Friends and family, we feel your pain — shopping for Christmas gifts for actors can be a challenge. After all, what do you get the person who spends their life in rehearsal? (Or dance class, or the practice room, or voice lessons…) If you’re not an actor yourself, it can be even more confusing!
Don’t worry — we have you covered! At Theater Love, we’re all musical theater nerds…so we compiled a list of the gifts we’d most like to receive this Christmas. (Mom, are you listening?) Most of them are truly useful; that way, you can treat your favorite broke actor and save them money at the same time.
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1. A Christmas gift an actor can use every day: Cute Tote Bag
Stripe tote | Rehearsal bag | Frye tote
On any given day, an actor is loaded down with a bunch of stuff — their audition book, sheet music, a script for their latest musical theater production, and a bottle of water, just to name a few. (You never know when you’ll have a few minutes to memorize lines.)
If you know an actor who’s always dealing with crumpled scripts or losing their sheet music, a tote bag is a super-thoughtful gift. The trick is to choose one with a variety of pockets to keep everything separate; that way, everything’s easy to find. (If you’ve ever frantically searched for a pencil to make notes in your music, you know that a small pocket is a must.) Bonus points if you can find one that’s big enough to fit character shoes and has a laptop pocket to keep your favorite actor busy when they’re not in a scene.
2. To help your favorite singer pamper their voice: Vocal Steamer
If you spend any time following Broadway musical theater actors on Instagram, you’ve probably seen vocal steamers in action. These little portable steamers deliver moist air directly into an actor’s nose and mouth. This helps reduce dryness and moisturizes the vocal folds for easier, healthier singing. Since the steam reaches the vocal chords immediately, it’s a great way to soothe the voice right before a performance.
This Vicks steamer (that’s it on the left) is tiny, so it’s the perfect choice for rehearsal.
If your favorite actor is broke (and who isn’t), a steamer can be a bit of a splurge — and that makes it the perfect Christmas gift for musical theater actors. We also love this portable vocal steamer; this countertop steamer is great for home or the dressing room.
3. One of the most affordable gifts for actors: A quality water Bottle
For most musical theater actors, a water bottle is a constant companion. Think about it — when’s the last time you saw your favorite theater nerd without a bottle of water? Hydration is crucial for every aspect of a performer’s job, from singing to staying healthy. Make your actor’s life a little bit better by giving them a gorgeous water bottle for Christmas. We love the Hydro Flask, but you can’t go wrong with a traditional Nalgene.
When in doubt, go for the big guy — actors are obsessive about hydration!
4. For the musical theater actor: Character Shoes
Capezio Manhattan | Bloch Split Flex
Between dance classes and dress rehearsals, actors spend a huge amount of time in their character shoes. These shoes are basic Mary Janes or T-strap heels; they’re versatile enough to go with costumes from a variety of time periods. Most importantly, they’re designed for flexibility and stability — that way, your ankles stay safe during big dance numbers.
Many actors wear the same character shoes in show after show, which means that they wear out quickly. Want to delight your favorite musical theater nerd? Buy them a replacement pair! If you need some ideas, check out our favorite affordable character shoes and 3-inch character shoes.
5. To make musical auditions easier: The Enraged Accompanist’s Guide to the Perfect Audition
If you know an actor who’s never had formal training, this book is a game changer. It’s written by an accompanist who’s played the piano a huge variety of professional musical theater auditions. His writing is entertaining — but even more importantly, he gives a bunch of practical tips for actors! After one read, your favorite actor will be able to walk into a musical audition feeling more confident.
True story: one of our Theater Love team members used this book before her first big audition! Here’s what she says:
“I have a ton of university and community theater experience, but I’d never done a professional audition before and I was terrified — mostly because I had no idea what to expect. I bought this book on a whim, and it was SO HELPFUL. I was still nervous, but it taught me how to prepare my music, how to talk to the accompanist to get the best results, and what to do when I got up in front of the casting team. Highly recommended!”
6. If you want to splurge: Theater Tickets
For a serious Christmas treat, you can’t go wrong with theater tickets. Don’t worry if you don’t live near New York; every major city in the United States offers touring shows or local theater productions. Do some sleuthing first to find out what your actor’s favorites are — but really, most of us musical theater people are delighted to see any show. (And really, you can’t go wrong with Hamilton.)
Some great sources for affordable theater tickets:
- Theater Development Fund gift certificates: Perfect for an actor who’s planning a trip to New York; they can be redeemed for discounted Broadway tickets at the city’s TKTS booths.
- TodayTix: A great place to find cheap theater tickets in cities around the world!
Don’t worry if you don’t have a huge budget; we’re willing to bet that your actor friend will be excited for just about any chance to see live theater. Want to treat someone to a show in New York? Save money with our tips for seeing Broadway shows when you’re broke.
Are you an actor? What would make the perfect gift for you this holiday season? Visit us on Facebook and let us know the Christmas gifts for actors you’re hoping to find under the tree this year!