Champagne Will Flow

10 don't-miss galas of the fall social season: See where H-Town's richest will be schmoozing

10 don't-miss galas of fall social season: See where swells will party

The bubbly will flow throughout the fall social season with opening nights, grand galas and more. Photo by Gary Fountain
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Monique Lhuillier will personally light up the runway when she brings her fashions to Houston for "Catwalk for a Cure." Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
Lynn Wyatt at the Bulgari exhibition dinner April 2014
Lynn Wyatt chairs the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston "Grand Gala Ball," which will follow a black and white theme. Photo by © Michelle Watson/
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Charles and Anne Duncan take bows as honorees at the Nature Conservancy western-themed bash.  Charles Duncan , Anne Duncan Photo by Gary Fountain
The Spazmatics in concert
The Spazmatics will deliver light-hearted notes to the always playful Children's Museum gala. Courtesy of The Spazmatics/Facebook
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Lynn Wyatt at the Bulgari exhibition dinner April 2014
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The Spazmatics in concert

Oil prices might be tanking but the parties must go on and go on they will. The fall social calendar is chock-a-block with tempting opportunities to trip the night fantastic while striking a philanthropic pose. Many of those are affordable while other fetes can challenge the resources, particularly of those who demand top tier tables.

While it's difficult to decide among the scores and scores of fundraisers on tap in the coming months, we take a look at 10 swank charity galas where Houston's high-rollers are sure to make an appearance. 


Alley Theatre "Grand Reopening Celebration," Saturday, September 19

Book it now or you'll miss the opportunity to be among the very first to party in the refurbished theater. Reservations are limited to 330 for the evening that will spread across all venues in the iconic building. Roving cocktail festivities will be staged throughout the soaring lobby and reimagined public spaces. Dinner will be served on the Margaret Alkek Williams Terrace level and the evening will close out with dessert and dancing on the stage of the new Hubbard Theatre to the sounds of Good Question. Not too coincidentally Molly and Ford Hubbard chair. Catering by Jackson and Co.

Individual tickets from $1,000. Details: Laura Woods,


Museum of Fine Arts, Houston "Grand Gala Ball," Friday, October 2

As chairwoman, Lynn Wyatt adds a special note of glamour to the evening that she has christened the "Black & White Ball" in a nod to Truman Capote's legendary ball held in 1966. This, indeed, is where you will find the creme-de-la-creme of Houston's cognoscenti, a well-heeled mix of old guard and sophisticated new money. Billionaires mix with mere millionaires on this evening when the David Caceres orchestra will share the bandstand with DJ Mad Marj (as in Marjorie Gublemann of NYC). As always, City Kitchen will pull out the stops with a menu guaranteed to impress this discerning crowd.

Individual tickets start at $750, but for the best tables, you'll need to pony up $50,000. Details:

The Nature Conservancy of Texas' "Nature Rocks," Thursday, October 22

Nothing says Texas like a night of boot scootin' fun when the dress code is jeans and jackets. That's what you'll find on the grounds of Houston Polo Club where Texas-born songwriter Jack Ingram will provide the dance tunes. The evening, which takes place in a party tent featuring high-style ranch decor, will honor two longtime advocates and conservationists, Anne and Charles Duncan. Chairs Alie and David Pruner with co-chairs Dee and Jeff Boswell and Judy and Elliott Bouillion are planning a tasty event with food provided by Caswell Catering.

Houston Polo Club Tables of 10 start at $5,000, limited individual tickets $1,000 each. Details: Sarah Atwood at  

Houston Grand Opera Opening Night, Friday, October 23

Once the curtain drops on HGO's opening night performance of Tosca, the curtain rises in a party tent on Fish Plaza in front of Wortham Theatre for a swank late-night dinner. You can count on rubbing elbows with some of the city's most affluent culture hounds who will be hobnobbing with the international singing stars. Expect lavish decorations channeling the best of Rome, where Tosca takes place, and a menu of Italian delights from the revered kitchen of Tony's catering arm. Susan and Ward Pennebaker chair the black-tie evening that honors the late Roy H. Cullen.

Individual tickets start at $600. Details:

Children's Museum of Houston "Back to the '80s" gala, Saturday, October 24

Time to retrieve the shoulder pads, leg warmers and mini skirts as the 35th anniversary celebration of the museum is a costume bash. The Spazmatics will keep Silver Street Studios rocking with goldie oldies from the likes of KC & the Sunshine Band and Pink Floyd. And you can count on Darryl & Co. to deliver the '80s atmosphere while Jackson & Co. provides a retro menu. Typically a younger, energetic crowd populates this gala which this year is chaired by Carmen and Butch Mach and Courtney and Bill Toomey.

Individual tickets start at $500. Details: Audrey Cortez,

Haras Cup "Equestrian Dream Soiree," Saturday, October 24
The Haras Cup offers three days of parties accompanying the national and international competition in the Working Equitation International Association USA governed championship (six levels of competition). We vote for the Saturday activity that begins late afternoon and continues through the night. Haras Hacienda in Magnolia (under an hour's drive from Houston) is site of the competition that on Saturday includes dinner and dancing, a performance by Virtuosi of Houston accompanied by dancing horses, a dancing horse joined en pointe by a ballerina, a riding exhibition by the Catalena Cowgirls and a presentation by elaborately costumed charros. Beneficiary is Kid's Meals and the event honors Pony Club, SIRE and Houston Pet Set.
Individual tickets start at $250. Details here

Amschwand Sarcoma Cancer Foundation "Catwalk for a Cure," Thursday, November 5

Always a glamorous evening, this fundraiser draws a crowd of youngish sophisticates, a newer generation of philanthropists dedicated to making a difference. Allie and Jay Fields and Lisa and Josh Oren take up the banner as chairs of the cocktail attire evening at The Astorian. Popular designer Monique Lhuillier will make a personal appearance at the fashion-focused evening compliments of Saks Fifth Avenue, which will present a runway show of her designs. The event will honor the family of Freddie Steinmark and Dr. Keila Torres while survivor Kristin Elliott will share her story.

Individual tickets start at $500. Details are available here.

Best Buddies Dinner, Saturday, November 7

With House of Cards demon Kevin Spacey as guest of honor and Anthony Shriver and Becca Cason Thrash as chairs, this fundraiser promises to be one stellar evening. Houston glitterati are expected to fill the vast pool room in the grand Memorial area home that Becca shares with husband John Thrash. The "Sip, sup and schmooze with Academy Award winner . . ." black-tie dinner will be one of a kind.

Individual tickets start at $1,500. Details:  

Bering Omega Community Services "Sing for Hope," Saturday, November 14

Come taste the wine, come hear the band . . . In other words, "Come to the Cabaret" on this night when chairs Gigi Huang and Mark Sullivan ditch the traditional two-tiered event (dinner here, concert there) for a dinner-theater-style musical evening at Hotel Derek. The chairs guarantee that the entertainment, produced by the Alley Theatre's resident assistant artistic director Brandon Weinbrenner, will be top notch. Count on "Sing for Hope" founder Camille Zamora ​to be among the talent.

Individual tickets are priced from $300, limited availability. Details: Jennifer Cate,

Tony's 50th Anniversary Dinner, Wednesday, November 18

While the actual anniversary of H-Town's most venerable fine dining restaurant was in April, Tony Vallone decided that the fall social season would be a better time to celebrate five decades of serving an illustrious coterie of U.S. Presidents, Hollywood stars and hometown bold-faced types. The celebration doubles as a fundraiser for Memorial Hermann Life Flight and already tables have been reserved and sponsorships secured. Vallone will be serving his favorite dishes from each decade of the restaurant and we can't wait to see what those might be.

While individual tickets start at $500, there is one $50,000 table for 10, which gives the purchaser a reserved curbside parking spot in front of Tony's for one year, the chance to name an entree or signature cocktail for one year and Dom Perignon served tableside. 

Details: Cathleen Fishel,

Check back with CultureMap for a preview of the top food-oriented charity events of the fall season. Something to tempt the tastebuds.