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How To Say No To A Home Party Held By Friends Selling Stuff

Published: November 2, 2013 | Last Updated: November 8, 2021 By | 15 Replies Continue Reading
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Another home party invitation? A woman feels awkward saying no to friends and asks for advice.


Hi Irene,

Lately, I’ve been getting many invitations from friends hosting house parties to sell everything from jewelry to household containers, and more. Some are hosting a house party for family members if they are not selling the goods themselves.

As much as I love my friends and neighbors, I am not comfortable purchasing things I don’t need or want at social gatherings — especially when there are so many to attend lately. When I say “no,” I sense that I am hurting — or not supporting — my friends.

I am sure other women are in a similar position — feeling obligated and unsure of how to bow out of these “purchase parties” gracefully.

Any advice?

Signed, Amber


Dear Amber,

The sheer number of home party invitations being sent out these days can be overwhelming. When social media (such as Facebook) are used as a vehicle to send invitations to an entire “friends” list, invitations can pile up quickly.

Sometimes the invitation comes from someone you haven’t heard from in quite a while, a friend of a friend, a colleague or a neighbor. The items sold are generally priced much higher than those at traditional stores. But you can’t blame them for asking: Many people set up parties like these to generate extra income for themselves (which isn’t surprising given the economy).

How should you respond? You shouldn’t feel obligated to attend. Clearly, these invitations are less personal than being invited over to a friend’s house for coffee. Home party consultants advise hosts to heavily “over invite” because they know a high percentage of invitees will not attend. This is also why they always tell attendees to “bring a friend.”

If someone were truly your friend, they would not want you to feel obligated to buy things you don’t need or can’t afford. If you don’t want to attend a home party, simply decline politely. Depending on who has invited you and how much you want to share (you can go into more or less detail), thank them for the invitation and say something like:

  • “I’m on a tight budget, so I’m going to have to pass.”
  • “I’m not interested in this type of item.”

A couple of warnings…if you tend to waffle:

  • The host may tell you to come anyway, saying there’s no obligation to buy. However, if you do attend, beware of peer pressure; someone may even try to coax you into hosting a future event.
  • If you respond you can’t make the event because you are busy, don’t be surprised if you are asked to purchase something from a catalog. 

If you do decide to attend, make sure you go with a budget in mind. Sometimes going to a home party can be fun, introduce people to new products, and be a nice way to meet new people!

Hope this helps.


Have you ever been put in a similar position?

Also see:  Reader Wisdom: Invited To A Home Party You Don’t Want To Go To

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Category: Friends and Money

Comments (15)

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  1. Peabody says:

    This thread is from a few years but I wanted to share an experience.
    The mom of one of my daughter’s friend asked me to meet for coffee. I got all excited because I don’t have too many friends… only to realize that she wanted my husband to be there too because she “wanted our opinion or advice”… I insisted to know what it was, guessing maybe some kind of business. She said it was hard to explain. My husband said no, we don’t do pyramids or the like so I told her enfatically no thank you, don’t waste your time with us. She called me and wanted to meet with me, We met “for coffee” just the two of us and she assured me it was not that. It was finantial education, etc. On my insistance my husband agreed to meet for “15-20 minutes” just to get her off my shoulders. We heard the pitch (life insurance WFG)… we were polite and listened for 2 hrs, a few days later she dropped off some “examples” papers at my house. Then a few days later she asked if we had any questions, as if we had already agreed to it. I said no thanks and we’re happy with the way we have things set up, but thanks. She has not contacted me since!
    The thing that bothered me the most was the way she set it up. It was a trap! And then won’t take no for an answer… anyhow I tried to keep the friendship but maybe there wasn’t aNY to start with!

  2. Amy says:

    If there were someone reaching out to me about something they like enough to try and sell, I would listen. They are a person. They need to make money. And even if I don’t share their enthusiasm, they deserve my respect.

    I do support business for friends when I like the priduct. Yeah.. it costs more than Walmart. But you know, thats because it’s paying for their time as well. They get a small percentage of the cash you dish out.

    If I can be nice, I am. If my friends are overly pushy, they’re just excited.. and/or maybe a little desperate. Clearly, they have enough going on without me judging them harshly or ending our friendship.

    • Fee says:

      I agree. If a friend openned a coffee shop or a beauty salon or gym, would yu go to their openning? Would you buy a coffee there, consider taking an exercise class there or booking in for a treatment-no doubt you would.
      Why should a direct sales business be any different surely you would rather a friend benefited from the sale of a product you would be buying anyway (e.g a Yankee candle V one from a party lite rep) than simply a manufacturer?
      Ask yourself why more and more people, particularly mums are getting involved in network marketing and direct sales… high childcare costs, unrealistic working conditions, job insecurity to name a few xcx

  3. Faith says:

    I refuse to be friends with anyone who sells stuff like this. Don’t be tricked by their friendliness or over-enthusiasm about the products they sell. They are overpriced, and even if they were already your friend, they are cheapening your friendship by placing unwanted obligation on you. Honestly I’d rather give a struggling friend money directly rather than have to listen to the BS of some junk. These kinds of selling programs are like a disease, preying on friendships and social expectations.

  4. Cindy says:

    I’ve sold products and hosted parties for various direct selling companies. I like the fact that it’s a low risk way to start your own business, and given the choice, I prefer to support my friend’s business over a faceless corporation. That being said, I don’t think anyone should feel guilty about not wanting to attend a home party. If it’s not a product you’re interested in you shouldn’t feel pressured into buying it. Personally, I found some great products that are better than the quality offered in the store. I frequently purchase from Tupperware, Pampered Chef and Stampin’ Up!. There are other products I don’t really need, so I don’t attend those parties. It should be ok to say no without feeling guilty.

  5. Guest says:

    How about those “friends” who invites you over for dinner and while you’re eating, starts giving sales pitches and pressures you to buy a this $45 Javita Coffee which is a box of 24 single-serve sachets? I am normally a strong person to resist sales party invites, but this friend was tricky.

    At the time this happened, I did not know how to resist past saying I don’t drink coffee, because she then started pushing for me to buy it for my husband. She was OVERLY pushy. I managed to say I’ll have to talk to my husband first, but before I left her home, she gave me the box of coffee, to which I responded I’d have to talk to my husband first if he’d be interested. I was appalled by her response : But I already asked my friend to drop it off here! Don’t worry about the payment, pay when you can, as if she didn’t hear what I just said. How can you say no when the person just fed you for free?

    This served as a big lesson to me. What I did was, I paid for it and told her that my husband didn’t want any of it. I made her feel that I didn’t want it and she sked if I wanted to return it to her? I was itching to have her refund me, but I used that as an opportunity to counter her manipulative ways. I said, it’s okay, I’ll just give it away. I wanted to support you in your business, but I’d appreciate it if you don’t sell me any of these stuff again as I hate any form of networking/home sales and ending up with stuff I didn’t want in the first place. Anyhow, after a few weeks, she asked me to come to her house because she needed people for her Javita Coffee party. I told her that I hate listening to sales pitches, but she said that I already bought a box, so I don’t have to buy anything. She just needs people to attend. It took me a lot of courage to say “well, I have more important things to do than waste a couple of hours on something I HATE doing, sorry.”

    but wait! That didn’t end there. One night she started telling me about how she needs to buy another account from that coffee company, but it can’t be under her name. Like I said, I learned from that night she fed me free dinner and manipulating me into buying her coffee. I knew she was fishing if she could use my name/ssn etc for that account. She went about how she’s going to pay for everything and how it’s not going to cost anyone any trouble, to which I strongly replied “well, I don’t think you will find anyone to do that for you, because that indicates possible tax problems and to be honest, I myself wont let anyone else use my SSN, name, etc for anything like this! I saw her face twitch.

    I learned from this blog. I remember running to this website at the time all these were happening. I followed the suggestions. It was hard, especially when you have to say no to friends.

    However, also from this website, I have learned that real friends are not those who’d put you in a situation where you’d be uncomfortable or manipulate to do things that THEY want.

    If a person is pushy, push back doubly harder. Practice makes perfect.

    • Denise says:

      Wow! Guest

      Your letter got worse as I read on. Your “friend” needs to understand boundaries. Everything she did and said would have me just stare at her and keep saying No until she quit. It would seem like an out to give her reasons, but apparently she always has a “solution” to your No. From then on, I’d always half anticipate a sales pitch with each dinner invite and probably not go. Way to turn off someone. I’ve never had a problem saying No to something I didn’t want.

  6. Melonie M. says:

    I avoid these “parties” like the plague. The minute I see an invite, I cringe. I’m an introvert and need time to reflect and process what I’m experiencing so I really dislike sales pitches. They are usually pushy and rushed because the person knows that the more time you have to actually think about what’s happening, you’ll probably not buy. I once had a friend invite me over for a “get together” at her house. This person used to be my BFF but life (like it usually does) got in the way. Anyhow I was all happy that she wanted to reconnect….until I got a call from some woman who represented a major cosmetics company asking me my preferences in make up tones and what not. I thought she was mistaken cause I hadn’t signed up for any info from this company. I was shocked when she referred to the up coming “get together” at my friends house. Uh? Basically, after I agreed to come over, my friend gave my cell # to her friend (which was a compleat stranger to me) giving her the impression that I was interested in product. By that time, I had already cleared the date with my hubby so he could watch the kids so I desided to go anyway but “accidentally” forgot my wallet at home. I was upset cause I thought my friend wanted to hang out and catch up. Turns out she needed to have a certain number of people over so she could get her free item. I felt bad for the sales lady because my friend ended up filling seats with her teenage nieces who couldn’t afford a darn thing but gladly got a make over. Lol. At least the food was good. But strongly disliked the way she handled the whole situation

    • Denise says:

      I think I’d feel used. To think someone I used to like so much would want to reconnect and then see this happen….You did more than I would’ve done which would be to stop it at the rep’s call.

  7. greenbean says:

    Oh God, been there done that! How many house parties can you attend? I gave up trying to be a “good” friend and going to these things, and the peer pressure is enormous, so I feel your pain. I just say no thank you, won’t be able to make it and if they keep pushing I just tell them I don’t attend those parties anymore (same goes for being a bridesmaid). OR if it’s a really good friend I tell them I’d be happy to attend but the chances of me buying something are slim to none so if she still wants me to go, I’m in, otherwise have a great party.
    Funny story, a neighbour of mine (next door neighbour) invited me to one of those parties, I declined by mail (mailbox to mailbox) and holy crap she sent one of her friends to my front door to find out why I wasn’t going and to “sell” me on attending!! good grief! I mean you gotta be a tough cookie to say no to some of these pushy women! I didn’t give a good reason for not going because it just is none of their business, even if I was on a tight budget, none of their business so yep they kept pushing for an answer and I finally just had to close the door in her face literally! ugh!
    Good luck!!

  8. Gina says:

    Dear Amber,

    Very simply just tell your friends that you do not attend these types of parties and tell her it is no offense to your friendship, but that you get invited to so many you decided not to attend any to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.

    Keep it simple and short, most people understand. I know my friends do. Good luck…

  9. Amy says:

    What a great question. If it were me, I’d keep it short and simple. “Thanks for the invite, but I’ve decided not to attend any more product parties. I feel guilty if I attend one party, and not another of if I spend money at one and not another, so I’m taking my self-imposed stress away. I hope you sell a lot. Let me know how it goes.”
    Then stand firm and stick to your boundaries. I did the same thing, not with parties but with fund raising walks/runs. I’m a breast cancer survivor and I’ve got a circle of survivor friends who are always walking/running. I was nervous, but everyone respected my limits and I’m a lot happier, less stressed and less resentful.

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