Gifts for film, theater, music and art lovers

The best gift for an arts lover this season? Make it an in-person experience: A gift certificate, gift membership or pair of tickets to your favorite independent theater. Your loved one will enjoy a great experience; your favorite artists will receive badly needed support, and you will have the satisfaction of spreading the love. It’s a win-win-win!

Here are a dozen ideas for giftable experiences, plus a few creative appliances and intriguing stuff for the coffee table:

Gifts to experience

Please your friends and family; fight for your local independents

New York City:

Gift certificate to New York City’s Public Theatre, applicable to almost any production from the people who brought us Hair, Hamilton and summer Shakespeare in Central Park. $10 and up,

Gift membership to Film Forum, New York’s non-profit cinema of ideas, playing American independents , foreign art films and repertory selections 365 days a year. $50 and up

Brooklyn’s Nitehawk Cinemas are publishing their movie-themed recipes and menus, Nitehawk Cinema Presents, compiled by chefs, mixologists and film experts. About $33. (Available Dec 7, 2021)


Gift certificate to legendary Steppenwolf Theatre, applicable to any show.

Merch from Chicago’s largest not-for-profit theater, Goodman Theatre, including their “Spare Me the Drama” T-shirt.

Gift certificate to Seattle Rep, good for season memberships and swag.

Los Angeles:
Gift card to the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles

San Francisco Bay Area:
Gift certificate to regional theater powerhouse Berkeley Rep

Gifts that open doors:

Travel tour gift card from Context Travel – $100 – $1,000

Treat your lucky arts lover to private, in-person tours of the world’s cultural and historical capitals — in more than 60 cities across 6 continents — led by local experts in history, art, and culture.

Gifts to enjoy at home

Studio-quality headphones – (About $100)

With faithful sound, comfortable to wear, these Sony MDR-7506 over-the-ear headphones will delight your music-loving friends whether they listen for pleasure or work with audio in a home studio.

Vertical vinyl record player – (About $200)

Your vinyl-inclined friends can show off their records with this Fuse Audio Vert AT, which lets light shimmer off the vinyl as it spins. Includes Audio Technica needle, built-in compact speakers and Bluetooth to stream a playlist. 

Simple, stylish Bluetooth speaker (about $100)

Natural sound in a small footprint without the complications of Wi-Fi — just an on/off switch, a volume control and an input selector.

YETI tote bag (about $150)

Sturdy and versatile carryall for picnics, festivals and road trips

Classic-style popcorn maker (about $100)

Add a theatrical vibe to movie nights at home.

Gifts for the coffee table or nightstand

The Lyrics – Paul McCartney (about $60)

The former Beatle annotates 154 of his songs, from Eleanor Rigby to Yesterday, to explain what inspired the lyrics for each one. In two volumes, including photos, posters, paintings, jottings and letters.

Accidentally Wes Anderson by Wally Koval (about $20)

A catalog of visually striking and historically unique destinations contributed by 1.5 million followers of the Accidentally Wes Anderson Instagram feed that captures the imagined worlds of the famously quirky and inventive filmmaker.

The Film Noir Encyclopedia – Edited by by Alain Silver, Elizabeth M Ward,  James Ursini (about $35)

Go-to resource for the eternally popular genre, exploring the seedy underbelly of the American Dream. A feast for the cinephile in your life.

Hamilton, by Ron Chernow (about $18 in hardback)

Where the current Hamilton phenomenon began: Grand-scale biography of the “bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman” who grew up to be George Washington’s right-hand man and an original American hero. Inspired the extraordinary Broadway musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, later captured in movie form and now streaming on Disney+.

Guillermo del Toro: The Iconic Filmmaker and his Work – About $30

Coffee-table tribute to the filmmaker who brings us richly imaginative films like Pan’s Labyrinth and Shape of Water .

Renegades: Obama and Springsteen (about $30)

Conversations about America between the former president and the forever Boss, with 350 photographs.

Have a gift suggestion? Send it to Poor Stuart.