Navigate your holidays with Washington's Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior

The integrity, etiquette, and discretion that guided General George Washington ring true today. The following highlights from the 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior may help you and yours avoid holiday drama.

My husband's Dad's family

My husband's Dad's family


  • Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.
  • In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.
  • Read no Letters, Books, or Papers in Company but when there is Necessity of the doing of it you must ask leave: come not near the Books or Writings of Another as to read them unless desired or give your opinion of them unasked also look not nigh when another is writing a Letter.
  • Let your Countenance be pleasant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave.
  • Speak not of doleful Things in a Time of Mirth or at the Table; Speak not of Melancholy Things as Death and Wounds, and if others Mention them Change if you can the Discourse tell not your Dreams, but to your intimate Friend.
  • While you are talking, Point not with your Finger at him of Whom you Discourse nor Approach too near him to whom you talk especially to his face.


  • When you meet with one of Greater Quality than yourself, Stop and retire especially if it be at aDoor or any Straight place to give way for him to Pass.
  • Strive not with your Superior in argument, but always Submit your Judgement to others with Modesty.
  • Use no Reproachful Language against any one neither Curse nor Revile.
  • A Man ought not to value himself of his Achievements, or rare Qualities of wit; much less of chis riches Virtue or Kindred.
  • Go not thither, where you know not, whether you Shall be Welcome or not. Give not Advice without being Asked & when desired do it briefly.
  • Reprehend not the imperfections of others for that belongs to Parents Masters and Superiors.


  • Wear not your Cloths, foul, ripped or Dusty but See they be Brushed once every day at least and take heed that you approach not to any Uncleanness.
  • Let your Conversation be without Malice or Envy, for 'is a Sign of a Tractable and Commendable Nature: And in all Causes of Passion admit Reason to Govern.n.
  • Make no Comparisons and if any of the Company be Commended for any brave act of Virtue, commend not another for the Same.
  • Be not apt to relate News if you know not the truth thereof. In Discoursing of things you Have heard Name not your Author always A Secret Discover not.
  • Make no Show of taking great Delight in your Victuals, Feed not with Greediness; cut your Bread with a Knife, lean not on the Table neither find fault with what you Eat.
  • In the company of your betters, be not longer in eating than they are; lay not your arm but only your hand upon the table.


  • Think before you Speak pronounce not imperfectly nor bring out your Words too hastily but orderly & distinctly.
  • Entertaining any one at the table, it is decent to present him with meat; Undertake not to help others desired by the masters.
  • Be not angry at the table whatever happens & if you have reason to be so, show it not; put on a cheerful countenance especially if there be strangers, for good humor makes one dish of meat a feast.
  • Set not yourself at the upper of table; but if it be your due or that the master of the house will have it so, contend not, least you should trouble the company.
  • If others talk at the table, be attentive but talk not with meat in your mouth.


  • If you Soak bread in the Sauce let it be no more than what you put in your Mouth at a time and bow not your broth at Table but Stay till Cools of it Self.
  • Put not your meat to your Mouth with your Knife in your hand neither Spit forth the Stones of any fruit Pie upon a Dish nor Cast anything under the table.
  • Drink not too leisurely not yet too hastily. Before and after drinking, wipe your lips; breathe not then or ever with too great a noise, for its uncivil.
  • Cleanse not your teeth with table cloth napkins, fork, or knife; but if others do it, let it be done without a peep to them.

Do any particularly rules speak to you? Wish you a holiday and life full of love and joy. XO

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