I moved to Southeast Georgia when I was 11 years old. Even before that, I would say that my family did things the "southern way," as my extended family are all from Tennessee and Kentucky. Many aspects of Southern hospitality and etiquette are second nature to me. That being the case, I am sometimes offended or taken aback by a lack of what I consider to be common sense in manners and etiquette. So, with the help of family and friends, I compiled this list of Southern etiquette that everyone should know. No matter where you live, you can put these suggestions into practice and never worry that someone might question the way you were brought up.
- Call everyone "ma'am" or "sir" whether they are older or younger than you. Down South, these words indicate respect and manners, not age!
- Always take a hostess gift to a party or dinner.
- If someone does something nice for you, gives you a gift, or you stay at their home, send a thank you note. Always. When in doubt, send one anyway. No one has ever been offended by a thank you note!
- When invited to a party or dinner, always offer to bring a dish.
- Always pull over for a funeral procession. Don't just slow down and wait for the cops to pass, and definitely do not ever pass them in the next lane. This is the law in Georgia, but even if it isn't in your state, do it out of respect!
- Always welcome new folks to the neighborhood with food or a small gift.
- Hold the door for the person behind you.
- Allow people to exit before you enter. This applies to businesses, elevators...anything with a door.
- Walk guests to the door, always. Even if they have been over to your house several times.
- If someone has surgery, a new baby, or a death in the family, bring them a casserole. That's just how it's done.
- Men take off their hats at dinner and to pray, as well as for the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem.
- When someone invites you over for dinner, return the invite as soon as possible. (This doesn't necessarily apply for group functions like barbecues or parties, but always applies if someone has just you and your spouse and/or children over!)
- When a guest arrives at your home, offer them a beverage. Everyone. Even the cable guy or AC repairman.
- Women wear jewelry. Even with shorts and flip-flops.
This is certainly not an all-inclusive list, and I am certainly guilty of violating some of them from time to time!
The point is to "act like you were raised right," "don't be ugly," and never, never start to act "too big for your britches."
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