Social Graces - Invitations to Holiday Parties
These days, people often respond to a party invitation with "Great! What can I bring?"
While it may be a lovely mid-western custom to bring a dish when invited somewhere, here in the south, it's annoying.
We southerners pride ourselves in gracious hospitality. We go to great lengths to plan the perfect party.
If you bring a dish, albeit splendid, our lovely southern manners obligate us to graciously thank you and put it out for the guests..... even though you've spoiled our so carefully made plans. This may seem trivial to non southerners but to us it's a big deal!
This is entirely different from a pot luck or covered dish supper which the host or hostess will tell you about up front when extending the invitation.
But what you must always bring (and without asking, I feel the need to add) is a "hostess"gift.
Good manners here in the south dictate that you MUST bring your host or hostess a modest, tasteful gift in appreciation for the invitation. Any time. Every time.
A bottle of wine. Some nice flowers. A box of candy. A loaf of tea bread, plate of holiday cookies, a jar of fancy jam. An extravagant bar of hand made soap. If you've made it yourself or if it's from your garden, so much the better.
The price or size of the "hostess" gift is not important. What is important is good taste and thoughtfulness.
Conversely, when you invite a southerner, he or she won't ask if they can bring a dish. They'll know it's their time to be the guest and your time to shine.
Here in the south, simply say "thank you" when you receive an invitation. And never ask, "What can I bring?"