House Rules with Reba McEntire; photo of Reba on left and her cowboy boot collection on right

Reba McEntire’s House Rules—The Epitome of Southern Hospitality

The country music star shares her best entertaining tips and why she always, always, always uses a top sheet.

When you step into Reba McEntire’s home, you’re treated like an old friend. No matter who comes to the door, she’ll invite you to take off your shoes and ask if you’ve eaten yet today. It’s a reflection of the Southern hospitality she was raised on. 

Whether she’s on the farm in Tennessee or at home in Los Angeles, she always greets guests the same way.

“When a guest comes to your house, the first thing you say is, would you like something to drink,” she says. “That’s the Southern hospitality of ‘have you eaten’—and it’s just good manners, too.” 

Hand-Me-Down Traditions

McEntire explains a lot of her habits around the home come from her upbringing.

“There were four of us kids growing up in a very small house, so if you didn’t pick up your things and get them out of the living room it got a little cluttered,” she says. 

This is the same reason she makes the bed each morning. “Daddy made us kids all make our beds when we got out of it in the morning, and that’s what I do still today,” she says. It’s a tradition she’s passed on to her son as well.

“I taught Shelby the same thing. It’s very important to make your bed in the morning, that is a standing rule.” 

And while there are a few must-dos, McEntire has a very laid-back attitude when it comes to entertaining guests—a character trait she attributes to her mother.

“Mama didn’t have rules. I never had a curfew in my life–just try not to get hurt,” she says. “My main rule when anybody comes over is to feel at home, be completely relaxed, and have fun.” 

My main rule when anybody comes over is to feel at home, be completely relaxed, and have fun.

In exchange for this easygoing attitude, McEntire asks just one thing of her guests: “Make yourself at home, but pick up after yourself.”

Kick Your Boots Off and Stay a While

Taking your shoes off inside the front door is a polite tradition, but McEntire doesn’t subscribe to that particular rule. “People will start taking their boots off when we’ve been out there at the barn, and I say ‘Hey, this is the farm house, you don’t have to take your shoes off at all.’”

“It’s ‘shoes on, you stay comfortable,’” she says. “Come on in, just be comfortable.”

Reba McEntire sharing cup of coffee

Robby Klein Photography; Design: Better Homes & Gardens

Reba’s Top Entertaining Tip: Be Present with Guests

The welcoming, joyful personality McEntire portrays on television and on stage isn’t far from how she acts at home. She loves to entertain and plays the part of the host perfectly, making sure every person feels comfortable and included. 

One way she does this is by preparing for any kind of gathering in advance, so she can relax and mingle as soon as guests arrive.

“The main thing that I really like to do is have a meal that’s already prepared when my guests get there,” she says. “Winter is the best because I can make a soup with cornbread—and that way everyone can come in, get a cocktail, and then we can get a bowl and a saucer and go sit down and visit. By the fire is always the best place for that.” 

For quick appetizers, she loves chips and salsa or a casual charcuterie board. If you’re worried about everyone’s hands touching the board (especially as we come up on cold season), McEntire recommends making individual charcuterie cups, so each person can grab one to snack on. 

Another Entertaining Must Do: Get Everyone Involved

The best way to get everyone involved? Game night.

“The number one thing is ‘let’s get them fed,’ and then we play games,” she says. “Playing games is a good way to get everybody involved, and if we’re having a dinner party and people are at a long table—I don’t usually like rectangular tables, I like round tables better, it helps with the conversation—we’ll play games.”

She’s big on card games (Rummikub, Crazy Eights, and any kind of dominoes are some of her favorites), and has perfected a few ice-breakers that get the conversation going. She explains how she gets everyone involved, especially when hosting a group of people that don’t all know each other.

“The first person, usually to my left, will start with a question for the table, and that gets everybody involved,” she says. “And when everybody’s answered, the next person asks a question and it goes all the way around.” 

Life on the Road

McEntire has a packed schedule, which means she’s always on the move. Whether she’s on tour, hosting The Voice, or relaxing on the farm in Tennessee, there are many places she calls home. When she’s traveling, there are a few things she takes with her to make any space feel homey.

“When I travel, I try real hard to travel as light as possible,” she says. “If I have my laptop, my phone, my makeup, and my favorite pajamas, I’m a happy camper. Oh—and my little slippers, because I don’t like to walk on hotel room floors in my bare feet.”

She also likes to collect practical souvenirs.

“I do collect coasters when I’m out and about, that’s one of the things I like to pick up when I’m traveling,” she says. “It’s a useful souvenir that’s not just going to sit on a shelf and collect dust.”

Reba sitting with 'Okie' Oklahoma pillow

Robby Klein Photography; Design: Better Homes & Gardens

Reba McEntire's House Rules

  • Make your bed every morning (top sheet included
  • Always ask, ‘Have you eaten?’ 
  • Make yourself at home, but pick up after yourself 
  • Never use scented candles in the kitchen 
  • Don’t worry about matching silverware

Q: What is the #1 thing that makes your house feel like home? 

Flowers—I love flowers. I love to arrange them too. Whether I pick them up in the grocery store or somebody brings me a bouquet, I love to get the vases out and start arranging. I get the biggest kick out of them.

Q: What are the top 3 kitchen essentials you couldn’t live without? 

My coffee maker for sure, a good paring knife, and my blender—have to have that.

Q: Faux plants or real plants?

Oh, we have both. Matter of fact, I’m sitting here in the kitchen and I have five real plants and six fake plants. I love the fake plants with the little twinkly lights on them. If it’s an olive tree or ficus with the little lights, that’s really good for the ambiance at night.

Q: Colors or neutrals for home decor?

Neutrals. I’m more neutrals than bright colors.

Q: Scented or unscented candles? 

I don’t like wax candles, because you have to go around and make sure you snuff them all out. I prefer the remote-controlled, battery-operated candles. You just take the remote control, click them, and they’re off. Also, I never put scented candles in the kitchen, because it mixes in with the aromas of the food and masks the good smelling food you’re cooking.

Reba putting on a pair of cowboy boots

Robby Klein Photography; Design: Better Homes & Gardens

Reba’s ‘Not That Fancy’ Lifestyle 

For more home, food, and entertaining inspo from Reba, pick up a copy of her new book, Not That Fancy: Simple Lessons on Living, Loving, Eating, and Dusting Off Your Boots

The book, coming this October, embodies McEntire’s relaxed entertaining style, encompassing every area of her life. It’s filled with home inspiration, favorite recipes, and inspiring stories.

“It’s turned into a cookbook, coffee table book, picture book, story book, advice book—there’s so many different aspects of this book,” she says.  

Overall, it’s about spending quality time with those around you and not fussing over the details.

“Basically, if you want to have people over and you don’t have matching glasses or silverware, don’t worry about it, they’re not gonna notice,” she says. “Just put dishes that don’t match out, it just makes it more conversational.”

“I’m really excited about this book because there’s lots of tidbits of things I’ve never said before,” she continues. “Pictures, stories of my friends talking about me—I’m really proud of the book and I think people will get a kick out of it, at least I hope they do.” 

Not That Fancy is set to release on October 10, and is available for pre-order now

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