The 10 Commandments of Southern Entertaining

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

I think we can all agree that Southerners know a thing or two about entertaining. Whether they’re throwing a backyard crawfish boil or a sophisticated porch party, you can almost guarantee it’s going to be a good time. And with Derby Day coming up this weekend, we thought it was a good time to find out what it is that makes to-dos so special below the Mason-Dixon.

We tapped the editors of Garden & Gun magazine, that gorgeous ode to all things Southern, for their top 10 rules of entertaining.

(Image credit: Michaela Rae)

1. Thou shalt mix up your beer cooler.

A great rule of thumb is the 3 M’s: something mass (i.e., Bud or Coors Light), something microbrew (always Southern, like Abita or Fullsteam), and something Mexican.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

2. Thou shalt have refreshing non-alcoholic drinks on hand.

Southerners love a good cocktail, but be sure to set out sparkling waters with berries and lime for a little break in between.

Even better? Offer a mocktail for non-imbibers. Here are 15 delicious non-alcoholic spritzers, sodas, and mocktails to try.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

3. Thou shalt not pull host-and-bartender double duty.

Make it easy on yourself and whip up a batch of boozy punch for self-service.

We have a few recommendations.

Big-Batch Drink Ideas

4. Thou shalt play good music.

Put Leon Bridges, Alabama Shakes, and all the talented soulful Southerners that came before them on repeat. Here’s what we’re listening to now.

5. Thou shalt use fresh-cut flowers.

They don’t have to be fancy or cost a fortune. Try using greenery, branches, or blooms from your backyard.

6. Thou shalt not be afraid to break the rules of traditional serving ware.

Bring out silver platters, julep cups, and even Mom’s formal china mixed with mod mid-century canapé plates.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

7. Thou shalt make a lasting first impression with iconic Southern finger foods.

The best of them are never dull, always memorable, intensely flavored, and designed to pack into one (maybe two) bites a surfeit of sensations. Think of rich, spicy Southern hero hors d’oeuvres like deviled eggs, pimento cheese, and pickled shrimp.

(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

8. Thou shalt serve a fun, retro recipe.

Stuffed celery and cherry tomatoes? Easy, semi-elegant, and perfect with cocktails. Looking for something more substantial? Try this modern take on the king ranch casserole.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

9. Thou shalt always have a sweet finish.

May we suggest these labneh cheesecake bars with salted honey sauce? And if it combines booze, all the better. (Try these derby pie bars.)

10. Thou shalt not start cleaning up before the last guest leaves.

And if you feel like leaving the mess until morning, we won’t blame you. But if you want to make the day-after cleanup a little bit easier, here are five minimal things to do before you go to bed.

(Image credit: Harper Wave)

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