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6 Days of Giftmas: Culture Vultures

Sick of corporate Christmas? Try shopping local. Hair Balls presents a 12-part series highlighting ideas for holiday gifts made and sold in Texas.

Don't listen to those Yankees who say Texas has no culture. Houston is home to one of the best collections of Surrealist art in the country, one of the most-visited museums in the U.S. and an art museum with an extensive collection of decorative arts scattered throughout the city. And that's just the big stuff. We've also got The Orange Show, Aurora, Catastrophic Theatre, Inprint and a billion other excellent arts organizations Hair Balls doesn't have the time to link to right now.

Which is good news if you have any kind of culture junky on your shopping list. Memberships to arts organizations are the gift that keeps on giving, so below, Hair Balls shows you a few of the more unique ones.

The Museum of Fine Arts offers two special membership levels. Art Crowd is an add-on for current MFAH members in their 20s and 30s that, in addition to the standard benefits, also gets you admission into the elite and faaaabulous Art Crowd parties, as well as free drinks. An individual membership with Art Crowd added starts at $75.

A Film Buff membership grants the owner free admission to films at the MFAH for a full year, plus sneak previews to mainstream theaters. Prices start at $35.

Memberships to the Aurora Picture Show also include free screenings for a year, plus advance notice and discounts on special events, and invites to members-only parties and screenings. Starts at $30 a year.

For families, memberships to the Houston Zoo start at $80 for two adults and up to 3 children, which also includes discounts to educational programs for the kiddos. But the Zoo also offers Grandparent memberships, good for two adults and up to five kids, plus special programs during the Zoo's Grandparents' month, along with two guest passes, just in case the 'rents want to come too.

Though both the CAMH and The Menil are free, buying a membership helps sustain each organization and allows them to bring new and innovated programs to Houston. Memberships at both museums include sneak previews of brand new exhibits and the feel-good feeling that you're supporting two of the coolest museums in town. Menil memberships start at $25 (for students) and CAMH starts at $35.

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The Houston Society for the Performing Arts has a cool Try Three subscription program whereby tickets for the upcoming season can be purchased in groups at a discount. Subscribers then get the bonus of additional ticket discounts and early-bird purchase opportunities.

Diverseworks' DW3D package looks cool too. It includes all the regular pros of a DW membership (ahem, free drinks) plus invites to special programs reserved just for DW3D.

Giving a gift membership has pros for the gifter too. Your newfound ticketholder might need a date for that extra ticket he's got, you know. Plus, since all the organizations mentioned above are nonprofits, you can write the cost of membership off on your taxes.

Hair Balls is sure there are more unique membership deals out there. What else have we missed?

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

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