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


 I congratulate you on this site which is a great way to get rid of rage and see the humor in what happened!   My wonderful Mother always prepared amazing and delicious Holiday Dinners, and I helped her with whatever she wanted me to do plus the cleanup.  But when she got into her late eighties, it was too much for her and I took over.  We have a fairly small family and only about 8 people for dinner.    Everyone in the family likes a pretty basic menu: roasted turkey, 2 kinds of dressing (separate), gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, green beans, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and rolls. It isn't difficult to make any of these, but for one person working alone, it is time-consuming.  

A few years ago, I worked really hard to make it great for my Mom, brother, his girlfriend, one of my sons who could attend, and my brother's only child from previous marriage. I will call her "Lin" and she is about 14 at the time and very spoiled.   "Lin", has spent the day with her mother, and was picked up by her dad, my brother, shortly before the dinner was to begin.   The table was set in the formal (but modest) dining room with mom's special china (brought out only for Thanksgiving and Christmas). No one helps me prepare the food or set the table.   

Finally we gather around the table and my mom sits at the head and says grace.  We begin passing dishes around.  My brother fixes Lin's plate and cuts up her turkey into bites, as usual! She just sits there sullenly and shoves the food around her plate for awhile, not eating anything. Someone asks why she is not eating, and she says, "Oh, I had six pieces of pie today and I'm not hungry."    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Lin's mother  has made sure that her appetite would be ruined and she could upset me!  (I wouldn't have presumed that...Lin may simply be spoiled pig who ate it herself.)  It worked, I was livid!  Her Dad just laughed about it - his little Princess can do no wrong!  She does not respect either of her parents and can't wait until she can leave home.  

 I continued to do the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for a few years after that, but never expected them to be much appreciated. I know that my mom and son appreciate them, so that is what I concentrate on.    I have always appreciated a hostess preparing a meal, even if it was my MIL who was a self-pro- claimed "bad" cook.  She had no sense of taste, maybe because of smoking cigarettes for many years before she quit.  Her food was extremely bland, but you could always add a little salt and it was OK, not burned at least. 


I KNOW that some people are just not good at picking out gifts.  I am not a hard-to-please person at all, but this Christmas present from my then-husband was unbelievable.   We had 3 sons and alternated our Christmas's between my parents in one city and his parents in another.  This year, for some reason I do not recall, we will staying at home for Christmas.   We didn't have much money, and it was before credit cards, so we spent most on the boys and in-laws.  (Our first Christmas together, for example, in 1963, we had $1.00 each to spend on each other:  I got him a double flute, wooden carved, as he was a musician student, and he got me a nice print to have framed later.)  

Anyhow, to get back to this particular Christmas....While I had been disappointed with my gifts in previous years - I saved up and get him a suede leather vest and nice shirt - he gave me a wooden cutting board that he whacked out in the workshop in the backyard.  It's nice, but I would like something a bit more personal, not utilitarian.  Okay, this year was special because we were staying home for Christmas.  My gift from him was very heavy for the size and I could not even guess what it was.  Imagine my surprise when I ripped off the paper to find a crudely made plywood box filled with old tools such as a hammer, screw drivers etc!  I excused myself and left the room so I would not cry in front of the boys. All my then-husband said is, "Well, you are always saying that you can't find a tool when you need it." (He had abandoned his music career and become a carpenter.)  

 We have been divorced after about 30 years of a marriage which had many years of hell.  I am at peace now, and while I still have good relationships with my sons, none will associate with him.  I wish they would, but it is their decision because he is so unreasonable, arrogant and unkempt.


 It was Christmas Eve and we had traveled 5 hours to be with my MIL & FIL for Christmas, bringing their only 2 grandchildren.  The youngest was between 1 and 2 years.  In the evening, he became very fussy. I bathed him, dressed him in his pjs and tried to comfort him. No luck.   To try to jolly him out of this, Dad crawled on the living- room floor making our screaming son ride piggy-back. Grandparents just looked on encouraging more playing.   I knew something was wrong with our son and spoke up to say that I thought he was sick and needed to see a doctor, because he did not act like this unless he did not feel well. They are looked at me like I was the stupidest person in the world!    MIL said "This is CHRISTMAS EVE!  He's OK!  No doctor will see him anyway."  (Translation:  This is an inconvenient time for him to be sick and we won't hear of it!).  I ignored her,  got on the phone, found a doctor who agreed to see us, and bundled him up.  Dad finally got somewhat of a backbone and decided to go with me. 

We arrived at the private doctor's office and red flags went up immediately.  The doctor appeared to be intoxicated and the aides (2 women ) with him seemed to be "walking on eggshells" - very careful and quiet (I think they knew that the doctor was smashed). Nevertheless, I let him examine our son in my presence,  (My only alternative was to take him to the ER.)  After a very brief exam the doctor said that our son had a severe and painful ear infection. At least the doctor was coherent enough to prescribe the correct antibiotic (I was a medical technologist in microbiology so I knew it was correct although I had to trust him for the dosage.). 

No, the grandparents and father did not apologize for putting me and their grandson/son through this - the whole family are like ostriches putting their heads in the sand and ignoring whatever happens.  It was always this way.  Damned annoying!



My mom and step-dad, "Charles", got married when I was 12. Charles has two children by a previous marriage, "Susan" and "Harold", who were 10 and 8 at the time.

Every year, at Christmas, I would discuss with my mother what I should get Susan and Harold for Christmas. Every year, their mother, "Heather", would do their Christmas shopping for them.

Fast forward to my 19th year. Heather had still been taking care of Susan's and Harold's Christmas shopping for them, even though Susan could drive and both Susan and Harold had jobs. This particular year, however, Heather was mad at Charles because he refused to pay for half of Susan's car (which Heather bought without asking Charles if he could or would help pay for it. She has a habit of buying things first, and demanding money from Charles later). This demand seemed outrageous to me, seeing as Charles pays ridiculous amounts in child support every month, which Heather uses to redecorate her house.

So Christmas comes, and my mother, Charles, and I present our gifts to Susan and Harold. They tear them open, mutter thanks, then run upstairs to watch TV. I look to my mom, then to Charles, in confusion. Susan and Harold had not gotten gifts for any of us, including their own father!!! I could forgive the lack of gifts for me and my mom, but how can someone not buy a Christmas present for their own dad??

It seems that, as a sort of revenge, Heather did not buy Christmas presents for Susan and Harold to give to Charles, my mother, and myself. And if that wasn't bad enough, Susan and Harold didn't have the good sense to take care of their own Christmas shopping (at ages 17 and 15) or even apologizing for not giving their father a Christmas gift.


About five years ago, I called my buddy (the father of my then-3-year-old-goddaughter) to see what she wanted for Christmas.  My goddaughter’s father suggested I get a police car.  I told him I would look around and get back to him.

The next day, my then-fiancée went to several local stores, but not the one where this particular car was being sold.  I bought a smaller, more durable one (with fewer small parts) and some coloring/activity books and crayons and finished my holiday shopping that day.

A week before Christmas,  my buddy called back to see how I was doing, and I dropped the bombshell that I bought a different cruiser:  I did mention that [Brand X] was a good brand and rattled off all the features of the car that I could remember (lights, sounds, etc.).

After a long silence, Dad suggested that I take the car I bought back to the shop where I purchased and select something else.  Click. (BTW, I looked at a circular for the other store, and the toy in question -- radio control, much bigger -- was $75. For a three-year-old!)

Needless to say, I was highly offended.  When I told my fiancée about it, she brought up all the times she and her siblings didn't get anything for Christmas, having lived in another country prior to moving to the States.  To rectify this "problem," I ordered (online) a gift certificate to a popular in a nominal amount ($75).  Of course, I have no idea whether the family ever received it because it was never acknowledged.

In the meantime, my block association, then organizing an “Angel Tree,” was more than happy to receive the offending car and all the other odds-n-ends I bought for the child.  I had wanted to give to a toy drive anyway, and now I didn't have to make another trip to the store.

I’m sad to say that everyone ended up a loser in this situation (except the child who ended up with the police car).  I now have no relationship with the family, and my now-wife, who had never met them, refused to invite them to our wedding.


While I think my tale of my brother- and sister-in-law, a.k.a. Mr. and Mrs. Prodigal Son, disappeared from the website in the last update, I thought you’d appreciate the update.  These are the two who made their own Popsicle stick picture frames for a funny joke after telling everyone for weeks they had no money and would be making homemade presents for everyone.  Last Christmas, with no fanfare or prior announcements, everyone got homemade presents.  We got a lunch bag of chocolate- and caramel-covered pretzels and some bottles of flavored sugar (which we disposed of secretly when we discovered bug guts crushed on one of the bottles).  My superstitious grandmother would have said they brought bad luck down upon them by joking about misfortune, but I honestly had a moment where I thought, “Is this a joke again or are they serious?” Thank God I had a mother who drilled me in etiquette so that I did not bring attention to the nasty bug-gut encrusted gift. My in-laws have a lovely little boy and my dear husband and I had Thanksgiving in Vegas, so everyone’s happy.


  I was recently at an anniversary party in one of those charming rural enclaves where the big fish still prefer little ponds. I was speaking with a dear friend when another guest joined us. Apparently my friend and she were not of the best acquaintance. This intruder slinked into our conversation and bumbled on about how much I resembled my mother (she thought my friend-whom she knows very well- was my mother)  and went on telling me how much I resembled by grandfather's well.  I have never met this woman and find it doubtful that she had ever met anyone from my family. 

In any case, my friend nudged me and we had great fun pretending to be the person (her son) this guest thought I was. It wasn't very nice, but correcting her would have caused her great embarrassment in front of the crowd that had developed-It seems that any interaction between these two wealthy matrons was cause to increased social scrutiny. This guest went on to openly criticize my friends lovely mink coat- I am not a fan of mink coats but even less so of openly bad manners. The guest spoke loudly to increase her dramatic effect, stating that she could never wear "dead little animals" because it was so wasteful. I interjected that my friend had eaten most of the mink to make the coat and that the others were very ill and had lovingly volunteered for euthanasia. At that point the intrusive guest was silent, my friend and I made a well timed exit-to the uproarious laughter of the fellow guest. It was one anniversary party I will  not forget.


 My grandmother and I have never gotten along, but I try to be nice to her for my mother's sake.  (My grandmother is her mother-in-law, and anything I do that she doesn't like she blames on my mother, who I love dearly.)   Anyway, it was Christmas time, and I had stressed on what to get my grandmother for a long time.  I went to the mall and saw a very pretty ornament that one would hang in their window.  I was pearly white and dew drop shaped.  I bought it for my grandmother and wrapped it up.   

Come Christmas day I was very sick but managed to drag myself to my aunt and uncle's house.  My mother drove me there, however since I couldn't see straight.  When we exchanged gifts I was actually looking forward to giving my grandmother her present.  When she opened it, she took out the ornament, looked at it and said, in a disgusted voice, "now what the heck am I supposed to do with this."  And shoved it back in the box.  I was so upset that I went upstairs and started to cry.  My mother took pity on me and told everyone that I was feeling too sick to stay and took me home.  Turns out she was as mad as I was about the whole thing.



My dear mother means so well, but she really has produced some class-acts over the years. Last year for Christmas Mum put together a beautiful basket of goodies, including several packets of instant sauce mix, convenience foods and the like - which I can't eat since I'm diabetic. The centerpiece was a decorative empty bottle. It was in the shape of a dog; the head was the stopper. It was wearing a large leather collar, with a huge medallion hanging from it, emblazoned with "Drinkin' Ain't For Dogs". Just as well it was empty - it had a whacking great chip out of the base, which Mum hadn't noticed when she bought it.

For my birthday shortly afterwards Mum's taste gene had another momentary lapse. I encouraged her not to get me anything, since we live several hours apart and there's not much point spending more on postage or travel expenses than on the gift itself. But mum found me the 'perfect gift'. The first part was a lovely curvy handmade mug. You often see them at fairs engraved with things like "Daddy's Cup" or "World's Greatest Lover". Mine said "Grumpy Bitch". The second part is hard to describe without a diagram. It was a resin pencil holder in the shape of the back half of a pig - no front end, just the hindquarters cut off mid-belly. I'll leave it to your imagination where the pencils went. But, just in case I hadn't worked it out, stamped across its backside were the words "pig's arse".


Greetings: I learned about your site while reading a newspaper article recently in the Baltimore Sun regarding "Bride-zilla's".  I visited your site the next day and am now captivated.  I find myself taking a break now and then to read a story only to become so entertained that I end up reading the whole section instead.

My cousin and her best friend have shared a home together for over 20 years.  Both are very involved with each other's families and spend holidays together.  My cousin "K" and her friend/housemate "M" are the God-Mothers for two of M's nephews...M's family has always treated K as a part of the family.

A few years ago, M's brother "BJ" remarried after being divorced from his first wife.  The new wife "SJ" defies all description.  She is an etiquette-hell poster child!  Some of her past transgressions have included placing her used china plates on the floor after she was finished with them while dining in the restaurant at the local country club, forcing her husband to leave the church during his father's funeral because she refused to take care of their horrible child by herself for a few minutes, and refusing to eat outside with the rests of the guests at a holiday cookout because she only wanted to eat "inside".  You get the picture.

The best example of SJ's horrible behavior comes in the form of a Christmas gift.  A few Christmases ago, after much shopping, K purchased a very nice gift for BJ and SJ as well as a gift for the aforementioned beast child.  In total she probably spent in excess of $200 on the three of them.  On Christmas Day, as gifts are being opened, K opens her present from BJ and SJ.  It is a hideous polyester nightgown in a putrid hot pink color and completely the wrong size.  K is gracious even though she realizes that it was probably very inexpensive and that very little thought went into the item.  K overlooks all of this and continues to enjoy the holiday.

A few days later, K decides that it's silly to keep this item that she will never wear and although no gift receipt was included in the box, the tags from the "discount' department store are still on the garment (thankfully minus the price tag).  K takes the item to the store, goes to the sleepwear section and asks to return the item.  As she does not have the receipt, she explains to the clerk that she is fine with receiving store credit and then she will do some shopping to decide what to purchase instead. 

The clerk scans the item and begins to act very strangely.  She tells K that they still have a few of these nightgowns remaining and she should go find one that is her size or color.  K explains that she really is not interested in any of these items and would just like the store credit.  The clerk continues to try to talk K into one of these nightgowns and to behave very strangely.  Finally K gets the feeling that the clerk isn't telling her something.  She asks the clerk if there is a problem with the return.  The answer was absolutely shocking...

The clerk explains that the item, which originally sold for $19.99 was purchased on clearance just before the holiday and, at the time of purchase, cost .99 cents!!!  As such, the clerk can only provide a store credit for that amount.  The clerk was trying to avoid having to tell K this as she knew it would be embarrassing.

K took the high road, donated the garment to charity and now purchases a gift only for the child! 

Hope you enjoy!  


One of my nephews, 'Barry' aged 20, has recently 'come out' as a gay man. Most of the family has no serious problem with this - well, his father has some REALLY serious issues, but that's another story. Barry moved away from the small town that he grew up in and last Christmas, he and his new boyfriend made their first trip home.  

Now, it's traditional in the family to do the rounds of the relatives on Christmas Eve dropping off all the presents and visiting a little while.   Barry and his man had some presents for his aunt and uncle 'Jim' and 'Pat'  - Jim is a prison warden and is a bit uptight about some things, but had never given any indication that he thought the worse of Barry for his sexual preferences. Rather than just land on them, Barry phoned ahead asking if it would be Ok to drop in in about an hour to visit. No problems, says Jim, come on over. So, they head over and knock on the front door, presents in hand. Jim answers the front door the barest minimum to be able to speak through and says 'Pat's in the bath' (at 3 in the afternoon, excuse me! - and they'd had an hour's warning) 'You can't come in'. He then opens the door, grabs the presents for himself and his family from a startled Barry and slams the door in their face. I'd have kicked the door in, but Barry was just too dumbfounded and embarrassed to do anything other than retreat to the car in stunned silence.   Needless to say Jim and family won't be getting presents from Barry in the future - and maybe not from the rest of us either.    


Page Last Updated May 18, 2007