Friday, November 1, 2019

14 Perfect Gifts for the Teenaged Ballerina

I am sometimes sad that my kids are now both too old for toys, mostly because *I* love American Girl dolls and Hot Wheels and LEGOs, too! I'd still happily sit on the rug and dress up My Little Ponies endlessly, but apparently 13- and 15-year-olds don't do that sort of thing anymore.

Whatever. I'll just wait until they both leave for college and then get all their toys back out and play with them again.

Fortunately, Syd, at least, has hobbies and interests that have taken over the time that she used to spend dressing up her Barbies and taking them on adventures. Premier among these is ballet, and as I'm getting a jump on Christmas shopping/crafting this year, here are some of my favorite ideas for gifts for the teenaged ballerina!

Bobby Pins

It's prosaic, I know, but ballerinas always need lots and lots of bobby pins, they're always losing them, and they never have enough. I promise that if you give a ballerina bobby pins, she'll be really happy! This set of bobby pins is perfect to tuck into a stocking (ahem), and I like that it's got a container so that there's at least a fighting chance that the bobby pins will mostly get put back inside it.



Syd declares that it's nice to have something to throw over your ballet clothes so that even if you don't change completely into your street clothes, you also don't look like you're just wearing your ballet uniform. Sometimes the kids have a while between classes and it's a hassle to change back and forth, and sometimes after class Syd would rather change at home than at the studio, but she also doesn't want to walk around Kroger's in her leotard if Matt wants to stop for something.

I bought Syd her current ballet cover-up, very similar to this one, in Hawaii, where it was being sold as a bathing suit cover-up, but I've also seen ballerinas wearing stretchy, loose dresses or oversized hoodies as a cover-up. 

Dance Bag

Dancers always need a good dance bag! As they grow in skill, they've got ever more gear to tote around. A good dance bag is definitely on Syd's wish list for Christmas--she's still using the drawstring bag that I made her when she was a Creative Movement kid and just needed a place to keep her tights and leotard between Saturday classes, and now that she's got classes three days and Nutcracker rehearsals two days every week, she definitely does NOT have enough room for her spare leo and tights, street clothes, dance skirt, stretch bands, hair supplies, stage makeup, water bottle, and snack, poor kid.

Syd likes bags that are ballet-centric and that don't broadcast the company's name. Bloch is a really good brand, too, and I like the fact that you can buy this dance bag in two different sizes. For bonus points, add a makeup bag and a separate bag for her hairbrush, because loose hairbrushes tear tights!

Fun Leotards

In some dance schools, there is exactly one leotard, and only exactly one leotard, that is permitted for class. In other dance schools, you can wear whatever you want. Syd's dance school leans toward the former, but isn't quite there. There's definitely one exact leotard--black, halter top--that the girls know they're supposed to wear, but in the average class any black leotard is acceptable, and a lot of the girls really like to change up the boring uniform by wearing black leotards with interesting features or small pops of color.

In-Home Ballet Studio

Matt and I definitely went overboard building this in-home ballet studio for Syd, but it started off simply, with just that PVC pipe ballet barre, and that's a quick, easy, cheap project that comes apart and therefore stores well. To ramp it up, add a single wall mirror. To go beyond what we did, add a stereo and some inspirational posters.

Inside Jokes and Puns

The ballerinas I know love to share little inside jokes and ballet puns with each other--when you're part of something so specialized, part of the fun is taking advantage of the specialized language and enjoying the community of a secret code!

I really want to buy this shirt for Syd especially because she also studies French and so the thought of a French swear on a T-shirt cracks me up, but Syd herself prefers stuff that uses actual ballet terminology to build puns.

Leg Warmers

Ballerinas need to keep their muscles really, really warm, and leg warmers are a great way to do it. Syd really likes the Bodywrappers brand (we buy their tights!), and she likes the fact that these Bodywrappers leg warmers are so long.

Misty Copeland Stuff

All the ballerinas I know are super into Misty Copeland--there are a LOT of Misty Copeland-themed inspirational memes going around the teen ballerina Instagram accounts, I'll just say. I really like the fact that her bio has a young reader's edition, as well as a regular edition for older kids, and there's a picture book about her for the little ones, too!


In the past, Syd's ballet teachers have had the kids write out their choreography, or jot down dance terms, etc. It happens often enough that it's handy to have a notebook and pencil in one's dance bag, especially if it's a cute one like this one that also has a cardboard cover, so that when she finds it in the very bottom of the bag under her jazz outfit and last week's leftover snack, it's at least not crumpled beyond recognition.

Performance Souvenirs

The Nutcracker is so far the only really big production that Syd's danced in, but she loves it so much that she always loves getting keepsakes related to it, and I imagine it's much the same with most ballerinas and their favorite productions. I like the idea of this LEGO Nutcracker because it's both a keepsake AND something that she can take apart and store away when it's not on display.


Are all teen girls super into socks these days, or is it just my teen girl? Well, and her friends, because there are some kids over right now with Syd, and I've definitely seen some novelty socks running past on other feet.

So in my humble opinion, most teen girls these days would be super thrilled about socks, and a ballet kid would be extra super SUPER thrilled about ballet socks like these!

Stretch Bands

Syd's afraid of her studio-issued stretch band because the very first time she used it outside of class, it snapped her in the face and really hurt her! Nevertheless, ballerinas have to use them, so they might as well have some in their favorite colors.

Travel Games

There are a lot of long waits during performance season. It's great for the kids because they get SO much time with their ballerina friends, but also they have to stay somewhat contained and quiet-ish and can't mess up their hair, etc., so the activities that they can do together are limited. Travel games keep them from all just zoning out on their phones, and for some reason--maybe because the waits are so long and the options for entertainment are so limited--the kids tend to LOVE them. Every Nutcracker season that Syd has danced in has been consumed with group addictions to games like Uno and Spot It, quick and easy games that as few or as many people can play as necessary, games that everyone already knows the rules to, games that move fast so you can drop them the second you hear your stage call and still feel like you accomplished something.

Spot It is especially fun, I've gathered, because there are so many different varieties to the sets. If a kid brings in a new set with a different theme, all the kids act as if it's a totally new game and get excited all over again.

Warm-up Booties

Here's another thing that ballerinas always could use another pair of: warm-up booties! These are really useful, because ballerinas have to keep their feet warm and studios in the winter are freezing, but they're also super cute and comfy. I don't know a single dancer who isn't obsessed with these exact warm-up booties.

Do YOU have a dancer who loves something specific, or have you given a ballerina a gift that was a major hit? If so, please tell me about it in the Comments below, because I SUPER want to know about it!

No comments: