A Southerner's Guide to Holiday Etiquette | GlitznGrits.com

Nov 28, 2018

A Southerner's Guide to Holiday Etiquette

The holidays can be a joyous but stressful time. Endless dinner parties and functions. Gifts and thank you notes. Growin' up in The South I like to think I've perfected bein' a perfect hostess or attendee. So, I got together with a few of my favorite Southern Ladies and made this guide: A Southerner's Guide to Holiday Etiquette.

Let's start from the beginnin', shall we?


In the world of online datin' and social media sites like Facebook, it can often be hard to remember things. Waitn' untill the day to RSVP for somethin' is still not ok.  Think of it this way: If dinner will be served the hostess needs to know how much food to prepare or cater and no one wants to be makin' changes at the last minute. You may read this rule and laugh thinkin' it's a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised. I can't tell you how many ladies in my Junior League Brunch group forget to update their RSVP on a monthly basis.

It isn't rare to be invited to more than one function around the holidays. Here in The South, it's common. Just let your hostess know ahead of time if you'll need to duck out early enough where it'll go noticed. But, just remember duckin' out from a dinner party isn't the same as leavin' a gift exchange early. And just as leavin' a dinner party is never ok unless lettin' the hostess know, arrivin' late is never ok. Be mindful and respectful of others time.


The perfect guest never brings an uninvited guest. If your hostess didn't include them on the invite, there is bound to be a reason. And don't be offended when Aunt Sally doesn't invite the new beau when you can't even keep them straight.

Dietary Restrictions:

Never wait until the last minute to let your hostess know of any dietary accommodations that may be needed. This doesn't mean you don't like turkey.

Distractions at the Dinner table:

A few years ago we had a dinner party at my best friends parents house to celebrate her then engagement to her now husband. I'll never forget one of the boys lookin' shocked when we asked everyone to not only dress like they came from somewhere but to leave their phones away from the dinner table. I later found out his family wasn't very traditional.

Traditional or not there are specific rules of etiquette one must follow at the table no matter how silly they may seem and electronics at the table is a big one. To this day if we are on our phones at the table not engaging with family Grandma Johnnie will reach over and take your phone from your hand. "It just plain rude," she always says. And you should wait to be excused from the table. I'll never forget bein' a kid, and we went to someones house for dinner. Not only did I get up from the table without permission but I took my shoes off and put my feet in the seat. I've never seen my dad madder or embarrassed as he was at that moment. Never again did I do that.

Always offer to help clean and clear dishes even though a gracious hostess will deny the offer.

Side note: Get the Hen recipe HERE

Dinner Talk

It is never ok to bring up politics or religion. I know we all have that one Uncle, but that doesn't make it right. It is, however, acceptable to politely change the conservation when there is an awkward lull. For example, a few years back at a family reunion, we had a BBQ. Even I have that Uncle. I found myself cornered and didn't know what to do or say. My cousin immediately saw and came to my rescue. Some of the younger cousins had started a game of frisbee and, he wanted to know if I wanted to join. A polite way of endin' the political conservation no one wanted to engage in without bein' rude.

Overstayin' your Welcome:

It is never ok to be that person that doesn't know when to go home. My Mother made a joke after Thanksgiving dinner as I helped her wash dishes that she was thankful one of our family friends always knew when it was time to go and put her kids to bed. I marveled at how pleased she was for this.
Thank you notes and Hostess Gifts:

Never be the person that shows up empty handed or doesn't say thank you. While the world has moved digital thank you notes should still be analog, send a thank you note or card within a week of attendin' a dinner party or function.

And always remember to bring somethin' for the hostess. It is still polite to ask if you can do anythin' to help if the invite doesn't say to bring a dish. A great hostess will always refuse your offer, but you always ask anyway.

Personally, I like to bring a bottle of wine as a thank you gift when bein' invited over. I know some of these unwritten rules may sound silly, but you never know who doesn't know. A few years back I had a friend look at me appalled as we stopped at a local wine store before goin' to a Junior League Dinner Party. He didn't realize it was customary to bring such things.

Wine for the holidays is always the answer and If you need a good wine may I suggest Wente Wine? The 2017 Rivera Chardonnay is my favorite. Founded in the 1800's I love how Wente is not only celebratin' 135 years but prides itself on creatin' great memories with those we want to make time with most.  So, you better get to stockin' up cause the holidays are in full swing and I know you'll need a great hostess gift.

What did I miss? What's one etiquette tip you think everyone should follow?


  1. I was looking over your blog. I'm surprised that it isn't a Texan wine.
    I looked https://texaswinetrail.com/wineries/ there does appear to be a Texan wine industry, though I can't find any for sale in the UK. Not your typical wine glass in the photo. As Chardonnay is most often served chilled, holding a stem stops the hand warming the wine, keeping it cooler for longer. Is stemless glasses a Texan way?

    I'll try and taste some Texan wine when I visit. Is it sold in bars and restaurants?


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