Christmas. The only thing that matches the excitement you get from opening presents with friends and family is the stress and anxiety that comes with choosing the right present! Personally, I hate present buying; it always makes me anxious as hell. However, oddly enough, the people to whom I give presents do say that I’m great at choosing them. I think the real key to selecting the right gifts is to know your audience.
If you are shopping for a friend who is an actor—or looking for an acting-related stocking stuffer for yourself (no judgement from me)—try and make it something that they can experience, or that will feed their creativity and imagination. Luckily, there are actually some solid gift choices for the actors in your life that can really help them do just that! I have tried to cover a range of gifts here, and for a broad range of price points. S no matter your budget, or the significance of this actor to you, you’ve come to the right place!
Buying a Christmas gift for an actor can feel like an expensive, confusing, challenging and even mystifying task. But, in fact, there are a wide range of gift possibilities that will really put a smile on their face!
For around $10, you can really brighten up an actors’ day. With this little number, they can attach their phone to a tripod and ka-blammo: all of a sudden they are one step closer to perfecting their professional self-tape setup! This is a great present for a sibling’s new partner who is coming to Christmas—you know they’re interested in acting but you have no freaking idea what to get them. A phone to tripod clamp is useful, practical and very affordable. And as it’s not an immensely complicated piece of equipment, you don’t need to seek out top-of-the-line brands for it to be effective. If you want more gift ideas for self-taping actors, check out our self-tape equipment guide.You could look at a tripod, new lights: anything to help improve their self-tape setup.
Rode Smart Lav+ – $
This is a great gift for a significant other that is an actor and wants to upgrade their self-tape quality. The Rode Smartlav+ is a great, solid lavalier mic. Plus: if your gift recipient pairs this with the Rode recorder app on an old smartphone, you’ve actually gifted them a super cheap wireless mic setup for self-tapes and even short films! As above, if they are making a lot of self-tapes, check out our full equipment guide for more info. The quality of this mic is sensational and I highly recommend it. In fact, anything by Rode is a quality slam-dunk (if sometimes a little pricey). If you want to go all out then consider grabbing the following as well:
Rode Wireless Go – $$$
Okay: I know this is getting expensive now, so this may be jumping the shark for a lot of you. However, these things are simply incredible; I bought this set-up a few years ago and have never looked back! You plug one into your lav mic and the other into your camera or smartphone. Just like that: you have perfect, studio-quality audio! They are by no means cheap, but if you really want to blow an actor away with a brilliant gift, then this is the top of the tree.
A Great Acting Book – $$
A truly insightful, inspiring book about acting is the kind of gift that can fuel the aspirations of your acting friends for decades to come. We have a sensational list of the best acting books and best voice books for you to choose from here on Stagemilk. But, if I may, I might just make a quick pitch for ‘Audition’ by Michael Shurtleff. Shurtleff was a casting director on Broadway, and later in Hollywood, who gave some brilliant insights into why actors get cast in certain roles, and how the casting process works from behind the scenes. Even though this book is over thirty years old, the advice still rings true, even if the landscape around auditioning has changed a lot since Shurtleff was treading the boards himself or filling stages and films with talent. That being said, any book off the list in the link above will set you right!
Theatre Company Subscription – $$$
There are a lot of price points, here, depending on the theatre you are booking. If you didn’t want to go for a full season pass you can also get multi-show passes, which are a bit kinder on the wallet. Or maybe just a ticket to see Hamilton: after all, he is waiting in the wings for you! All that aside, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on theatres across the globe; now is the time to support them if you can. Subscription numbers directly affect the amount and kinds of shows theatres can put on in any given season. If you are in the financial position to be able to buy a season pass, you will not only bring a lot of joy to an actor friend or family member, but also to the production manager of your local theatre company and all of the artists they employ! Do a quick google for recommendations on the best theatre companies near you to find out more.
Streaming Service Gift Card – $$
In the modern world, if you want to see some of the most exciting new film and television being made, you have to have a streaming service subscription. As an actor, you need to have as many streaming service subscriptions as you can possibly afford: they keep you in touch with current storytelling trends and how the entertainment business is growing and changing. For many actors, this can be an enormous financial burden that really creeps up, so consider a gift card to lighten this load: these clock in at a range of price points and are guaranteed to be well received by their recipient!
NT Live Subscription – $$
Like the idea of giving your actor friend a look at some of the best contemporary stage productions in the world? A National Theatre At Home subscription boasts multi-camera, professional-grade tapings of some of the world’s most exciting theatre shows. National Theatre At Home has been slowly building its back catalogue—which features new work and classics performed by some of acting’s biggest names—and the quality of these productions is so high that they are regularly screened at cinemas around the globe. Put all of this incredible culture right in your actor friend’s living room! Truly a theatre lover’s dream.
Digital Theatre – $$
While the National Theatre At Home subscription is a fantastic gift, it does limit you to their catalogue. Digital Theatre is a very similar platform but offers theatre from a wider, more diverse range of major theatre companies. I love this platform, and even though it’s not as current or flashy as National Theatre At home, there is still so much great theatre to enjoy. In fact, just last night I just finished a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Cymbeline.
Saving the best ’til last. If you really wanted to show this person that you care about them and that you want them to be successful as an actor and as a human being, there’s only one thing for it: a subscription to the StageMilk Scene Club! The Scene Club is our online program that offers personalised feedback on your acting, live classes with industry experts, monthly one-on-one coaching sessions PLUS access to 2500 plays via Drama Online, voice and moment programs, live customer support, podcasts, ebooks, exclusive articles and a truly colossal scene and monologue library. Put simply: it’s a treasure trove of resources. If you were also swayed by Digital Theatre (above), you get that for FREE with one of these subscriptions.
Give Your Time – $0
Most actors don’t have a lot of money for gifts. So if you are an actor trying to treat a fellow board-treader, consider giving them some of your time instead. Can you offer them a gift card with 10 free self-tapes that you can help them with? Is there an audition that you can help them prep? Maybe you could edit a showreel for them? Think about what skills you have and how you can help a fellow actor feel supported and validated. You might be surprised to learn how appreciated this kind of gift can be.
There you have it, folks: a range of acting-themed gift ideas for the oncoming silly season! I hope you find the perfect gift for the actors in your life, or maybe a few things that you would really like to purchase for yourself (still, no judgements from me)! Best of luck with your gift giving and happy holidays to all!