Christmas music is trickling through the air, tinsel is back on the shelves, and it’s time to both give and receive. While this list is touted as a Christmas wish list, it can be kept handy all year long for anniversaries, birthdays, and any other time of year. I’m writing this list not only for voiceover talents like me but also for the nearest and dearest friend or family member of a voice over artist. This is, in a sense, an adult VO artist’s letter to Santa Clause. Nudge, nudge, honey & kids.
The Top 7 Voiceover Christmas Gifts
If you aren’t part of the industry, then buying a gift for a voice over artist can be baffling. What do we even do in that little booth of ours? You can give an artist paints, writers usually love a good book, but what do you buy a budding or professional voice over artist? Coffee without milk? A throat lozenge? Buying for a voice over artist might make some break into a light sweat, panic coursing through their veins, but worry not. I give you the voice over wish list:
#1. Training, the Voiceover Christmas Gift that Keeps on Giving
As a voice over coach and a long-time voice over artist, I can attest to the manifold advantages of a good masterclass, course, or one-on-one coaching sessions. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. It is something helpful that hones skills and helps with careers. No voice over talent has ever finished learning. Despite being a happily established voice over artist, I still hone my skills regularly, invest in upgrading my skill set annually. So coaching sessions as a gift are an excellent bet year after year. Make sure you find a professional coach. Otherwise, it’s a waste of your money and their time.
#2. Marketing, Often Overlooked But So Valuable
Marketing is an integral part of any voice over artist’s life. It doesn’t matter whether they are an established VO talent or an up-and-comer. You can get a VO artist a subscription to a great CRM. My personal favorite is VoiceOverView or a month with a social media manager. For an affordable option, take the time to compile a list of potential contacts or offer some free labor. Artists can offer a logo design. Accountants can help with the books. Social media savvy teenagers can set up an Instagram that pops. If your skillset doesn’t speak to anything in the VO world, you can perhaps trawl through your VO loved one’s website and offer some constructive feedback. Be careful with that one though, make sure they want feedback. Unsolicited advice is criticism in a fancy hat.
#3. Equipment, Microphones, DAW, Subscriptions, Galore!
The tools of the voice over trade can be complex and very hit and miss. Often you have to try something before you realize if it works for you or not. It can be tempting for newbies to either dive right in and buy expensive high-tech equipment that they don’t have the skillset to use or record on their phones. Both options are inadequate. Help out with the Christmas gift of VO equipment.
Essential items like a source connect subscription or a soundproof space are an easy way to go that will be appreciated. If you’re the handy sort, donating your time to help with soundproofing will likely be welcomed. Voice over equipment can be a massive cash outlay, particularly at the beginning of a career. So a good equipment gift can alleviate some of the pressure and give a voice over artist a chance to try out some new merchandise.
#4. TLC and Mental Health, a Gift for the Whole Family
Mental health is always important, but more so now than ever. Covid, lockdowns, and increased isolation have taken their toll on all of us, and we could all do with a bit of TLC. A voice over artist’s job is often an isolated one. We spend a lot of time alone in our booths, sometimes called an isolation booth, and for a good reason. Give the gift of a mental health break.
A spa trip is always a welcome getaway for both men and women. Tickets to the theatre or a simple night at the movies can be a nice break. For those of us with kiddos still in the house, babysitting vouchers are a gift straight from the heart. In general, ‘Some of my time vouchers’ are a particularly great gift for older siblings to give to parents or for the gift giver with a tight budget.
#5. Marc Scott’s 12 Days of VO Christmas
One of my buddy-colleagues, voiceover marketing maven Marc Scott, founder of VOpreneur holds a fun holiday giveaway leading up to Christmas over 12 days. His giveaway gifts include lessons and workshops. Join in the fun, and maybe you’ll win something special for the VO artist in your life. And if you don’t win, you can always ‘borrow’ his list ideas and buy them.
#6. Things for the Voiceover Christmas Booth
This one admittedly depends on your voice over artist. Some of us like to keep a clean booth, while others enjoy a little decorative clutter. The critical thing to remember is decor needs quiet. And I don’t mean ‘It might make some noise, but I can’t hear it and look how cute it is’ kind of quiet. I mean QUIET. Lights can be lovely, but again they need to be the type that doesn’t hum. LED lights work well. Get the no-noise kind.
You can also get some of those ‘effort on a dime’ gifts. Frame a picture of you and the kids, the dog, or a nice bit of scenery. I’m lucky enough to have a window, but not everyone is. Share the love through a room with a view (even if that view is a painting)
#7. Stuffing Stockers and Stuff to Open (that’s not sound equipment)
Christmas can be an expensive time of year. And while we might wish otherwise, we don’t all have thousands of dollars to spend on microphones, subscriptions, and sound equipment. That’s where the fun stuff comes in. Some coaches have merch on their websites that make perfect VO stocking stuffers or gifts, such as Anne Ganguzza’s throat spray or Michelle Blenker’s Fun and Flirty masks. I like the Moneymaker one. Then there are cool t-shirts, coffee mugs, caps, stickers, and prints on websites like RedBubble. My favorite t-shirt there is ‘You had me at Cold Read.’
Etsy has some fun stuff as well. I found personalized jewelry embedded with sound wave phrases, which I love. If gaming, animation, or manga is your wheelhouse, check out Comic2Canvas, where artist Zac Starke creates one-of-a-kind collages of your fav characters. I have become a fangirl over this art.
What to Give Clients for a Voiceover Christmas
Christmas gifts worked well when my client list was mainly local and under 50 (the number of clients, not their age). It’s such an excellent way to remind everyone you exist while also doing something nice. Nowadays, I just don’t have time to send that many gifts, so I send them out to my top fifteen and leave it at that. One year (before the excellent client list expansion), I sent out boxes of Lindt chocolates with a Christmas card to all my clients. And they loved it. Well, most of them loved it. One client in South America opened a Christmas mess of melted, gooey chocolate, oops!
It does prove that a client’s gift doesn’t have to be overly complex. A candle or a lovely journal all work just as well as some more expensive but often more pointless gifts. If you’re wondering what might be a good gift, Maxine Dunn posted an excellent round-up of client gifts for voiceover actors to give.