One of the things I’ve always liked best about the south are the mild temperatures we enjoy year round. Perhaps no other time is this more enjoyable than in the holiday season, when festive activities and special events can be enjoyed both outdoors and in.

So if, like me, you’re dreaming of a white sand Christmas instead of the traditional snow, here are a few ideas to get you in the spirit without needing to get into a parka.

It's the Happiest Season of All

Many coastal towns come to life in December with family events, unique experiences and festive lighting. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is no exception, with seasonal events peppering each day from early November to early January. A visitor on any budget can enjoy all the area has to offer this time of year with a variety of accommodation deals, at up to 40 percent off normal rates.

There'll Be Parties for Hosting 

The event locals and visitors alike seem to look forward to most of all this time of year is the Night of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens. As if the acres upon acres of expertly maintained gardens and beautiful sculptures isn’t enough, for three weekends in December the attraction turns into one of the best light displays in the country as hundreds of volunteers hand-light 5,500 candles throughout the gardens, in addition to thousands of twinkling lights. The event also includes carolers singing, live music, hot cider, food and beverages. 

Marshmallows for Toasting

Toasting marshmallows is just one of the fun activities at the Myrtle Beach State Park’s annual Christmas event, which features story times with a park twist, reindeer relay races and games, marine-inspired carnival games, and a Santa sea star search. The main event, though, is the big man himself: Santa will be available on the beach for holiday photos. You can bring your own camera to capture a truly unique Christmas photo of the entire family (yes, Santa loves pets too!).

And Caroling out in the … Show 

The legendary Carolina Opry and Alabama Theatre transform their show, stage and theatre experience to a Christmas wonderland beginning November 2. From the moment you step in the door, you’ll feel in the holiday spirit, with gorgeous decorations donning every corner and strings of lights in every direction. The shows themselves feature songs, entertainment, comedy and dancing that evoke the spirit of Christmas. It’s a tradition many visitors enjoy every year.