Shelby About Town

Inside Houston's busiest party night of the year: From the Tudors to Qatar

Inside Houston's busiest party night of the year: From the Tudors to Qatar

Ah, the Saturday before Christmas — probably the busiest party night of the year. And probably one of the most coveted invitations on that night is to the Southampton home of Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, where no expense is spared for the merry makers.

The Tudors had primed their party pump 11 days earlier with the Center for AIDS Holiday Schmooze and while there was some overlap on Saturday night's guest list with that earlier fete there were new faces as well. The one constant was the fab holiday decor, traditional and understated, echoing the style of the elegant Tudor home.

The hosts manned the front door throughout the night as what seemed like hundreds of guests poured in. As we arrived, Houston Symphony CEO Mark Hanson and wife Christina had just entered the foyer where St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital board chair Scotty Arnoldy and wife Jana were already moving through. Houston Ballet managing director C.C. Conner and David L. Gruber mingled in the crowd that included Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Carol and Mike Linn, Kate Gibson, Franci and Jim Crane, Ceron, Mark Sullivan and Molly and Ford Hubbard

California heaters kept the night chill to a minimum as guests dined at cocktail tables outdoor or found real warmth in the glass party house overlooking the pool. Finding their various perches and loving the Jackson & Co. fare were guests including Kathryn and Jeff Smith, Bill Caudell and Randy Powers, Kimberly and Frank DeLape and Beth and Bryan Muecke.

Fashion faux pas

In nearby River Oaks, Cathy and Dr. Gary Brock joined forces with Phyllis Childress to host an ugly sweater open house that went on from 5 until 9 p.m. Highlight of this gathering was the arrival of Evelyn Fasnacht in her lighted Art Car, all done up with flying reindeer, lighted candy canes and rocking Christmas tunes blaring. (Look for this honey of a mobile in the New Year's Eve Gloworama.) We saw her tooling around the neighborhood again Monday night.

Inside the Brock home, there was plenty of color as well, with various guests digging deep into their closets or the Christmas shelves at Macy's and Dillard's for some amazing holiday sweaters. Houston Zoo director Rick Barongi and wife Diane Ledder, on the other hand, opted for simple sweaters while Sis Johnson, Dana Hurt, Nancy Ames, Gracie Cavnar and Jeanie Byrd dressed in colorful examples of Christmas fashion gone zany.

Birthday boys

The holiday focus took a back seat to birthdays for at least two parties on Saturday night. Houston Magazine editor-in-chief Jeff Gremillion celebrated his 40th with 150 friends at a lively house party at Upper Kirby Estates. Among the fashionable hosts were Todd Ramos, Ursaline Hamilton, Susan Plank, Gabriela Dror, Laura Spalding, Jacob Sudhoff, Michael Mandola and Mark Sullivan.

The partying throng included Cerón, Adam Kliebert, Marcy de Luna, Nic Phillips, Holly Waltrip, George Lancaster, Neal Hamil, Carolyn Farb and Monsour Taghdisi

In nearby River Oaks, Richard Mithoff blew out the candles on his 65th birthday cake at a party hosted at the swell contemporary home he shares with wife Ginni Mithoff.

Even Qatar

Yes, even the State of Qatar was in party mode Saturday night. But, of course, it had nothing to do with the holidays. Qatar Consul General Yousif Ali Al-Khater invited VIPs to the Hilton Post Oak for a celebration of the emirate's National Day. And with the recent naming of Qatar as site for the 2022 World Cup, you can imagine that the mood was very upbeat.

The guest list included former Ambassador to Qatar Chase Untermeyer and wife Diana, Byron Hood, Joan and Gene Tulich, Qatar Airways' Bob Peek and Kirsten Wilburn, Saudi Arabian Consul General Abdulrahman Alshaya, Joanne and Bill Crassas, Janice Harrison and Robbie de Vries.

A surefire blowout

That would be Jane Howze's 60th birthday bash Sunday night, held in the fab Tanglewood home that she shares with hubby John Mann. They welcomed guests from across the plain including Mountain Brook Alabama High School pal Carol Sawyer and husband Dr. Tom Sawyer, college friends that included Margaret and Dr. Ed Uthman and CultureMap editor-in-chief Clifford Pugh and law school friends Phyllis Stephenson, Joan Edwards and Sue Schechter.

And let's not overlook other well-wishers Ginni and Richard Mithoff, Jen and Dan Pickering, Lynda and John Irvine and Mary and Brad Robbins.

Sight 'ems

Very-well connected business partners Jim McGrath and Chris Begala entertaining friends and associates with a holiday party at Reef where the crowd included their clients attorneys Don Looper and Jim Reed of Looper Reed & McGraw and that firm's managing partner Cary Gray and wife Amber. Also in the mix: City Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck, Fred Zeidman, President Bush 41's chief of staff Jean Becker, Silver Eagle's Roxann Neumann and a host of media types including the Houston Business Journal's new editor Candace Beeke . . .

Randy Powers celebrating his birthday at Tony Mandola's Gulf Coast Kitchen with a lively group including Bill Caudell, John and Becca Cason Thrash, Greg Fourticq, Annie Amante, Holly Moore, Milton Townsend and Catherine and Dean Giuffre . . .

Karen Henry, Annie Amante, Suzanne Ebrahimi, Dr. Mary Riley, Becca Cason Thrash and Adriana Longoria exchanging gifts at Tony's where they celebrate with an annual Christmas lunch.

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The table was set with festive care in advance of Phoebe and Bobby Tudor's holiday bash. Photo by Gary Fountain
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River Oaks party-goers have been loving Evelyn Fasnacht's lighted art car that has been trolling the neighborhood, blaring funky holiday tunes. Photo by Bill Olive