While you're buying a leaf blower for your brother and an iPod for Sis, drop by the toy aisle for something to brighten a kid's stay at Children's Medical Center of Dallas. The Toys for Tots Soiree, an annual charity event, is the perfect opportunity to make a difference in a kid's life and attend a kicking Christmas party at the same time. Every year Toys for Tots gives thousands of toys to a metroplex organization that benefits mentally and physically challenged children; Children's Medical Center is Dallas' only health-care facility specializing in disorders of children from birth to 18 years old. Big-hearted Texans plus lotsa unwrapped gifts equals smiling babes in toyland. It's up to you whether Billy and Susie have their visions of sugarplums. Get the gift, wrap yourself in holiday attire and come for complimentary drinks and entertainment at the Gypsy Team Room, 2548 Elm St. in Deep Ellum, on Friday at 8:30 p.m. Call Amy Moore at 214-571-7186. --Danna Berger
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Remember the creepy kid in the skull cap from American Beauty, the one brought to tears by the plastic bag floating on a breeze? Therese Power is like that, only without the skull cap and pseudo-intellectual creepiness. She attempts in her art to find beauty in the ordinary. And she's successful in her pursuit. She's a Dallas artist with a solo exhibition on display Saturday at IR Gallery that's called--what else?--New Works. Power's known for her brightly colored pieces presented in panels on top and beside each other. But for New Works she toils within the shades of black and gray, charcoal and graphite. The reception Saturday is free and runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The gallery's located at 830 Exposition Ave. Visit www.irgallery.net. --Paul Kix
Ah, December. The Technicolor lights of the Christmas tree, the hymns blasting out the church doors from midnight Mass, the laughter of tiny, sugared-up cherubs echoing down the street as they joyfully deface your neighbor's Nativity scene. If you're really just bored with all the Christmas symbols and celebrations inherent in this month, get yourself over to the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood St., for the free Art Talk lecture on Thursday titled "Exploring Buddhism." Take the opportunity to view and discuss the artwork of this enlightenment-seeking, caste-system-rejecting, 2,500-year-old Asian religion. Who knows? Maybe the art will be so moving that you feel compelled to convert. That is, if you can get past that whole renunciation of worldly possessions thing (and that includes Christmas presents). The program begins at 7 p.m. and meets at the Visitor Services Desk. Call 214-922-1200 or visit www.dm-art.org. --Mary Monigold