Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, holiday shopping budgets are in the spotlight, and a study from WalletHub puts one affluent Texas city on the "nice list," where Santa doesn't need a whole lot of help.

According to WalletHub, the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Flower Mound boasts a jolly big holiday budget of $3,531 per person this year — the third highest in the U.S.

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.

While Flower Mound was the only Texas city in the top 10, there's plenty of Lone Star holiday cheer to be found in the report. In total, 15 Texas cities landed in this year's top 100 heftiest holiday budgets:

  • Flower Mound, No. 3, $3,531
  • Cedar Park, No. 14, $2,855
  • Sugar Land, No. 15, $2,793
  • Allen, No. 17, $2,670
  • League City, No. 20, $2,541
  • Pearland, No. 36, $2,172
  • 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
  • The Woodlands, No. 71, $1,733
  • Austin, No. 78, $1,705
  • North Richland Hills, No. 81, $1,658
  • Lewisville, No. 90, $1,630

Among Texas' major cities, Austin boasts the biggest holiday budget by far, while San Antonio has the smallest, at $803 per person (No. 431). Fort Worth ranked No. 318 with a budget of $986; Houston landed at No. 366 with a budget of $890; and Dallas ranked No. 401 with an average holiday budget of $845.

Finally, at No. 553, with a budget of $487, sits the Rio Grande Valley city of Pharr. It's the lowest-ranked Texas city and comes in just a few spots ahead of last-place Hartford, Connecticut, with a budget of only $211.

Hemisfair Holiday in the Garden & Holiday Gift Market

Hemisfair will present its annual Holiday in the Garden. Bridging holidays traditions, the event will capture the spirit of Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah with Santa and his reindeer, holiday crafts, Story Time, food and beverages, shopping at the Hemisfair Holiday Gift Market, live music and REAL snow.

The Hemisfair Holiday Gift Market will take place on both December 10 and 11.

Photo courtesy of H-E-B

H-E-B unveils new line of merchandise for super fans, available exclusively at this store

Aisle Love H-E-B Forever

Sometimes when H-E-B does something awesome, we just want to wear it on a shirt. Making fresh pizza, tamales, and sushi in stores? Partnering with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation? People who get that feeling can now act on it with a pilgrimage to the grocery chain's Kerrville store.

This small city, the birthplace of H-E-B, was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise, in celebration of its 117th anniversary. The merch will roll out to other Texas stores in 2023, but for now, there’s only one place to get sneakers that say, “Follow me to H-E-B.”

The new H-E-B Brand Shop, located inside the Kerrville store on Main Street, has themed merchandise from the traditional (T-shirts, socks, stickers, and mugs) to the nearly inexplicable (baby clothes, tortilla-disguised beer koozies, and badge holders).

H-E-B brand store Koozies and other stocking-stuffer-type merch from the H-E-B Brand Store. Photo courtesy of H-E-B

Some of these are just delightfully simple expressions of love for H-E-B and, by extension, being Texan; some are cute gag gifts for friends who sing the grocery store’s praises; still others are just convenient options to have on the way to, say, a last-minute beach trip when someone needs a shirt with better coverage and an insulated cup.

The history angle comes in for a few products, like a shirt featuring an old storefront and a koozie with cowboy boots and the number 1905, but most of the items look modern and quippy, if not entirely straightforward. One shirt says “Risk it for the brisket queso,” which is a lot more normal to wear than “I [heart] H-E-B Meal Simple Tex-Mex Brisket Queso Dip.”

H-E-B brand store Super fans snag T-shirts at the new H-E-B Brand Shop.Photo courtesy of H-E-B

“At H-E-B, we’re always looking for ways to offer our loyal customers exclusive, quality products, and with H-E-B Brand Shop we’re excited to give our superfans opportunities to celebrate and show off their passion for all things H-E-B,” said an H-E-B Group department vice president Sabina Israelian-Garcia in a press release.

Shoppers anywhere can view the nearly 60 branded items from the mobile app, as long as they select a store where H-E-B Brand Shop has rolled out.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Wrap up your holiday shopping with these can't-fail gift ideas

Check Your List

If you have a wide range of people to shop for this holiday season, you're going to need a lot of gift ideas. Luckily, we've got 'em.

From high-tech gadgets to spirits guaranteed to make you feel merry and bright, all the best presents are right here. You might even finish your shopping early this year, which is perhaps the best present of all.

Milam & Greene Whiskey Photo courtesy of Milam & Greene Whiskey

Milam & Greene Whiskey
Milam & Greene Whiskey is made by some of the world’s most experienced whiskey professionals, including CEO, master blender, and author Heather Greene and 30-year whiskey veteran and master distiller Marlene Holmes. Its charming distillery sits in the lush Texas Hill Country, where the hot summers, unpredictable winters, and wild temperature variances add spark and personality to its spirit.

The Milam & Greene whiskey team distills in Blanco, Texas, on small copper pot stills as well as in Kentucky on classic column stills, using proprietary yeast and grain recipes. Aging takes place in rickhouses located across four states in different casks for a variety of flavors, resulting in the most thorough array of casks made and collected by any craft distiller. These casks are all brought home to Texas to become the ingredients from which the award-winning whiskey range is batched to create perfection.

Awarded 93 points by Wine Enthusiast, the Milam & Greene Triple Cask Bourbon is a batch of three hand-selected straight bourbon whiskies: Texas bourbon for a pop of spice, Kentucky bourbon for vanillas and fruits, and vintage Tennessee bourbon for structure and tannins. Products can be found at premium retailers across the state and pricing starts at $40.

Saint Bernard hat Photo courtesy of Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard
The Corazon Playero Luanna Hat, priced at $239, is a customizable, handmade accessory that's sure to turn heads. A fan and diamonds motif brings a bright spot to winter and beyond, while the natural palm leaf construction and inner elastic band guarantee comfort.

Saint Bernard's mission is to provide its customers with an evolving collection of carefully selected products from the best brands. They strive to build a shopping experience that is easy, fun, and enjoyable. Whether you are skiing, golfing, hiking, swimming, or relaxing at home, their stores are up for the task. And wherever you are in the world, the online shop is open 24/7.

Be on the lookout for its mascot, the St. Bernard, while you shop, as she may just pop in. You also earn 5 percent back on every purchase — the more you shop, the more you earn.

Garrison Brothers holiday Photo courtesy of Garrison Brothers

Garrison Brothers
Give the holiday gift of hand-crafted boldness. Garrison Brothers bourbon is rich, smooth, and overflowing with quality, and always makes a great holiday gift for friends and family — or yourself.

Located in the Texas Hill Country, Garrison Brothers is the first legal bourbon distillery in Texas history and is one of the first distilleries in America outside of Kentucky to produce authentic, handmade bourbon whiskey — and only bourbon whiskey. They currently have a waitlist of more than 15,000 just to volunteer on bottling days, and their Cowboy Bourbon normally sells out within hours of its release.

Every expression of Garrison Brothers bourbon is made from a sweet mash bill and barrel-aged in the intense Texas climate. The extreme heat creates multiple aging seasons in a year, resulting in a darker, richer, and fuller bourbon; bolder than almost any other bourbon on the market.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 phone Photo courtesy of Samsung

What do you get the person in your life who has everything? A device unlike any other, fit for a budding content creator and avid multitasker. Flexible and powerful, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 empowers you to capture and create with its unique design. Z Flip4 is built to make the most of the holidays and beyond with its iconic and customizable form factor, upgraded camera experience, super fast charging batteries, and powerful processor.

In the season of capturing memories, Z Flip4 revolutionizes group photos, with no need for a tripod or professional photographer: just partially fold the Galaxy Z Flip4 so it stands on its own and capture crisp photos at various angles with Flex Mode hands-free. Packing powerful cameras and Samsung’s latest incredible night photography features, Z Flip4 comes ready for the perfect family portrait or selfie. After you take the perfect shot, easily share your portraits and videos with your family over Quick Share – with just a private link or QR code, quickly send your shots without losing their quality, even to those who don’t use Galaxy devices.

With its one-of-a-kind design and customizable colors, you can personalize every element of the Galaxy Z Flip4 for the special someone in your life. Choose from custom fonts and designs to create a coordinated cover screen and main screen aesthetic tailored to their tastes. Flip4’s cover screen theme can even be synced to other Galaxy devices — so you can give the gift of sleek, fashionable coordination at any holiday party. And for that special someone who deserves a special smartphone, you can build a custom Z Flip4 on Samsung’s Bespoke Design Studio with glass colors and frame options that provide 75 unique combinations for the ultimate personalized gift. Starting at only $209.99 with eligible trade-in.

People toasting with champagne Photo courtesy of Sheraton Austin

Sheraton Austin at the Capitol
Choose the Sheraton Austin as your holiday headquarters this year. Whether you’re visiting friends and family or planning a local staycation, take advantage of 15 percent off of premier accommodations, 3 pm late checkout, and a complimentary bottle of Champagne at check-in. Bonus: It's located near some of Austin’s major attractions. Create a little room in your life for relaxation and retreat with this offer, which is good now through January 15, 2023.

Photo courtesy of Centro Cultural Aztlan

Centro Cultural Aztlan presents Zonarte - El Mercado de Aztlan

Centro Cultural Aztlan presents Zonarte - El Mercado de Aztlan

Visitors can get their holiday shopping started at the ZonArte Holiday Market, hosted by Centro Cultural Aztlan.Guests can preview the newest creations from a wide range of artisans from San Antonio and across Texas offering their unique handmade gifts, original prints, paintings, sculptures, furniture jewelry, textiles, and artesania.

Participating artists include: Carol Perez, Malu Berumen, Elliott C. Trevino, Noe Garza, Vikky Jones, Angelina Pliego, Elizabeth Gonzalez, Miguel Gonzales, Alison Schockner, Ricardo Hernandez- Marques, Mauro Murillo, Angelica Mayorga, Dolores Gonzalez Jarvis, Sarah Shore, Juan Tejeda, Maria R. Rodriguez, Yolanda Priego, John Picacio, y mas.

Photo courtesy of Show Technology

Show Technology presents San Antonio Christmas Showcase

The 43rd Annual San Antonio Christmas Showcase is a premier holiday shopping event featuring over 300 vendors. Shoppers can expect a variety of fun and unique products. The event also includes holiday food, craft workshops, winery row, and even a convenient package check. Kids and the whole family can enjoy a visit with Santa and other activities in the Kids Zone.

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Legendary Red Hot Chili Peppers heat up San Antonio with 2023 tour stop

one hot minute

One of alternative rock's most legendary acts is headed to San Antonio on their highly anticipated North American tour next year. Red Hot Chili Peppers will play the Alamodome on Wednesday, May 17, 2023.

Kicking off in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 29, RHCP will also stop in Houston's Minute Maid Park on Thursday, May 25 to close out the North American leg of the tour before heading to Europe. Effortlessly hip modern rock band The Strokes will support the Chili Peppers on both Texas stops, along with talented bassist-vocalist Thundercat.

Tickets go on sale at 10 am Friday, December 9 online. Other supporting acts along the way include Iggy Pop, The Roots, The Mars Volta, St. Vincent, City and Colour, and King Princess.

Touring in support of their two No. 1 studio albums released in 2022, Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen, the Chili Peppers have played sold-out shows in London, Paris, Los Angeles, and more with notable artists such as A$AP Rocky, Anderson.Paak, Beck, and HAIM.

The first rock band in 17 years to score two No. 1 albums in one year, the band has been red-hot on the Billboard charts and at the MTV Video Music Awards, where they received the Global Icon Award and brought the house down with a performance of the No. 1 single “Black Summer,'' which also won the award for Best Rock Video.

Fronted by the impossibly chiseled and ageless (he's 60!) Anthony Kiedis, the Chili Peppers formed in 1983. Unabashedly proud of their LA roots, the band burst onto the scene with early singles such as "Higher Ground" and "Give It Away," both showcases of bassist Flea's slappin', funk-fueled basslines.

Throughout the peak of alternative music in the '90s, the band saw tragedy, personnel changes at guitar, and reinventions — Kiedes' rap-singing, Flea's bass grooves, and singalong choruses all constants over the decades.

While many '90s alt-rock acts fizzled, the Chili Peppers stayed relevant; the band boasts two anthemic singles with more than 1 billion streams — "Californication" and "Under the Bridge" — and more than 25 million followers on Spotify.

Expect this show to be packed with Gen Xers and new fans for what promises to be one hot minute.

Red Hot Chili Peppers 2023 tour dates:

  • Wednesday, March 29 – Vancouver – BC Place
  • Saturday, April 1 – Las Vegas – Allegiant Stadium
  • Thursday, April 6 – Fargo, North Dakota – FargoDome
  • Saturday, April 8 – Minneapolis – US Bank Stadium
  • Friday, April 14 – Syracuse, New York – JMA Wireless Dome
  • Friday, May 12 – San Diego – Snap Dragon Stadium
  • Sunday, May 14 – Phoenix – State Farm Stadium
  • Wednesday, May 17 – San Antonio – Alamodome
  • Friday, May 19 – Gulf Shores, Alabama – Hangout Music Festival
  • Thursday, May 25 – Houston – Minute Maid Park

Texas-based 3D printing company tapped by NASA to build on the moon

To infinity and beyond

An Austin-based builder of 3D-printed homes, ICON, is making one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind by signing a $57 million contract with NASA to build on the moon.

According to a release from ICON, the Texas company will soon venture into a new frontier of space dimensions. The contract, announced on November 29, was awarded to the company under NASA's Phase III Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. This program allows ICON to use the $57 million award to build their Olympus system, which adds to previous construction done by both NASA and the Department of Defense for exploration of the moon and beyond.

"ICON’s Olympus system is intended to be a multi-purpose construction system primarily using local lunar and Martian resources as building materials to further the efforts of NASA as well as commercial organizations to establish a sustained lunar presence," the release stated.

The project will work in conjunction with NASA's Artemis program, which launched its first rocket in 50 years on November 15. ICON will work with the program to:

  • Use lunar regolith samples brought back from Apollo missions, in addition to other regolith simulants, to see their mechanical behavior in lunar gravity.
  • Bring advanced hardware and software into space through a lunar gravity simulation flight.
  • Create results to inform future lunar construction approaches for the space community.
  • Establish critical infrastructure necessary for a sustainable lunar economy and habitation.

“The final deliverable of this contract will be humanity’s first construction on another world, and that is going to be a pretty special achievement," said Jason Ballard, ICON co-founder and CEO.

"It's a construction system we call Olympus system that will allow us to use the local materials of the moon to build all the elements of infrastructure necessary for a lunar outpost and ultimately a moon base ... launch and landing pads, roadways, habitats, you name it, all the things on the moon," said Ballard.

He added that they hope to start building on the moon by 2026, starting with a launch and landing pad.

In addition to the grant, ICON was awarded a subcontract in 2021 to support NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate to create the world's first and only simulated 3D-printed Mars surface habitat. Called Mars Dune Alpha, it is located at NASA's Johnson Space Center and is assisting in long-duration science missions.


Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

6 things to know in San Antonio food right now: New beer garden quietly opens

New You Can Eat

Editor's note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of San Antonio's restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.


The owners of Gold Feather have unofficially untapped a new venture, LadyBird Beer Garden. Although official channels are keeping details mum, a Facebook page run by landlords VLA Real Estate spilled the beans on the November 25 opening. In addition to serving craft beer, the concept at 447 W. Hildebrand Ave has a full kitchen, bar, and a small patio for enjoying the mild December weather.

Months after coyly announcing a second location, Elotitos Corn Bar sprouted a new Government Hill location on December 3. The snack shop is well known for its aguas frescas and elotes flights, offering the street food staple in various flavors. The new outpost is open Monday through Saturday, 3-9 pm.

Following the recent San Antonio expansion of Oregon-based Dutch Bros Coffee, another out-of-towner is gaining some local buzz. According to Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation records, Arkansas franchise 7 Brew Coffee is brewing its first Alamo City location at 4825 Walzem Rd. Barring delays, the project will be completed in May 2023.

Pop-up concept Rose Hip Coffee has found a permanent home at 116 W. Olmos Dr. in Olmos Park. The broadened Rose Hip Market combines caffeine with boutique retail, offering everything from kid's clothes to ready-to-eat sandwiches and salads. The playful equestrian wallpaper might make it a can't-miss selfie spot.

Other news and notes

A new cocktail conference will lift San Antonio's spirits in January. The Culinaria-hosted Third Coast Cocktail Summit will feature seminars, tastings, dinners, and tipsy soirées during its five-day run from January 10-14. All-access passes are now available for $250 for industry and $500 for general admission at the nonprofit's website.

In other booze news, Kinsman's Brandy Alexander Tour is back in full swing for the holiday season. Dorćol Distilling's annual celebration of the famous desert cocktail has drafted 14 spots to offer the renowned desert cocktail this year, including several newcomers like Allora, Bar Loretta, Double Standard, Ladino, and Sojourn Trading Co. A full list of participants can be found here.