What to Say to Your Ex When They Inevitably Reach Out Over the Holiday

written by EMMA GINSBERG
Source: @ivan-samkov | Pexels
Source: @ivan-samkov | Pexels

The holidays can bring up a lot of… feelings. Especially if you’re recently single or going through your first holiday season in a few years solo, you might find yourself romanticizing years past (and relationships past) throughout the month of December. And, of course, other people are too: That same nostalgia might be hitting your ex, creating the snowball of events that leads to you receiving the classic “Happy holidays!” text. Whether this is something you’re totally manifesting or absolutely dreading, it can be hard to know how to respond to your ex reaching out over the holidays, which is why we’ve compiled a list of safe-bet responses that will keep the holiday cheer without getting too spicy.

Before sending any of the following, be sure to check in with yourself about how you really feel about your ex reaching out. If it wasn’t the holiday season, would you respond to their text? If it was dead in the middle of hot girl summer, would you even glance at their name flashing across your phone screen? If the answer is no, it might be worth waiting until after the new year to respond or not responding at all. But if a holiday reach-out was exactly what you were wishing for this holiday season… we’re not one to judge!

Here are 28 potential responses to your ex reaching out over the holiday season—plus one reassurance if you’re perfectly satisfied with your no-contact Christmas this year.

If they reach out with a generic “Happy holidays…”

  • I wasn’t expecting a text from the ghost of Christmas past!
  • Happy holidays to you, too! I’ve been thinking of you this season, thanks for reaching out.
  • Happy holidays! I hope you and your family are doing well.
  • Happy holidays, thanks so much for thinking of me! Hope you’re doing well.
  • That was brave!
  • Happy holidays! Up to anything fun this weekend?
  • Thanks, [insert name]! I hope you have a great holiday season too.
  • And a very unhappy holidays to you, too! 😉

If they ask what you’re up to for the holidays…

  • Living out my Hallmark movie dreams…unfortunately texting you back isn’t part of the script.
  • Enjoying time with friends and family. I hope you’re doing the same!
  • I’m just back in town briefly to spend time with family before heading back home.
  • This year I’m giving myself the gift of peace by blocking your number!
  • Thanks so much for checking in! I’m not up to much this year, are you doing anything fun for the holidays?
  • No, thank you!
  • I’m actually planning to do [insert festive activity] this week, any chance you want to join?

If you feel like indulging in a little festive flirting…

  • Happy holidays! How did you know that my Christmas wish was a text from you?
  • Happy holidays! Missing [insert festive activity that you did together] like we did last year. Can we catch up soon?
  • Simply respond with the song “‘Tis the Damn Season” by Taylor Swift.
  • Happy holidays! Any chance you’re free soon? I’m thinking of hosting some people for a little holiday get-together.
  • All I want for Christmas is you 😉
  • Happy holidays! If you don’t have a New Year’s kiss lined up, I’m available…

If you aren’t interested in anything they have to say to you…

  • Thank you for responding to the backsliding hotline! Reply STOP to no longer receive texts from this number.
  • Hi, I appreciate you reaching out, but I think it’s a bit too soon. I hope you enjoy the holidays!
  • Happy holidays! Now’s not a great time for me to catch up, but I hope you’re doing well.
  • Happy holidays—I’m a bit confused about why you reached out, but I appreciate you thinking of me. I hope 2024 treats you well.
  • Hi, I hope you and your family have a great holiday season and a nice new year.
  • Happy holidays! Good luck in the new year.
  • I’m so glad I can cross you backsliding off of my 2023 BINGO card! Have a great new year.

If you don’t want to respond…

Sometimes, no response is the best response—even if it means being a bit of a Grinch. You are under no obligation to engage with your ex, especially if they treated you poorly in the past and are no longer a part of your life for a reason. And if this is the first time you’ve heard from them in a long time, there’s no reason to continue the conversation if you don’t want to do so.

If things ended amicably and you want to be friendly with this person, feel free to use any of the above responses to keep the peace or maintain a small connection, but also know that it’s OK to not want to engage (even if there is no bad blood!). Simply ignore their text, delete it altogether, or block them if that’s what you need to do to enjoy a happy, healthy holiday.