I'm sure that your Gmail and snail mail receptacles are overflowing with invitations to more charity fundraisers than in any previous season. Picking your way through those myriad party options can be a hit and miss unless you have some expert guidance.
Rather than give you a list of the not-to-be-missed events, this season I'm wrapping up the party landscape in categories so that you can pick and choose depending on your personal interests.
The upcoming charity season offers something for everyone whether your idea of money well-spent runs to medicine, the arts, education, saving animals, etc. You can spend your disposable income on events ranging from black-tie soirées to beer busts, from costume parties to dinners along Buffalo Bayou. This is just a sampling of the offerings on tap, few that might pique your interest.
Bayou Preservation Association 50th Anniversary Gala — With a fresh generation of chairs, Lindley Arnoldy and Brittany Cassin, this evening promises outdoor fun amid casual elegance. The Wednesday October 5 party will spread across the verdant acreage of a private home in Memorial where Buffalo Bayou provides the serene backdrop. But there will be nothing placid about the "Blues on the Bayou" evening featuring the sounds of KAOS and food stations dishing up Gulf Coast, Memphis and Cajun style fare. Details here.
The Jones Hall 50th Ball —Dubbed "A Mad Mid-Century Celebration and Concert," the evening will feature acclaimed violinist Itzhak Perlman performing with the Houston Symphony and will highlight the performing arts groups that have called it home — Houston Grand Opera, the Society for the Performing Arts, and Houston Ballet. When these folks say "Mid-century," they mean dress to the nines in Mad Men sartorial splendor. Vintage shops, where we come! The old school Lester Lanin Orchestra from New York will perform at the post-concert dinner in a fab party tent on Jones Plaza. Hubba hubba for chairs Alexandra and David Pruner and Jim Postl. Details here.
M.D. Anderson 75th Anniversary Gala — With almost three months to go, this event on Thursday, November 10, has already raised more than $11 million. With that kind of dinero and a diamond anniversary, you would expect a special evening. Indeed. This one takes place in a 51,000-square-foot, climate-controlled tent on the prairie at the southeast corner of Fannin and Holcombe. No ordinary tent, this one features a two-story glass window wall with views to the cancer center's main campus and the Texas Medical Center. It's going to be a very full night with sportscaster Craig Sager, journalist Bob Schieffer and actor Gerald McRaney on stage with an entertainment line-up that includes Reba McEntire, Yolanda Adams, Ana Maria Martinez, the Houston Symphony, the Houston Celebration Choir and The Tenors. Details at email@example.com.
Buffalo Bayou Partnership 30th Anniverary Gala — Also on Thursday, November 10, the swank Water Works at Buffalo Bayou Park will host the al fresco evening on the banks of the bayou with fab views of the downtown skyline. Zane and Brady Carruth and Gayle and Bob Eury chair the event dubbed "Leafing Through the Years." Details here.
Dressing Up — As in Costumes
Houston Bone Bash — The Arthritis Foundation holds this Halloween costume event in chapters all over the country and in recent years the Houston chapter has gotten seriously into the act. The action takes place on Friday, October 28, at Hotel Derek. Details here.
Boo Ball: The Lost Lagoon — Perhaps it's because this is a biennial event, but this is one costume party where guests really do go all out and in the process typically raise more than $1 million for Ronald McDonald House. The Halloween-themed action takes place Saturday, October 29, at the Hilton Americas-Houston. Details here.
Orange Show Gala — Few art collectors embrace costuming more enthusiastically than Lester Marks who, with his wife Dr. Penelope Marks, chairs the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art's 35th annual, wildly eccentric bash, this year dubbed "Mystery Masquerade." Dress rare or be square. The curtain goes up on the always-zany fun on Saturday, October 29, at the Crowne Plaza NRG. Details here.
The Bash: A Halloween Happening — The Easter Seals of Greater Houston crowd goes all out for this costume night. So if you're into demons, sexpots, buccaneers or dressing as your evil twin, Hotel ZaZa on Saturday, October 29, will be the place to party. Skyrocket will perform and DJ Damon will spin the discs. And the best costumes always win prizes. Details here.
Spiked by the Scoop — The young and the restless won't want to miss this second annual chef/mixologist boozy frozen treat throwdown which takes over CityCentre on Thursday, September 22. Yellow Rose Distilling is the exclusive whiskey and vodka sponsor at the event where guests vote on their favorite frozen treat while sampling craft cocktails and light bites. How sweet it is with Honeychild's Sweet Creams, Sweet & Mellow, Bosscat Kitchen, and Lee's Creamery part of the competing teams. Add Triniti/FM Burger, Karbach Brewing Company, Eddie V's Prime Seafood, The Capital Grille, Texas de Brazil, and more to the tasty mix. Details here.
Casa de Esperanza Young Professionals — This active, attractive YP group gets the season and Oktoberfest rolling with "Brats & Brews" fundraiser on Saturday, October 1, at GreenStreet. The area will be transformed into a green garden with live music, games including a Samuel Adams hoisting contest presented by Crossroads at the House of Blues, and, of course, plenty of beer. Details here.
The Taste of SPA — Society for the Performing Arts takes over the stage at Jones Hall on Tuesday, November 15, for a rocking young professional fete where top chefs shoot the breeze with guests. Light bites, DJ music and playful mingling make this a YP must. Welcoming the throng to party on the stage are chairs Mignon and Stephen Gill and Margaret and Brian Bravo. Details here.
Holiday Schmooze — Hosts Monsour Taghdisi and Henry Richardson, Greggory and Pat Burk, and Glenn Gonzalez and Steve Summers are shaking up the typically sedate evening benefiting Legacy Community Health. The ever-creative Taghdisi and Richardson are opening the doors, not to a private home which is tradition, but to their sleek event space Life HTX in Montrose. The date is Wednesday, December 7. Jackson and Company will provide the always exceptional party fare for the winter wonderland-themed evening with a special visit from Santa and give-aways throughout the night. Details here.
Best Cellars Celebrity Wine Dinner — Sophisticated foodies listen up. Three of the city's most acclaimed chefs — BCN's Luis Roger, Etoile's Philippe Verpiand, and Mark's Mark Cox — man the Viking stoves at Hotel ZaZa for a gourmet dinner accompanied by wines from private cellars, wines you will seldom see or be able to afford on a restaurant menu. Franelle Rogers chairs the event and Robert Sakowitz serves as wine host chairman. Nashville star Craig Campbell entertains at this benefit for the T.J. Martell Foundation. Details here.
Home Safe Home — With a dozen of the city's leading chefs lined up to put their best food forward, AVDA Houston is poised once again to deliver a seductive spread while raising funds to aid in the fight against domestic abuse. Previously held in swank private homes, the partying takes place at The Astorian on Wednesday, October 5. Mark Holley, Danny Trace, Kiran Verma and John Sheely are among the top toques that have signed on. With exuberant chairs such as Stacy and John Andell, Meg and Preston Kamin and Brooke and Jeffrey Wise, the turnout promises to be lively. Details here.
Urban Harvest Sunday Supper — This group puts on a mighty spread at Weights & Measures on Sunday, October 30, when chef Richard Kaplan joins forces with Bernadine's Graham LaBorde, El Meson's Peter Garcia, State of Grace's Bobby Matos, and Roost's Kevin Naderi. The chefs team up with local farms for this one-of-a-kind dinner. Providers on the team include Plant It Forward Farms, the Inn at Dos Brisas, Tejas Heritage Farms, Animal Farm, and Airline Seafood. Details here.
Signature Chefs Gala — Tastebuds will be tempted the moment you enter Revention Music Center on Wednesday, November 2, when more than two dozen chefs will be stirring their pots in an effort to please March of Dimes supporters. Brennan's Danny Trace is culinary honoree, which means the fat cats buying top tier tables will have a full dinner prepared by the Brennan's team. Those not digging that deep into their pockets will have the opportunity to graze through the myriad food offerings with fork and plate in hand. Movers and shakers Valerie and Tracy Dieterich and Jaci and Jim Smith chair the evening that honors Jana and Scotty Arnoldy. Details here.
Fashion X Houston presented by Cadillac — The founders of the insanely popular Austin Fashion Week and Fashion X Dallas are bringing their game to H-Town at Silver Street Studios, October 13-15, with three nights of runway shows featuring stars from Project Runway and emerging designers locally and internationally. Add the collection of pop-up shops for both men and women, presented in gallery form, for pre- and post-show shopping therapy. Details here.
Catwalk for a Cure — Saks Fifth Avenue brings designer Brandon Maxwell to town for the annual Amschwand Sarcoma Cancer Foundation dinner and fashion evening. The runway action takes place Thursday, November 3, at The Astorian. It's always an elegant night of pretty people. This year will be no exception with chairs Stephanie and Ernie Cockrell and Christine and Ty Hoffer. Details here.
Una Notte in Italia — Fun gals Stacey Soriero and Tiffany Wong chair and Debbie Festari serves as honorary chair for the most rockin' charity fashion show in town. Star athletes and big name businessmen strut their stuff in an energized show of fashions from Festari for Men. It's a delightfully raucous evening, this year set for Friday, November 4, at the Royal Sonesta. Bo's Place benefits. Details here.
Save the date
Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market — NRG Center once again morphs into a holiday wonderland for the 36th annual shopping extravaganza, November 9-13. Mary Alice Parmet chairs the event that will feature more than 280 merchants from across the country as well as special events — preview party, the Saks fashion show and luncheon, and Macy's fashion show and holiday brunch. The general admission tickets go on sale October 17 at all Randall's and Ticketmaster. Special event tickets and priority tickets are available by calling 713-535-3231. Details here.