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When it comes to holiday shopping, Amira residents are spoiled for choice. They can shop for one-of-a-kind gifts at boutiques in Old Town Tomball or head to the Houston Premium Outlets to gift fashion-conscious friends with designer goodies. Choosing the perfect gift once they get there? That can be a little more difficult. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself as you browse the shops.

Do They Have a Hobby?

Giving a gift related to a person’s hobby is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they are sure to appreciate it. On the other hand, they might get 20 of the same thing. Get them talking about their hobby (pretty easy). If they mention something they wish they had, write it down. Gift cards to hobby stores or a class where they can learn more about their hobby are sure to be a hit.

Could They Use a Cash Infusion?

Everyday expenses are, well, expensive. Groceries, gas, home goods. Young people, in particular, appreciate gift cards to grocery stores, Amazon, Target and Exxon. You can also give cash, of course, but that can feel impersonal.

Could They Use a Hand?

From painting the house to cleaning out the garage, everyone can use a hand. Purchase the services of a house cleaner or closet organizer for the day. Offer to pay to have the lawn mowed or a faucet fixed. You can also offer your services to help with whatever task they have been putting off.

What Would They Buy for Themselves?

Take your prospective gift recipient shopping. As they browse for others, they will see things they like. They may even mention buying it once the holidays are over. Beat them to it.

Are They Perpetual Students?

Everyone has something they would like to know more about. Find books, videos or classes on their favorite topic. The Great Courses and  Masterclass offers a variety of classes on all sorts of topics. A friend that enjoys cooking might appreciate a meal subscription service such as  Blue Apron.

Would They Prefer an Experience?

Experiences can be tailored to the recipient and are consumable so won’t end up on the white elephant gift table next year. Give tickets to plays and musicals. Offer to attend a lecture with them. If they love the outdoors, sign them up for an evening hike at the nature center or camping out at the zoo. Stressed parents would probably love a spa day.

Do They Have a Favorite Charity?

We all have that friend who truly doesn’t want anything. Rather than give them more household clutter, donate to their favorite charity. Most charities will send the recipient a gift card letting them know what you did. Alternatively, purchase something from which a portion of the proceeds benefits their favorite cause.

Do They Want to Spend Time with You?

Sometimes the only thing a person wants is to spend time with you. If that’s the case, create a homemade gift card promising to do an activity together. It could be something you both enjoy or something you’ve always talked about doing together. You could also treat them to lunch or meet up for coffee.

For Perry Homes, corporate social responsibility is not just a buzzword. Through the Perry Homes Foundation established by Executive Chair of Perry Homes Kathy Britton in 2017, the builder seeks to make a difference through initiatives that support education, humanitarian efforts and the environment.

Britton created the Perry Homes Foundation to honor her father, Perry Homes founder Bob Perry. Since the company’s inception in 1967, Mr. Perry was passionate about serving others and giving back to the community

The mission of the Perry Homes Foundation is to work with local organizations to support initiatives benefiting those who are disadvantaged or less fortunate, to create educational opportunities for deserving students needing financial assistance and to enhance the beauty and sustainability of local parks and communities.

Perry Homes supports three main super charities, called “champions,” that focus their efforts on serving local youth, education systems and military members. The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, the Houston Parks Board and Houston Area Women’s Center are the Foundation’s champions. Partnering with them, Perry Homes has helped underprivileged students receive books, improved Houston area parks and built homes for veterans.

The Foundation supports other charitable groups through collaborative programs, scholarships, fundraising efforts and donations. Last year, Perry Homes donated more than $1.8 million to 40 non-profit organizations to advance their missions.

In addition to monetary support, Perry Homes’ employees are encouraged to volunteer in their communities. Last year, for example, employees assembled 400 survival kits for World Homeless Weekend.

We are proud of Perry Homes’ efforts to be a good corporate neighbor and strengthen local communities.

If you’re reading this, it’s a pretty good chance you’ve gone through middle school.

And if you have, you know it can be hard. It’s a cauldron of big emotions as children start experiencing the emotions that will take them into their teens.

This is one reason Tomball Independent School District has both intermediate schools and junior highs. Intermediate schools serve fifth and sixth graders while the junior high campuses serve students in seventh and eighth grade. While unconventional — most sixth graders attend school with seventh and eighth graders while a small majority of elementary schools go through sixth grade — having this split campus is beneficial to healthy development and continued learning for pre- and early teens.

Starting in fifth grade and continuing onto sixth, children start experiencing changes in their bodies. Fifth graders are on the cusp of childhood and adolescence — and still enjoy many of the same activities and relationships they did as fourth graders — but it’s as if gaining an extra digit to their age gives them an apparent confidence that is manifested in how they interact with their peers, teachers and family. As these fifth graders transition into sixth grade, their emotions become stronger. They may seem confused, rebellious and mature but still childish. They also begin to gravitate more toward their peers, and peer pressure becomes a powerful force.

A smaller school environment — such as might be found at a campus serving only two grades — allows teachers and staff to better monitor how children are feeling and interacting, helping them smooth over the rough patches. Without exposure to older seventh and eighth graders, fifth and sixth graders could feel freer to indulge in the silliness of childhood they sometimes feel at that age. It better allows them to move into adolescence at a slower, less pressured pace than if they went to school with older children. And conversely, having their own school — rather than being grouped with younger elementary children — gives them that independent, “grown up” feeling children of that age often cherish. A bonus for fifth graders attending a school such as Tomball Intermediate — which serves Amira — is that they can participate in band, choir and orchestra, which are often not offered on an elementary level.

Conversely, a seventh and eighth-grade campus gives those students a welcome feeling of separation from childhood as they continue their move to adulthood. These young teens and pre-teens have their own unique issues as their bodies, minds and even personalities continue changing, and staff dedicated to those particular changes is a distinct advantage to a healthy adolescence.

Students of this age are eager to explore interests, and schools such as Grand Lakes Junior High that serves Amira offer a broad range of classes, from theater, art, dance, orchestra, choir and band to cheerleading, basketball, track, swimming, volleyball and football. Students can also participate in a range of clubs and school-sponsored social activities.

The unique approach of Tomball ISD places it at the top of the list of Best School Districts in Harris County, according to, earning a coveted A+. In Texas, the district ranks No. 14 out of 1,018 reviewed by the site. It also ranks as the best place to teach and the district with the best teachers in the Houston area.

If this approach to middle school education appeals to you — as well as Amira’s many amenities — visit with our builders to see how you can make the move to Amira.

Amira offers fabulous amenities all residents can enjoy — including Fido! Derby Dog Park was created just for our canine companions. Dog “maws and paws” love taking their fur babies out to meet other dogs and unleash some energy. If you have never taken your dog to a dog park before, you are both in for a treat. To ensure it’s a successful trip, here are a few tail-wagging tips.

A Trip to the Vet Before a Trip to the Park

Your dog will be around a lot of other dogs. Before going out to play, your dog should have had rabies, Bordetella, canine flu and leptospirosis shots at the very least. Ask your vet if any other vaccines are warranted. Be sure your dog is regularly on a regular preventative for fleas, ticks and heartworms. You don’t want to bring hitchhikers home with you.

When in Heat, Stay Home

If your dog is not spayed, skip the dog park when she is in heat. Male dogs can become aggressive around females in heat. Male dogs that have not been neutered can be aggressive even without an in-heat female nearby. You know your dog best. Avoid the dog park if your dog is not fully socialized.

Visit the Park Without Your Pet

Not all dog parks are as “paw-some” as Derby Dog. Before you take Fido out to play, visit the park alone to ensure your pup will be safe and happy. A dog park should have a well-maintained fence that goes to the ground and extends high enough that dogs can’t jump over it. Double-gated dog parks are great. When one door is open the other is closed which keeps dogs from going on the run. Large dog and small dog areas are a good sign. Your pup will be happier and safer playing with dogs their own size. Walk the park to see if pet owners are picking up after their dogs.

Treats Before and After

As tempting as it may be to give your dog treats at the park, don’t. You don’t want to start a tussle. Other dogs might try to steal or bully your dog to get to any food you might bring. You can give a treat before going into the park. After you are done playing, give your dog a treat in the car to thank him for being a good boy.

Don’t Bring Their Favorite Things

When packing your doggy bag, leave out your dog’s favorite toys. Instead, bring a couple of balls and some sticks. That way you can share the fun with other dogs without your dog becoming upset.

Stay Alert

As your dog will be playing off-leash, always keep an eye on him. Put away your cell phone or tablet and books. You can still talk to other dog owners, just stay alert. If you notice other dogs getting rough, call your dog over to you. If your pup seems timid and doesn’t want to play, it might be time to head out. Always have your dog’s harness and leash available so you can easily catch him and take him home.

Have Fun

Dog parks are fun for you and your pup. It’s a great way for both of you to make friends and future puppy play dates. Just remember that the main reason to go to the park is to give your dog some freedom and spend quality time with him. And if you make the move to Amira, Derby Dog Park is within walking distance of your new home.

Need some island time? Embracing bold colors, playful prints and tropical textures in your décor can give your new Amira home tropical vibes all year round. Follow these tips to create your own personal oasis.

Bright and Breezy

When it comes to tropical décor, the keywords are “bright” and “breezy.” Frame oversized windows with sheers so sunlight can flood your home. Paint walls white or cream for an airy feel. Amplify space and light with strategic mirror placement. Mosquito netting is a beautiful and tropical canopy for the bed.

Bold and Beautiful

The walls may be white, but the accents should be as bold and beautiful as possible. Aquamarine, lime green, hibiscus pink and bright yellow throw pillows, picture frames and curtains all bring a touch of the tropics to your home. If serenity is key, layer bedrooms with shades of blue and taupe for a beachy feel.

Green and Growing

Nature thrives on tropical islands, and it’s hard to find a resort that doesn’t feature gorgeous plants indoors and outdoors. Welcome guests with a parlor palm in the entry or family room. Line up a row of bromeliads in the bathroom. Orchids make a tropical statement wherever they are placed. Bird of Paradise in your backyard creates a colorful oasis.

Playful Prints

Ditch solid colors and embrace bold prints. Banana leaves are a popular choice. Pineapples are a fun addition to curtains and throw pillows. Remember that large prints can make small rooms feel smaller so go abstract but colorful. If you really don’t like white walls, consider wallpaper in a tropical print. If you are concerned about jungle overload, switch to beach-themed art and accent pieces.

Tropical Textiles

All-natural fibers are the way to go when it comes to floor coverings, placemats and accent pieces. Choose cotton and linen for sheets, blankets and throws. Sisal makes for a soft floor covering. Jute baskets are decorative and can double as storage. Bamboo trays can hold keys on an entry table or breakfast in bed. Rattan or wicker furniture on the patio will make you feel like you’re on vacation.