Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


Main Page/Home

The Faux Pas Archives
Wedding Etiquette

Bridesmaids and Beastmen
Bridal Showers
Bridezillas and Groomonsters
Faux Pas of the Year
Gimme, Gimme, Gimme
Guests From Hell
Tacky Invitations
Wedding Rugrats
Just Plain Tacky
Tacky Toasts
Thank You Notes From Hell
Tacky Vendors
Wedding From Hell
Wicked Witches of the Wedding
Perfect Bride
Bridesmaid Dress Incinerator



Everyday Etiquette

Baby Showers
The Dating Game
Ooops! Foot in Mouth Disease
Funeral Etiquette
Gimme Hell
Holiday Hell
Just Plain Tacky
It's all Relatives
Every Day RugRats
Road Rage

Business Etiquette

Bad Business Etiquette
Merchants of Etiquette Hell
Bad Bosses

Faux Pas of the Year




Press Room/Contact


Holiday Hell

2002 Archive
Jan-Jun 2003 Archive
Jul-Dec 2003 Archive
Jan - Jun 2004 Archive
Jul-Dec 2004 Archive
Jan-Jun 2005 Archive
Jul-Dec 2005 Archives
2006 Archive
Jan-Jun 2007 Archive


Last year, 2007, we were asked to attend Thanksgiving dinner at my second sisters (#2) house. I looked forward to this event as she was the best cook in the family and I enjoy her and her family's company. We left for our trip to the town the rest of my family live in and went to my Mother's house to stay overnight. Mom has already cooked most of the food she is to take so I was fortunate enough not to have to cook anything. 

Right before we are to leave to go to my sisters (#2) house, my Mother tells me we are going to the other sister's house for Thanksgiving. I asked about my second sister and her dinner and Mom tells me that she isn't having one since her Grandson had been put in the hospital the night before with a jaw fracture. Now I love both of my sisters, but my oldest sister's family drive me nutzo. They are loud, obnoxious, gossiping know it alls. So we go along since we are in no place to not accept going to older sisters house. 

When we arrive everyone is there, except sister #2 and her family. The table is beautifully decorated, the smell in the house is of freshly baked turkey. Maybe not such a bad day will be spent after all, I'm thinking. When we sat down for dinner, everything was tasteless. No sugar in the candied yams, no sugar in the pumpkin pie, the turkey has no spices nor the stuffing. I had forgotten that my sister was newly diagnosed diabetic and didn't cook with sugar or spices any longer. Needless to say, it was the worst Thanksgiving meal I had ever had plus had to listen to my niece talk about her daughter's divorce and how she wasn't going to do this or that, for over two hours. That's the last trip we make to my family's town for Thanksgiving.



I used to work with a woman I'll call J who was very big on bragging about her house (exclusive neighborhood but they couldn't afford to turn on the heat above 45 and she had to wrap up in sweats and big afghans at home all winter), her wonderful husband who ADORED her (yeah right, this is the guy who brought a date to her funeral when she died suddenly and married the much younger girlfriend a week later -- you know this had to have been a long-term affair), her son who was a big football star in high school and was going to go to West Point (he ended up in community college, by the way and we never heard another peep about West Point again) and her exclusive social events.  

The highlight of her year was always her big Derby Day party and she lived in Kentucky so she wanted it to be ultra perfect and in keeping with the true Kentucky Derby spirit.  She bragged all the time about the mint juleps she'd be serving and the Kentucky Burgoo she was making (a type of stew they serve in the elite parties among the real horsey set).  She name dropped about the guest list.  She showed everyone what she bought to wear and made sure she left the tags on and that everyone saw what she paid for the outfit.  She even showed everyone in the office (including all the non-invitees) the engraved invitations with a drawing of her house on the front that she'd supposedly commissioned some artist to draw.  I didn't like her anyway and wouldn't have gone had she asked me but I thought that was all very rude. 

But it got worse.  The trouble was, every day this woman, J would have lunch with another coworker who was an old high school classmate of hers, S and another coworker, P.  P was always included because she sat right next to S and she and S were close friends.  And, by the way, P was a very nice person who just happened to have married a Jewish man slightly older than herself and J was always critical of her and called her a lot of names behind her back over this.  The fact was, P's husband was a very nice person, had a lot of money and could've bought and sold J 10 times over. 

Anyway, S was always invited to J's big Derby Day party.  S told me this story later and knowing them all, I believed every bit of it.  Every day for weeks on end, J droned on endlessly about this party to both S and P.  Eventually the invitations went out and it became clear to P that she was not invited.  Personally, I think that if you're going to talk about a party in front of someone, you should have invited them to the party.  One day as J is going on and on about the very authentic Kentucky Burgoo she is making tons and tons of, P asks her how it is made.  J says, "You wouldn't be able to do it -- it's too complicated."  

A day or so goes by and again at lunch the subject comes up, J droning on and on about it and P says, "I know you have your guest list all set and I wouldn't dream of asking you to invite me..." (at which point J huffs "That's good, you are NOT invited") but I have heard about this burgoo for so long and it sounds so delicious, do you think you might save me a tiny bit just to taste if there's any left over?"  J looked at her, incredulous and said, "Absolutely not.  I didn't invite you, and I am not giving you anything."  P was very hurt and S felt bad about it.  So S snuck a tiny Tupperware container to the party and when J wasn't looking, she ladled a little portion of the Burgoo into it and tried to hide it in her purse.  Unfortunately, J's husband saw her and alerted J who confiscated S's Tupperware. 



Dear Miss Jeanne,   It is the week of Halloween as I type this story, and I have just witnessed some behavior that might add Halloween to the list of holidays provoking greedy behavior.  Aside from the occasional vocal negative review of the candy I distribute (they're little kids, they still have time to learn), I have not experienced Halloween as a holiday strewn with etiquette landmines when it comes to children trick or treating.  (I am only focusing on kids out for candy here, not the vandalism that unfortunately is also prevalent in the season.)

I live in a county with several municipalities with different times scheduled for trick or treating.  In the past few years, I have noticed an uptick in the number of children who make my neighborhood one of *many* stops for gathering treats.  Yesterday, I heard a chaperone telling a child that when they were done with my neighborhood, they would drive to the city where the designated time started a bit later and walk around to more houses!  Unfortunately, the child was exhausted but the chaperone insisted they keep going.

I may be a curmudgeon (I am 31), but I don't remember Halloween being an opportunity to have my parents drive me all over creation so I could get a good haul of stuff.  If I was too tired to walk to a neighborhood, I didn't go there, period.  What particularly disturbs me is the justification of "We spent all this money on a costume so we need to get our money's worth in candy."  That sounds to me like the parents are creating a future Bridezilla/Groomonster - "I spent a lot of money on your dinner so you owe me a good gift!"  Again, like in the RugRats section, the etiquette lapse is not really the kids' fault, but I didn't force the parent(s) to spend the money for the costume, and I am not providing treats for the whole county!  I will happily provide candy for the numerous kids in my neighborhood and have some extras on hand, but that's IT.



This story is about the first and only Christmas that my parents and I spent with my sister at her home in London. It was about 12-13 years ago making me 9-10 at the time so while everything's not as crystal clear as it was certain things most definitely stick in the memory.

Firstly as we lived over nearly 3 hours away we had to get up at the crack of dawn (as far as I was concerned) to drive down to be with her for around 9am. Not a problem as I was up anyway being Christmas after all. I was not allowed to open all my presents which I understood but my parents chose 2 that I could open. A pack of books and a big cuddly toy to keep me occupied on the journey down. Unusually for me I was also carsick on the way down. So we arrive tired and in my case feeling a little queasy to start Christmas with my sister. She however is surprised we haven't already opened our gifts as she and her BF already have. My mother was a little hurt as we get on with our own little Christmas in her front room while she ignores us and talks to her BF and his brother, to my dad and I however it was not much of a surprise as she has a tendency to be selfish and thoughtless. 

Following our present opening she announces she's off to the pub with her BF to see his family and will be back later. She did not invite us to go with her nor were we forewarned that she was going to abandon us to entertain ourselves. When she returned,3 hours later, we were watching one of the films I had been given for Christmas. She proceeds to talk loudly about how bad it is and then give away the ending despite her being asked to be quiet as I hadn't yet seen this movie. 

Christmas dinner was reheated turkey and soggy veg. Which I don't hold that against her as she's not a great cook. After which she goes out again this time to see all her friends. At this point we're wondering why we bothered to come. We were supposed to stay for boxing day too but decided to go the next morning. My sister was hurt as she thought she was spending the day with us. My mother only just stopped me from informing her that we thought we were spending yesterday with her.

Strangely enough we've never spent Christmas with her again despite the odd request for our company. Usually when the latest BF has dumped her. Since moving out of home she never sees me at Christmas anymore but did offer last year through my mother to have us all for Christmas. My mum politely declined on my behalf saying I was planning on spending the Christmas with my new husband. While I on the other hand had hysterics when my mother told me.



I love my MIL and FIL, but this one is hard to swallow.  My MIL's father passed away in late October.  After his passing, his daughter, (my MIL ) being almost 55 years of age and still unusually close to her folks, decides it is time for my MIL and FIL to purchase their own burial plots right next to her folks.  Being that my MIL and FIL just bought burial plots and a custom-made headstone, they were horribly low on money for Christmas presents.  I would have just assumed that they could forget presents for us all and just have a nice holiday meal with the family.  This is the 1 time of year that my MIL and FIL have the 4 kids, spouses and 4 grandchildren over to their  cluttered, overly decorated house with breakable stuff ALL over.  Instead, they take out the photo of the headstone and plot that we, as children with no gifts, "bought them", and proceeded to tell us about them cleaning out one of their spare bedrooms, cluttered with stuff and gave us what they were "planning on getting rid of anyway" from that room, for Christmas.  For instance, my niece (5 yr old) and nephew (4yr old) were given a black-n-white TV, which my MIL and FIL thought "worked", their parents received an old vacuum, and my BIL received a broken lamp.  My husband and I were the most blessed.  We received the very old, but nice camping stuff (Tent, lantern, camp cookers).  My son (5 yr old) received my FIL's Nintendo game set which was given to him as a Christmas gift from my BIL about 2-3 years earlier.  

One of the strangest gifts were old pictures that my hubby and his siblings colored when they were kids, were given back to them as Christmas gifts.  My SIL and I still talk about the garage-sale Christmas we had a few years ago, hoping this is not something they plan on doing every year……next time they should forget presents all together.


This is an email that my mom sent to my sister and me:  

 "I know that money is tight this year, so to make my list easy....These gifts were OK in the past, but These are a few of my I DON'T WANT GIFTS:  1. TIVO  2. sweaters (not even red)  3. slacks   4. gloves   5. scarves   6. slippers  7. robes  8. earrings  9. watch  10. ornaments (unless the kids make them) 11. Bath and Body products ( I have a ton) What I would like is a small am/fm radio and a v-neck, sleeveless nightgown. "

Sheesh mom, how about a gift card?  I'm sure I'd pick the wrong store, though. 



I have a sister whom I'll call "M" who is a total control freak! If she doesn't get things exactly the way she wants, she becomes passive-aggressive and just ends up doing what she wanted to anyway. She is so bossy that when she and her fiancé get ready to leave our home after a visit, she insists that he use the bathroom before they go. (It's only an hour's drive from our house, 1-1/2 hours with traffic). She's inconsiderate, brutish, and rude. My family doesn't celebrate Halloween; she's completely aware of this, so what does she do? Goes out and buys a Halloween coloring book for my child because she celebrates Halloween. 

Christmas rolled around and she completely sucked all the fun out of the holiday. My parents, my other sister & BIL, "M" & I all agreed to pull names for the adults and buy one gift ($15 value) for the adult whose named we pulled, and then every family buy one gift ($20 max) for each one of the 2 kids. (This meant each kid would get a 3 gifts plus whatever else their parents bought.) At the last minute, "M" changed her mind and bought all the adults 3 gifts each from Dollar Tree (where everything's $1.00), 2 gifts for my daughter and NOTHING, not one thing for the other child (a boy). She does this type of stuff all the time, and today is Easter. (Happy Easter guys, if you celebrate it.) I think I should stop visiting for the holidays, but my Mom would be hurt. Any suggestions?


I’ll preface this with I don’t get along that great with my mom.  After her visit, I now remember why.  But, as she’s getting older and has helped me out financially through a rough situation (which I repaid totally, with interest BTW) I thought I would give it another try and invited her to my house for a week.  My finances are still rather tight, but I decided to make this a good week for her as a thank you for her help.

Unfortunately, she accepted.  To say my mother's visit was stressful would be a bit of an understatement. I realize she means well, and is my mother, but behaviors she would not tolerate from me while growing up seem to be her norm.

I had a guest basket set up for her with snack bags, lotion, etc.  That wasn’t enough, she needed some “special foods” also, so I took her to the grocery store and let her select her food as she’s on a weird diet.  She selected a month’s worth of “snacks” that I gladly paid for, as I assumed she would pick up the tab somewhere else.  Was I mistaken on that!

To start with, every bite of food she takes is accompanied by a lecture on why she is eating this and not that, how it affects her body, etc. She can't eat carbs, yet can scarf down an entire loaf of bread at the Outback restaurant (which I paid for). She can't eat rice as it will affect her blood sugar, but has no difficulty with candy. Interesting how her rules change for her convenience.

My house is not overly large (but not small either), so I have many things stored in the guest bedroom closet. She decided because I wasn't wearing the coats she gave me many years ago (dress winter coats--I used for church and other similar occasions, which have not occurred during her visit) that she would take them back. She did not even ask; just announced her plans to mail them to her house (she was quite surprised when I took her to the post office so she could pay for the postage to mail them). I would have gladly given them to her (even though I do use them, and will have to replace them) if she had but asked.

My boyfriend and I took her with us to his Christmas celebration on Christmas eve. His family was nothing but nice to her, and she was on her best behavior. For gift exchange everyone brings one gift and then pick numbers to either select a new gift or steal one from someone else. They are supposed to be about $20-$25 gifts. Mom brought a plastic cosmetic bag. I filled it with bath salts and things to try and bring the value up, but it was still rather embarrassing. As she was the last to select, she picked a toy that I'd stolen and was stolen from me. Stating that she had to steal it back as she was my guest and she was getting it for me. I was totally embarrassed by the whole thing; my boyfriend was mortified. While leaving, his mom invited her back on her next visit and she had to make a catty comment about how he and I had "issues" and she didn't expect to return.

For her Christmas I gave her a cell phone (on my family plan, which I will pay for the next two years for) arranged for her a massage (with a lady she knows and enjoys); a haircut (once again with a lady she knows and enjoys); several smaller gifts for her to use and enjoy.  I gladly paid for these as a small thank you for her assistance.

For Christmas, she only had the gift from the party for me, and a few smaller things from her  suitcase. My “big” present was still in the mail. She did write an IOU (on my paper, and wadded it up into my stocking) for a tree for the yard and a kitchen faucet to replace the one in my kitchen that doesn't work well (we’d been to a home improvement store several times, but she didn’t see a reason to buy anything as these items weren’t on sale—when they were I was to buy them and send her a receipt). As she promised to buy me a nut cracker if I took her to a specialty gift shop  (which I did, and she didn't) I will not hold my breath on this. My "big" present (a cordless vacuum) arrived in the mail the following day.   When I vacuum, I use the wand for corners, etc, I have no use for a small vacuum that won’t let me get into the crevices of the couch, etc.  But she made such a big deal over it.

Next, she insisted on inviting herself to visit my kids on Christmas day.  These children have been bought by their dad with promises of fancy cars, etc; all they have to do to earn them is treat me like crap and help him spread his lies and slander about me to anyone that will listen.  . This went against all my instincts and everything that I had been attempting to accomplish with them (have them miss me so they would treat me with at least a little respect). This did not matter and it was important for HER to maintain contact with HER grandchildren. That this was done at the expense of her daughter (not capitalized, as apparently I'm not as important as HER grandchildren) was irrelevant. She would not drive herself, and nothing would do but for me to drive her over there and accompany her in.

That visit in itself was very stressful (just what I wanted to do on Christmas day). I stood in the empty entryway of the house I'm still on the loan for. The kids gave us their gifts (I got a stuffed Christmas dog that I gave to a coworker; she got some lotion and made a big deal about how thoughtful they were, etc.) The kids wanted us to go to the kitchen and at least my mom came up with an excuse to not do that and we left. A few minutes later we were invited back to join "the family" for Christmas dinner. Interesting how it was timed to be ready at the same time we visited, isn't it? I would have just loved sitting in my kitchen, watching my X and children put on a show about how wonderful THEIR family was and how they didn’t need me.  Thanks mom, for helping rub it in.

My brother sent money so I could take her to a nice restaurant and think of him while she was here. She opted for Outback, as she likes their Salmon. I like it to, even if everything is a bit over seasoned for my tastes. I ordered a large salad. She appeared to enjoy her Salmon (she certainly enjoyed the bread!) which was great. While eating my salad she saw a piece of an onion in it and reached over and grabbed it with her hand. As I sat in shock she then stated that as I didn't like onions she would take it for me, and was that OK? Well, I do like onions and stated that, at which point she dropped it back into my salad and apologized. I really didn't want it at that point and used my fingers to pick it up and drop it in her plate. Unfortunately, my enjoyment of the salad ceased at that point.

This was next followed up with plans for her to visit with the kids, again. She didn't want to take them bowling (I've done that and they just ignore you while you spend money on them) or anything else that involved money (at least she listened to me on that). The compromise was she would play board games with them. I tried to tell her this would only be used to hurt me. My boyfriend tried to get this through to her. She refused to even consider (remember her relationship with HER grandchildren?) the possibilities. So, I left her my car and had to hitch a ride to work and back.

Well, as near as I can figure (I refused to talk to her about her visit with HER grandchildren), she got to ride in the new truck my X bought for my 15yo son.  She was totally impressed with this bottom of the line Ford 4 door pick up.  My 14yo daughter was promised my X’s sports car.  As there was no other car, this meant my X either had to “borrow” a vehicle from the kids (yeah, right) or just continue using them as if they were his (which I’m sure is what he did).  She also got to listen to what a great family THEY were and what a bad person, etc. I am.  My mom believes in being polite no matter what the cost; so rather than leaving when this visit turned bad, she stayed for awhile and tolerated all of this.  I have no sympathy, as her visit will be used as further justification somehow that I am a bad mom for not visiting with them and subjecting myself to more of this crap.

When she left my house, she managed to lock herself out of my house (I don't know why she decided to lock the door between the house and garage, but she did). I had taken the precaution of hiding all the keys so the kids had no access to them if they came by; and I didn't want her to have one in case my X had a chance to run a copy. She called asking permission to break a window to get in.  I guess she didn’t want to wait 3 hours for me to get home; as if I could anyway as she had my car. She decided to just hang out until I got home.  By this time, my boyfriend had no interest in helping her (it was all he could do to convince me to talk to this woman).

As the final example of her excellent social skills, I had a basket of pecans sitting in the living room for her to enjoy cracking and eating while watching TV (I usually do this for her, as she enjoys this--one reason I needed the nut cracker). She ate them very sparingly as she planned to take them back with her to give to one of the people watching her house (much cheaper than buying a $10 bag  at the gift shop).

I am happy to say she finally left on Saturday morning. I do not anticipate her staying with me anytime soon. Perhaps she will be able to stay with HER grandchildren on her next visit? I do know I will clean out the closet and guest room and lock everything up if she does spend another night with me (as I would do if the kids visit, even though I doubt they would feel the need to steal a coat).

During her entire visit, the only thing she bought was ½ a tank of gas.  As we visited a tourist town a distance away, this didn’t come close to the amount of gas used.  All of the snacks I bought her?  Wrappers weren’t in the trash so I can only conclude she took them with her, as well as anything similar from my pantry.

When she returned home, she called to say thank you and tell me what a wonderful visit she had.  She saved so much money she treated herself to a shopping spree at Big Lots and spent over $140 and thoroughly enjoyed all of the things she got.

p.s...This woman makes twice what I do and has no house or car payment, so finances are not a problem for her.



Page Last Updated September 18, 2008