Lowcountry decked out in holiday spirit

Special to the Packet and GazetteDecember 11, 2012 

Bluffton resident Sherry Eberhardt lights up the Windtree neighborhood with her holiday decorations.

PHOTO BY JESSICA SPARKS

While Sherry Eberhardt might not be a household name, her home in Windtree is a local landmark for many Bluffton residents and visitors.

"I had people who visit from Canada, and I just happened to be outside and she said, 'We just have to come by your house when we're here,'" Eberhardt said.

For more than 40 years, Eberhardt has been adding to her collection of over-the-top outdoor decorations for every holiday. She's been in the Hilton Head Island and Bluffton area since 1986, and her house has attracted attention from neighbors and visitors.

"I had a couple from Poland come up and take pictures (for Halloween) this year," she said.

While her biggest displays are for Christmas and Halloween, Eberhardt's favorite holiday is Easter.

"I love the critters," she said. "Easter's hard to find stuff."

As Christmas nears, many in the Lowcountry will join Eberhardt, adding lights to the outside of their homes and turning a typically snow-less season into a Winonderland for family, friends, neighbors and passersby.

Christmas season started for Dawn Kiritsy, owner of A Floral Affair on Hilton Head, immediately after Halloween.

Kiritsy and her staff are responsible for decorating many of the area's country clubs and neighborhoods including Hilton Head's Main Street. They also have a long list of residential clients who employ their services. The biggest difference between planning for residential versus commercial properties is the personal touch, Kiritsy said.

"I would think that a home is a lot more personal because people, they go out and they buy stuff," she said. "They've accumulated all these little things that they've seen and they want to decorate; whereas clubs, they may add to their decor but usually they kind of go traditional."

As people start shopping for items to add to their Christmas decorations, they'll notice more mercury glass and icicles, Kiritsy said.

Carol Beyma, one of the staff members at A Floral Affair, said the idea of the traditional tree topper also is changing. People also are trading in stars and Santas for ribbon and painted branches to add the extra sparkle to the top of the tree. The shop has a tree topped with live orchids.

"You don't have the traditional topper in there," Beyma said. "You can put anything you want to up there. If it's in your house and you really like something, you can put it on your tree. ... It's really about what the customer wants."

A Floral Affair also works on designer trees, which incorporate some of the year's hottest trends into the staple of a Christmas ensemble. Every year, the crew decorates one tree at The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa's annual Charity Celebration of Trees. About 20 organizations each decorate a tree, which is then auctioned off to raise money for a local charity. This year, the money will go to the Sandalwood Community Food Pantry. Bidding continues through Dec. 17.

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