Manners and Etiquette
A Downhome Perspective on All Things Southern

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Southern Manners and Etiquette   

Manners and Etiquette
Answer to Question on creating a Southern Home
Manners and Etiquette Q & A


Books I recommend:

The Goops and How to Be Them (excellent for very young children to help them understand the importance of good manners)

White Gloves and Party Manners  Marjabelle Young Stewart and Ann Buchwald

Stand Up Shake Hands, Say How Do You Do?  Marjabelle Young Stewart and Ann Buchwald

Manners by Kate Spade

Being Dead is No Excuse Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays (humorous look at Southern tradition plus some great recipes)

The Grits (Girls Raised in the South) Guide to Life by Deborah Ford with Edie Hand (Interesting, but consider your own guidance on certain issues)

The Art of Conversation: A guided tour of a neglected pleasure Catherine Blythe

The Etiquette Advantage in Business Peggy and Peter Post

Wakefield Plantation: History and Cookbook. The story of one Southern family with a Primer on Southern Manners and Etiquette by Sharman Jean Burson Ramsey and Dr. Sylvia Burson Rushing

Do you have questions on Etiquette Southern-style that you would like answered?
 Email us your question.  We'll try to address the question on this website.

I find the loss of civility in our society alarming.  Lord Chesterfield once wrote his son, "The most well-bred person in a room is the one who makes the fewest other people uncomfortable."  Spenser wrote, "The gentle minde by gentle deeds is knowne; For a man by nothing is so well betrayed as by his manners."  SPENSER 

For Southern women, teaching their children manners is of the utmost importance.  It is important not just for the parents, although it is immensely rewarding for others to comment upon how well-mannered our children are, but for the children themselves.  How awful for a child when others find them so rude in their conduct that they refuse to invite them back to their homes!

Behavior models attitudes and beliefs (Pavlov). When a parent teaches a child to stand when an adult enters the room, say yes ma'am/sir, no ma'am/sir, please and thank you, to give up a seat on a bus or in the living room to a pregnant woman, guest or elder, that a young man should stand should a woman comes to a table in a restaurant and continue to stand until that woman leaves or is seated, and to bow his/her head when grace is said, that parent has begun modeling the attitudes and beliefs of that child. The child is taught respect for authority and his elders, as well as self-discipline

When our youngest daughter got married, the first thing I gave her was a book with a contemporary look at manners and a book on writing thank you notes.  I am amazed at the number of people who comment on the thank you notes she has written to them, and how promptly they were written. 

I shall write more on this later.  Your comments and questions are welcome. 


Southern Etiquette Questions and Answers


Southern Lady Creates Southern Hospitality

Dos for a Good Conversation (Social Graces by Ann Platz and Susan Wales, p. 72)

Guests should remember 

Southern mothers lessons for her son

Southern mothers lessons for her daughter

Bear Bryant related an inspiring story that confirms the worth of being a man/woman of one's word.

Proper Table Setting    Social Graces by Ann Platz and Susan Wales


Place setting for lunch Resting during the meal Finished the meal


In answering your questions, I want us all to keep in mind that manners and etiquette is mainly just common sense, thoughtfulness and consideration. It has become formalized simply because not all of us are gifted with the same innate sense of courtesy. Frequently, the customs of the past that made us a genteel, gracious society have fallen out of custom; therefore, websites like this are merely reminders of how society works best and what is expected of us from those who do know the rules of etiquette. Many of the questions I answer address the "dance" of good manners. None of us want to be embarrassed by bumping into a gentleman who has been so gracious as to stand and pull out your chair when you return to your seat at the table. To save us from that embarrassment, rules of etiquette were developed just to choreograph situations in which we will all find ourselves. Because of new situations in our increasingly technological age, we will have to develop a new choreography.

Questions and Answers

I hope you can help clarify something for me.... Verbally we always call women 'Miss.' and then their first name such as Miss Pat.  We do this whether they are married or not so, how do we correctly put that in written form if they are married?  I often see people write out Mrs. Pat and it seems odd since that is not how we say it. Is it wrong to do Ms.? Tyanne

That is an excellent question. I would think one would just write "Miss Pat," but not on the outside of an envelope. "Miss Pat" is really just a form of endearing familiarity. If one were writing a formal correspondence one would surely use the formal address (Mrs. Patricia Jones or Mrs. John Jones, for example). Ms. would be an appropriate address for a divorced woman.
Those are my thoughts on that Southern dilemma. Sharman


I have a question regarding a lady approaching the dinner table and being seated: Which side of the chair are you to approach to be seated - to the right or to the left? Also, from which side do you exit when dinner is over?

A lady approaches the chair from the right because the man on your left will be pulling your chair out for you to sit. Should the gentleman pull your chair back at the end of the meal, I would think he would be doing so from the same direction you approached the table so you would also step back from the right.  However, it all depends on where the gentleman is standing. The most important thing in any social situation is to make others feel comfortable. Having too hard and fast a rule on these things complicates situations in which there might be a crowd -- or a conversation -- and a lady must act graciously accordingly.


Also, when addressing the outside of an envelope (just regular correspondence),  where does the return address go, on the front upper left side or on the back of the envelope flap? And, when inserting a birthday card, etc., into the envelope, do you insert it so that when the envelope is opened,  it is facing the recipient? 

The address should be on the front upper left side unless the address has been formally printed on the envelope. You place a card into the envelope fold side first so that when a right-handed person pulls the card from the envelope the card is facing the recipient.