Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the holiday gift-giving season is about to hit full swing. This is the first in a series of gift giving guides for all the wonderful nerdy people in your life. And because organizing gifts for a group of people often takes more time than a gift for a single person, I’m starting off with themed gifts for your RPG group.
Every week, month, or somewhere in between you and a few other people share the magical experience of collective storytelling. You can’t really explain to anyone outside your group why the Earth Elemental is named Cocoa or why you always laugh at the phrase “dead drunk,” but your gaming group understands. Your game is a story that only the few of you will ever really know – it is hard, if not impossible to share that story with others. That’s something really special, and this Thanksgiving I’ve been thinking about how grateful I am for not one, but three groups of friends who share those memories with me.
I love gift giving and I want to give my friends a token of my appreciation for the time and energy they put into making my life a little brighter. But buying individual gifts for an extra 15 people (3 groups of 5 others each!) sounds like hell, I prefer to create small matching gifts for each group. Each gift is easy to make in one big batch, and can be customized to your game, your characters, or a silly inside joke. Listed (roughly) in order from simple to complex, find a group gift that suits your skills, time, and budget!
No game night is complete without beverages (and a coaster to protect your gaming table.) This project is easy, fast, cheap, and practical to boot.
With a minimal amount of Googling, you should be able to find a PDF copy of your RPG rulebook. And while you should always support the authors who made the game you love so much, there’s no harm in grabbing a PDF just for this crafty gift. Print out the pages with the art you like best, and create custom drink coasters!
I’ll post my own tutorial soon, but this project is pretty straightforward. I recommend this tutorial – of course you’ll print and cut out your game artwork to use instead of maps!
If you’re not a tea “person” this might not be the gift for you. But since I love me a good cup of hot leaf water, I’m pretty excited about this one. Whether you’re making class-themed teas for your new group or custom teas for characters you’ve been playing for years, this is a chance to really get creative.
If you’ve never mixed your own teas before, it might be easier than you think. You’ll want to start by imagining teas for each character/class/etc. Write them down! Once you’ve found flavors you want to match to each person, you’ll need to get your supplies. Many grocery stores now carry tea and herbal components in bulk, allowing you to buy as much or little as you need.
If you can’t find loose ingredients, or if blending your own teas seems overwhelming, you can still choose custom teas! Just find some pre-bagged teas at the store that match each character and customize the packaging – that’s still only $3-8 per person for a fun, thoughtful gift!
The next logical step! Just like the teas, consider what each class or individual character might drink – straight whiskey? A Cosmopolitan? Mead or spiced wine? Whatever it is, build a single serving, ready-to mix gift for your companions. Need help figuring this out? Geek & Sundry has you covered.
For mixed drinks, consider a cute package like the one seen here. You’ll want to make sure your packaging reflects the campaign and characters to really make this gift special!
Granted, this idea requires either access to a sewing machine or a little bit more time & patience. But since about 13 out of my 15 friends (across three role-playing groups) are still keeping their dice in those plastic boxes they came in, this seems like a good item to include on the list.
If you’re already a crafty thread master, feel free to google around for a pattern you like. If you’re like me and don’t own a sewing machine, I recommend this nifty tutorial – embroidery optional. I actually like this idea as a “team gift,” with identical dice bags for the whole crew. Consider choosing a cool bead and different lining for each individual, blending customization with team unity. *cue chorus of “awww”s*
This idea is also more time-consuming, but your DM might actually kiss you if you pull this one off. If you are sick of knocking over minis, smudging the map, and retrieving dice from the floor before your dog eats them (guilty!) then dice towers are going to save your game. These are actually inexpensive to build, but might take you a bit of time. I recommend this tutorial on Instructables.com. The best part? Your crew will be able to customize their own gifts with Sharpies, D&D stickers, and more.
Screen print something
The last, and by far the most complex idea, is one I actually did last year. Screen printing is a bit more costly than the other ideas I’ve offered, but still not outrageous. Plus, most of the supplies you’ll buy will last long past this first project, and future screen printing endeavors may appear before you!
Last year I grabbed some one-size-fits-all crop tops on clearance and screen printed a custom design for my longest-running, all-ladies group (Dungeons & Dragons & Dames!). It was a lot of work, but it was also super fun. In hindsight, I’d recommend choosing something less size-dependent than shirts – canvas totes might be the perfect option for your group to carry their rulebooks around in! You could screen print dice bags or other swag. There are plenty of good DIY tutorials searchable on Google, or check out this one from Lifehacker.
What will you give?
This year I’ve got three games running, so coming up with unique gifts for everyone, that won’t break the bank or my weekends, was a special challenge! I have a great deal to be thankful for this holiday season, but my wonderful, nerdy friends are right up at the top of my list. Be sure to show your group how grateful you are this year – and if you have any other ideas for game group gifts, share in the comments!