Upcoming Events: Guys and Gals, We Really Like You and Want You to Be Happy

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The 4th annual Valentines for Soldiers event is coming up on Monday, January 21 from 6 to 9 p.m., once again held at the Saint Arnold Brewery at 2000 Lyons -- and it's certainly come a long way since a few people gathered at the request of local food blogger Nishta Mehra to make cards and stuff care packages at Anvil in late January 2010.

More than 250 people attended last year's event and raised more than $4,000. With funds from ticket sales and donations, Valentines for Soldiers was able to mail more than 70 care packages to U.S. troops abroad and -- with the leftover cash -- make a generous donation to the Wounded Warrior Project. The Wounded Warrior Project will once again benefit from this year's event ticket sales. Team Red, White & Blue will benefit from the proceeds of the bake sale that's also held on-site.

As with past years, Valentines for Soldiers is a family-friendly evening, so bring the kids along. Last year's event included family members of active duty soldiers, military veterans, first-time brewery visitors as well as avid fans of craft beers, amateur bakers, and valentine-makers of all ages. This year, the planning committee - still headed by Mehra - seeks donations of baked goods and care package items, APO/FPO addresses, and crafters of all skill levels to make cards for the troops. Participants are also encouraged to bring their own crafting supplies, although basics will be provided.

Entry to the event is $10, half of which is donated directly to the Wounded Warrior Project. All proceeds from the bake sale will go to benefit Team Red, White & Blue and fund the mailing of the packages. Food trucks H-Town StrEATs and Koagie Hots will be on site with food and 5 percent of their sales will also go to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

We have a full spread of Houston Press-sponsored events coming up this month, because we love you guys that much. Come to one or come to them all - either way, we want to see your shining, happy faces.

First up is the Artopia preview party at Eighteen Bar in Rice Village on Thursday, January 17 from 7 to 10 p.m. -- and it's completely free. Get a sneak peek of Artopia 2013, including live music, visual art and dance performances (from both 1920s-era flappers and Baz Lurhman-style ballroom dancers). Discounted tickets to Artopia on Saturday, January 26 will be on sale, and a few lucky people will even win VIP tickets -- which are already sold out.

The next night, join us for another Hoppy Hour at Phoenicia's MKT Bar downtown. This monthly craft beer appreciation event is popular for a reason: $10 will get you a four-course pairing of food and beer, explicitly designed just for Hoppy Hour. The featured brewery this month is No Label Brewing out of Katy (along with $4 pints of their beer), and our featured musical guests will be Adam Bricks and DJ iPod Ammo.

Last but not least, we're holding a good, old-fashioned Tweet Up on Thursday, January 31 from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Counter on Washington Avenue. Not only is it free to attend, but we'll be giving away tickets for free appetizers and drinks (wine, beer or soda) if you follow either @HoustonPress, @HPStreet or @TheCounterHOU on Twitter.

And coming up in February, look for another round of Food Truck Friday madness at the House of Dereon. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, February 1, we'll have L'es Car Go, It's a Wrap, Kurbside Eats and Speers Rolling Bistro serving up lunch and Saint Arnold serving up the drinks.

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