Disclaimer:First and foremost, this is not a post to subtract any value on the holiday season. I believe you may celebrate anything you want for what ever reason, even if it goes against my views. This article does not go into the religious reasons behind the holiday, but examines the modern day, person to person happenings of the December holiday season.
I do not have a good relationship with Christmas. I enjoy the idea of Christmas and what it stands for, rather, I do not like what it has become in today's society.
The holiday has become a culture of purchasing things for people you may not like in an effort to been seen as a good person. Granted this is a very limited reading of the text, but to me this is at the core of the problems I have with this time of year.
Sure, you could argue that you only give gifts to people you love. To which I say if you love them, you won't restrict your gift giving to one day of the year. This act of giving is the best part of the year for some. Other times, the simple hunt of the deal is enough for some this season, with purchasing goods for themselves at a great price being a huge incentive to whip out the pocketbook.
Mandatory Cult Membership
These types of thinking is a very prominent behavior in the gaming community and translate somewhat directly to the hobby. We give the gift of experience, while still retaining the material good, but most imporantly, we purhcase games to share with people. What ever games we purchase or play, we tend to be part of one of two cults.
The "Cult of the New" is the idea that the newest games are the most exciting. The newest releases get the most hype, understandably so, and as a result, a lot of games get left in the dust. Cry Havoc released earlier this year and is already being touted as a Blood Rage killer thus making the former a top seller. The community simply moved onto the next big thing.
The "Cult of the Old" is the thinking that all the good games you need are already in your collection. All the best games have already come out. The classics are classics for a reason right? In my experience, memebers of this type of thinking have more consistant playgroups and have better relationships with those people as a result.
Depending on your view on the hobby these views are either good things, or bad things. New designs help push the hobby forward at the cost of some games not getting much attention, while some incredible designs are simply passed along the table. Before you chastise me for hating the hobby, I think that this is totally fine and somewhat expected. After all, progress is derivitive. This holiday, I would be a fool to think that you wouldn't be getting that copy of Cry Havoc for the person who loves Blood Rage. I would also be a fool if I said I did not participate in this type of thinking myself. I do it, you do it, and if that is what you want to do, please do so! In an effort to make the gifts I give more personal and meaningful, I like make the gifts I give. This allows me to inject more thought and love into the things that I do
However, let me sugest some alternatives to your ritualized purchasing over commercialized goods to be left under the tree.
If working out components seems too much work for you, the route of baked goods is always there. You can go the way of meeple shaped sugar cookies, or you could made a themed cake of some sort. A simple search for Catan Cake can give you a general idea of how to approach the process. Traditional sweets are also appreciated, even if they are not themed. Peppermint Meringue is one of my favorite goodies to gift for a few reasons. Firstly is easy to make, and second it is relativily low in calories compared to cookies and cakes. Making them look pretty can be somehwat challenging though. What ever you make, it can tie in easily to the next sugestion.
Host a Gaming Themed Party
To keep in line with the gathering nature of the season, the easiest way to make lasting memories is not the giving of gifts, but the giving of experiences. Sure you may have a game night once or twice a month, but how often do you step it up a notch? Decorations, foods, themed games, and people close to you are a surefire way to fill your heart with adulation for the season.
The short of it...
Ultimately you should just do what you want. If you want to buy someone that copy Acquire with the nice plastic pieces go right ahead. If you want to change up your season with some hand made items or a super special night, you can do that too. For me, I know the things that I will remember forever are the people I spend my holiday with, and not the gifts given or received. So if you get an invite for my holiday game night, expect to have deserts and drinks, along with a heaping helping of appreciation.