For 45 years, the Holiday in the Highlands Home Tour has fostered a community where neighbors get together to celebrate the holiday season, fundraise for scholarships, visit unique homes and continue a legacy of family tradition.

It’s more than just a visit to see unique homes. For some individuals it’s a part of their responsibility as an active member of the Lake Highlands Women’s League. For most families, this time of year means honoring tradition and history. But for the majority of the Lake Highlands community, this is the time to help raise funds to give back to the children, education and community.

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Whether you’re new to the area, or a long-standing sustainer for the women’s league, this distinguished neighborhood tradition is worth the acclaim.

So what is the home tour?

Established in 1978 by the Lake Highlands Women’s League, the Lake Highlands home tour has been an annual Holiday in the Highlands event. It is a way to raise funds to support the greater Lake Highlands community. 

Just last year, the organization raised nearly $200,000 that was directly funded for projects and services for 18 nonprofit organizations, 14 schools and provided 36 Lake Highland High School students with college scholarships. It is a well-known tradition hosting over 1,500 people for an informative and luxurious home tour throughout the neighborhood.

Each home has dedicated people they work with to ensure the home tour runs efficiently and people get to learn about the home and owner, Micke Houston docent for the home tour says.

It takes multiple women to run the show, with 20 executive committee members each playing a different role in the production.

The Sip & Shop Market is one of the revamped experiences at the home tour. Originally, this was known as the luncheon and market part of the home tour tradition. Starting Nov. 30 to Dec. 1, the Sip & Shop experience is a free event hosted during the home tour. To date, the event has raised over $3 million and all proceeds are dispersed to support the community. Light bites, champagne and a cash bar will be accessible for shoppers. 

Over the years, the home tour has been a hit sensation for people in the metroplex with hopes to continue the tradition for years to come.

Carolyn Murray

Lake Highlands Women’s League President

What does the Lake Highlands home tour mean to you?

It means bringing the community together to kick off the holiday season and raise funds for scholarships. It’s a great way to start the holiday season.

Out of the 15 years you’ve been a part of the homes tour, what do you enjoy the most?

I love all the details and work that goes into the home tour from behind the scenes. There’s so much work that leads up to the day of the home tour, and a lot of that stuff folks don’t get to see. I also enjoy seeing familiar faces each year and their beautiful homes.

How long does it take to prepare for the home tour?

The homes are vetted and selected up to a year out at times. Even in mid-October, there are walkthroughs being held to discuss how many volunteers will be needed, how parking will work, what stories come with the homes and much more leading up to December.

How long have you participated in the home tour?

It started at an early age. My mom was an active member of the Women’s League so the home tour was always marked on our family calendar and I remember as a kid my mom was a part of it. I remember when our house was featured in the ’80s; there’s so much legacy and history to the homes that participate. To this day, all hands are on deck in our household the day of the home tour.

It seems like this has brought your family together for years. how has it connected your family?

It’s a part of who we are; it’s a standing tradition on our calendar. It comes with being a part of the Women’s League, which we are happy to do each year. It’s all of the behind-the-scenes work like running extra brochures between homes and picking up the kids whose families are working the homes. It’s been a family tradition we always look forward to.

Micke Hughston Head docent for the Satterfield

How does it feel to raise money that will help fund some Lake Highlands kids in getting a college education?
I am very proud of this community and what the people here do to help children who may need support. I think it says a lot about our community. We put in effort, time and money into the home tour every year. I have friends from all over the metroplex who make sure to come to this event each year.

You’ve been a part of the Women’s League for some time now. what motivates you to continue your involvement?

It’s just a special group of women. I am the sustainer now and I have a group of sustainer friends who were in the league before my time. I love seeing my daughter be an active participant in the league and serving the community. It’s just a very special organization with exceptional people from the home tour.

How does it feel to have an active daughter participating in the league?

I am just delighted. When you look at how many women who are active in the league and how many of these women are mother and daughter duos, sisters, in-laws. It’s all just a wonderful tradition to continue for our community.

Do you hope to continue this tradition for future generations in your family?

I would and I certainly hope I get to see it. There is so much history and so many families that work together to continue the legacy. It’s a continuation of compassion for the communities and to make it a better place for the people who live here.

Amy Mina

Lake Highlands Women’s League home tour chair

Where does the money raised from the Home Tour go towards?

We divide it up where a portion goes to our high school seniors that we select from Lake Highland high schools, which is anywhere from 25 to 30 students. The remainder of these funds raised go towards the community to support different Lake Highlands charities, such as Feed Lake Highlands or community ministries. We really want to focus on the kids of Lake Highlands to ensure they are getting scholarships to be able to go to college. For some kids, this scholarship determines whether or not they get the chance to go to college.

What makes the home tour special?

In addition to the tradition, we love to spend quality time with our friends and family. It’s a chance to connect and see all of the neighbors that come through the homes. It’s fun to see all the hard work that goes into it and for everybody to see it and socialize with each other. It’s even more special to be doing the home tour with my mom and sister.

How long has your family participated in the home tour?

Our mother Janice became a member of the Women’s League in 1994 and this is the 45th year of the tour. She has done the home tour every year and even when we were away for college, both of us still made the effort to attend each year because it’s such a fun family tradition.

Janice Barger

Lake Highlands Women’s League honorary chairman

What kind of community does Lake Highlands foster?
My husband and I grew up in Tyler before moving to Lake Highlands 45 years ago in the 1970s. At the time there were a lot of young families, elementary schools and neighborhood children. It was growing and everyone there was wonderful and full of spirit and kindness. There’s a small-town feel with class tied to it.

What makes the home tour special this year?

The homes are very unique; some of them are older than others with large property. Two of them are newer and went under construction not too long ago.

To your knowledge, your daughters Melissa and Amy are the first sister duo to be co-chairs, how does this make you feel?

I was thrilled when Amy joined roughly four years ago and Melissa joined the following year. They’re both very smart, organized and energetic for the job. I encouraged them to do it because I thought they would do a great job working together and would bring different skills to the league.

These interviews have been edited for clarity and brevity.