We have long-time friends, a married couple. We don't see them very often, maybe four to five times a year.

Two of the opportunities to meet them are their birthday parties. During these "parties" 10-12 guests sit around a table, eat and drink and make small-talk.

Our Problem:

My wife and I feel increasingly uncomfortable at these birthday parties, mostly because of the topics of conversation

The guests only talk about vacations (5 star hotels in Dubai), their houses in Sylt (a German island comparable to the Hamptons in the U.S.), locations in Paris where you can eat the best Périgord truffles and so on.

We also don't like the other guests (except our friends) very much and so we decided not to attend these parties anymore.

My question:

How can we politely refuse invitations to these birthday parties without offending our friends? We really like to meet them, but not at these events. We also don't like to lie to our friends and find some excuses.

  • 1
    why do you meet so rarely, you have no time, they have no time? you live far apart?
    – WendyG
    Jul 2, 2018 at 16:31
  • @WendyG: Yes, we're all very busy with our work, especially she is working 100 km apart from their home, every Friday in the evening and on Sundays in the morning. We live about 30 an hour by car apart. So it's very hard to agree on a date.
    – bpaul
    Jul 4, 2018 at 6:42

2 Answers 2


Do something special with your good friends that don't involve the others. Organize something special and personal with them that doesn't involve the others.

I frequently host different events with different friend groups during my birthday, as I know some groups do not mix well with others. I found that out partially through some people from one group directly telling me that they do not enjoy spending time with another person or group.

Take your friends aside and let them know that you don't have much fun with those friends and would like to do something together. If your friends are reasonable then they will understand that their friends might not be your friends.


I really much agree with TheRealLester's answer, and want to add some things.

Generally, and also applied to this situation, if someone invites you to do something or offer something to you, if you explain why you can't or don't want to, but also suggest an alternative - it will go well.

I did it quite a lot, since a lot of times I prefer not to attend big/loudly places, as my hearing is bad and I just need to make a lot of effort to try and contact people.
Also with other reasons, such as: The people invited (as in your situation), the type of gathering (smoking, drinking etc.).

So I think it's best to make it clear, talk to those friends about the situation and suggest an alternative for celebrating to them. Better something that you and your couple will organize and in their area - so it's really coming to them and not something that can make them less enthusiastic about it.

If you're not in the conflict at the moment (aka you we're not just invited to such party), you can proactively suggest a celebration for the four of you, before they even invite you.

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