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Gifts for Gamers

Yes, I'm talking about Christmas, but I'll spare you the Christmas music. [1]

Yes, I’m talking about Christmas, but I’ll spare you the Christmas music.

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.

I pinged several gnomes and with the help of John [2], Darcy [3], Phil [4], and Senda [5], I came up with a list of gift ideas:

Practical

The Outlaw. Such a great name. [6]

The Outlaw. Such a great name.

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 [7] from 3V Gear [8]. If backpacks aren’t your gift recipient’s style, maybe a messenger bag would do. I’m fond of Timbuk2 [9]‘s style, though I long ago decided I preferred backpacks.

There's a map on the inside of this one, guys! [10]

There’s a map on the inside of this one, guys!

All Rolled Up – On a slightly smaller scale, but still handy for any gamer, Darcy suggested looking at All Rolled Up [11]. 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 [12], 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.

Fanciful

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 [13] 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! [14]

Senda provided me with a bunch of adorable things from Etsy that would make awesome gifts without breaking the bank. Here’s a scarf [15]! Some garland [16]! A calendar [17]! And everyone needs key chains [18]!

Scarf! [19]

Scarf!

Garland! [20]

Garland!

Calendar! [21]

Calendar!

Key chains! [22]

Key chains!

There are also other fanciful options out there. Our very own Gnome in Chief pointed out some very cool items at ShapeWays [23]. 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.

I don't play Magic, but I'd put that on a shelf. [24]

I don’t play Magic, but I’d put that on a shelf.

They're probably not functional, but they are cool. [25]

They’re probably not functional, but they are cool.

Extravagant

geekchic [26]

Waaaaant. Can’t afford, though…

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 [27] is probably the best known of these thanks to the exposure they get on Tabletop, but Carolina Game Tables [28] is another, comparable option.

A HeroForge example. My beer drinking dragonborn cleric. She's a hoot. [29]

A HeroForge example. My beer drinking dragonborn cleric. She’s a hoot.

Hero Forge Minis – If you have any idea what their character looks like, why not do it up on Hero Forge [30] 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.

Gift Cards

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.

Creepy Holiday Gnome says it's okay to give Gift Cards when it's done thoughtfully. [31]
Holiday Gnome says it’s okay to give Gift Cards when it’s done thoughtfully.

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 [32]. 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?

7 Comments (Open | Close)

7 Comments To "Gifts for Gamers"

#1 Comment By black campbell On November 25, 2016 @ 12:09 pm

That’s a nice sling bag. I’m a big fan of Maxpedition’s Monsoon Gearslinger sling bag. I’ve been able to d a two week trip out of the bag. For a normal gaming night I can tote my 13″ MacBook Air, four rulebooks, assorted files or papers, dice, poker chips, pens and pncils, an iPad, and there’s room left for loads more. It’s got a 1000ci/16L main pouch, but also MOLLE hooks all over the thing so you can clip more pouches, etc. onto it.

#2 Comment By Angela Murray On November 25, 2016 @ 1:06 pm

I know Phil swears by those MOLLE hooks so he can customize his carrying capacity. I’m not quite that organized, even though I try to be. 🙂

#3 Comment By Silveressa On November 25, 2016 @ 3:37 pm

Over the years I’ve found a nice stocking stuffer can be a $10 gift cert to drive thru rpg , (or the local delivery chain everyone loves to order from on game night)

Some of these ideas are neat, I really love that scarf, those dice through look like they’d hurt when an angry player throws them at you though. : P

#4 Comment By Angela Murray On November 26, 2016 @ 10:22 am

The idea of a gift certificate for the local delivery place is brilliant. I hadn’t thought of that, but it would be perfect for a group that has a particular pizza joint (or whatever) they prefer.

I guess with the spiky dice, you could hope they got plastic instead of metal. 😉

#5 Comment By Solomon Foster On November 28, 2016 @ 12:19 pm

I dunno about as a gift — it seems like there’s a high potential of making a mini that looks sort of but not quite like the recipient’s PC — but the HeroForge link is FANTASTIC as a quick free approximation of a character portrait. Thank you for posting it!

My current Lords of Gossamer and Shadow character: [33]

#6 Comment By Solomon Foster On November 28, 2016 @ 12:21 pm

Oh, though HeroForge does gift certificates! That would be a great RPG themed gift.

#7 Comment By Angela Murray On November 28, 2016 @ 1:38 pm

I should have included them in the comment on gift cards. It’s a good alternative when you’re not sure what the player’s PC looks like. You could even include the preview that they can tweak to however they want. 🙂