At this point in your life, you imagined family Christmases would be spent gathered around a fireplace with loved ones, tearfully whispering about the joy and wonder of the season. In reality, your brother spends the holiday whining about how he wanted the iPhone 6, not 5s, and your mom goes into a passive-aggressive tail spin about inconsiderate shoppers at the health food store and your lack of marriage proposals. Perhaps it’s best to skip the ham-fueled social activities this winter. Wouldn’t you rather kick back and watch Netflix in the comfort of your own home, instead of being force-fed eggnog and fruitcake by your great aunt while your dad tries to talk politics? Avoiding family during the holidays can be tricky, so we’ve gathered some foolproof excuses to help you out:

1. You’re too broke to travel

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“Sorry, Ma! I can’t make it this year, I spent all my money on donating meals to street youths.” They can’t blame you for having financial problems, or being generous to orphans. Caution: Only use this excuse if your family is too cheap to offer to fly you themselves. Otherwise, it could backfire immediately. Everyone knows traveling around the holidays is expensive, so exploit this knowledge to benefit you.

2. You’re having “stomach problems”

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Say the phrase “stomach problems” to someone, and they’ll immediately be disgusted. Besides, your dad has had a weak stomach for years! Kindly remind him of the three-hour road trip you took together, when he made you pull over nine times (he had to go, dangit). No one wants to imagine what could be happening to you in the bathroom; they’ll assume the worst, which is exactly what you want! Take it a step further by saying “it’s coming out of both ends” and you might even get out of next year’s festivities, too.

3. Your boss is a tyrant

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Blame it on your boss! “You guys know Jeff can be a real Scrooge this time of year, he’s making us all work overtime.” Your grandma will shed a solitary tear that you’ll be missing out on her famous quiche, but you’ll be sitting pretty on your throne of lies.

4. Your pet is petrified

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What kind of Grinch won’t sympathize with pet problems? Whether you’re saying your precious pooch contracted small pox, has bladder-control issues when flying, or you can’t find anyone to watch him (which is usually true), your pet is the perfect excuse. Take a picture of Fido making woeful puppy dog eyes and send it to all of your contacts. Not only will you be able to skip rocking around the Christmas tree, but a jovial uncle might even send some treats for your fur baby—Lassie should be rewarded for going above and beyond the call of duty, after all.

5. Your friend just got dumped

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Feel free to use this excuse for any event you want to get out of, no matter the season. Admittedly, it works better if you’re a female, because people assume we have delicate lady-brains that can’t handle emotional distress. Use this stereotype to your advantage and say that your friend needs to be consoled by your good buddies, Ben and Jerry, and can’t be left alone for fear of calling her (now) ex-boyfriend in a sugar-fueled rage. Therefore, you obviously can’t make caroling with the in-laws.

6. Your car is on fire

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For the last minute cop-out, say that your flight was canceled or your car broke down. Add in some type of fire element to the story if you’re nervous that it won’t sound dramatic enough. Make sure there is no way for parties involved to confirm or deny your claims (don’t say your flight was canceled if your parents are tech-savvy enough to check online—maybe even throw in a fake Facebook post for good measure, “Car died, holidays are RUINED! ~Sad face emoji~”). Ideally, you can bust this one out when you’re supposed to drive home for the holidays, but it can easily be applied in combination with excuse #1 if you were planning to fly.

No judgment here—we know that holidays spent with family translate to more frequent trips to your therapist’s office (you already have enough bills from her…don’t forget the harrowing clown incident from earlier this year).  Whether you’re trying to avoid your mother who’s more psychotic than a Chihuahua on antidepressants or your uncle who is constantly trying to one-up your dad (“Oh, you reeled in a bluefin? I caught a great white once.”), we get it. Whatever your reason, say goodbye to lipstick-stained kisses from Aunt Marge, and cozy up to your cup-o-noodles on the couch. You’re free (even if you might be on Santa’s naughty list for lying)!