Selena Gomez romps in black amid colorful Polo Ralph Lauren collection

Polo Ralph Lauren's Color Riot

Photo by Carly Erickson/BFA.com

It's not hard to figure out why Ralph Lauren likes Texas — and the feeling is mutual. His Polo Ralph Lauren collection is known for bright colors and bold florals, perfect for our sunny climate, and the tailored prep look fits in with the aspirational attitude so prevalent in the Lone Star State.

So it's no wonder when Lauren was looking to expand, he focused on Texas. He unveiled a store in the Houston Galleria just before last Thanksgiving and now is finishing up a big new store in Dallas' NorthPark Center, which opens next month.

Everything remains close to perfect in the world of Polo Ralph Lauren, as the master designer didn't deviate from the successful plan for spring 2016. The label revealed the new Polo women's collection during New York Fashion Week on September 11 atop the McKittrick Hotel, in a leafy setting that resembled a fabulous outdoor garden patio, with models lounging in small groups just as they might do when they're not being paid to look beautiful.

The sunny collection is certainly one to get the wearer noticed, with linen blazers in eye-popping colors of orange, pink, and green, and denim pants in the same sherbet shades, accented with a touch of fringe to stay true to current trends. Wispy floral dresses in various lengths, from mini to maxi, also adhere to the same optimistic color palette, while tailored pantsuits and cotton shirts in a blue and white strip set a crisp tone.

A section of the collection fades to black, with leather pants, linen sweaters, lace shawls, and clingy dresses in the shade most associated with New York. But it's the colors that shine in this collection.

Selena Gomez showed up in a black leather romper and posed for photos with Brooklyn Beckham, the 16-year-old son of David and Victoria, who was clad in white T-shirt and blue jean jacket, with the best head of hair since James Dean. But amid the bright Polo surroundings, both underdressed celebrities looked they had wandered into the wrong party.

Brookyn Beckham (left) and Selena Gomez at the Polo Ralph Lauren show at New York Fashion Week.

Photo by Carly Erickson/BFA.com
Brookyn Beckham (left) and Selena Gomez at the Polo Ralph Lauren show at New York Fashion Week.
Photo by Marshall Hinsley

Texas farmer shares seedless secret to growing summer veggies through winter

The Farmer Diaries

For years, I've grown greens right through the winter, long after cucumbers, squash, and okra have been killed by the first frost of the season. I've enjoyed the kale, collards, mustard greens, broccoli, and turnips that fill my dinner plate until the spring, even as I crave the meatier flavors of summer.

I've tried to vary my wintertime harvest. Two years ago, I grew squash and cucumbers in a small greenhouse my father built back in the '80s. But I learned that, although I could grow a pretty plant, it bore no fruit. These crops require bees to pollinate them, and there were none to be found during the cold, rainy part of the year.

I did net a few cucumbers, the result of my hand-pollination of female flowers by poking their male counterparts into their petals. But the process was time-consuming and relied on the right humidity, temperature, time of day, and age of the flower to fall into place. Mimicking nature's processes proved to be no easy task and hardly worth the effort.

The benefits of seedless hybrids
But then last fall, I stumbled onto the secret that professional growers use to grow summertime crops year-round: seedless hybrids, bred to need no insects for pollination. These are the source for the cucumbers and zucchini we see in grocery stores during the winter.

These seedless hybrids are gynoecious, which means that they produce only female flowers. Female flowers have what look like tiny fruits already formed underneath them. In fact, that's kind of what they are — but to grow into something worth eating in standard varieties, these little fruits must contain fertilized seeds or they'll dry up and fall off. Not so with the hybrids.

These hybrids have another trait that's been bred into them by trial and error: They're parthenocarpic, which means that their ovules don't need to be pollinated in order for the plant to grow a cucumber or squash large enough to pick. They grow on their own, and because they've not been pollinated, they are almost always seedless.

I was resistant to buying hybrid seed. They're not genetically engineered; hybrids have been around for centuries and are produced through traditional breeding methods. I avoid them only because they don't produce seed that can be relied on to grow a new generation of crops, which is really no big deal. So, I dropped my hang-ups and made an allowance for these hybrids because the promise of picking summer vegetables in the dead of winter was too enticing to pass up.

The trial with squash and cucumber
For my first attempt at so-called controlled environment agriculture, I bought a pack each of Partenon squash and Corinto cucumbers from Johnny's Select Seed. The seeds are pricier than standard varieties. A mini pack costs about $5 or $6 for just 10 seeds, which is understandable because hybrids are labor intensive and can take decades of breeding to perfect.

A mishap involving crickets left me with only three squash sprouts, a day or two after they popped up last January. In two-gallon plastic flower pots with coconut coir and perlite as the growing medium, they grew quickly into full-sized squash plants with broad, beautiful, green leaves and healthy stalks.

By February, they bloomed with succulent flowers that blossomed longer than the standard varieties I've grown. They didn't drop off when the fruit began to put on mass, so I was able to pluck them off whole for an added treat of fried squash blossoms.

About a week and a half after forming, the zucchini squash were ready to pick. In the kitchen, they sliced up nicely but were firmer than their standard cousins. Sauteed with onions, they were indistinguishable from the zucchini I pick in midsummer. There on my plate in the middle of winter was a side of squash, which I considered a success.

More impressive were the seedless cucumbers I planted in one-gallon plastic pots using the same growing medium. Three weeks into their growth, I found it necessary to support their fast-growing vines up several strings of jute twine that I hooked onto the rafters of the greenhouse eight feet above ground. The vines grew up the twine and across the rafters and back down toward the ground so fast that I felt I could see their progress from hour to hour.

Along each foot of their growth, a flower that needed no bees or butterflies for pollination bloomed and dropped off, leaving a shiny, dark green cucumber in its place. After about two weeks of growth, the cucumbers were ready to slice up and put in a salad.

The squash was an acceptable substitute for the superior standard summertime varieties, but the cucumbers were better than the varieties I grow outdoors. They were long and slender with thin, smooth skin. Their flavor was mild without a hint of bitterness.

Seedless success
By the beginning of March, when one last snowfall blanketed the ground outside the greenhouse, my five indoor plants were growing three to five cucumbers each. Fruit hung down all the way up the vines and down from the rafters overhead.

By spring, aphids overtook my squash plants, but I fended them off the cucumbers with a daily application of plant wash. The cucumbers continued to produce until June, when I directed my labor back to outdoor growing. They could have lived on and yielded plenty more, but I didn't have the time to tend these monster vines.

As I prepare my greenhouse for this winter, I've begun to plan on other seedless hybrids I'll try out. They'll grow with the greens I produce hydroponically. I only need to keep the temperature above 50 for everything to stay safe.

If I had no access to a greenhouse, I'd still grow a couple of pots of each in the sunlight of a south-facing patio door, maybe with a little supplemental light from an LED grow light. I can also see these doing well on an apartment balcony, as long as they're brought in any night when frost is likely. The cukes would have to be pruned, of course. A sunroom might even be a better place than a greenhouse as the warmer temperatures are preferable.

Both the squash and the cucumbers were heavy feeders; I watered them with a stout solution of hydroponic nutrients. This gave them the moisture and the food they needed in one easy task.

When it was cold and cloudy, they needed this treatment only twice a day. By May, when the sun was shining and the days were long, I watered and fed them about five times each day. I'll automate this work with pumps and timers this year.

Seedless hybrids have opened my mind up to a whole new approach to keeping my pickings coming in year-round. For now, I plan to use these to add variety to my wintertime fare. As I hope to one day move up from being just a hobby farmer to a full-time commercial grower, I'm sure I'll rely on these hybrids for a steady harvest to take to the market.

One of the advantages to growing hybrid squash indoors during the winter is a plentiful supply of delicious squash blossoms.

Photo by Marshall Hinsley
One of the advantages to growing hybrid squash indoors during the winter is a plentiful supply of delicious squash blossoms.
Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

The Visit rescues M. Night Shyamalan from filmmaking purgatory

Filmmaker Redemption

Will writer/director M. Night Shyamalan ever get out of the filmmaking prison of his own making? After 2 ¾ great films, Shyamalan has delivered nothing but stinkers with his last five feature films, failing to capture the imagination no matter what type of movie he’s tried to make.

The Visit is a good start toward redemption, though. Like many upstart filmmakers, he became a victim of his own success, having to try to one-up himself with twistier plots and working with a series of big-name actors. The Visit is smaller in every way, starting with its no-name cast, only one of which has any modicum of name recognition.

The film jumps on the found footage bandwagon, with a slight twist to make it more palatable: Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are sent off to visit their grandparents (Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie), whom they’ve never met, by their mother (Kathryn Hahn), who had a falling out with her parents many years ago. Becca, a budding filmmaker, uses it as an opportunity to make a documentary about her family’s history, filming every second of their visit.

Almost as soon as they arrive at the house in the country, though, things seem off. Nana has a habit of acting very strangely after a certain time of night, while Pop Pop displays signs of old age deterioration, including forgetfulness and incontinence. Becca and Tyler attempt to play it off the weirdness as normal things grandparents do, but the more odd things that happen, the harder they become to ignore.

Shyamalan makes a lot of good decisions in the film, including playing up the humor factor. If he had tried to make it a straight horror, the concept would not have worked. Because he injects doses of comedy along the way, it not only keeps the audience on their toes, but also makes the suspenseful aspects that much more gripping.

He also subverts expectations to a degree. There are many points along the way where Shyamalan takes us right up to edge of terror, only to pull back. By doing this kind of push and pull, he primes the audience well for the reveals in the third act. He also lays good groundwork with appearances by seemingly random people who dole out just enough information to keep the audience intrigued until the end.

It’s not a perfect film, though. It falls prey to the usual horror movie conventions, with Becca and Tyler making odd decisions on multiple occasions. It also leaves several questions unanswered, such as the film setting up the grandparents’ house to be a technology dead zone, only to have the kids have the ability to connect to high-speed internet.

But for the most part, The Visit is the most enjoyable M. Night Shyamalan film in the past 10 years. Although it doesn’t stand up to movies like The Sixth Sense or Unbreakable, it does signal that there’s still life in the once-acclaimed filmmaker’s career.

Olivia DeJonge and Deanna Dunagan in The Visit.

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures
Olivia DeJonge and Deanna Dunagan in The Visit.
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris for Getty Images

Heidi Klum causes stir in faux leather at New York Fashion Week celebration

Klum Causes Stir

Heidi Klum proved you don't have to spend a lot to look good. At a party on the opening night of New York Fashion Week to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Macy's INC International Concepts collection, the model and Project Runway host drew admiring glances in a form-fitting, sleeveless faux leather dress from the collection, which retails for less than $120.

"It's very affordable, which is great," she told reporters. Of course it helps to have a killer figure and good genes. (She's 42, but she looks a decade younger.)

Klum, who appeared in some of the first ads for the Macy's private label 18 years ago, returned for the current ad campaign with 40-year-old model Gabriel Aubry (Halle Berry's ex and father of the couple's 7-year-old daughter). Aubry was on hand for the celebration, along with actress Christina Milian and models Karolina Kurkova, Candice Huffine, and Shaun Ross.

A limited-edition men's and women's capsule collection in honor of the brand's anniversary, available at Macy's stores this month, was on display. Women's apparel ranges form $35 to $200; men's goods range from $15 to $175. The INC brand also includes shoes, handbags, jewelry, and home goods. The latter launched last year.

Heidi Klum wore a faux leather dress ($119.50) from the Macy's INC collection.

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris for Getty Images
Heidi Klum wore a faux leather dress ($119.50) from the Macy's INC collection.
Courtesy photo

David Yurman breaks the Midnight Ice with dramatic new jewelry collection

Fab Find

Jewelry designer David Yurman has hit black gold. We’re not talking about oil — but the new Midnight Ice Collection, a dramatic mix of rings, cuffs, bracelets, and earrings in darkened silver with gold, as well as intricate beaded stone necklaces in onyx, pyrite, and citrine that reflect fall's folkloric influence.

The collection, which retails from $650 to $3,850, features some of Yurman's most iconic silhouettes — Renaissance, Albion, and Chatelaine —in the new darker look, with black diamonds and volcanic rock. The collection’s showstopper belt buckle features 21 carats of black diamonds.

Yurman recently unveiled the brand at the Neiman Marcus NorthPark store in Dallas with Vogue market stylist Cara Crowley. “We don’t make stuff. We make pieces that meet our desires,” he told the crowd.

The collection is available exclusively at all Neiman Marcus stores through the end of the month and then at David Yurman boutiques and other stores that carry the brand.

Models showcase the new David Yurman Midnight Ice collection at Neiman Marcus.

Courtesy photo
Models showcase the new David Yurman Midnight Ice collection at Neiman Marcus.
Photo by Tadd Myers

Mouthwatering details revealed for popular Texas barbecue festival

God Bless BBQ

On September 10, Texas Monthly released the lineup for this year's TMBBQ Fest in Austin, a celebration of all things grilled, smoked, and 'cued. Among the participating restaurants are several Dallas-Fort Worth favorites.

The festival offers brisket, sausage, and rib fiends the opportunity to sample some of the tastiest barbecue from across the state in one convenient location. Festival-goers can also enjoy cold drinks and live music from the likes of Flaco Jiménez Y Su Conjunto and LaTasha Lee & The BlackTies. For the first time ever, there will also be a sweet lineup of desserts and meaty delicacies.

"This Texas-sized celebration brings the pages of [the] magazine to life," Texas Monthly president John D. Lunn said in a release. "And this year's new addition of desserts will round out the culinary experience for attendees eager to taste the best this vast state has to offer."

All of the pitmasters at this year's festival have been featured in a Texas Monthly article honoring the best-of-the-best barbecue joints. Dallas eateries that earned top marks include Lockhart Smokehouse and Pecan Lodge, as well as Fort Worth's Cousin's Bar-B-Q and McKinney's Hutchins BBQ — all of which will be at TMBBQ Fest this fall.

The sixth annual celebration will take over the Long Center on Sunday, November 1. Tickets go on sale at 10 am Friday, September 11. Admission ranges from $80 to $145, although children 5 and under get in for $10.

The full TMBBQ Fest lineup is as follows:

  • Buzzie's Bar-B-Q (Kerrville)
  • Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (Llano)
  • Cousin's Bar-B-Q (Fort Worth)
  • Cranky Frank's BBQ Company (Fredericksburg)
  • Franklin Barbecue (Austin)
  • The Granary ‘Cue & Brew (San Antonio)
  • Hatfield's BBQ (Rockport)
  • Hays County Barbeque Restaurant (San Marcos)
  • Hutchins BBQ (McKinney)
  • Killen's Barbecue (Pearland)
  • La Barbecue (Austin)
  • Lamberts Downtown Barbecue (Austin)
  • Lockhart Smokehouse (Dallas)
  • Louie Mueller Barbecue (Taylor)
  • Miller's Smokehouse (Belton)
  • Opie's Barbecue (Spicewood)
  • The Original Black's Barbecue (Lockhart)
  • Pecan Lodge (Dallas)
  • Pody's BBQ (Pecos)
  • Snow's BBQ (Lexington)
  • Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew (Austin)
  • Two Bros BBQ Market (San Antonio)
  • Tyler's Barbeque (Amarillo)

No surprise here: Pecan Lodge joins this year's TMBBQ Fest bill.

Photo by Tadd Myers
No surprise here: Pecan Lodge joins this year's TMBBQ Fest bill.
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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.