‘Tis the season for festive gatherings full of glimmering décor, time together, and delectable dishes. Perhaps no other month of the year offers as much in the way of elegant parties as December. This is arguably even more true when you live in the South. After all, Southern hospitality isn’t a term for no reason—and Savannah isn’t called the Hostess City for nothing! But whether you live in this region, this city, or across the country, something can be gleaned from the “host with the most” attitude found here. This holiday season, why not bring back some of those good ole’ Southern hosting traditions? Here are a few of our favorites …
Handwritten Place Cards
We know this could only apply to a certain type of party, in which RSVPS were collected, and assigned seating makes sense for the evening’s plans. Still, if it would work for your event, we think handwritten place cards are a gorgeous touch. Consider finding a design—or better yet, employing a custom invitation designer and illustrator to craft one—that suits your soiree’s theme. This makes it a memorable favor for your guests. As Southern hosting traditions go, this one might top the list of ways to make your guest feel personally acknowledged.
The Coat Closet
This doesn’t have to be literal, but having a designated place for your guests’ coats, purses, and even shoes if you tend to request their removal, is a lovely touch. The key here is to ensure they are aware of this, so that no one is left spinning in a circle in the entryway, awkwardly wondering where to put their things. If you plan to greet guests yourself, you can offer to take their items and place them in the planned spot. If you won’t be answering the door for each guest, consider a simple sign directing them when they walk in.
Ah yes, a bit of advice that feels as old as time. Really though, what makes a home more inviting and ready for an elegant soiree than a vase of fresh flowers? Here in Savannah, Pink House Florist is a go-to for a gorgeous winter bouquet. If you want to create your own arrangement, consider wintertime favorites like snowdrops, hellebore, and poinsettia, with some decorative pine branches and cones added in. One warning here: If you have cats, be sure to research what is and isn’t safe for them. For example, poinsettias can be toxic to cats if ingested.
Don’t Forget the Ice
This probably seems overly simplistic, but it isn’t all that uncommon to forget the ice! You don’t want to be scrambling when your large holiday party uses up the capacity of your fridge’s ice maker in the first hour. Now is the time to invest in a dedicated ice maker that outputs more. In lieu of that, you could always remedy this problem the tried-and-true way: buy some giant bags of ice at the grocery store and pour them into a great cooler.
Provide a Variety of Beverages
On that same note, make sure you offer a large variety of drink options to your guests. You’ll want to have a white and red wine option, more than one type of liquor or liquor-based cocktail, plenty of available water, and perhaps a few other non-alcoholic drinks. For an extra punch (pun intended), we love the idea of a signature mocktail! It enables those who can’t or don’t want to consume alcohol to still carry around a pretty drink.
Set the Mood
A major indicator of a great host is how they create a “vibe” in the space. Anyone can invite friends over and throw pizza and drinks on the counter. But a host with the most will make the environment itself an experience. This is certainly among Southern hosting traditions, as those in the region are often known for homes that smell heavenly upon entering and feel cozy and inviting. Burn a candle or run a diffuser, and play with lighting to create that warm feel, which is perfect for wintertime gatherings. While you obviously need a certain amount of light to comfortably see, dimming it significantly creates that ambiance. The twinkle of sparkling holiday lights is also a must this time of year. Bonus tip: Use a remote like this one from Phillips to control a light display, and hand it over to any children attending the party. They will likely be delighted with turning the lights on and off, and you’ve suddenly bought their parents a free moment to enjoy a drink. Plus, it’s harmless. If they break the remote, it doesn’t impact the lights and you’re out a mere $14.
If you want to be the host with the most this season, embracing a few Southern hosting traditions is sure to do the trick!
We’d love to see the fabulous holiday parties you are throwing this season. Show them off using #HostingWithUpperEastRiver on social media!