Christmas Party Tips and Etiquette: 1915

In late November 1915 a local newspaper helpfully provided a “humorous” series of 1915 Christmas “don’ts” to help its readers avoid any seasonal social faux-pas.

Christmas Donts 1

These were as follows:

  • Don’t arrive half an hour too soon and jocularly explain that you’ve come to avoid the crush;
  • Don’t entertain the company with a humorous description of the old gentleman you saw coming up the street. He may arrive later;
  • Don’t always catch the same girl when playing blind man’s buff. People may suspect that you can see;
  • Don’t attempt to do conjuring tricks unless you have tried them before;
  • Don’t say “I thought so” when you are informed the mince pies are homemade – it’s ambiguous;
  • Don’t say that the plum pudding is “just like mothers”. It might be considered a poor compliment;
  • Don’t say “That yarn of yours always makes me laugh” when your host introduces his annual joke. It sounds like another way of saying “Chestnuts”;
  • Don’t sing more than half-a-dozen songs in succession because – well, it’s bad for the voice;
  • Don’t, when asked to take a glass of port wine, sip it, and then inquire whether it’s port or sherry. You may be misunderstood; and
  • Don’t, when conversing harp on the “ripping time” you had at Brown’s the other night. It savours of odious comparisons.

Christmas Donts 2

I’m not sure how many of these handy hints would apply to the party season a century on – perhaps they still should! Although an idealistic and possibly tongue in cheek portrayal of life, they do evoke some of the gentility, values and manners of a Christmas 100 years ago. They also provide a contrast to the War raging on the continent. 

For me these contemporaneous snippets, with their wonderful phraseology and language, help make family history more than just finding a trail of names and dates. They give a flavour of the times in which my ancestors lived. And you never know, the tips might prove handy this year!

Christmas Donts 3


  • “Batley News” – 27 November 1915

One response to “Christmas Party Tips and Etiquette: 1915

  1. Actually sound quite relevant, not sure why I am responding in June.

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