You’ve made your list, and checked it twice–but wait! Your next-door neighbor shows up with a wrapped package…were you exchanging gifts this year? Never fear, because Mary Alice Monroe has some gorgeous Lowcountry gift suggestions that will be perfect for any stocking. And for more Christmas cheer, make sure you pick up a copy of A LOWCOUNTRY CHRISTMAS wherever books are sold! Over to you, Mary Alice…
A few things about me: I adore local art, handmade jewelry, a Firefly cocktail now-and-then, and I’m a coffee snob. The lowcountry region of Charleston, South Carolina is home to a plethora of local creatives who make memorable, charming, and cherished products that are perfect gifts for those special folks on your holiday shopping list. Need some last-minute ideas? Here’s a short list of some of my favorites:
For coffee, tea and spirits:
Charleston Coffee Roasters is my absolute favorite locally-roasted premium coffee company, which offers a variety of locally-roasted coffee beans that will satisfy every coffee drinker. It’s a taste of the Lowcountry that the coffee lover in your life will appreciate!
The Charleston Tea Plantation is a gem in the Lowcountry! It is the only brand of tea that is grown exclusively in America. With a large variety of tea flavors to choose from, this will be a gift enjoyed cup after cup.
Firefly Distillery is a homegrown business in rural Charleston, and is home to the original sweet tea vodka. Firefly offers a variety of high-quality vodka flavors, moonshines, whiskeys, and more. Our personal bar is never without Firefly!
South Carolina native Nathalie Dupree is a culinary icon in Charleston with a number of award-winning cookbooks. I own a few of them, and one of my favorites is her most recent one, Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking. It’s informative and entertaining to read and it’s chock-full of delicious, easy to follow recipes.
Olde Colony Bakery is a popular local bakery known for its delectable packages of benne wafers, a true Charleston treat! The store also sells a variety of Lowcountry products too that can make the perfect gift box for any occasion.
For book lovers:
The Lowcountry said goodbye to a literary king earlier this year, Pat Conroy. But his legacy lives on this season with a final nonfiction book titled A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life on store shelves now. It is a beautiful compilation of his letters, speeches, interviews, magazine articles and more that cover his writing life. You’ll laugh and likely cry too as you savor this unforgettable book.
My first ever holiday book, A Lowcountry Christmas, is one of those novels that flowed directly from my heart and mind onto the page, like a divine gift. And it is my gift to readers. This family saga is about a Marine who returns home from Afghanistan suffering from PTSD, but through the gift of a service dog, the family is led on a healing journey to rediscover their strengths, family bonds and the true spirit of Christmas. PTSD is a hard-hitting topic, but like my favorite holiday film, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, the ending is inspiring and fulfilling. And it’s printed in a gift-size hardcover…perfect for a stocking!
For nature lovers:
For anyone familiar with my novels, of course I’m including loggerhead sea turtles! My go-to source for specials gifts for children and friends is photographer and my fellow turtle team member Barb Bergwerf. Her website, Carolina Sea Turtles, offers plush sea turtles, turtle art, official Island Turtle Team T-shirts, sea turtle calendars, and more. I have gotten my grandchildren and friends’ children wonderful gifts from here many times.
I think “experiences” make incredible gifts! Barrier Island Eco Tours in my Isle of Palms community offers up memorable outdoor adventures from sunset dolphin cruises, fishing trips, blue crab catching excursions, and so much more. It’s always a crowd pleasing outdoor experience!
For fashion lovers:
Spartina 449 is based out of Hilton Head, SC and makes gorgeous women’s handbags, accessories and jewelry. I adore their variety of coastal colors, styles, and patterns.
Sweet Charleston Designs is a custom hand-made jewelry maker in the Lowcountry whose work I admire. Their collections are inspired by the rich history of sweetgrass basketweaving in Charleston. Their jewelry pieces are elegant and classic.
For something extra special:
My dear friend Mary Edna Fraser is a world-renowned textile artist known for her impressive batiks on silk here in Charleston. While much of her work is beyond the price range of a Christmas gift, she sells beautiful silk scarves featuring her impressive creations. It’s wearable art that anyone with a love for Lowcountry landscape would treasure.
And remember, the best gifts of all can’t be purchased. It seems as I get older, I realize that the most valuable, treasured present you can give someone is the gift of your time. I hope you get a chance to spend some quality time with loved ones this holiday season.
Mary Alice Monroe is a New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books. She lives on a barrier island outside of Charleston, SC. Her new novel, A Lowcountry Christmas, is in stores now. Learn more at maryalicemonroe.com.