure that you will enjoy events with their services.