Thanksgiving is more than gathering at the dinner table, satiating yourself with bird, stuffing, some sort of sweet potato concoction and the required pumpkin pie with whipped topping while gossiping about members of the family.
Though if your holiday plans veer in that direction, think of this as your survival guide to keeping you, your family and your guests occupied in hopes that they don't kill each other through the long holiday weekend.
Wortham Theater Center Tree Lighting Ceremony 2012
It's fitting that ballarina Amy Fote, as Sugar Plum Fairy, will light up the theater's 25-foot Christmas Tree. Fote is retiring from her twirling at the Houston Ballet. With the help of Mayor Annise Parker and KUHF's Elaine Kennedy, the yearly ritual brings holiday cheer to one of the city's hubs for artsy happenings. Music by Houston Grand Opera's HGOco and the Salvation Army Harbor Light Choir.
20th Annual TXU Energy Turkey Trot benefiting Sheltering Arms Senior Services
Why not fight off holiday weight gain by starting your holiday on the right step? The TXU Energy Turkey Trot hosts a 5K, 10K or wheelchair run/walk, and a 1K kids or seniors run/walk. Proceeds from the event help this Neighborhood Centers nonprofit provide support services to seniors.
63rd Annual Holiday Parade, presented by H-E-B
This Houston tradition looks fresh for its age. Beginning at Crawford and Texas and ending at Caroline and Walker, seven floats, five huge helium balloons, marching bands, musicians, cheerleaders and clowns will caravan while embracing the theme, "Celebrate! Holidays Around the World." Alongside a performance by Disney celeb Kenton Duty, the spectacle ushers entertainment by the Houston Ballet, Theatre Under the Stars and Houston Zoo — and many others.
Admission to the parade is free, though for the see-and-be-seen throng, there are still a handful of VIP seats available, front and center in the TV Zone on Crawford, adjacent to Minute Maid Park. For $80 (online only), guests are offered breakfast and reserved parking. Tickets for the other sections are sold out.
27th Annual Uptown Holiday Lighting
Rumors tell us that Santa will make a scheduled appearance at the Uptown Holiday Lighting, where half-a-million bulbs will illuminate the 80 trees that bedeck the shopping area with a green canopy. A fireworks display culminates the festive evening at 7 p.m.
Head to the Centre at Post Oak, Dillard's Garage, Williams Tower, Four Oaks Place, The Galleria, Post Oak Plaza and Post Oak Central for free parking.
Adding joyful tunes to the event are the Houston Concert Band, Houston Choral Showcase and Salvation Army Harbor Light Choir. The Hilton Houston Post Oak contributes merriment with the Annual Balcony Decorating Contest.
IKEA Houston Silver Screen at Discovery Green: A Christmas Story
Bring blankets, chairs and get comfy while enjoying a holiday classic film, A Christmas Story. Combine your visit by testing your grace at The Ice, which is opened through Jan. 27 ($12 includes skate rental and tax). On Saturday, 4-5 p.m., Santa makes an appearance on the slippery surface.
Annual Thanksgiving Concert with Cory Morrow and special guest Rosehill
A melange of country, bluegrass, swing and blues renders Cory Morrow a Texas favorite. If you need a respite from the traditional festivities, we are certain his raw vocals will re-energize you so you can continue to tolerate your visiting relatives.
Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo
A new tradition at the Houston Zoo is brightening up its wild campus. In addition to colorful lights, joyful tunes, funnel cakes, freshly baked cinnamon rolls, hot chocolate, pizza and sandwiches, visitors will view the tigers, lions, rhinos, giraffes, African wild dogs and ankole cattle at nighttime.
Seventh Annual Thanksgiving with Santa Celebration
Got kids? Keep them occupied with activities like designing a wild turkey caller, turkey and Thanksgiving trivia games, and making a fashionable hat or a lovely garland. Santa's sleigh will make a stop for families to pose for holiday mementos.
Galveston Holiday Lighting Celebration
Bigger is better, says the 35-foot Christmas tree on the front lawn of the Hotel Galvez. KHOU Ch. 11's morning anchor Lily Jang emcees as Santa arrives in a horse-drawn carriage to model for photos with little ones. Inside the hotel, check out chef Antonio Rodriguez's gingerbread creations. On tap are performances by the Galveston Ballet, Galveston College Community Chorale, Moody Festival Ringers and Clyde Wood.
Also on the island, many of the downtown businesses will offer special discounts and shopping deals. Preview this gift guide for ideas.
Home for the Holidays Gift Market and Festival of Lights
The three-day holiday shopping binge brings together more than 100 vendors offering adorable goods for the home, one-of-a-kind gifts, clothing, jewelry, candles, craft foods, accessories and more. VIP admission ($35) is available and includes access to a lounge with nibbles, adult beverages and hot cider. Parking is free for all guests. If you are there toward the late afternoon, stick around for the Festival of Lights.
Winter Wonderland, presented by Donoho's Jewellers
Following last week's International Winter On The Waterway Festival and the Lighting of the Doves, the season's spirit continues at Donoho's Jewellers Winter Wonderland. Lighted toy soldiers, elves, doves, musical angels and snowmen evoke a magical land of wonder.