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December 5, 1996

Holiday Manners
Copyright 1996 - Greg Bulmash - All Rights Reserved

In honor of the season, I present you with the updated and expanded GBHP Guide To Holiday Manners.

Many of us ignorant slobs who never seem to get out of the house the rest of the year are finding ourselves invited to dinner parties during this Holiday Season. Whether they're thrown by family, friends, or the companies we work for, they all have one thing in common... We're supposed to know how to behave politely.

Emily Post wasn't required reading in any of my classes nor did I go to any fancy finishing schools back East. I have had to muddle through many a fancy dinner, bearing in humiliation the disdaining looks and hidden chuckles of my dining companions. Thus I have come up with some hard and fast rules to help myself and losers like me with the ins and outs of polite society.

Black Tie Only:

Perhaps your friends have told you that this means you must wear a tuxedo or fancy dress. That is not the case at all. Rich, fancy people are strange. When the invitation reads "black tie only," you should wear just that... nothing but a black tie. Men, if it's cold, can also wear a sock in the appropriate location to keep everything warm so they don't have to be embarrassed.


At better parties you are provided with a cloth napkin. Treasure it because you only get one. When you sit down, it is proper form to put it on your lap and leave it there until you finish your meal, at which time you dab the corners of your mouth politely, using it for the one and only time during the evening. In such cases, to preserve the pristine cleanliness of your napkin, you should surreptitiously wipe your hands on the table cloth.

Which Fork To Use:

A good hostess provides more forks than anyone could ever use during the course of a meal. There are generally three sizes of fork beside your plate. Their most common uses are...

Smallest fork: This is perfect for snatching early and using to pick olives out of the jar at the bar.

Medium fork: This is called "the idiot fork." If you use it, you're an idiot. Put it in your pocket and take it home. Once you have enough to set a full table, throw a dinner party. They will all be stolen back by their respective owners and the cycle of dinner parties will begin again.

Long fork: Though the preferred utensil for eating, the long fork has a historical significance as well. In the old days dinner parties were a favorite site for murders. The long fork is a hold-over from the "good sportsmanship" period of the middle ages, where the guest to be murdered was given a symbolic, but useless weapon with which to defend himself. To prove you understand the significance of this fork, it is best to poke a few people with it. As a side note, I have found it is also very good for defense against people (generally moms) who say "oh no, I'm on a diet," take tiny portions, and then try to pick off your plate because they're still hungry but think taking seconds will make them look like pigs.


Though your mother taught you to say "excuse me" after burping or farting, she was wrong.

My father taught me long ago that after burping you're supposed to say "that's a compliment in France." Perhaps you actually heard it from your father too. In fact, that's a lie. Burping is rude, even in France. In France, after a good meal in someone's home, you walk up to the hostess, kiss her on the cheek and grab her ass. The compliment line is just tradition, sort of like saying "how are you today" when you really couldn't care less.

The proper thing to do after a fart is to pick someone at the table and give them an "I can't believe you did that" look.


Though the general public now shuns smoking, nothing finishes off a good meal like a cigar. The rules of being a good host is that the guest should be made to feel comfortable. Though it might be pleasant for you to go outside on a warm summer's eve to enjoy your cigar, during these colder times of the year, the host and any non-smokers should go outside while you burn that stogie in peace.

If you really want to be a good guest, flick your ashes on their plants. There's no dirty ashtrays for the host to clean and the ashes make great fertilizer.


At many parties around this time, gifts are exchanged, and of course there's always one pain in the butt who tries to open the present without making a single tear in the paper. You and I both know that everyone finds this annoying. It shouldn't take ten minutes to find out that Bob in Accounting gave Sally in Shipping a Chia Pet.

If anyone gives you a gift, just rip the dang thing open.

Hopefully with this handy information, you'll be able to keep from looking foolish or oafish at those holiday parties. And remember to drink alot. Anything offensive you say while drunk can't be held against you. Happy holidays!!




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