Christmas in Charleston, SC — when a friend suggested a last minute trip to the Holy City I just couldn’t resist. Charleston is one of America’s most beautiful cities and for me, has always epitomized the best of Southern hospitality, grace and style. And I’m just talking about the homes and the people. I haven’t even gotten to the amazing food.
The best way to really enjoy and see the city is on foot. Although often hot, Charleston is flat (it is the low country after all) which means the walking is easy. I’d guess that your neck — strained to take in the towering homes and church steeples — will tire well before your legs.
I can’t decide which aspect of the homes I love the most — the piazzas or the small, jewel-box gardens — both just waiting to host morning brunch, an afternoon tea or cocktails before a sit-down supper inside.
What would it be like to live, entertain and be entertained in Charleston? Catherine H. Forrester generously shares a peak into this world in her book, At Home ~ Charleston. This cook and entertaining book is really a celebration of her grandmother, Juliette Wiles Staats, a true hostess with the mostest who kept detailed records of all of her entertaining efforts in six, leather-bound party books. Mrs. Staats’ records begin Christmas,1955 and end December, 1987 and contain details each of her parties: menus, guest lists, seating arrangements, table decorations and party location. Most of the location entries are: at Home ~ Charleston. Let’s pause and savor that for a moment — six, leather bound party books detailing 32 years of entertaining in Charleston. Talk about inspiration!
I’ve tried to keep a journal of parties and entertaining in the past but it’s been a bit hit and miss. Perhaps it was the journal — bargain volumes picked up at Home Goods. This New Year, inspired by Ms. Forrester, Mrs. Staats and the beautiful Charleston, I resolve to do more entertaining and to diligently mark each occasion with an entry into my own party book. The version I found that is perhaps closest to Mrs. Staats is from Executive Leather.
For more Charleston entertaining and garden inspiration I recommend:
Mrs. Whaley and Her Charleston Garden by Emily Whaley
Charleston Receipts, edited by The Junior League of Charleston