If you are in Houston this weekend and want to meet people and make a difference, you’ll want to attend this year’s Home for the Holidays Party. It’s definitely where the girls are – not to mention more than a few of the boys. Carol Wyatt-Woodell and Sallie Wyatt-Woodell actually host the annual festive event in their home, and many call it the highlight of the season. We chatted with Carol Wyatt-Woodell on the event’s history and what guests can expect this year.
What prompted you to start this event?
Since 2000, I have produced this party as a charity event, raising over $50,000 for a diverse set of LGBT non-profits, such as Montrose Center, Pride Houston, LHI, Bering Omega and more. My wife Sallie and I thoroughly enjoy entertaining at home, and this is a great way for us to give back to our wonderful community.
How many years has it been going on?
This is the 16th year as a charity event, but I have done smaller versions of the party since 1980.
Who are this year’s beneficiaries?
This year’s event focuses on the issue of homeless LGBT youth, and we have two beneficiaries: Montrose Center’s NEST program, which looks for ways to help kids once they are on the streets, and the Association for Family and Community Integrity, which provides education programs to try to help families be accepting of their LGBT kids, thus preventing the family from kicking the kids out.
How has it changed and grown?
Well, it has grown from about 150 attendees to over 400. And the attendees have gotten much more diverse. It used to be a mostly lesbian party, but now we have a very loyal contingent of male attendees. It is also one of the most racially mixed parties we see in our community, and Sallie and I are VERY proud to know such a richly diverse group of friends!
Here’s another way it has changed: In the early days, I made all the food for the party, but as it got bigger, I simply couldn’t do that anymore. So we created an event called the Slice and Dice. The night before the big party, about 40 friends gather to make all the food. It has become a fun party in its own right.
How many people attend/have attended in the past?
About 450 was our highest attendance, several years ago. It typically ranges anywhere from 300 to 450.
What is the most important thing you want people to know about the event?
Well, of course the most important thing is the cause for which we are raising money. But we also want people to know that this is not a “clique-y” party. We encourage people to mix and mingle and meet new friends. Our guests understand and support this philosophy.
Anything else you want to add?
We are so grateful for our sponsors Tito’s Vodka; Budweiser/Silver Eagle; and The Ballroom at Bayou Place and for all of our volunteers. It takes a lot of willing hands to put this all together.
Home for the Holidays Party
Saturday, December 3rd, 8 pm to 1 am
3503 Cherry Forest Drive
The suggested donation is $40, which includes open bar and a bountiful selection of hot and cold appetizers, including Smoked Pork Tenderloin, Mushrooms Stuffed with Spicy Sausage, Bourbon Chicken, Shrimp Cups, Artichoke Jalapeno Dip, Buffalo Chicken Dip, and Devilish Eggs. You can make your donation at the door by cash or check, or at our Brown Paper Ticket site.
And, in case you’re concerned about coming alone or as a single person, not to worry! To make it easier to meet people, each guest can select a glow-in-the-dark bracelet denoting your status – taken or otherwise, as well as conversation cards to help get the conversation flowing.