6 Ways Our Southern Grandmothers Knew How To Make a House Feel Like A Home

For our family matriarchs, love looks a lot like fresh flowers and stocked freezers.

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‘There’s no place like home’ might have been Dorothy’s chosen phrase in The Wizard of Oz, but for Southerners, there’s truly no place like Grandmama’s house. There’s a singular charm and nostalgia that belongs to the homes of our family matriarchs, and they can be directly attributed to the gracious hosting habits of the women who live there. Here, our editors share the multitude of thoughtful ways their grandmothers made their homes the most welcoming places to spend time. And, to no Southerner’s surprise, a lot of them involve food.

An Offer of Something to Eat Upon Entry

“After going by my grandparents' house for the first time after my grandmother's death, my husband commented that it was the only time he's ever been in that home and not been offered something to eat and drink before he could even sit down,” says Associate Social Media Editor Mary Shannon Hodes. “No offense to my grandfather, of course, (my grandmother set too high a bar), but she was a gracious host from the very second you crossed the threshold, especially when it came to keeping plates and glasses full.”

A Vase of Bright Blooms

“One of my grandmothers always has fresh-cut flowers (often roses from her garden) around the house,” says Assistant Homes Editor Cameron Beall. “If we're staying with her, they are without a doubt on the bedside table.”

A Full Refrigerator… and Freezer… and Pantry…

Several staffers remember always having access to plenty to nibble on, wherever they looked. “My grandmother always had a bowl filled with Andes Chocolate Mints on the coffee table,” says Senior Staff Digital Writer Meghan Overdeep. At the home of Senior Digital Editor Rebecca Baer’s grandparents, some treats changed with the seasons: “My grandparents on my dad's side had a pool. In the summer, the grandkids practically lived at their house; we were there all of the time. And they kept the back freezer stocked with popsicles.” Adds Beall, “I fully blame my grandmother for my sweet tooth because she always had her freezer stocked with her homemade chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches.”

Cheeky Decor

“In the kitchen, my grandmother had a photo of a crying baby with a bowl of spaghetti on his head that said, ‘This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it,’” says Editor-in-Chief Sid Evans.

Homes and Features Editor Betsy Cribb’s grandmother had a similarly irreverent sense of humor. “She had a throw pillow on the sofa that read, ‘Do not mistake endurance for hospitality.’ I’ve always loved it because she was so warm and welcoming that even the most difficult houseguest (or grandchild) would never know that the embroidered message was perhaps intended for them.” 

Unsolicited (and Thoughtfully Presented) Snacks

“We notoriously would show up at my grandmother’s house with a handful of friends to go swim in the lake or, in our high school years, "lay out" (i.e. work on our tan),” says Senior Digital Food Editor Kimberly Holland. “Without prompting or question, she'd roll out a tray of sandwiches—and my favorite part: Each was wrapped in parchment paper or wax paper the way McDonald's does (folded over paper that's tucked under, which of course I thought was so classy).”

Places Carved Out Just for the Kids

“We lived in the same town as our grandmother and she had quite a few play areas permanently set up for us to enjoy,” says Senior Social Media Editor Brennan Long. “She left a tent up in one of the car spaces in her garage where my sister and I played camping; her basement was set up with desks and stuffed animals for pretending school; and a sunroom (with a peacock chair) always had plenty of props for royal dress-up. She loved to host and entertain her adult friends, but she was also happy to have grandchildren (hers and others!) dropping in and out at all times.”

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