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What Every Competition Dancer Needs! Plus Recital & Christmas Gift Ideas!

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By Teresa Nelson / Edited by Samantha BelleroseB.Ed, Dip.Dance(Performing Arts)

Our first dance competition was a complete disaster. I was completely unprepared, unorganized, and stressed to the gills.  Over the years, after humbly asking opinions from other dance moms and finding out how to make things easier for myself, I have found a lot of products that every competition dancer and every competition parent must have.

14 Things Every Competition Dancer Needs!

Here is a list of the top 10 things every competition dancer needs plus a few gift ideas for recital and Christmas.

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1. Rolling Garment Bag

A spacious, high-quality rolling bag, or case is an absolute must for organizing costumes, shoes, and other essentials. It always helps to keep your dancer’s luggage separate from your own.

In the heated moment of quick changes, knowing right where to go to find something is an absolute must! Staying organized and keeping things conveniently located at a competition will help reduce frustration and anxiety for everyone. Look for a rolling bag that has the ability to store and hang garments.

2. Make Up Case with Mirror

Every competition dancer needs a makeup case or makeup train. Organize things from makeup, jewelry, and hair products. My dancer loves having her own makeup vanity since our hotel bathrooms are usually small and crowded. Also, if you must set up in a dressing room, it is very convenient to have everything nearby and accessible. Having a well-lit area and mirror to apply make-up is also very important. There are options for every budget when shopping for this must-have.

If you are after some more options check out our resource page with make up bags and cases here!

3. Collapsible Stool

These stools are amazing! They are lightweight and very portable. They come in various styles, colors, and budgets. Some even have a USB charging station! They are very easy to carry and can be set up in seconds, making them convenient for not only dancers but parents. We use them routinely at our dressing area for my dancer to sit on while I do her hair and for her to put on her makeup.  I carry a collapsible stool with me all the time at conventions, to avoid sitting for long periods or on the floor. Other times, I have been stuck behind multiple people and cannot see my daughter, so I pop this stool open and step on up…never missing a moment!

4. Portable Dance Floor

A portable dance floor, sometimes called a dancing disc, can be used at home or at a competition. They come in various sizes to accommodate various practice needs. Having a dedicated, safe surface to practice your tapping moves and turns on is a must. Look for lightweight, multi-purpose boards, typically with a high-quality Marley surface for your dancer to carry on the go. We always bring our portable dance floor with us to use in the hotel room as they are usually carpeted. For more information about a Dot 2 Dance check out our resource page here!

5. Air Pods or Skull Candy

Your competition dancer is going to want to rehearse before they get on stage and to do this without disturbing others and to be able to clearly hear their music they are going to need headphones.

Wireless headphones that go in the ear are best as there are no wires to trip over and no headband that can fall off. Ear muffs on headband style headphones may also cause make up to rub off around the sides of the face so they really aren’t the best idea!

6. Portable Charger with AC Outlet

Now a days, most of us own a portable charger with USB ports for our phones and other devices. Having one of those as a competition dancer is really handy especially on those really long days – you can be charging your phone or air pods in your bag as you dance.

But what is even better is if your charger also comes with an outlet! This way you can put in your curling or straightening iron anywhere! Or if you have (rhine) stones on a costume that need repair with a hotfix applicator you are good to go!

7. Hotfix stone Applicator

Those competition costumes don’t just dazzle and shine on their own. It can take hours and hours and hundreds and thousands of rhinestones to make them shine.

And one of the easiest ways to get them onto a costume is by using a hotfix stone applicator or tool.

But if you have the budget and know how, buying an ultrasonic Rhinestone welder is the way to go! An ultrasonic welder especially made for plastic rhinestones has a vacuum to pick up the stone and then thermopresses the rhinestones to the garments. The machines are not cheap – but they are commercial quality and allow you to stone a costume quickly and easily.

8. Stretching Band

Having a stretching band in your collection of “must-haves” is very important. We all know that proper stretching prevents injuries and maximizes flexibility. Find one that works for your dancer since there are so many different options.

Some dancers use plain resistance bands with various tension and others prefer the bands that have loopholes to accommodate light to strong stretches. Others find over the door stretching bands work well. Stretching bands can be used to stretch all parts of your body from toes and feet to neck and shoulders. They always come with how to use instructions, but I have also found free online resources helpful.

Take a look through our strengthening and stretching resource page for more ideas!

9. Portable Steamer

It only took me one time using a hotel hot iron to realize that I needed one of these! The delicate material of most costumes can wrinkle easily and be damaged by hot irons. A portable steamer can be packed easily and used to make those costumes look brand new. There is nothing more visually unappealing on stage than a wrinkled and crumpled-up costume. This is an easy fix with a portable steam iron. Look for irons that have long cords, quick heat up, and long steam time.

10. Sewing Kit and Safety Pins

Having a small sewing kit on hand at a competition is essential. There will always be a moment that you will need to make a quick repair or adjustment with a costume. Be prepared! Those mini scissors come in handy when a thread is hanging or to open a package of new tights.

Always have safety pins on hand too, they are so useful. We use safety pins to attach audition numbers to our dancers’ outfits and to tighten a waistband if necessary.

11. Body Adhesive or Two Sided Tape

Body adhesive is a versatile product. It can be used to keep gloves and other costume pieces in place. Our dancer also uses these products to hold the fabric in place from shirts to skirts and waistbands and more.

We use these products at almost every competition. So, I consider them a must-have!

12. Hair Products

I struggled for a very long time to find the perfect “go-to” hair products. I purchased high-end gels and sprays. I could just never get her hair to look the way I wanted it to.

Until, one day, I noticed a beautiful, shiny slicked-back hairstyle with a perfect part down the middle at a national competition. As a dance mom, the last thing I wanted to admit was defeat…but I had to go up and ask another mom how her dancer’s hair was so perfect.

She proudly shared her miracle treatment listed here. I have to say, this is by far the easiest to work with. The gel can be used for all hair types, does not flake, creates a beautiful shine, and washes out easily. A “must-have” for sure!

13. Mini Oven or Microwave

You are probably thinking that this item does not belong on the list of gifts for a dancer but hear me out.

We travel to competitions and spend a lot of weekends away from home in hotels. We like to be as close as we can to the venue and sometimes this means the only rooms that are left are hotel style rooms without cooking facilities. At the end of a long day or even early in the morning you may not have time or the budget to go out and eat and so having a portable and mini microwave or oven can be a life saver!

14. Mini Fridge or Cooler

Ok, so this gift is going along the same lines as the last one…

Hotel rooms usually have a fridge, but the problem is that they are usually filled with minibar items and in some cases if you move them you get charged! So bringing your own cooler or mini-fridge is a no-brainer!

It is also much more convenient to bring things such as milk, cheese, and sandwich meats with you from home because you may not have the time to get to a store once at the competition, and so bringing food from home makes perfect sense!


If you are anything like me in this crazy fast paced world, I struggle to come up with gift ideas. So, here is a list of ideas I have found and purchased in the past, that have been a big hit with my dancer.

Recital Gifts for your Competition Dancer

At the end of every recital, we usually give our dancer a flower bouquet. She loves them and you can read all about giving flowers to your dancer as well as the best colors and bouquets in our article titled Do you need to give a dancer flowers or a gift after a dance recital?

Sometimes, we get a bit more creative and want to make it more of a reward for her amazing performance and to show how proud we are of her. Here are few gift ideas every dancer will love.

Personalised Makeup Bag

My dancer always gets excited when she sees a makeup bag. It usually means something special will be inside. A gift card, a new lipstick, candy. Either way, it is a win every time.

If you are after something a little different or bigger – check out our resource page all about make up bags here.


There are all types of choices when it comes to jewelry. I love necklaces because there is nothing quite as special as placing a beautiful, inspirational necklace around my dancer’s neck as I beam with pride and love.

Music Box

Music boxes are beautiful and inspirational. They are wonderful for storing special photos, trinkets, and dried flowers. Listening to the music can be calming and a time for reflection after a stressful performance.

Personalised Makeup Bag

T-shirts are fun and comfy. There are lots of options for personalization. T-shirts are always a go-to item for every dancer and are quite versatile. Some dancers love to be creative and make cut-outs. 

There are many DIY tutorials on YouTube and Pinterest that show how to crop, fringe, and scoop a neckline. Finish them off with some hot-fix rhinestones. Hot Fix-Rhinestone kit

Fidget Spinners and Toys

When age-appropriate, toys can be a great gift. They may not always last very long or be very memorable, but they are fun!

I have recently noticed a lot of dancers using stress balls and fidgets to relieve anxiety as well as pass the time as they wait for their sections at competitions. The pop-its pictured above are very popular right now and the dancers are collecting them.

Christmas Gifts for your Competition Dancer

Dance Bag

Because you are throwing smelly shoes and other items in a dance bag all the time, even if your dancer already has one there is a chance they might be needing a new one soon and Christmas is one of the best times to get them one. It is kind of a marker so you can remember how long you have had it for, so when it starts looking old you can easily count back and say – yes we got that one for you three christmas’s ago!

There is a dance bag out there for every dancer. Add personalization and show off your personality. Throw those ballet shoes, drinks, and snacks in the bag and off you go.

This is one that I personally like, but we have a page with a whole variety of them on our resource page that you can access here!

Dance Wear

What dancer does not want a new leotard – especially a competition dancer who is about to start comp season and attend lots of dance conventions! At a dance convention a competition dance attends master classes with guest teachers and they can wear what ever leotard they want to unlike when at their studio and in their dance school uniform!

Christmas is the perfect time to change out the old for the new. We all know how fast they grow!

Dancewear solutions is an online dance wear and shoe supplier and have an extensive selection of leotards in a huge variety of sizes, colors and styles!

Custom Photo Cube

Commemorate the dance year with a custom acrylic cube or custom photo frame. This has been my all-time favorite way to commemorate a special dance.

Choose an award-winning dance or performance and it will be stored forever in this beautiful acrylic cube. My dancer loves these memory cubes, and she keeps them on a small shelf in her room.

Personalised Calendar

Another great idea to commemorate all those dance memories is by uploading all your dance photos into a calendar that you can use the following year.

Not only will it be handy in tracking all those competitions dates but it will also be a source of inspiration and motivation for your dancer as the reminice of the good times they have had so far as a dancer!

Foot Bath or Spa

If you have not already purchased a foot bath for your dancer, this is the year to do it! Your dancer will love relaxing and soothing those achy feet. What a treat!

Dance Exercise Equipment

Most of us dance parents have set aside a dedicated space for our dancers to practice those amazing dance skills. This year might be the perfect year to add something a little extra, like a ballet barre or a tumble track. I love the kit above because it has everything a dancer would need to work on positions, balance, and flexibility.

And if you are after more ideas on how to transform any room in your home into a dance space check out our articles here to get heaps of inspiration and ideas!

What are you going to buy your competitive dancer?

Every competition dancer is quite unique. Each has different likes and needs. However, I hope that some of the above suggestions help when you are uncertain where to start when it comes to your dancer’s inventory. Recital is an exciting and sometimes stressful time for parents and dancers, but if you plan, you will have some of the most beautiful memories. Having that special moment to share a gift is a wonderful way to create a beautiful memory. When looking for the perfect Christmas gift for your dancer, purchase items your dancer will use and help make their lives easier. Embrace each magical moment and love the journey.

Need more Inspiration?

Dance Parent 101 is full of articles and ideas on what dancers need so if you haven’t quite found what you were after in this post, why not check out some of these articles on the website: