7 Things We Learned About Holiday Hosting from Our Southern Grandmas
Whenever someone spills wine on the carpet or we need to devise a gracious way to decline an invitation, we wish Grandmama were there to offer time-tested guidance or a polite quip. But there is one occasion when we’re especially dependent on our grandmothers and the lessons they’ve taught us over the years: the holidays. As we welcome guests into our own home for festivities galore, we channel the women who taught us everything we know about playing the role of ever-gracious hostess. Here are 7 things our editors learned about holiday hosting from their Southern grandmothers.
Always greet guests at the door.
“My grandmother wouldn't even let her daughter answer the door for guests,” says Beauty and Lifestyle Editor Patricia Weigel Shannon. “She always wanted to be sure she was the one welcoming friends and family into her home.” Taking a moment to personally receive your guests makes them feel special and at ease from the second they arrive.
Know your limits, and plan accordingly.
“My grandmother couldn’t cook, so she always had a stocked bar,” says Assistant Managing Editor Rachel Ellis. Delegation is your friend. Focus on the to-dos you know you can handle, and let professionals (or talented family and friends) tackle the rest. There’s a reason that potlucks are popular, you know.
Sometimes, more is more.
“Don’t make just one dessert,” says Editorial Fellow Zoe Denenberg. “Make allthe desserts. My grandma makes a dessert platter for every holiday with a bunch of little bars and cookies cut into bite-sized portions so you can try everything.” The same goes for appetizers: An assortment of small bites are a smart move, as your guests will all be able to find something they like.
Prepare for the unexpected.
Girl Scouts, grandmothers, and holiday hostesses all follow the same motto: “Be prepared.” Editorial Assistant Mary Shannon Wells suggests having an “extra place setting at the ready in case of a tagalong guest.” That same advice applies to gift-giving. “My Meme always kept a few small, untagged gifts under the tree just in case someone gave her a gift she wasn't expecting,” says Editorial Assistant Jorie McDonald. “That way, she would be able to give something back.”
Set the table in style (and let the children enjoy it too).
Celebrate the season by pulling out the fine china and the nice linens. “Christmas dinner is the perfect time to acquaint your little ones with the ‘good china,’” says Social Media Editor Brennan Long. “We always had a lot of fun at her house, but we knew it was time to practice our best table manners when Gran pulled out her Spode Christmas china!”
Keep a secret stash.
“My grandmother taught me to hide the extra batch of whatever (cookies, spiced pecans) where the men can't find it, because they’ll eat it all,” says Editorial Assistant Kaitlyn Yarborough. “This was so when actual company came over, she had something to put out. She hides the extras in the coffee cabinet.”