Happy Black Friday, everyone! For those of you in the United States, I hope your Thanksgiving was fantastic and spent with people you love. For everyone else, I hope you had a lovely Thursday.
Now that my guests have gone home and the kitchen is mostly clean (my brother made an amazing turkey dinner – his stuffing beats your stuffing), my thoughts turn to the upcoming season of gift giving. I celebrate Christmas, but I know plenty of people who celebrate other holidays this time of year. While I refuse to join the madding crowd out in the shopping centers on this most capitalist of days, I still try and figure out some awesome gifts for the gamers on my holiday list.
Let’s be honest here. Gamers can be hard to buy for. Friends and family not into the hobby often have no idea what to get their nerdy loved ones, but even those in the know may not be sure what to buy someone. We’re very proficient at having eclectic tastes and picking up the things we want or need on our own. Even when you’re part of the hobby someone is into, it can be hard picking just the right gift for them.
Backpacks and Messenger Bags – Gamers need ways to cart their stuff around. Unless someone always and only games at their house, they need a way to get their game stuff from point A to point B. As a “professional” con attendee, I can attest to the importance of having a good backpack along for the ride. Without one, I would be miserable. Phil is our resident bag aficionado, and he highly recommends the Outlaw from 3V Gear. If backpacks aren’t your gift recipient’s style, maybe a messenger bag would do. I’m fond of Timbuk2‘s style, though I long ago decided I preferred backpacks.
All Rolled Up – On a slightly smaller scale, but still handy for any gamer, Darcy suggested looking at All Rolled Up. Their kits are compact, but offer transportation for a lot of essential items any gamer might need. On top of that, they’re pretty damn neat looking and there are so many different styles, you can find just the right one for whoever you’re buying for and whatever they’re playing. They did win an ENnie award for best accessory, after all. If you want to get one of these, I recommend moving fast on it as shipping may take a little longer than your lightning fast Amazon order.
There are so many neat little things out there themed for gamers. They may not always be easy to find, but if you know we’re to look, they can be a great gift without being too expensive. ThinkGeek is a pretty mainstream place to find Gamer Themed merchandise, but it’s not the only one out there. Etsy provides a cornucopia of options if you’re willing to search through their many creators. Heck, just searching for ‘RPG’ there will pull up a wide variety of fanciful and fun things. Try it!
There are also other fanciful options out there. Our very own Gnome in Chief pointed out some very cool items at ShapeWays. They’re like a print-on-demand website storefront, but for 3D printing instead of traditional print media. I was particularly smitten with some of their dice sets, but John pointed out this cool d20 holder that would be quite useful for Magic players. Or just a cool knickknack to display on a gaming shelf.
Gaming Table – Now, occasionally you have someone really special you want to buy for and you might be able or willing to drop a significant chunk of change down on the gift. If your gamer loved one has the space and doesn’t already own one, a gaming table would be a spectacular gift with a lot of wow factor. Most gamers I know drool over these, but they can’t make it happen just yet. I know I’ve been eyeing the coffee table options, as I’d love to set up a lounge game space in my house. Nothing beats comfy chairs AND a good game surface. GeekChic is probably the best known of these thanks to the exposure they get on Tabletop, but Carolina Game Tables is another, comparable option.
Hero Forge Minis – If you have any idea what their character looks like, why not do it up on Hero Forge and order them a mini. It’s personalized and has a huge wow factor. They’re not cheap for the higher end materials, but they are really damn cool. A GM I know designed one for each of her players’ characters and was considering ordering them as an end-of-campaign gift.
Let’s face it. You have the hardest to buy for gamer on your list. There’s just no getting around it, but they’re the type that never shows enough interest in any one thing to make you feel confident you’re on the right track, or they’re the one that buys what they want the moment they realize they want it. As a last resort, you’re left with the dreaded Gift Card option. Dun dun dun.
But fear not, my friend. While gift cards are often looked down upon as a gift, choosing the right store or the right place to buy the gift card can show far more thought and appreciation than a cocoa sampler set or a pair of mittens. Even if you can’t figure out the exact item to get them, you at least know the ballpark to be shopping in.
Most friendly local game stores (FLGS) will have some sort of gift certificate or gift card system. I can remember very fondly getting a handful of Egor Bucks back in the day, allowing me to shop for what I wanted at Crazy Egor’s. Heck, just walking into the store may give you the inspiration you need.
Another option is to get an online gift certificate for DriveThru RPG. That’s one way of ensuring your gift recipient can get WHATEVER they want, be it print or digital. I know there’s ALWAYS something on DriveThru I would love to pick up.
If you don’t have an FLGS or don’t care for DriveThru, another option for gift cards could be an office supply store. Staples, Office Depot, whatever. Even if they don’t sell gaming supplies, they sell stuff we need. From note cards to folders to organizers to whatever. My very favorite dice bag is a shark pencil case that I picked up in clearance at an Office Depot.
So there you have it, advice from gnomes on what to buy for gamers at Christmas time. It’s not a foolproof list and there’s certainly more options out there, but hopefully you got a little inspiration from these suggestions.
Do you have any items you’d add to the list? Heck, what’s on YOUR wish list this holiday season?