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Courtesy of Kendra Scott

Apart from her iconic jewelry designs, Texas fashion mogul Kendra Scott is known for two things: awesome collaborations and giving back. Her latest collection blends all three, teaming up with fellow female fashion icon, Barbie, on a line of exclusive designs that give back to a cause.

Launching Wednesday, November 16, the six-piece Barbie x Kendra Scott capsule draws inspiration from fashion, friendship, and being a force for good. The collaboration comes as both brands celebrate big anniversaries, 20 years for Scott and 60 for Barbie Dreamhouse.

Highlights of the collection include two necklaces in elevated plating, two bracelets, and two pairs of earrings — all in hot pink Barbie hues and all featuring the craftsmanship and attention to detail Kendra Scott customers know and love. Reinventing the brand's signature silhouette, the versatile Barbie x Kendra Scott gold Elisa multi strand necklace features a double sided design, as does the Barbie x Kendra Scott chain necklace, which is perfect for layering or as its own statement piece.


Barbie x Kendra Scott Elisa The versatile Barbie x Kendra Scott gold Elisa multi strand necklace features a double sided design.Courtesy of Kendra Scott

For ear candy, the Barbie x Kendra Scott gold statement earrings are just that, adorned with new hot pink drusy and high-shine stones. Hoop lovers will hop straight to the Barbie x Kendra Scott gold huggie earrings, where pink opal adds a pop of color to the sophisticated-yet-playful design. Meanwhile, the Barbie x Kendra Scott gold delicate chain bracelet is minimal, yet attention-grabbing with pink crystal baguette stones.

As for the giving back, Scott will donate 20 percent of every purchase of the Barbie x Kendra Everlyne friendship bracelet to the Barbie Dream Gap Project. Created to raise awareness around limiting factors that prevent girls from reaching their full potential, the brand's global initiative supports Girls Inc. in its mission to empower a new generation of leaders. In collaboration with global charitable organizations, the initiative provides resources, curriculum, skills development, and leadership opportunities to girls between the ages of 5 and 10.

“Barbie™ x Kendra Scott draws from a desire to help women feel confident, powerful, and capable of anything that we set our minds to. Growing up, Barbie taught me that beauty comes in many forms, and most importantly, to pursue my passions,” said Kendra Scott, founder, designer, and executive chairwoman of the brand, in a release. “I’m so proud to partner together on a collection that celebrates both fashion and philanthropy so we can continue to inspire the next generation of girls to dream even bigger.”

Prices range from $65-$198, and the limited-edition Barbie x Kendra Scott collection will be available at Kendra Scott retail stores and online.

Courtesy of Kendra Scott

Kendra Scott talks her new memoir and shining career ahead of Southlake appearance

kendra's Next Chapter

Celebrated Texas jewelry star Kendra Scott’s ability to juggle a work-life balance is seriously impressive. The founder of her namesake billion-dollar brand is a newlywed, about to drop her first memoir, Born to Shine: Do Good, Find Your Joy, and Build a Life You Love, and will be returning as a guest shark on the new season of Shark Tank.

Between a dizzying schedule of managing her brand, philanthropic efforts, a multi-state book tour, Shark Tank duties, and nurturing a new blended family of eight, we wonder when the Austin-based entrepreneur has time to breathe.

Apparently, queso, margaritas, and finding joy in the little things fuel the entrepreneur to keep going. Scott also credits her marriage to Thomas Evans (her wedding ring is the one piece of jewelry she never takes off) and the relationship with her family, including three sons — Kade, Beck, and Grey — as foundations of her success.

And while her jewelry has been a must-have accessory for over two decades, her first venture into the literary world has been one of vulnerability and determination.

She's bringing her book tour to the Kendra Scott boutique in Southlake Town Square at 1 pm Sunday, September 18; tickets ($35) are available here.

Ahead of her appearance in DFW, CultureMap sat down with Scott to get the exclusive on her next chapter.

CultureMap: How long did it take you to write Born to Shine?

Kendra Scott: It took a little over two years from when I decided to write the book, but really I have been writing this book for years. I never realized that my journal notes would someday turn into a book. It has been a long process, but after 20 years of our company being in business — it was honestly the perfect time to write this book.

CM: How did you juggle writing, managing the business and being a working mom?

KS: You know, it is always a challenge. If anyone tells you it is easy, and they have it figured out, I think they are lying. I wrote this during the pandemic, so I was home working with the support system of my closest people with me. All of our meetings were virtual, so it allowed me to have time for reflection.

I had also just stepped down as CEO and could just focus on being chairwoman, designer, and founder. I was able to focus more on our philanthropic efforts, like our school at the University of Texas (Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute), and concentrate on writing this book. It is something that I have always wanted to do.

CM: How personal do you get in the book?

KS: I get very vulnerable in the book and I feel that there is power in vulnerability. I hope that being vulnerable will allow other women or people to share their failures, successes, and ups and downs and be authentic.

I also hope that the stories of my childhood, marriage, divorce, starting a business and failing at a business — all of those things are part of what makes me who I am. In the book, I talk about the power of gemstones. Gems all have veins that are considered imperfections, but really it is what makes them beautiful.

CM: Was there anything that you wrote but then changed your mind about?

KS: I pulled out the entire first chapter, and I wasn’t going to put it in there. My publisher, who is also my editor, told me that the chapter was great and that she thought it should be chapter one.

It made me realize that I had to be honest because the book starts in a tough place but then takes readers on an unbelievable ride.

CM: Can fans look forward to more books in the future?

KS: You know, I thought about this. Now that this book is out there in the world, I don't think it will be the last one. It is a different way to be creative, and I think I have other stories to tell.

I would love to do a children’s book someday. My oldest son was one when I started this company; now, he is 20, so he has grown along with the business. Now I have a nine-year-old, and I’ve always read to him. I really hope that children’s books will be in my future.

CM: You are returning to Shark Tank for Season 14. How was the experience this time around?

KS: I absolutely love being on Shark Tank. I will be flying to Los Angeles for the premiere with all the other guest sharks on September 23, and it is exciting because there has never been a live premiere.

Nothing inspires me more than other entrepreneurs. There are long days on set, but they go by quickly because it gets me pumped to meet other entrepreneurs. Many of these people were thinking of ideas before the pandemic, and the downtime during the pandemic gave them the opportunity to put their ideas into action. I get to witness just a little of that in the tank – it is so fun.

CM: You have a lot going on, but is there anything else fans can look forward to before the end of the year?

KS: We just launched engagement rings and a whole bridal collection which is so exciting. We are expanding into other fine jewelry categories, including diamonds and gold and are adding more customization options than ever before.

Scott Brothers, the line I created with my boys during the pandemic, is also expanding. It is so fun that our male customers who were here to buy for the women in their lives can now buy something for themselves. We also just expanded into watches, so a lot is going on.

If you think about it, it took Ralph Lauren 25 years to expand into other categories. Our company has been around for 20 years, so I really like that the next phase of Kendra Scott will be so fun and exciting. From a philanthropic standpoint, we have given over $50 million since 2010 to women's and children's charities. We are, in many ways, a philanthropic organization within a brand. That is how we measure success, so I can not wait to announce our charitable efforts in the coming years.

We have a strong foundation and know what we represent and stand for — I feel like the best is yet to come.

Kendra Scott's first memoir drops on September 20th.

Courtesy of Kendra Scott
Kendra Scott's first memoir drops on September 20th.
Worthy Books

Millionaire Texas jewelry maven Kendra Scott writes next chapter with dazzling memoir

Turning the page

She launched a jewelry company now valued at $1 billion. She received the national EY Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2017. Two years later, she was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame. And she’s been a guest “shark” on ABC’s Shark Tank. And just last week, she released a bridal capsule collection in collaboration with a popular blogger.

Kendra Scott, founder of the Austin-based jewelry company that bears her name, reigns as a Texas and American success story. Now, she’s telling her story in her first memoir, Born to Shine: Do Good, Find Your Joy, and Build a Life You Love.

The memoir, published by the Worthy Books division of Hachette Book Group, is scheduled to be released September 20. It can be preordered now.

“With a voice that’s vulnerable, wise, funny, and poignant, Kendra takes us on a journey of personal stories and tough life lessons, from her humble beginnings as a bullied middle-schooler in small-town Wisconsin, to launching a business in her spare bedroom with $500, to the devastating accident that turned her world on its axis,” Worthy Books says in a news release promoting the book.

“Through the ups and downs, her struggles and triumphs, Kendra builds a life — and a career — grounded in joy, kindness, purpose, and doing good, a life she desires for every reader,” the release continues.

Scott began creating jewelry in a spare bedroom at her Austin home in 2002. Fourteen years later, the Kendra Scott brand operates more than 115 stores across the country, including two in San Antonio, and rings up annual sales in the neighborhood of $360 million.

In 2017, Boston-based investment firm Berkshire Partners invested an undisclosed amount in the Kendra Scott brand. The deal valued the company at $1 billion.

In February 2021, the company announced Scott would step down as CEO of the brand but stay aboard as executive chairwoman and chief creative officer. Forbes last year estimated Scott’s net worth at $800 million.

Today, Scott is a professor of practice at the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute at the University of Texas. She also serves on the boards of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

“Kendra Scott is a generous philanthropist, an unwavering optimist, a devoted daughter, and a mother with a squad of strong female friendships. Her entrepreneurial spirit developed at an early age and her path to success is unique, intriguing, and certainly not an easy one,” the Worthy Books news release says. “In 20 years, she has catapulted her eponymous jewelry line, which started as a hobby in her home, into a mega-popular business that has garnered a loyal following of clientele across the globe.”

Photo courtesy of Kendra Scott

Here comes the bridal jewelry in new Kendra Scott collection with Texas blogger

Sparkle and shine

Popular jewelry designer and philanthropist Kendra Scott has coupled up with Texas lifestyle blogger Emily Travis of Champagne & Chanel to launch an exclusive collaborative bridal collection.

Austin-based Travis co-designed the collection, marking the first-ever influencer-designed partnership for Kendra Scott. The line is available now in all Kendra Scott stores, including those in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Travis started her blog in 2016 while she was a senior studying at Texas A&M University. What began as a creative outlet has garnered more than 1 million followers. As she is a dedicated wearer of Kendra Scott, the brand line has been with Travis during monumental moments in her life, she says.

While on her own wedding journey, Travis couldn’t imagine celebrating her special day without Kendra Scott, she says, and had a vision of what she wanted for her bridal party: timelessness.

“I’m a firm believer that when you find accessories you love, that give you the extra boost of confidence, the rest falls into place — especially on your wedding day,” Scott says in a statement. “We were in the process of expanding our bridal variety and it felt serendipitous when Emily shared her vision for her wedding. I was honored to help her bring this to life for her big day.”

The capsule bridal collection, named after female figures in Travis’ life, features a variety of classic shapes like emerald and round-cut crystals and timeless designs. Included in the capsule collection are dainty drop earrings, tennis bracelets, and necklaces. Together, Scott and Travis created quality pieces at an attainable price point ranging from $58 to $148.

In addition to creating keepsake styles, Travis wanted to design versatile pieces that could not only be worn for black-tie affairs but also more casually every day.

When co-designing the collection, Scott encouraged Travis to incorporate other elements from the big day, such as her floral arrangements. This inspired the Cameron Statement Earring, crafted to effortlessly transition from a formal showstopper to a stud with a unique detachable piece.

“Getting the chance to design a collection with Kendra Scott has definitely been one of the biggest ‘pinch me’ moments of my life,” says Travis in a statement. “This collection is very special to me because it’s inspired by the happiest day — my wedding. I am so proud and honored to have my name on each of these pieces and I hope you love them as much as I do!”

The Kendra Scott x Champagne & Chanel capsule collection is available now.

Photo courtesy of Kendra Scott
The Kendra Scott x Champagne & Chanel capsule collection is available now.
Facebook/Mustard Seed Jewelry

Inspirational Fort Worth jewelry designer earns a time to shine on QVC

Good as gold

Just about everyone in Fort Worth who wears, buys, or gifts jewelry knows of Marcie Finney Ditto and her faith-based Mustard Seed Jewelry. Now approximately 380 million homes worldwide will know about her, too, thanks to an upcoming appearance on the TV shopping network QVC.

Mustard Seed Jewelry was named a winner of QVC and HSN’s The Big Find Search, an annual contest to discover the most unique and innovative products around the world. The prize is a personal appearance and product launch on QVC, which will be broadcast live from Ditto's Fort Worth studio on Tuesday, June 22. She announced the big news live to her social media followers on June 15.

"It's been like having a baby and a college crash course all crammed into one," Ditto says by phone, excited and breathless from finally getting to announce something that's been in the works for nearly a year.

The contest launched in July 2020, and moving forward through each round, especially mid-pandemic, she says, has been an exciting, rigorous, eye-opening, faith-testing, wild dream come true.

"The special thing about the contest is it really gives smaller brands a chance to be on this network, where it’s not easy to come to," she says. "It’s kind of like their version of Shark Tank and an incredible opportunity for you to be in front of their audience."

Mustard Seed is one of five winners in the jewelry category of the contest, which also includes apparel, accessories, footwear, beauty, electronics, and more.

QVC has hand-selected several Mustard Seed pieces — a mix of exclusive debuts and classic favorites — to sell as part of the collection. Just like all Mustard Seed jewelry, the QVC items will be personally designed and crafted by Ditto's Fort Worth artisans using actual mustard seeds, the hallmark of the brand.

Ditto doesn't yet know the time her segment will air on the 22nd, but it will be be sometime between 3-5 pm local time.

"I definitely want to inspire people who have watched us grow and loved us to watch," she says.

From kitchen table to QVC
Ditto gets choked up talking about how far her business has come since she launched it at her kitchen table in 2014 with no more than an idea and a prayer. Back then, she just wanted to give generously and inspire others to grow in faith — like the mustard seed (a parable from the Bible).

As part of her goal to inspire "mountain movers," Ditto includes a small amount of "seed cash" inside each box, intended for the recipient to use it toward a kind gesture. During the COVID shutdowns, her employees wrote "love letters" to customers as a way to ease their loneliness. Mustard Seed booths are a regular fixture at nonprofit events, and she regularly hosts charitable shopping nights at the studio.

With its big-hearted business plan and unique designs, the company has grown about 200 percent each year.

Ditto says people kept mentioning QVC, but it seemed like too big a mountain to climb herself, "bigger than what I could do," she says. Then last year on a beach vacation with her mother-in-law (herself a successful entrepreneur who owned the company that was the precursor to Glamour Shots), Ditto got messages from a client and a friend saying, "You have to enter this QVC contest." And that was it.

"A lot of people think when you own a business you can't have down time, that when you're not working you're not making money," she says. "God can be working while you're resting. Seasons of having rest are equally important as the busy part."

High-profile QVC is a new "wonderful exciting partnership," Ditto says. But local customers shouldn't worry; she plans to continue business as usual from her Fort Worth home base. In fact, she says, people can still make appointments to drop by and shop any time.

But the prospect to reach a new, global audience is more than a little thrilling. QVC and HSN form one of the world’s largest video commerce platforms, reaching more than 90 million homes in the United States and 380 million worldwide via broadcast channels, streaming, web, mobile, and social platforms.

"It's exciting to see our message go out to so many people," Ditto says. "To me that is the why — to touch a lot of hearts — and it's going to be fun to see our beautiful jewels go out to that many people; we are incredibly blessed."

Marcie Finney Ditto will launch Mustard Seed Jewelry on QVC on June 22.

Facebook/Mustard Seed Jewelry
Marcie Finney Ditto will launch Mustard Seed Jewelry on QVC on June 22.
Photo courtesy of Kendra Scott

Texas jewelry giant Kendra Scott ventures into brave new territory

Bros. Style

Jewelry maven Kendra Scott is expanding her collection to include a whole new demographic: men.

Scott and CEO Tom Nolan are launching Scott Bros. by Kendra Scott, the Austin-based brand's first men's collection. It's due to hit stores and be available online June 7, conveniently in time for Father's Day and graduation gifts.

"I've been a jewelry designer as long as I've been a mom. As my boys have grown, so has this business," says Scott, who is the founder, designer, and executive chairwoman of the brand. "That's why I'm thrilled to introduce Scott Bros. by Kendra Scott, designed in collaboration with my sons to be fun fashion that anyone can wear."

The collection promises to be full of both manly styles and gender-neutral designs, made from genuine stones, leather cord, paracord, and vinyl beads. Prices start at $68 and go up to $198.

The new collection will also have Kendra Scott's famous charity component, with proceeds from the collection's Cade Suite supporting the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital Art Therapy Program.

Twenty percent of proceeds will also support the Shop for Good Giveback for family and youth organizations. Since 2010, the company has given back well over $40 million to local, national, and international causes.

"My boys have grown up with this business," says Scott. "Back in the day, they would come to the office and go 'treasure hunting' for beads stuck in the cracks of our wood floors. To now design a collection with them is truly a full-circle moment for me."

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

'Lightscape' shines bright in this week's 5 most popular Fort Worth stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. What to expect at 'Lightscape,' Fort Worth's new walk-thru winter wonderland. Fort Worth’s most Instagrammable new holiday lights display is best enjoyed without clinging to a phone. “Lightscape,” which made its North Texas debut at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden on Friday, November 18, walks visitors through a winter wonderland experience unlike any other in DFW.

2. Hoffbrau Steak fires up the grill for new location in Grapevine. A longtime steakhouse is coming to Grapevine: Hoffbrau Steak & Grill House, a small family-owned and -operated chain that's been in Dallas-Fort Worth for more than 40 years, will open a location November 28 at 700 W. State Hwy 114, previously home to a Brick House Tavern & Tap, which closed during the pandemic.

3. Yellowstone and 1883 stars cowboy up at Fort Worth gala honoring Taylor Sheridan. Fort Worth has always been "where the West begins," and now it's where TV's hottest Western drama begins, too. The 2022 Lone Star Film Festival Gala - held November 11 at Hotel Drover in the Stockyards - leaned hard into the city's connections to Yellowstone and its prequel, 1883, with signs and programs that boasted "The Road to Yellowstone Began in Fort Worth."

4. Divine doughnuts and tempting tamales top this Fort Worth restaurant news. This roundup of restaurant news around Fort Worth has tidbits about doughnuts, Cajun food, vegan tamales, and gourmet ice cream, culled from press releases, social media, and the occasional hot tip. Here's what's happening in Fort Worth restaurant news.

5. Here comes Santa House, back to Grapevine for a very charitable 2022 Christmas season. After taking a much-needed break last year, Louie Murillo and his family are once again decking their halls, yard, and rooftop to bring back the Grapevine Santa House — a smash hit during the 2020 holiday season. The half-acre property is a "Where's Waldo?" maze of more than 1,000 Santa statues, which visitors can walk among, snap photos with, and then, they hope, make a donation to Grace Grapevine's Christmas Cottage program.

Texas parks beckon throughout 2022 holidays with festive events and peaceful escapes

If roasting ‘smores and hiking in the great outdoors sounds fun, pack up your family and visit one of Texas’ state parks this holiday season.

Texas state parks and historic sites are ringing in the holidays with a number of festive events. There are drive-thru light tours, special holiday hikes, arts and crafts for the kiddos, and more.

Reservations fill up quickly, so be sure to visit an individual park's website before you head out. And check the Holidays in the Parks page for many more fun options, pricing information, and more information.

Dallas-Fort Worth-area parks

Tyler State Park
Avoid the Black Friday madness with the 15th annual “Walk-off the Bird” Bird Walk, a 2.1-mile walk by the lakeshore at 9 am November 25. Bring your binoculars to relax and enjoy the bird life of the East Texas Pineywoods. At 2 pm the same day, enjoy a Fall in the Savannah fall foliage hike. Enjoy Reading Ranger Campfire Stories around a cozy campfire at 3 pm December 3. Head back December 9-10 for A Pineywoods Christmas, when you can stroll or drive through the Lakeview and Big Pine campgrounds to take in campers' elaborately decorated sites and take a Winter Wonderland Hike.

Lake Tawakoni State Park
Drive through or stay at the park and decorate your campsite with your favorite Christmas decorations to receive your second night of camping free during your stay. There will be a decorating contest, complete with awards, as well as a reading of The Night before Christmas — all part of Twinkle Tour 2022, 5-8 pm December 3.

Daingerfield State Park
Drive through the park lit up like Santa Land during the 10th annual Christmas in the Park drive thru lights tour December 14-17 (times vary). Marvel at the decorated campsites and lights, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while waiting for a chance to visit with Santa.

Eisenhower State Park
Help those in need and spread holiday cheer — and as a bonus, get free entry to the park — by bringing one unwrapped donation item to the park’s Holiday Donation Drive from November 25 to December 19. Come back December 9-10 to visit the Light Up the Park drive-thru lights event, featuring milk and cookies with Santa. This year, the park is taking unwrapped toys to donate instead of collecting entrance fees for the event.

Cleburne State Park
Enjoy Pancakes With Santa and make pinecone bird feeders 9-11 a.m. December 10.

Cedar Hill State Park
Walk off your Thanksgiving Day meal and explore nature in the cool fall air during the three-mile Thanksgiving Nature Walk 7:30-9 a.m. November 26. Search for birds taking their winter break at the park during their Winter Birding Walk, which takes place 7:30-8:30 am December 13. Explore Christmas on Penn Farm on December 17: Learn about the history and pioneers of the Penn Family and the farm they built 150 years ago.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park
Experience Christmas, cowboy style, at Cross Timbers Cowboy Christmas, December 3. Park ranger and cowboy poet David Owens will gather guests around a campfire at the Lone Star Amphitheater for an evening of cowboy culture through songs, stories and poems.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
In partnership with Toys for Tots, the park is hosting Christmas in the Valley, a full day of ranger-led events, programs, family friendly activities, arts and crafts, food and more. Bring a new and unwrapped toy for free admission for the whole family. The event takes place 1-4 pm. December 17.

Austin/San Antonio-area parks

Bastrop State Park
The park’s annual Gobble Till You Wobble hike November 25 has been canceled due to predicted rains. However, you can still follow ornaments with clues through the park every day in December during the annual Fa La La Through The Forest Scavenger Hunt. Enjoy the Lost Pines Christmas Parade, a collaborative event with Bastrop and Buescher Parks, at 6 pm December 10. Tour the inside of the historic Refectory and see how the Civilian Conservation Corps celebrated Christmas away from home during A Lost Pines CCC Christmas 9 a.m. to noon December 17.

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site
Attend Deck the Halls, 10 am. to 3 pm November 26 to explore how early Texans at the Sauer-Beckmann Farm got ready for the holidays by stringing popcorn and decorating cookies to hang on their Christmas tree; learn how to make wreaths out of local cedar and dip candles as the farm staff get ready for das Weihnachten (Christmas). Return to the park at 5:30 pm December 18 for the 53rd Annual Tree Lighting, a holiday tradition started by President and Mrs. Johnson.

Garner State Park
Join the Buffalo Soldiers program and friends as they stop into Garner State Park before leaving for Christmas break during the Marching Towards Christmas event 10 am to 2 pm December 10. Christmas activities will include hand-dipped candles, frontier Christmas painting, Christmas-themed hard tack in Dutch ovens, and stories of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Buescher State Park
Take a Giving Thanks Guided Hike and learn how the Civilian Conservation Corps built the park from 3-4 pm November 26. On the Fa La La in the Forest Scavenger Hunt, you can follow ornaments with clues through the park to secure a prize at the end, December 1 to January 1. Enjoy the Smithville Festival of Lights and Lighted Parade, a collaborative effort between Buescher and Bastrop parks, on December 3.

Hill Country State Natural Area
See how art, history and state parks are connected; learn some basic watercolor techniques and paint a card or two to take home during the Watercolor Christmas Cards event 2:30-4 p.m. December 3. Come back for Horses in History & Ornament Craft from 2:30-4 pm. December 22 and learn how horses played important roles in the lives of vaqueros, native people, ranchers and more. Then, play a round of horseshoes and paint a horse ornament to take with you.

South Llano River State Park
At Christmas at the Ranch, 2 to 5 pm December 3, guests can warm up with hot chocolate and cider, listen to live entertainment, enjoy crafts and cookie decorating, and anticipate Santa's visit while taking in the twinkling lights and Christmas decorations at the historic Ranch House that now serves as Park Headquarters.

Houston and Gulf Coast-area parks

Brazos Bend State Park
Holiday in the Park is an all-day affair on December 10. Events include a self-guided "Elf Hike," Christmas crafts, "Pup Parade," s'mores, and more.

Goose Island State Park
See the park in lights, enjoy holiday activities, and camp for free when you decorate your campsite during Christmas in the Park on December 17. Guests are invited to "Santa's Village" at the CCC Recreation Hall for holiday crafts, games, hot chocolate around the campfire, and to drop off letters to Santa in the North Pole Mailbox.

Lake Livingston State Park
Learn about your favorite Thanksgiving food (the turkey) during Campfire Turkey Talk on November 26. Rangers will cover the history of Thanksgiving, the habits and behaviors of wild turkeys, and share interesting facts about turkeys, including how it nearly became our national bird.

Lake Corpus Christi State Park
Get in the holiday spirit with the second annual Holiday Light Drive Thru 6-9 pm December 10. Visitors can enter the park for a drive through the lighted areas of Javelina and Opossum Bend camping loops, plus the Old Pavilion.

West Texas and the Panhandle-area parks

Franklin Mountains State Park
Pack your Thanksgiving leftovers and hike 1.5 miles up to Aztec Caves during the park’s Turkey Trot at 11 am November 25. On December 3, make ornaments and holiday cards with recycled materials as part of the Art in the Parks series. During Cookies and Cocoa, you can decorate and take home your own Christmas treat while sipping on a cup of hot chocolate 2-4 pm December 23. Come back on Christmas Eve for a guided, two-mile Santa Hike at 11 am.

Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site
Bring your family out for Home for the Holidays guided family hike on December 10 and moderate hike on 17.

San Angelo State Park
Enjoy a drive-thru tour of lights and optional pictures with Santa and Smokey Bear during Holly-Days in the Park 6-8 pm December 10.

Affluent Fort Worth neighbor leads list of lavish holiday spending budgets in U.S.

Santa Baby

As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, holiday shopping budgets are in the spotlight, and a study from WalletHub lists Flower Mound as one of the top cities where Santa doesn't need a whole lot of help.

According to the personal finance website, the average holiday budget in Flower Mound is $3,531 per person, the third highest in the nation.

The town's 2021 population of 77,243 (per the U.S. Census) boasts a median income $139,703 and earlier this year was named by Ventured.com as the richest city in Texas.

In spite of an increase over last year's gift list totals, Flower Mound dropped to the third spot after being ranked No. 1 last year with a budget of $3,427. Newton, Massachusetts (budget $4,233) and Palo Alto, California (budget $3,920) edged out the Texas city this year.

Flower Mound was the only Texas city in the top 10, but there's plenty of holiday cheer to be found in the report, and not just for Flower Mound Santa fans.

Each year, WalletHub calculates the maximum holiday budget for over 550 U.S. cities "to help consumers avoid post-holiday regret," the website says. The study factors in income, age of the population, and other financial indicators such as debt-to-income ratio, monthly-income-to monthly-expenses ratio and savings-to-monthly-expenses ratio.

Despite nationwide focus on inflation strains, holiday spending is expected to be healthy, and higher than last year.

"The seeming social upheaval in recent times may lead households to spend more in an attempt to take some control of the environment which they can control," says Robert Wright, University of Illinois, Springfield professor emeritus who was among five experts consulted for advice about holiday shopping.

This could be good news if your Christmas wishes are on local shopping lists. Eight other North Texas cities landed in this year's top 100 heftiest holiday budgets:

  • Allen, No. 17 , $2,670
  • Frisco, No. 37, $2,150
  • McKinney, No. 45, $2,070
  • Plano, No. 50, $1,999
  • Carrollton, No. 55, $1,837
  • Richardson, No. 58, $1,823
  • North Richland Hills, No. 81, $1,658
  • Lewisville, No. 90, $1,630

Fort Worth landed at No. 366 with a budget of $890, while Dallas landed at No. 401 out of 558 cities with an average holiday budget of $845.

Elsewhere in Texas, spending in the Austin area won't be ho-hum with the Capitol City's budget of $1,705 ranked at No. 78. Two Austin suburbs, Cedar Park (budget $2,855) and League City (budget $2,541) ranked 14 and 20, respectively.

Santa's bag could be a mixed bag in the Houston area with three suburbs in the top 100, but the urban center falling behind:

  • Sugar Land, No. 15, $2,793
  • Pearland, No. 36, $2,172
  • The Woodlands, No. 71, $1,733
  • Houston, No. 366, $890

Things don't look too jolly for San Antonio, ranked at No. 431 with an average budget of $803 or Pharr, which was the lowest ranked city in Texas.

At No. 553 with a budget of $487, the Rio Grande Valley city came in just a few spots ahead of last place Hartford, Connecticut, with a budget of only $211.