Advise the Etiquette Expert: How Do You Say No Politely?

This July we are bouncing some topics and posts back and forth between The Kitchn and one of our favorite food sites, CHOW. One way we're doing this is asking you, our readers, to help advise CHOW's resident etiquette expert, Helena Echlin, who regularly addresses perplexing etiquette dilemmas in her column Table Manners. Here's a question she's working on, and she would like to know how you would answer it!
You’ve been invited to do something, and you don’t want to for reasons that have nothing to do with schedule conflicts. What’s the most polite way to decline an invitation from somebody you care about, when you are totally free that night? Is it okay to say, “I’ve already got too many things going on that week, and know I’ll want to just chill that evening?”
You can see all of Helen's Table Manners columns here:

Table Manners at CHOW

Some recent favorites include What is the right answer to "can I bring anything?", how to make sure your guests RSVP, and serving leftovers at a dinner party (yea or nay?).

But now to the question at hand: how do you politely turn down an invitation, or say no?

Related: Proper Etiquette: Would You Serve Leftovers to Guests?

(Images: CHOW/Evite)

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Gatherings, Etiquette

Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.

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