If you've never experienced Southern hospitality, you may wonder why Southerners make such a big deal about it. After all, isn't it just the same as being neighborly and inviting friends over for dinner once in a while? Well, yes, that's part of it, but it's so much more than just that. Here are eight things that define Southern hospitality.

1. It's making guests feel like family.

In the South, we want our guests to feel like part of the family. It starts by trying to make connections with them. Surely, we know a friend or a cousin or even a friend of a friend that they may know. It's kind of a game – like 6 degrees of separation, except in the South, it's more like three. You make these connections and treat your guests like you've known them forever so they feel like your home is their home.

2. It's unhurried conversation.

We don't get in a hurry down in the South. We talk slowly and let guests know they're welcome to stay as long as they like. The conversation flows seamlessly from the front door to the dinner table, to the back porch, where you roll up your sleeves and enjoy sweet tea or lemonade and the only agenda for the day is enjoying the company of others.

3. It's reciprocal (but in a good way).

Southern hospitality is reciprocal but not in an obligatory way. Friends invite friends for dinner, and they return the favor down the road. It's just another way friends become more like family.

4. It's using good manners.

We teach our kids how to behave at dinner. You can expect to hear "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am," and "please" and "thank you." It's not that we expect perfect behavior. We just believing in teaching good manners when they're young, so it'll stick when they're grown.

5. It's still believing in serving others.

Don't even think about helping with the dishes. We believe in serving our friends and guests. It's our honor to give them a meal and let them relax and enjoy the day without worrying about cleaning up.

6. It's knowing there will be plenty of food.

You'd rather have more than enough food, than not enough; that's our thinking in the South. You always want enough food in case unexpected guests come over. There's always more room at the table, at least figuratively. Sometimes we do have to pull out the card table to make room for more.

7. It's yummy dessert.

You can bet there will be dessert, and it will most likely be homemade. Cooking is a Southern love language, and nothing says, "I love you" like a good homemade pie.

8. It's hearing "Y'all come back now, ya hear?".

In the South, the "goodbyes" can take a while, as you stand at the front door talking just a little bit longer. We reluctantly let our guests leave, but only if they promise to come again soon.