ANNUAL CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT HAS BECOME A HOLIDAY TRADITION

As part of the world’s largest and longest-running citizen science project, bird lovers in more than 2,500 locations in the Western Hemisphere will participate in the 118th Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count. Between Dec. 14 and Jan, 5, each group will cover a 15-mile radius and tally the birds spotted.

The island’s most celebrated gift store is just getting started.

It didn’t take long for Gifted Hilton Head to make a statement on the island. In its first year of operation, it won “Favorite New Business” in Monthly’s Readers’ Choice Awards. The next year, it won “Favorite Gift Shop.”

It did so again the next year. And the year after. In fact, in an unprecedented streak in its category, Gifted Hilton Head has taken home the “Favorite Gift Shop” award every year it has been in business.

Great looks for all the holiday parties, galas, concerts, performances and other events in the Lowcountry.

Local boutiques and other retail stores suggest gifts that will make your loved ones smile.

CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS ON HILTON HEAD ARE TAUGHT TO NEW GENERATIONS

These days, Christmas seems to arrive as early as September, with store shelves filled with toys, holiday décor and other gifts. Holiday movies air on the Hallmark Channel before the arrival of Halloween.

Decades ago, Christmas truly came just once a year for the families living in the Lowcountry’s Gullah communities, and many native islanders are trying to hang onto the days when the holidays were a special time for children and families.

On Christmas Eve in 1895, George Vanderbilt welcomed friends and family to his estate for the first time. More than a century later, visitors are still celebrating the holiday at Biltmore House.

Situated on more than 8,000 acres of land in Asheville, North Carolina, the 250-room French Renaissance chateau is known as America’s largest private home. Its 178,926 square feet include 35 bedrooms, 43 bedrooms, 65 fireplaces, three kitchens and 19th-century throwbacks like electric elevators, a call-bell system and a banquet hall featuring a 1916 Skinner pipe organ — as well as the Vanderbilt family’s original collection of furnishings, art and antiques.

NEW LOWCOUNTRY-THEMED BOOKS MAKE GREAT GIFTS

Looking for the perfect holiday gift for someone who loves the Lowcountry and loves to read? Check out these new releases:

Another new title that celebrates the beauty of the Lowcountry is “Hilton Head Island” by Starbooks and Lydia Inglett Publishing. This book is filled with gorgeous photos and articles about the history, nature, culture and amenities of the island. Local author Ryan Copeland and the Camera Club of Hilton Head collaborated on the book.

CHAMPAGNE IS THE PERFECT SIP FOR ALL SEASONS

When Cher’s character Loretta Castorini dropped a cube of sugar into her Champagne in the movie “Moonstruck, purists gasped — but hey, at least she got her man. But we can’t condone the sugar cube-bubbly blend. At most, adding some crème de cassis or Chambord to make a Kir Royale is perfectly acceptable but first things first: Champagne comes from the geographical region of Champagne in France, produced under strict French law. Anything else is just sparkling wine. 

WHERE SHOULD YOU GO WHEN THE SKY’S THE LIMIT? WE ASK THE EXPERTS.

It’s a great big beautiful world out there. For the luxury traveler, there are truly no limits on where the five-star experience can take you. But the rest of us can dream, too. If money were no object, where should you go?

MALUKA IS A LOCAL BOUTIQUE WITH URBAN STYLE

Bluffton’s Promenade district is the closest thing the Lowcountry has to an urban scene. Nightlife, residential living space above restaurants and a walkable scale have made this area popular with Millennials.

The metro feel made this location appealing to Kim Block when she decided to open a boutique in her new hometown. Her shop, Maluka, looks like a clothing store one might find in the downtown of a large city.