Holiday Gift Guide

The holiday season is approaching fast, and it’s not always easy to pick out gaming-related gifts. Below I’ve detailed some of the groups that I’m likely to be shopping for, along with some suggestions for gift ideas that could work.

Gaming Group: these folks usually already own the games they want to play, or at least one member of the group does. Unless you specifically know of a game someone is coveting, I would instead shop for upgrades to their favourite games. Basically, buy neat things that they might not otherwise purchase, due to their preferring to save up for the new hotness.

  • Terraforming Mars player board overlays from Board Game Innovation could be one way to go if your friends are as crazy about this recent release as mine are.
  • Inserts are available for a ton of games from Broken Token and Meeple Realty.
  • Polyhedral dice can go over well if you play games like the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game; some gorgeous sets can be found through CoolStuffInc, your FLGS, or many other retailers
  • Replacement resource pieces or tokens can also be a hit; I’ve bought sets from Meeple Source & Team Covenant before when shopping for gaming friends.
  • Convention or gaming event badges can be a really thoughtful gift if there’s an event you know your friend wants to attend. Paying their entry as a Christmas present also ensures you’ll have someone to hang out & play with when the time comes. Just make sure you either buy a badge for a local con, or if travel or hotel rooms will be required, that you’ve made sure they can actually afford to go.

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Gaming-adjacent Husbands (or Significant Others): He* doesn’t call himself a gamer, but he plays with you often enough that you would. This is where expansion material or similar games to titles he’s really enjoyed are useful; basically, look for more of the familiar good stuff instead of something dauntingly new. And I would probably keep the gaming-related gift as a smaller part of my overall gift, making sure the rest reflects his hobbies & interests. *in my case, insert your significant others preferred pronouns as necessary.

  • Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Adventure Decks add more scenarios for your characters to take on if you’ve been enjoying the base game. Alternatively a character or class deck adds more character choices and gear to the box.
  • 7 Wonder Duel: Pantheon adds more to the base 7 Wonders Duel game without changing the game too much. An expansion that adds more of the good stuff to a game your spouse enjoys can be a welcome way to enhance your gaming together.
  • Small game accessories can be a nice addition to a larger, non-gaming gift. A set of dice (if you play games that use them) or custom meeples to replace basic pieces can be an easy way to add a personal touch to the games you play a lot. MeepleSource has a ton of character meeple sets available that can let you bring your spouse’s personality into your next game of Carcassonne.

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Enthusiastic Family: these are the people always up for a game but who don’t necessarily own any of their own, the family members who request you bring something to play when you visit. I would aim for something fairly easy to pick up that has enough depth to have lasting appeal. Keep in mind that you might need to teach – rulebooks are still surprisingly inaccessible for many newer gamers.

  • Carcassonne is a classic for a reason – easy to teach and get started with but with good staying power. It’s a great game to relax over, and should be a welcome start to a new collection. And hey, you could always add in some of those sweet custom meeple sets to this gift too.
  • Cacao is similar to Carcassonne in some ways, but the resource gathering & selling plus the temple majorities add new layers of strategy and represent a bit of a step up in terms of gameplay.
  • Patchwork is a great game to give a couple. It’s beautifully presented and simple enough to teach, but the spatial puzzle and tight button economy make it strategically interesting.

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Rest of the Family: these are the family members who don’t mind playing a game, but usually just with the whole crowd after dinner.

  • Codenames has become something of a classic party game in a relatively short time, and, despite its party categorization, it’s a game that can still be welcome at game night. Team play means gaming-naive players don’t feel lost, and the game relies more on clever use of references and knowledge to give the right clue for your group than on saying something offensive and getting away with it. This makes for a more welcoming game over more mass-market party games.
  • Codenames Pictures is the same as the above game, only instead of words, your team has to figure out which images your clues represent. The pictures are easier for some and harder for others, but add a fresh take on the game and make it look even more striking on the table.
  • Diamonds is great for those family members who’re used to card games. It’s trick-taking with a few twists and the art deco-esque cards are gorgeous. It’s easy to teach but has lasting appeal, perfect for a family who don’t look for variety on their game shelf, but for a few good games to bring out after holiday dinners.

The Kiddos: this is where you get to introduce new gamers to the fun stuff, just make sure that if the parents aren’t gamers, that the rules are easily grasped. HABA or Blue Orange games are pretty perfect, as even if the game never gets played “right” the beautiful chunky pieces make great creative toys anyway.

  • Animal Upon Animal has gorgeous chunky animal pieces and provides plenty of entertainment for kids and grown-ups as they try to stack the animals high without knocking anything over.
  • Monster Torte features players frantically trying to scoop to be the first to scoop the right colours of wooden balls into their bowl. It’s silly and fun for everyone.
  • Dr Eureka is great for older kids or grown-ups – players have to transfer coloured balls between test-tubes to match the card without any touching the tabletop. It’s a quick and frantic dexterity, logic puzzle that will have the table giggling while occasionally stumped.

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So there you have it – some thoughts and suggestions for holiday gifts. Whether you’re buying for a fellow enthusiast or getting something small to help introduce a loved one to your hobby, I hope there was something here that was helpful.

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