On tap this week are crafty gatherings, a film about sustainable food, music from the future of opera, a day trip to explore beautiful churches and a boat ride down Houston's urban waterways.
More than just a list of what to do and where to be, the links below each event suggestion lead to a page with helpful features where you'll be able to download the information to your electronic calendar and learn about shopping, restaurants, bars and other amenities nearby your final destination.
Annual Ornament-Making Extravaganza
If you are the do-it-yourself type, or can't draw a thing to save your life, this hands-on ornament palooza is designed for the artistically gifted and the aesthetically challenged. Either way, artists will help adults create holiday trinkets mused by some of the works of art on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Materials will be provided, live music by the Gulf Coast Harpers will liven the ambiance, and light bites will keep you refreshed. What else would you want?
Film screening: Eating Alabama
No doubt the gift-giving holidays are also the eat-everything-in-sight season. Eating Alabama, which was screened at SXSW 2012, delves into matters of food in the South through a self-imposed challenge by director Andrew Beck Grace to try to eat only locally grown food.
After the screening, visitors can partake in dialogue with the director and folks from Urban Harvest and The Last Organic Outpost while enjoying nibbles from Whole Foods Market and suds from Saint Arnold Brewing Company.
Houston Grand Opera Studio Recital at Rienzi
Beyond the superb professional productions that HGO stages at Wortham Theater Center, the performing arts presenter is also a hub for emerging opera stars on the verge of making it big onto the international scene. At the intimate concert series at Rienzi, the HGO Studio Artists are front and center, up-close and personal, singing arias and art songs that evince their promise of a tuneful future.
Think about it: Wouldn't you love to be able to say, I knew them when . . . ? A wine and sweets reception follows the performance.
Architecture Center Houston and AIA Houston Painted Churches Tour
More than the image conjured up by the term "bible belt," religious buildings in the Hill Country run a gamut of colors when it comes to spiritual beliefs and practices. The city of Schulenburg, known for its painted churches stemming from the Czech tradition, reveals a deep history of immigrants who made Texas their home.
As part of Architecture Center Houston's and AIA Houston's "Sacred Spaces of Texas" exhibition, this guided tour opens the doors to treasures made by newcomers in hopes of bringing a part of their heritage back to the big Texas landscape.
Buffalo Bayou Partnership's 2012 Christmas Cruises
While everyone under the sun is hosting a holiday-themed party after party, Buffalo Bayou Partnership offers a view of Houston's spirit under street level through the waterways that birthed the nickname the Bayou City. Hop aboard a merrily decorated, brightly lit pontoon boat and learn about the network of serene streams where a diverse ecosystem thrives thanks to the nonprofit's conservation efforts.
Staff writer and savvy Houston explorer Whitney Radley's pick: End of the World Tasting and Annual Wholesale Event
Whitney says: "The world may or may not be ending on Dec. 21. If it's not, you'll need the perfect varietal to impress the potential in-laws at holiday dinner. If it does, you'll want to take advantage of the intervening days to get sufficiently bacchanal.
"Either way, the End of the World Tasting and wholesale event at 13 Celsius will serve your needs."
Staff writer and design savant Tyler Rudick's pick: Houston Mod's "Mod of the Month"
Tyler says: "Be sure to check out December's "Mod of the Month" event, Houston Mod's regular open house series highlighting the city's impressive array of mid-century architecture. This weekend, the preservation group is exploring five homes in and around Glenbrook Valley, a vintage 1950s neighborhood teeming with flat-roofed mod homes just waiting to be restored."
The deets: Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m.; meet at 8102 Wilmerdean St.; event is free.
Arts smarty pants and in-the-loop tuneful maven Nancy Wozny's pick: Houston Chamber Choir presents "Christmas at the Villa"
Nancy says: "It's not the holidays without singing, tremendous singing, not those neighborhood carolers, but the heavenly voices of Houston Chamber Choir, who will be putting on an extraordinary show, 'Christmas at the Villa,' at the famed Chapel of the Villa de Matel.
"Enchanted voices in an enchanted space, what more could you want? How about a Grammy Award-winning vocalist Cynthia Clawson? She will be there too."