Thanksgiving is now in the rear view mirror, and it’s the perfect time to tackle some holiday crafts.
Some of the most fun things to discover each years as you unbox ornaments to decorate the tree, are holiday crafts made by the kids when they were little. They become sentimental holiday treasures. Here’s your chance to make some for future Christmases.
Fortunately, there are a couple really creative and fun options of holiday craft resources, to take and make at home.
This first option is brought to you by the fine folks at the Charleston County Public Library system.
Here’s what Marie Sollitt, branch manager of the Poe Library on Sullivan’s Island, had to say: “Especially now when there are a lot of stresses in our life and life is different than normal, having a creative output is a good way to care for yourself. You don’t have to be good at something, it’s whether you enjoy doing it. They’re ways to escape for a little bit, create something, and not worry for just a little bit. And that’s nice.”
Just head to a local library branch, and they will supply you with just about everything you need to make a craft project. They have options suitable for various age groups – kids, teens and adults. Each location features a different project. They include origami, a homemade bird feeder, holiday-themed paper hats, and seeds to plant and grow.
Read more on the official Take-and-Make Crafts page on the Charleston County Public Library website or on Hulafrog. They encourage you to suggest new ideas or show off your finished project on their social media outlets, on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Michaels Craft Store has put together a fun series of Holiday Crafts called, “24 Days of Merry Making.” It’s part of their Kids Club program. It’s kind of like an advent calendar countdown to Christmas, where you make a fun craft project each day.
Classes are virtual each day at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time, and they are absolutely free. They’re good for kids three and up. If you miss a live class, you can easily access the class videos at your leisure. Each class lasts about an hour. Register here, and you can also buy supplies on their website.
The 24 days of merry include: Pom Pom Advent Calendar, 3D Perler Ornaments, Winter LEGO Models (build along with a Professional LEGO Master Model Builder), Rainbow Forest (paper trees), Model Magic Snow Globe, Gingerbread Card, Holiday Village Wreath, Christmas Countdown Clock, Pop-Up Snowman Card, Holiday Painted Rocks, DIY Hanukkah Menorah, Snowman Treat Mugs, Christmas Tree Paintings, Tassel Christmas Trees, Monster Truck Building, Holiday Slime, Pony Bead Ornaments, Crafty Science, Snowflake Tinker Tray, Christmas Elf Slime, Gnome Drawing, Stocking Charms, Winter Sensory Bottles and Snowballs, and Yarn-Wrapped Stars. That’s a whole lots of crafty holiday creations!
See Michael’s whole holiday craft countdown here, with photos of all 24 projects.
So try making some holiday crafts as home this season, to help get in a festive mood and deck those halls. And if a stay at one of EP’s Isle of Palms luxury rentals is on your wish list, just give us a call.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger
This is Thanksgiving week, which means Black Friday shopping is coming up fast.
Along with everything else in 2020, Thanksgiving looks to be quite different this year. Since COVID rates are up, officials are encouraging people to hunker down.
If you’re here hunkering down in a Charleston beach house, you may prefer to leave the cooking to someone else. Here are some great options to get a Thanksgiving dinner to go, at either local places or chain establishments.
Then, the day after Thanksgiving is of course the traditional kick off of the holiday shopping season. Black Friday shopping used to be the manic stuff of legend, with folks lined up hours before opening time, then charging inside like wild buffalo to grab the best deals for themselves.
Online shopping and other factors have thankfully changed those dynamics somewhat. Many merchants now start their Black Friday shopping deals days or even more than a week earlier. It’s all in an effort to entice people to spend holiday dollars even sooner.
Over recent years, a lot of people have decided to forego in person Black Friday shopping altogether, and just online shop instead. This makes perfect sense, and no time more than this particular year. Amazon, FedEx and UPS will be busier than ever, that’s for sure.
WalletHub has crunched the numbers, analyzed the data and come out with their official ranking of the best Black Friday shopping merchants (and the worst). They studied over 7,000 deals from the 26 biggest retailers in the country.
Basically, they discovered that Black Friday shopping deals average a discount of 32%. The highest they found was JCPenney, at 56.71%, while the lowest was ACE Hardware at 8.63%.
Here’s the top ten….
Black Friday shopping is also a great chance to shop local, if at all possible. The Lowcountry boasts a huge number of wonderful merchants unique to this area.
If you have children to shop for, you have plenty of especially good options. The fine folks at Hulafrog have put together a list of the top 22 local businesses where you can do holiday shopping for the kids in your life. They include some fun ones like Wonder Works (a realty cool toy store), Shrimp & Grits Kids (lovely smocked clothing), and the Pink Chicken on King. Access the whole list here.
So if you’re taking part in Black Friday shopping, you may score some deals. And don’t forget to support local merchants, they sure could use the business. And when you’re shopping for a luxury beach house stay, just give us a call at EP.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger
What do you get when COVID meets Christmas? Why, a virtual tree lighting, of course.
Even the holidays aren’t immune from the reach of the pandemic. Since this is a season when folks gather together, it comes as no surprise that changes and altered traditions are afoot in 2020
As I covered in that last blog, the Holiday Festival of Lights just kicked off for the season. It’s a tremendous gift to the community that it went forward this year. We could all use some holiday cheer, that’s for sure.
The main part of the festival is driving through several hundred light displays (more than 750 displays totaling over two million holiday lights). In a way, it’s social distancing at its finest. You can tour through and see all the lights from the comfort and safety of your car. You don’t even have to wear a mask. They have even converted their concession stand for hot chocolate and holiday nibbles into a drive-thru format.
Towne Centre is the area’s premiere shopping center. It’s not a typical indoor mall, but instead an assemblage of really nice retailers, both large chain and local, all with entrances from the sidewalk. It’s located just over the Isle of Palms Connector in Mount Pleasant.
Towne Centre sponsors many events through the year. They include the series of outdoor concerts “Live Under the Oaks” which just wrapped up, along with Puppy Bowl and Pet Fest.
Well, their biggest has always been their annual holiday kickoff, Lights Up, when they flip the switch on their festive holiday light displays, have a grand tree lighting and visits with Santa.
Well, this year, it’s gone virtual. They’re calling it, “Log On & Lights Up – Holiday Spirit and Virtual Tree Lighting.” It’s happening Saturday night, November 21st, starting at 7:00 p.m.
Click here for more details, and to find the link to the virtual tree lighting when it happens tomorrow night. It’s sponsored by Roper St. Francis Healthcare.
FYI, Towne Centre is located at 1218 Belk Drive in Mount Pleasant.
So check out a virtual tree lighting from the comfort of your place – whether you’re at home or here in an Exclusive Properties’ luxury house on Isle of Palms. As always, just give us a call when you’re ready to book some time at the beach.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger
What is no doubt the Lowcountry’s most festive event – the Holiday Festival of Lights – is officially underway.
The master switch has been pulled, and two million or so lights are shining brightly and awaiting your visit. It’s perfect for all ages, the ultimate in family-friendly fun.
The Holiday Festival of Lights has been a Lowcountry tradition since 1990. This marks the 31st annual installment of the beloved event. Over the years, Coastal Living has dubbed it one of the top ten holiday celebrations in the country, USA Today called it one of the 10 Best Holiday Light Shows in America, and the Southeast Tourism Society named it one of the top 20 events in the Southeast. It lives up to the hype.
As for the wheres and whens, the Holiday Festival of Lights takes place at James Island County Park, located at 871 Riverland Drive across the Ashley River in Charleston. It’s open every evening from now through New Year’s Eve (aka December 31st), rain or shine. Hours to see the lights are 5:30 p.m. through 10:00 p.m.
Not surprisingly, they’ve tweaked some things from years past, due to the pandemic.
The main part of the Festival of Lights is driving in your car through the 750 different themed light displays. In a way, this is well-suited to being socially distant, since you see the sights from the safety of your vehicle. You can drive past a vast array of traditional holiday scenes, unique Lowcountry subjects like the old Cooper River Bridges and the “new” Ravenel Bridge, Rainbow Row and a Charleston single house, along with themed areas like Candy Land, Toy Land, Sea Land and Dinosaur Land.
The drive-through tour is the main event, and that remains unchanged. In fact, this year it will be bigger and better than ever. However, due to COVID, you are encouraged to remain in your car. They will have a special drive-thru area where you can purchase concessions like snacks and hot chocolate.
Park staff will sell tickets at the front gate, as usual. But this year for the first time, they are offering advance online ticket purchasing through their website, in an effort to encourage contact-free transactions. Tickets are $20 per vehicle, for up to 15 guests.
The Santa’s Village area with the Santa’s Attic gift shop will not be open at night, but it will be open for day visits from 9:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. You can also pre-book (online) a reservation to take photos with Santa Claus during the day.
The weekends tend to be the most crowded, so organizers encourage you to visit during the day of possible.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger
This weekend, watch some gorgeous horses race while tailgating to your heart’s content at the Steeplechase of Charleston.
Steeplechase horseracing is a time-honored tradition around the Lowcountry, dating back to the 1700’s. It involves horses and their riders navigating as fast as they can over a course filled with four-foot high jumps.
As with other sports, there’s an annual season. Event locales include Aiken and Camden in South Carolina as well as Saratoga Springs, New York. The Charleston event marks the culmination of the steeplechase season.
Previously it was known as the Charleston Cup. A few years ago, some hardy devotees along with the Post & Courier took over the reins, revamping and rebranding it as the Steeplechase of Charleston.
This will be the 5th official running of the Steeplechase of Charleston. It’s happening all day this coming Sunday, November 15th from 8:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. The location is The Plantation at Stono Ferry Racetrack, 5000 Old York Course Road in Hollywood, SC. Here’s the official website.
They’ll run five high stakes races with $65,000 prize money up for grabs. There will be the beloved Vendor Village, complete with 100% touchless environment. And then there’s the tailgating. Folks in the Lowcountry know how to tailgate with class, and at the Steeplechase of Charleston, they tends to pull out all the stops. It’s a place to see and be seen.
It comes as no surprise that they’ve tailored the event this year to make it as safe as possible. Basically, they’ve reduced ticketing capacity by 50%, so people can socially distance on the 60-acre facility. Also, this year you will purchase tickets as part of a tailgating “pod,” if you will. Here’s how they describe the new parameters:
The weather looks to be lovely for the event, with temps in the mid-70’s. Click here to purchase tickets.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger
The votes have been tallied, and the official new Cooper River Bridge Run poster has been chosen.
It’s an encouraging sign that spring events are coming back on track for 2021. The annual Cooper River Bridge Run is on schedule for this coming March, and it’s full steam ahead.
This is especially exciting since the 2020 incarnation of the race never happened. It was scheduled for April 4th, 2020. Due to COVID, organizers postponed it to August 1st, adding in a virtual option. Then, as the date drew closer, organizers made the difficult decision to cancel it altogether.
But 2021 is looking up. The 44th annual Cooper River Bridge Run will take place March 27, 2021.
Each year, they have a design competition to decide the following spring’s official Cooper River Bridge Run poster. It ends up not just on posters around town but also on Bridge Run merch like T-shirts, hats and totes. As I covered in this blog, they also opened up the competition to a People’s Choice vote.
Well, for the first time ever, they have a repeat winner! Congrats to Joe Wilhite, who won last year’s contest for the 2020 poster, and won again this time. It seems only fair since hopefully this time he will see it all come to fruition and all over town. See his design above.
Here’s more about Joe Wilhite, also the winner of the 2020 Design Contest, from the official Bridge Run website:
Joe Wilhite is a graphic designer and currently employed at Nelson Printing, located in Charleston, SC. He was born in Sarasota, Florida and moved to the Lowcountry after serving in the United States Marines. Joe was medically discharged in 2005. In 2015, the Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Department gave him the opportunity to go back to school. He attended and graduated from the Art Institute of Charleston in 2018, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Graphic Design.
Joe’s intention with his winning Cooper River Bridge Run painting was to convey the excitement of the Cooper River Bridge Run while highlighting the beauty of the Lowcountry. To build his composition, Joe began with a collage of photos he then edited using only the lines of the bridge as guides. He then digitally hand painted the canvas using watercolor brushes.
The rising sun just over the horizon was intended to represent the luminous morning of the race. The sky filled with cotton candy like clouds brighten the canvas with shades of yellow and orange. The bright white which highlights the Bridge, almost appears to come off the canvas. As your eyes move forward, the bridge begins to fade off into the distance. You notice the Cooper River surrounding the Ravenel Bridge with unblended tones of blue, lavender orange and yellow. His sharp fluidity skips off the brush mimicking the lapping surface of the river. He executed each dab and stroke with a specific purpose and are distinct in a brilliant way.
For more of Joe’s work, visit: Designsbyjoe.myportfolio.com
As I covered in this blog, SCDNR has been offering both online webinars and extremely popular saltwater fishing clinics.
Well, one of each is coming up.
This Thursday, November 12th at 3:00 p.m. SCDNR hosts a new webinar entitled, “The Long Journey: How Arctic-Nesting Shorebirds Use South Carolina.”
Here’s how they describe it: “Many shorebirds undertake fantastic migrations each year from nesting grounds in the Arctic to wintering sites as far south as the southern tip of South America. This presentation will highlight shorebird natural history from nesting sites on the tundra, to wintering sites on beaches in South Carolina and the incredible flights that shorebirds make each year to reach these destinations. One species of interest, the red knot, stops on our coast during spring migration to feed on coquina clams and horseshoe crab eggs. Location information from SCDNR tracking projects suggests that two-thirds of the red knots in South Carolina fly directly to Arctic habitat after leaving South Carolina beaches. This information identifies South Carolina beaches as very important for red knot and other shorebird species’ survival.”
Also, this Monday from 10:00 am till 1:00 p.m. is yet another chance for you and your family to learn more about fishing in the ocean. It’s another Saltwater Family Fishing Clinic in the Lowcountry. Click here to register.
So start making plans for the 2021 Cooper River Bridge Run. It’s not too early to book one of our luxury beach house rentals SC. Just give us a call at Exclusive Properties and we’ll get you on the calendar.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger
Thanksgiving dinner to go is an idea whose time has come.
Holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, but they sure can be a lot of work.
Why not let someone else cook your Thanksgiving dinner?
Leave the prepping and cooking to others. You can pick it up or have it delivered, then serve it at your leisure in your home or vacation rental. Someone else does the work, you get the credit. It’s a win-win.
As I covered in an earlier blog, several local Lowcountry businesses offer terrific Thanksgiving dinner options. But large chain companies are also jumping on the bandwagon, offering Thanksgiving dinner for pickup or delivery.
Here are five great options for a delicious Thanksgiving dinner in your home, prepared by larger companies with locations in the Lowcountry.
Whole Foods is offering a “Festive Feast for 12” for just under $300.
Included are all the favorites, like a Classic Roast Whole Turkey, Spiral-Sliced Ham with Maple-Bourbon Glaze, Green Beans with Roasted Shallots, Creamed Spinach and Kale, Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Sage, Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Traditional Herb Stuffing, Turkey Gravy, Spiced brown sugar ham glaze, Cranberry Orange Sauce, Brioche rolls, Apple Pie, and Pumpkin Pie.
That’s the standard classic menu, but they offer many other variations as well. You can opt instead for organic, turkey breasts or whole turkeys, apple-brined smoked turkey, a whole vegan menu (by Chef Chloe Coscarelli), or even paleo options. Other choices include Butternut Squash Soup, Creamy Cauliflower and Apple Soup Shooters, Prime Rib, or Szechuan-style Cornish Game Hens. You can also order in smaller quantities – for two, four, or eight people. Prices scale down with size.
Pick up is any time between November 19th and November 26th. They ask for 48 hours notice ahead of your pickup time. Whole Foods has a couple locations around the Charleston area, including one in West Ashley. The East Cooper Whole Foods nearest the Isle of Palms is located at 923 Houston Northcutt Boulevard in in Mount Pleasant. You can call and place your order by dialing them at (843) 971-7240.
Harris-Teeter offers what is probably the very best deal around for your Thanksgiving dinner. As an added plus, their holiday meals are available in three versions – turkey, ham, or prime rib – so they work throughout the holidays. You just might want to consider them not just for Thanksgiving but for Christmas or New Years as well. Last year when they ran this deal, each option was only $49.99.
Here are their holiday meal choices:
Turkey Dinner (serves 8 – 10) – 9 to 12 lb. Fully Cooked Butterball Turkey, 2 lb. Fresh Cornbread Dressing, 2 lb. Green Bean Casserole, 2 lb. Fresh Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, 16 oz. Turkey Gravy, and 18 oz. Cranberry Relish.
Ham Dinner (serves 8 – 10) – 7 to 9 lb. Fresh Harris Teeter Spiral Sliced Ham, 2 lb. Sweet Potato Casserole, 2 lb. Fresh Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, and 2 lb. Green Bean Casserole.
Prime Rib Dinner (serves 6 – 8) – 4 lb. Fresh Boneless Prime Rib, 2 lb. Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, 2 lb. Fresh Sweet Potato Casserole, and 2 lb. Green Bean Casserole.
There’s a Harris-Teeter right on the Isle of Palms, as well as numerous other locations all around Mount Pleasant and Charleston. Reach the IOP location on Palm Boulevard at (843) 886-6506.
Costco is offering an interesting Thanksgiving dinner option in conjunction with food company, Schwan’s. Schwan’s has been in the frozen meal delivery business for a long time, well before many of the other companies out there today.
They are offering an eight-person Thanksgiving dinner, shipped directly to you, frozen. No pickup is necessary. No pesky thawing needed, either. You cook it straight from frozen!
This Thanksgiving Meal costs just $104.99 to serve eight, with enough for leftovers. And if you act soon, they’re offering a special discount. Order by midnight November 19th and get a $15 discount, making the whole meal just $89.99.
Here’s what comes in the shipment: two 2.5 lb. Ready-to-Roast turkey breast (5 pounds total, yielding approximately 20 servings), 2.5 pounds of creamy mashed potatoes & gravy (approx.10 servings), 2 pounds of roasted sweet potatoes (serves 10), 28 ounces of extra gravy (14 servings), two 12 oz. bags of MicroSteam whole green beans (12 servings), 36 oz. of super-sweet corn (11 servings), southern-style biscuit dough (18 biscuits), traditional 9 inch pumpkin pie (serves 8), old fashioned 10 inch apple pie (serves 12), classic vanilla ice cream 56 fluid ounces (serves 11).
There are a couple caveats. First, you must have a membership. Because it’s perishable, they don’t ship over the weekend. They only ship on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, for Wednesday through Friday deliveries. If you order after noon on a Wednesday, it won’t ship till the following Monday. Read more here.
Popeye’s is of course famous for their fried chicken, and for their hot Cajun Louisiana spices that really kick things up a notch. They created a national stampede for a hard-to-find fried chicken sandwich a while back. That thing was good.
Well, Popeye’s has brought back something they’ve done before, for Thanksgiving. It’s their signature Cajun Style Turkey. Their turkey is infused and carefully hand rubbed with special hot Louisiana spices, precooked, and ready to eat. It should serve up to ten people, depending on how hungry they are. The cost is $39.99.
Popeye’s highly recommends pre-ordering your Cajun Style Turkey to ensure it’s ready for your festivities. You can also purchase a la carte sides like mashed potatoes and gravy. Most stores are currently taking Thanksgiving orders for both turkeys and sides. Read more from USA Today.
Cracker Barrel is known for their good home cooking, and Thanksgiving dinner is no exception. They’re offering a special Heat ‘n’ Serve Holiday Family Meal with all the fixins.’ You can buy them in various sizes depending on how many people you need to feed. The large one that serves ten people costs $139.99; dinner for four to six is $69.99. Heating them up at home takes a maximum of about two hours, until your house smells great and they are ready to serve.
Their Heat ‘n’ Serve Holiday Family Meal includes two oven-roasted turkey breasts, dressing, gravy, cranberry relish, your choice of three of their famous Country Sides (each of which serves 10), yeast rolls, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie.
They also serve a version with ham instead of turkey.
Cracker Barrel asks for at least 24 hours’ notice for orders, which you can pick up from November 21st through November 29th, while supplies last. As a special perk, if you schedule pickup for November 23rd or 24th, you’ll get a free $10 Bonus Card that will be valid at any Cracker Barrel in January and February. Read more on their website.
So if you don’t feel like cooking for Thanksgiving, you’re in luck. You definitely have several great options to save you the hassle and have a delicious meal in your Charleston beach house. And to book that beach house, just give us a call.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger
The good folks at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources are at it again, this time teaching us all about oysters.
Oyster season is officially here. The Lowcountry is all about this delectable mollusk. The backyard oyster roast is a local tradition of the nth degree and a must-do for visitors and newcomers.
Once the air turns cool, there’s nothing quite like shucking steamed oysters with friends around a big outdoor table. Make sure to grab a glove and an oyster knife, and go at it. Saltines and cocktail sauce are optional. A nice accompanying beverage is not. Or check out the Lowcountry Oyster Festival, the largest on planet Earth!
As I covered previously, the SCDNR is sponsoring a fun series of virtual programs called, “”Bringing the Outside In: Ways to connect with the outdoors while staying indoors!” They started the series a few months ago, running them through the summer. They proved to be so popular that they keep extending them and adding more options.
Outside In webinars take place each Thursday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. They last about an hour. There is no charge, but you do need to register to take part live. By attending live, you can ask questions and chat with the educators.
Webinars cover all sorts of interesting facets of the natural world in the state of South Carolina. Many are geared toward life along the coast and waterways. This week, they’re focusing on just that.
Oysters: Completing the Cycle is the name of this week’s webinar. It’s this Thursday, November 5th from 3:00 p.m. till 4:00 p.m.
Here’s the official description:
Shellfish harvest season is here. Please join us to learn the different ways that SCDNR manages South Carolina’s economically and ecologically beneficial oyster resources and how you, the public, play an essential role. We will cover how you can find and use the proper locations and techniques to harvest oysters sustainably, our state’s oyster shell recycling program and SCDNR’s restoration efforts. SCDNR is tasked with managing the state’s more than 5,000 acres of oyster resource for the benefit of the state’s estuarine resources, the enjoyment of its citizens and visitors as well as managing the commercial and recreational industries.
SCDNR offered Saltwater Family Fishing Clinics this summer, and they proved to be wildly popular. As a result, they’ve added another one to take place this weekend – Saturday, November 7th. There is no charge, but you must RSVP, which you can do here.
Our Family Fishing Clinics are an introductory class to fishing. This clinic will tech skills on how to tie fishing knots, how to rig a rod and reel and casting — and the best part is everyone will get to try their hand at fishing. Ages four and up are welcome, so come out and play, enjoy the outdoors and make this a family fun day! You must RSVP to attend.
Details for the event:
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger