In lieu of a custom built-in, she put her great-grandfather's old chest to work as a butler's pantry in the hallway.

Laurey W. Glenn

Well, yes! We were wondering when you would get here…come on inside.

In the South, hosting is an art form.  We’re known for “Southern hospitality” for a reason, after all. So it’s no wonder that generation after generation, Southern women have slowly refined every last detail. We’re not saying it’s always easy to pull off, or you’re always eager to, but there is no hostess quandary that some Southern woman, somewhere, hasn’t figured out a solution to. So even when the most unexpected of visitors comes a knocking…we’re ready. How so? Steal some secrets from the Southern hostess playbook:

Keep fresh flowers around the house.

Even if no surprise guests arrive, you’ll get to enjoy them. Plus, as Charleston designer Buff Coles says, when it comes to decorating: “Use flowers and greenery—they can distract from a multitude of sins!"

Keep the bar stocked.

You don’t need to get a liquor license and set up shop. Just have mixers that don’t expire (at least not for a while), a few special glasses, and a bottle of champagne ready to go. Or take it to the next level; how Bunny Williams keeps a bar ready just for guests: “I like to put a bar in the rooms I use most. That way, guests can always help themselves. Don’t turn entertaining into a production,” she says.

WATCH: Bunny William's Formula for a Well-Decorated Home

Keep that freezer stocked.

Nan Myers, owner of Firefly giftshop in Thomasville, GA, keeps her freezer guest-ready with Callie’s Charleston Biscuits, handmade in South Carolina. “I’m not a baker, but I can put those in the oven and throw a little flour on my face and pretend,” she says, joking.

Keep the guest room organized and uncluttered. 

Especially around the holidays. Also known as: this is not a dumping ground. Even if you’re not expecting visitors, a simple wreath or garland is a thoughtful touch and feels festive for last-minute guests.

Keep cool under pressure.

Stress is a contagious ailment. The host sets the tone, so even if the biscuits burn and the bar cart has run dry, remember there’s more at the store.