How to Cancel a Party

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It happens even to the best of us.  Despite our best-laid plans, there are times when things just aren’t going to work out.

If you see the writing on the wall for your upcoming gathering, don’t fret.  In this post, we’ll talk about how to cancel a party, guilt-free and with the utmost etiquette.

Reason Why You May Need To Cancel Your Party

Certainly, the most obvious reason to cancel a party is an illness.  If you or a family member is sick or it is imperative that you limit your exposure to others who may be sick, you need to cancel.

Unexpected personal events, such a death in the family is also a common reason to cancel a to cancel a party

But let’s talk about some more taboo reasons why you may need to put a halt to your gathering.

Avoiding social tension is a big one.

If you have friends or family members in conflict with one another you may want to pull the plug on an intimate gathering (8 or less).

If you suspect that tension is so high that they will be unable to be cordial, or that other guests will be off-put by the mood, just cancel.

There are no good cards to play in this situation.  Your other options are to risk having a very awkward evening or to uninvite one or both of the guests.

In my opinion, the latter should be the last option.  It’s best not to insert yourself into the conflict or give the impression you’re taking sides.

It’s better to keep the peace, cancel, and try again when tempers have cooled.

Finally, unforeseen expenses are another reason why you may need to cancel a party.

No one should go broke throwing a party.  If you feel as though you’re going into serious debt to host an affair, cancel, regroup, and make a new plan.

When to Cancel a Party

The timing of your cancellation is crucial.  Party etiquette dictates that you should cancel as soon as possible once you’ve made the decision that the party cannot go on

The sooner the better.

If your venue fell through this week and your party is next month, don’t wait until the weekend before to cancel.  Tell people right away.

If you’re trying to salvage a party (i.e. find a caterer) but aren’t certain you’re going to be able to do it, tell people.

Let them know there is a possibility that gathering won’t happen.  Explain the circumstances for the possible cancellation and assure them that you’ll be sharing an update on the status soon.

This will soften the blow if you do have to cancel and people won’t feel blindsided.

If your event is happening around a holiday, let them know that you understand if they opt for that Mother’s Day Brunch at their church instead of yours due to the uncertainty.

A good rule of thumb is the bigger the event, the more notice you should give. Think weddings, milestone anniversaries, etc.

Cancellations for events that may require people to spend money on travel or hotel accommodations need to be announced asap.

If your guests end up losing money on these things because you waited too long to let them know; they won’t be happy.

Moreover, they may not have the funds to attend in the future if you reschedule.

Who Should I Contact to Cancel a Party?

The short answer is, everyone that’s involved.  Start with people you may have placed deposits with to get your money back while you still can, then move onto guests.

Regarding guests, make sure you tell everyone at once.

You don’t want to tell a few people informally and then have them passing on the news to others you haven’t spoken with yet.  This will cause confusion.

Try to make a single announcement via email, text, or formal letter.what to say to cancel a party

What Do I Say to Cancel a Party?

Keep your announcement as concise as possible.

Start with the cancellation announcement, follow that with a brief explanation, and close with your sentiments and future plans.

Future plans may include the return of gifts in the case of a wedding, or simply plans to reschedule in the coming months.

How to Cancel an Event You’re Hosting

In general, you’ll want to send a cancellation notice to guests utilizing the same method used to invite them.

If you sent an electronic invitation, then send an email.  Invited via text? Send a text.  If you’ve sent paper invitations, you should send a letter via postal mail.

Suggested Read: “Hostess Secrets: A Step-by-Step Guide to Informal Invitations

In the case of a last-minute cancellation, those being less than 1-week notice.  Call everyone individually and speak to them.  If you don’t get them, leave a voicemail and follow up with a text.

If you’re late with your announcement, you owe it to your guests to speak with them personally.

This applies to all events, but especially to those where people may have had to make arrangements for travel, childcare, accommodations, etc.

Note: An informal backyard BBQ or a watch party for The Bachelor does not require such formality.  Just send a text.

Examples of What to Say to Cancel a Party

Sample Message Via Text

Due to unforeseen events, we’ll be canceling our Sept. 6th Birthday Celebration.  We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.  We’ll be in contact soon. Best ~ Emily

Sample Message Via Letter (Postal Mail)

Dear Samatha,

After much discussion and careful consideration, it is with heavy hearts that we have decided to cancel our wedding.

We recognize this may be an inconvenience to many, and for that, we apologize.  Please know we did not come to this decision lightly, but feel in our hearts that this is the right decision.

We thank you for all of your love and support during this time.


Jim and Pam

Sample Message Via Email


We just received news that our venue will be unable to accommodate our group for the reunion.  Because of this, we have decided to postpone the event.  We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you.  We plan to reschedule for a later date and will be in touch with those details soon.


Aria & Jess

I hope you found this post helpful.  If you have any other tips for how to cancel a party please leave them in the comments below.  For more from Dianne Decor follow me on Bloglovin’ and Instagram.

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How to Cancel a party

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