Happy holidays from the Austin Bellydance Association! 'Tis the season of gift-giving and getting together with your loved ones. I am often in search of good gift guides during this time of the year, as I love to pick out just the right thing for friends and family. But a bellydance-related gift guide can be hard or impossible to find, so here we are. Disclaimer: I am not looking to recommend specific brands or vendors, but just ideas that might help make that connection for yourself. Don't forget to check out the playlist of the month and let me know in the comments below if you have any gift ideas for your bellydance sisters!
1. Complete their look with bellydance accessories: This one works best if you have a good sense of their style. Bellydance accessories, like a hip scarf, jewelry, or hair pieces make a great gift that's easy to pick up with a local or online vendor, and can be easy on the budget.
2. Boost their confidence with make-up and beauty items: The variety of options under this category are nearly endless. If you really know their taste and style, you can get something very specific, like an eye shadow palette, blush, or lipstick. If your less confident in that, you could get something almost all bellydancers could use, like eyelashes, eyeliner, or setting spray. You could even go the DYI route with a sugar scrub, body butter, or lip balm. Do be mindful that some people have fragrance and other skin sensitivities when giving a gift in this category.
3. Support creative and crafty vendors through bellydance-themed merch: Bellydance-themed crafts and other creative items can be a fun gift if you are less sure of the person's specific interests or tastes. There are quite a few vendors, both local and online, who make a variety of items from silk veils, to photography, to tank tops and everything in between. These will vary more in terms of price and quality, but there is truly something for everyone in this category.
4. Get them inspired through instructional DVDs or music: Give them DVD lesson from your favorite instructor or a CD featuring your favorite artist or composer. Since most of the media we consume these days is on streaming platforms, these gifts are welcome departure from the norm. Streaming has many benefits, but the platform's algorithms purposefully narrow down your choices, and some media from MENAT countries is impossible to access due to content agreements and copyright laws governing those platforms. A DVD or CD can bypass some of those complications and expose them to new videos or music.
5. Deepen their knowledge of dance through books: If you know a particularly nerdy bellydancer, this might be the perfect gift for them. Ideal for that dancer that's always trying to think deeper about what they're doing and why, books can be a great way to connect them to the countries of origin for bellydance or introduce new ideas and techniques. There are a variety of books on both bellydance and its cultural background ranging from instructional to inspiring.
6. Make a difference in their name through a charitable donation: This one is simultaneously less "bellydance" and less "gift," but I felt it needed to be included as it is an often-forgotten option. For the dancer in your life that truly has everything, perhaps a charitable donation in their honor is appropriate. Find a cause that they are particularly connected to, or if you aren't sure, maybe an arts- or dance-related nonprofit organization. Make a donation of a meaningful amount to you, and make sure to designate it as "in honor of" the bellydancer you would like to name. That way, the nonprofit will notify the person of the gift. Warm fuzzies for everyone involved!
7. Wow them with tickets to a performance: Austin is lucky to have a variety of performance arts venues that receive touring musicians and dancers of all kinds. Cities a day trip away are also bustling with performances if there aren't as many suitable options locally. Find out if there are any shows from famous musicians or dancers that they might be interested in seeing and give them the gift of experiences!
8. Indulge them with some quality time--alone or with you: Instead of a specific gift, maybe they need some time for themselves to de-stress, or would enjoy a private lesson with their favorite instructor. Maybe you can take them out for a coffee or a meal, or attend an exercise class together outside of your regular bellydance routine. Any of these ideas and many more can give the gift of quality time--the more personalized to the bellydancer you have in mind, the better!