There's nothing better than thinking outside the big box when Christmas shopping rolls around.
It's even better if the gift supports an organization that the recipient likes. That's why local arts organizations are a great option for those who love music, theater and dance.
Many arts-related purchases can be made online or by phone, so you can avoid parking at the ticket office or mall. Here are a few to get you started.
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Supports: Arts Council of Fort Worth & Tarrant County
About it: The council's Arts Card enables holders to pick and choose discounted admissions and other goodies -- 25 percent off at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art Museum Store, for example -- at theaters and museums all over the area. It's $50 and benefits more than 30 local arts organizations.
Supports: Van Cliburn Foundation
About it: It's not too early to give the piano-lovers on your list tickets to the sixth International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, taking place May 23-29 in Fort Worth. Order by Feb. 1 for a subscription to all three rounds at the early bird price of $105, a 20 percent savings.
The foundation also has a closet full of CDs by past competition winners, such as Haochen Zhang, 2009 co-gold medalist. It's $18, and features Stravinsky's Trois mouvements de Petrouchka, Liszt's Spanish Rhapsody and more . There are also DVDs, including A Surprise in Texas, chronicling the 2009 competition, and They Came to Play, about the most recent amateur competition, for $29.95.
Buy it: 817-335-9000; www.cliburn.org
Symphony discs & deals
Benefits: Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra
About it: The symphony offers the gift of music in several subscription packages. Remaining concerts of the season at Bass Hall run through May, and the purchaser receives a complimentary FWSO CD. Gift subscriptions start at $32.
There's also a six-pack: The recipient can choose the concerts and receive an FWSO CD. The six-pack is good for six admissions and can be used any way he or she chooses among the Symphonic or Pops concerts from January through May; the best available seat in Bass Hall will be offered. Cost per concert is $42; total price for the six-pack is $252.
The FWSO also is offering daily deals on tickets to upcoming concerts, and gift certificates can be purchased online; for a complete list, visit www.fwsymphony.org.
Buy it: The packages are only available by phone at 817-665-6000. For a complete list of concerts, visit www.fwsymphony.org.
Musical gifts and experiences
Benefits: Bass Hall/Performing Arts Fort Worth
About it: The Deck the Hall sale is under way in the lobby of Bass Hall. In addition to Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra recordings in the gift shop -- CDs featuring Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducting the symphony's recording of Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony in E Minor ($15), for example -- the event is a one-stop destination for Christmas-themed musical snow globes ($23.95) and wind-up music boxes ($28.95) depicting various Santa-related scenes that play faves such as O Tannenbaum. Open noon-5 p.m. Monday-Friday through Dec. 31. The sale also runs from an hour before Bass Hall performances till everyone departs.
Bass Hall gift certificates, which feature an attractive photo of the heralding angels on the building, can be purchased in any denomination and used by the recipient toward tickets to any show presented by Performing Arts Fort Worth. Remaining shows this season include A Chorus Line, Beauty and the Beast, Jesus Christ Superstar and 9 to 5 The Musical.
Buy it: Bass Hall box office, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth, 817-212-4280; www.basshall.com
Opera festival package
Benefits: Fort Worth Opera
About it: The 2011 Fort Worth Opera Festival takes place May 14-June 5. The opera has gift certificates from $25 to $500. Package deals, including a $95 per-person ticket that includes a one-night stay for two at the Renaissance Worthington Hotel, are available, too. The seats are in section G for the June 3 Il Trovatore performance. The Family Four Pack allows a family of four to see three operas -- The Billy Goats Gruff, Little Red's Most Unusual Day and The Mikado -- for $115.
There also are student packages, and a getaway weekend for two for $395 per person that includes seats to all three Fort Worth Opera Festival productions at Bass Hall, a hotel stay and a Sundance Square gift card. Available for a limited time.
Do you have an opera lover who particularly enjoyed the world premiere of Before Night Falls at Bass Hall this year? You can give the gift of music with a copy of the recently released CD. It's available through the opera website on Amazon.com.
Buy it: 817-731-0726; www.fwopera.org/Tickets/Holiday-Guide/
Modern artsy gifts
Benefits: Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
About it: Museum gift shops are a great place for one-of-a-kind artsy gifts. The Modern Shop's $77 carafe aerates in a single step. Just put the decanter on an opened bottle and flip. Or for $15 each, you can get colorful trivet propeller table mats and toss the old, funky, burned-up pot holders you've been using to keep the holiday tabletop unscorched. The perfect time to do it? Try the Shop and Dine event from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday. Get a 10 percent discount on merchandise and food in the cafe. Spend $200 and you get a complimentary membership to give to an arts lover on your list.
Buy it: Modern Art Museum, 3200 Darnell St., Fort Worth, 817-738-9215; www.themodern.org
Memberships and more
Benefits: Kimbell Art Museum
About it: Cornucopia is the word for what's in store at the Kimbell. For kids, there are books on Egyptology for $19.99. Grown-ups can find jewelry, fine-art books, prints and, of course, memberships. For $65, the individual patron membership offers two free adult exhibition tickets on every visit. The $100 dual/family membership is good for four free adult tickets and tickets for all kids on every visit. Get 'em at the museum box office. Just bring a name, address, phone number and the gift recipient's e-mail, and they'll take it from there.
Buy it: Kimbell Art Museum, 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-332-8451; www.kimbellart.org
Benefits: Amon Carter Museum of American Art
About it: For a distinctive gift for the Texana lover on your list, check the Carter's exclusive Bluebonnet China. It's an adaptation of the wares that the Carter family dined on at its Shady Oak Farm. The big platter is on sale for $59.97. For guys who wear ties, there are Carter logo cravats at $35.
If you can't afford to give the real thing, archival prints of many of the Kimbell's artworks are also available. Prices vary, but you can get a reproduction of one of the museum's best-known paintings, William M. Harnett's Attention, Company!, on 11-by-14-inch archival paper for $50. Bigger prints cost up to $250. Memberships start at $50.
Buy it: Amon Carter Museum, 3501 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-738-1933; www.cartermuseum.org
Tickets for all ages
Benefits: Casa Mañana
About it: Send kids of all ages to the three remaining children's theater productions of the season -- My Son Pinocchio: Geppetto's Musical Tale, The Adventures of Brer Rabbit and The Wizard of Oz -- for $37.50-$43.50.
And for bigger kids, Casa is putting its brand on some Stock Show entertainment with concerts by B.J. Thomas, the Bellamy Brothers and Doug Stone, Jan. 27-29. Not a bum steer in the bunch, and tickets are $25-$35.
Buy it: Casa Mañana, 3101 W. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth, 817-332-2272; www.casamanana.org
John Austin, 817-390-7874