It's always fun to flip through this book before having people over. I like how down to earth the author Deborah Ford seems to be. She says some of the best parties serve only sweet tea and a sleeve of Ritz crackers! I also think she clears up some common 'Southern' misconceptions: it's not all about debutantes and passed-down silver.
The most important things are family, friends, and kindness. And the most important rule of etiquette- making others feel special, welcome, and comfortable.
Some of my favorite excerpts:
1. "When it comes right down to it, Southern hospitality is born of a unique lifestyle, one of grace and style faced with a deep appreciation for leisure and laughter... it is a blend of many honorable virtues passed down through generations- gentleness, kindness, and the receiving of strangers and friends alike with openness, selflessness, and caring." -Emyl Jenkins
2. Southern girls want to welcome friends and neighbors into their homes because they want to share the love that they have there. We are homebodies at heart. That doesn't mean that we're wallflowers, but it does mean that our hospitality comes from wanting to share our homes, and ourselves, with others.
3. Just remember: It's all about having fun. If the flowers are a little droopy or the potatoes are a little burnt, it really doesn't matter. Like life, no party is ever perfect, and those little problems are just part of the fun.
This last part reminds me of one time when I had a girlfriend and her daughter over for lunch. She was pretty late arriving so it gave me extra time to make sure everything was 'just so.' We had a nice time and she invited us over a few days later. I arrived only about 5 minutes late and I could tell she was flustered. I was so excited to have the company that I was more than happy to help out in the kitchen- informal chit chat while doing an activity (like chopping) is always my preference! But, I could quickly sense that she was nervous.
At one point she dropped a glass and it shattered on the floor. I started cleaning it up and I noticed she was crying! I felt AWFUL. I was worried maybe she had received some bad news earlier or something but it turned out she was just feeling rushed. She told me that when I had her over everything was so perfect that she felt inept. Never have I felt so badly.
I quickly explained that if it seemed that way, it was a one-time thing... and actually, it felt a little 'staged' to me (when I had her over). Now I almost intentionally try to keep things 'im'perfect? (I don't have to try too hard!) I don't want anyone feeling uncomfortable. Uncomfortable is the poor guest who has to ask for more toilet paper from the potty seat, but guests can help out with some things... I love to!