How to Cancel Plans at the Last Minute


It’s wonderful to make plans with friends, be it for a double date, girls lunch or playdate with the kids. You mark it on your calendar with a star, and look forward to it all week-long. And then life happens and someone has to cancel. You might feel like Larry David, and thrilled to have one less social obligation (his motto is, “if someone cancels on me, it’s a celebration!” ha!) or you may feel a pang of disappointment. We’ve all been there! However, what if you are the one who has to cancel at the last-minute? Guilt washes over you as you pick up your phone, and yet you know its best to cancel. Again, we’ve all been there! I’m a big believer in upholding commitments, however there are times when we just can’t do it all, and have to cancel.

Several years ago, we had dinner plans with another couple and we had been looking forward to getting together for weeks. They are darling and hilarious, and it was going to be a treat to have a fun night out. I woke up that morning not feeling very well, however I wanted to put on a smile and brave face, and still meet up with our friends. The day rolled on, and I tried to rest, however as we were getting dressed to go out, I felt incredibly dizzy and nauseous and decided to sit down for a minute. I could barely peel myself off the sofa to finish my makeup, and despite my desire to uphold our commitment, my husband and agreed it was best for us to stay home and reschedule dinner for a time when I was better and we could all enjoy ourselves. I felt absolutely awful for canceling the plans – let alone at the eleventh hour – however, we needed to do what was right for my health. Moral of the story, sometimes you just have to cancel at the last-minute, and its ok.

And so, if you find yourself in a similar situation, below are my tips to handle it with grace. Enjoy!

Quick Tips

Social Etiquette: How to Cancel Plans at the Last Minute


Only cancel if there is a good reason (i.e., you’re sick, your children or spouse are sick, you have an unexpected work conflict, family emergency, your babysitter cancels, etc.) Don’t cancel because of a better offer (aka “better dealing” or because you just don’t feel like going out.

Ideally, call the person to cancel. However if you are unable to (i.e., you have a sick and screaming baby in your arms), then sending a text is ok. And no need to go overboard with details, keep it simple and sincere.

Whether calling or texting, be sure to apologize for canceling.

If you do wish to see them again, suggest another day/time when you can get together and make a point to follow through with the commitment.

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