In the Lowcountry -- where snow falls but once every few years -- there's certainly no harm in decorating a little early for Christmas.
In fact, it can do a lot of good.
St. Peter's Historic Church and five homes in The Point neighborhood in Beaufort are decked out and ready for hundreds of visitors for the 12th Annual Homes for the Holidays tour to benefit St. Peter's Catholic School.
"Traditional is the theme this year, so there's lots of natural, lots of Lowcountry," tour co-chairwoman Elizabeth Dardes said. "It's a great way to gather ideas and get started on your own decorating."
The gala Friday and tours on Saturday and Sunday are the main fundraiser for the school's tuition-assistance fund. Last year, Homes for the Holidays raised $44,000. The year before, it raised $50,000, Dardes said.
About 40 percent of children at the school receive some financial assistance through the fund, according to Dardes.
"A lot of families want a faith-based education for their kids, but they can't afford it," she said.
Among the new and historic homes on the tour this year is the two-year-old home of state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, which will be decorated by Laura Tucker.
Local decorators volunteer to adorn each home on the tour, giving them a chance to demonstrate their skills, display items available for sale at local businesses and offer to guests ideas for decorating their own homes, tour co-chairwoman Mary Cunningham said. The homeowners can choose to purchase and keep up the decorations after the tour, a benefit Cunningham points out when recruiting participants.
She said more than 100 volunteers make the weekend possible -- from docents at each home to school parents who bake cookies and treats that will be available at the historic church at 710 Carteret St.
"I'm just excited the community embraces St. Peter's the way it does," she said.
The church underwent renovations in 2012, and this is the first time in years it is being extensively decorated for Christmas, Dardes said.
"Maggie Engstrom is doing the church," she said. "It will be done in a subtle way, with Lowcountry materials -- very, very tastefully done."
All the homes are within a three- or four-block area, but Dardes hopes people will branch out and wander the downtown historic and commercial district, as well.
"We want people to be downtown and to go downtown and see Beaufort itself, as well as the houses," she said.
Video: Decorating St Peter's Catholic Church (:44)Jay Karr
If you go
The gala, $75, is 7 p.m. Friday at St. Peter's Catholic Church, 70 Ladys Island Drive. It includes live music by The Maxx, a silent auction, dinner and a bar.
Tours, $25, are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and noon to 3 p.m. Sunday. Five professionally decorated new and historic homes in The Point, along with the recently renovated St. Peter's Historic Church on Carteret Street, are included. Tickets can be purchased in person at Sweet Bay or Laura Tucker Designs.
Tickets and information: 843-522-6510, stpeters-church.org
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.
- Private homes open their doors during 11th annual Beaufort Homes for the Holidays Tour, Nov. 13, 2012
- Church fundraiser kicks off season with tour of area residences, Nov. 12, 2011
- St. Peter Catholic Church preps for annual Homes for Holidays Gala and Tour, Nov. 13, 2010
- St. Peter's Historic Chapel unveils, dedicates historic marker, Nov. 14, 2013