It's natural to feel uncomfortable about declining a birthday party invitation, particularly if it's from a good friend. Show your friend that you appreciate the invitation, acknowledge her birthday in another way and be honest about why you can't attend. This way, your friend will feel that your are with her in spirit when she blows out her birthday candles - and she might even send you a piece of the cake.
Decline the invitation promptly. Your friend will appreciate your consideration, while a timely reply also gives her time to invite another guest or make alternative arrangements.
Thank your friend for the invitation. Tell him that you appreciate being thought of and that it means a lot to you to be invited. This will help your friend to understand that you are not rejecting him personally. For example, if you are unable to attend the birthday party because of a prior engagement, tell him that you would prefer to be with him on his birthday but are unable to do so.
Provide an honest explanation. Tell the truth about your reasons for declining the invitation. Your friend will appreciate your sincerity and is unlikely to feel slighted if you have a legitimate excuse for not attending his party.
Send a gift. Sending a birthday gift or a thoughtful card shows that you care and want to acknowledge your friend's birthday, even if you cannot share in the celebrations. Alternatively, take her out for a birthday drink or meal a day or two after the party and ask her to tell you all about it.
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