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.

The holidays are here. Prepare yourself and your shopping list with our gift guide!

FANCY A GETAWAY TO A PLACE THAT’S REDEFINED LUXURY? IT’S CLOSER THAN YOU THINK.

Thinking of planning an escape? Maybe a relaxing getaway to an all-inclusive resort, a cruise aboard a luxury liner, or a week spent exploring a foreign destination. But before you call your travel agent or book your flight, don’t forget that some of the world’s most prestigious luxury accommodations and amenities are right here in the Lowcountry.

The Grand Cru’s polished teak gleams in the fall sunlight, and a gentle breeze stirs the American flag mounted on her stern. Once aboard, comfortable seating invites relaxation, with every comfort of home tucked into the cherry-paneled cabin. Sitting on this boat, built and furnished with meticulous attention to detail, the Lowcountry waterways look even more inviting — if that’s possible.

A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE ENDS IN THE REAL SOUTH

Having worn out the old route from Hilton Head Island, where I grew up, to college in Charleston along S.C. 17, it was only a matter of time before I started taking detours. “Into the exit zone” I would call it — the deep, green South. In just a few years of taking this route, I saw the old South recede under the pressures of development. The highway expanded, displacing an old, painfully nostalgic Texaco station, and my search for the essence of what was left grew ever more urgent. Overgrown in kudzu, the barns would speak to me. Shrouded by oaks, the darker the road, the better. And it was on one of these countless forays that I chanced upon the bridge to nowhere.