Welcoming the holiday season with mocktails and zebras 

Sleigh Bells Ring

We tend to forget that not everyone is a lush like us, so the concept of a "mocktail party" seemed a bit foreign to our booze-addled brains. But here's the secret for those who are not abstaining: the local ladies from Sociale Mocktails encourage spiking their products. Tara Derr Webb and Kimberly Tall created the line of tasty mocktails and threw a party last Friday to introduce the product to the public. DJ Professor Ping was spinning some Diplo as we walked into the fête at Rebekah Jacob Gallery, and we noticed the gang from Fuzzco trying to start the dance party. Before getting too entranced in the music, we steered toward the bar. The Sociale drinks come in flavors inspired by cocktails — cosmopolitan, margarita, mojito, and lavender martini — so it's only natural that they are extra delectable when adding spirits.

Butcher and Bee set up a luscious spread of deviled eggs, steak tartare, kale Caesar rolls, and chili popcorn. After sampling everything, we were later embarrassed to ask Charleston Wine + Food Festival Executive Director Angel Postell if we had anything green in our teeth before introducing ourselves. We tried a few more of the Sociale flavors and were delighted that our pregnant friends could cheers us with something more exciting than water at the party.

We settled on a more wholesome activity for our Saturday evening and attended the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in Marion Square. Fathers wearing reindeer antlers chased their kids, and mothers in elf hats searched for a good spot in front of the stage. The Charleston Community Band played classic Christmas tunes to get everyone in the holiday spirit as they awaited Santa's arrival, followed by a performance from the Pan Jam steel drum band. Pretty soon the square was completely filled with families — Santa always draws a large crowd.

The Charleston Development Academy Singing Eagles belted out some contemporized classics for the crowd and had us shaking our hips. Miss Charleston Teen took the stage next and was followed by the Sparknotes from Ashley Hall. We love traditional celebrations of Christmas, but it was about this time we started to wonder how many more performances we'd have to sit through before Santa's arrival. We were amazed at the patience of all the children around us. After an adorable rendition of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" and a performance from the Robert Ivey Ballet, Mayor Riley took the stage. We thought surely Santa was next, but Riley said he couldn't make the ceremony because he was busy searching for his special Christmas giraffe. After some hijinks and magic, a real giraffe appeared in Marion Square. We weren't sure where city officials found the giant mammal or the zebras following him, but they weren't thrilled to be in our presence. The animals' appearance was brief, as they were noticeably frightened by the large crowds and confetti explosions marking Santa's arrival. But everyone forgot the long wait and skittish zoo creatures as soon as the large tree lit up. Then it was a race to be the first to photograph oneself under the twinkling lights.

We hoped the giraffe might make a reappearance in the parade on Sunday, but though there were no zoo animals, there were plenty of holiday revelers and floats on the unseasonably warm afternoon. Crowds gathered along the parade route hoping to see their favorites from the previous years. The pups from Carolina Basset Hound Rescue are always a big hit, as well as the Burke High School band. We were disappointed that there was no candy thrown from the floats, but we still had fun cheering for Charlie the RiverDog, the convoy of antique fire trucks, and the Lowcountry Highrollers. And everyone was happy when Santa finally made an appearance with his traditional (plastic) reindeer.

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