It was our second year of our extended family traveling to a new destination for the holidays and Christmas in Charleston definitely did not disappoint! We spent our days eating entirely too much cheese, playing games, walking on the beach, watching movies, and just enjoying some quality time with one another. We also tested out a couple new activities which I’ll explain below since I have a feeling they’ll become annual traditions!



We stayed in a house on Isle of Palms just a block from the beach and a 25-minute drive to downtown Charleston. The weather was fantastic for most of our trip so we took long family walks with the dogs every afternoon. Inside the house we pushed two long tables together to create one huge dining table which was perfect for dinner and nightly games of Speak Out (you need to play if you haven’t already!).



We also spent a day exploring downtown Charleston — I had been a couple years ago but I wanted to make sure everyone got to see the South of Broad neighborhood and all the colorful houses on Rainbow Row. I pretty much spammed my followers on Snapchat (@designdarling) with all my favorite houses but there were just too many to keep to myself. 😁 We also picked up the yummiest souvenirs from Candlefish — their candle library is the stuff dreams are made of.




Grandy turned 89 this past summer, though you’d never know it by how totally “with it” she is. She has the best sense of humor of anyone I know and keeps begging for great-grandchildren even though none of her grandchildren are married yet. My family’s dog Coach turned 13 this year and we feel pretty lucky to still have him too! He is truly the best behaved little pup in the world… Rory could learn a few things from him. 😋 Grandy is needlepointing a leash and collar for Rory to wear on our wedding day and I know they will be keepsakes we’ll cherish forever. 💙



One of our new traditions came from Will’s parents, who joined our family Christmas for the second year in a row! They created a Christmas trivia game where we divided into teams of two (with the two of them as judges) and did our best to answer questions on a sheet of paper before passing to the next team to have our sheet graded. My Aunt Kathy and I actually won (which I would so not have guessed!), largely thanks to her knowledge of Christmas movies and my having seen A Christmas Carol with Will’s parents the week before. 😉 I’m not sure if Will’s parents anticipated how much we would love trivia because now everyone wants them to come up with 70 more questions next year! 😂




On Christmas Eve it was so beautiful outside that my mom suggested a cocktail hour on the balcony / roof of the house. That meant we also got perfect golden hour lighting for a bunch of family photos! Above I’m with my cousins Chelsea, Sarah, and Emily and my sister Reilly. A bunch of you asked about my cable knit peplum sweater (also available in black!) which I’ve worn previously here.



Our second new tradition was initiated by my brother Grayson (far right above) and borrowed from the movie Dan in Real Life, which is for some reason one of my mom’s all-time favorite movies. Anyway it’s a guys vs. girls crossword puzzle challenge and I’m embarrassed to say that the boys’ team won this year… All the more reason to have a rematch next year!



Other games our family is obsessed with (maybe we’re a little too competitive?!) include Catchphrase, Bananagrams, Heads Up, and Scrabble. I’d love to hear if your family has any favorite games so we can add them to the mix next year!



We did have a little trouble tracking down lobster in Charleston so we wound up eating salmon and swordfish on Christmas Eve which was fine by me! And my Aunt Jill followed my grandfather’s recipe for Bûche de Noël, hands down my favorite dessert in the entire world. It’s honestly a good thing we only have it once a year!



It was such a fun-filled trip! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season filled with all kinds of new memories and traditions and I can’t wait to see what the new year has in store for all of us. I’ll be back tomorrow with a big announcement so stay tuned!!!

P.S. See last year’s Christmas trip here!


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  1. Maybe I’m just an overly emotional dog owner and family lover, but the fact that your grandmother is needlepointing Rory a leash and collar for your wedding day is the cutest thing I have EVER heard!!! What a special gift. You should shadow box frame it afterward! Or at least have your photog take some portraits of Rory and your grandmother.

    My husband’s only regret from our wedding is that we got married before we got our precious dog Heidi. He would have focused the entire reception and ceremony around her if she was already part of our family!

  2. Sounds so fun! And I love the UNC shirt! Go Heels!

    My family is also hugely competitive and likes to play card games, so our go-to is Spite and Malice. SO fun and we’ve played with up to 12 people on two teams before.

    Thanks for sharing + happy holidays!


  3. “Telestrations” is a game my family and I love to play! It’s even better if you’re bad at drawing like I am. Glad you had a good holiday season! Charleston is beautiful.

    1. I was going to suggest this too!! My family LOVES telestrations and it’s hysterical to play as a bad artist.

  4. Love this recap! Charleston is my favorite place in the entire world, and I love when I see anyone else loving it too! Hope your 2017 is full of love and happiness!