Not sure what to get your favorite gamer this holiday season? There’s still time! I’m not going to lie, it can be tough. My #1 recommendation is always to not just buy the next game you see and assume they’ll like it because “they just like games.” Yes, it’s the thought that counts, but it’s always a little awkward for everyone if you get them something that they may have already played and disliked, or know they will dislike based on certain mechanisms., and now they aren’t sure what to do with it. To help avoid an uncomfortable situation, here are 5 tips to help you shop this year.

5. Opt for Gift Cards

I know a lot of people are averse to gift cards, but personally, I think they’re a great choice. Ask your gamer what their favorite friendly local game store is and see if they do gift cards or store credit of some kind. You get to support a small business, and your gamer can pick out the perfect game for them. No FLGS around? It happens. There’s always online retailers like Miniature Market or Gamenerdz, or big box stores like Target and Barnes and Noble, which also have great choices.

4. Help Them Wear Games

I love these rainbow meeple earrings from The Meeps

If you’re the friend or family member who usually opts for socks or shirts for Christmas, that’s cool! (For the record, I genuine love and collect socks, so I’m well on board with getting them as gifts). Instead of buying plain socks this year, check out online stores for board game related apparel. You can get socks, shirts, ties, jewelry … the possibilities are almost endless! I really like The Meeps, but there are other sites like Meeple Shirts, and even Etsy stores that have a ton of options.

3. Give a Problem Solving Gift

A good rule of thumb for any gift-giving situation is to give people problem solving items to help alleviate some of their stress. For gamers, that can be things like game inserts for their favorite games, extra baggies for their components, dice towers, component trays, and so on. Ask them what annoys them in games, and see if there is something you can get to help with that.

One step further – if you are also a gamer, make your gift an offer. Offer to learn the rules to a game they have wanted to play, so that they don’t have to learn/teach it. Offer to clean up the next 10 games you play together for them so they don’t have to worry about it. Gifts don’t have to be big, fancy, or even tangible. If you can offer assistance to make gaming easier in some way, they’ll love it!

2. Make Them Something

I have a whole section on my blog about board game art, of course I’m on team homemade gifts! If you’re artsy or crafty you could make them your take on their favorite board game cover, or thrift a bunch of games to make a collage out of.

If you’re good at painting things, you could offer to paint miniatures from their favorite game (be careful with this offer though, or you might end up painting 207 Marvel United miniatures).

If you’re more of a kitchen artist, bake them a cake that has a board game theme! Or make a 3 course dinner based around the theme of a certain game. There are a lot of options that can allow you to be creative, and still show that you are trying to embrace their hobby in your gift.

1. Just Ask

Yupp. That is the best tip I can give about this. I’m a gamer, and I like gifts. And there is nothing I appreciate more than when someone who wants to give me something from my hobby just asks me what I want. If multiple people ask me what games I want, I tell them all a different game, so there isn’t overlap. For people who I know aren’t familiar with online or local game stores, I ask for something that’s easily attainable at Target.

I think we often obsess over wanting a gift to be a pure surprise, but that isn’t really always the best option. If you want to still be able to surprise your gamer, ask them for a few options so you can just pick from a list and they’re still a little surprised. Or, if you want to see they find something, see if you can take them shopping somewhere and let them pick something out.

I think that that asking first is a great way to go before buying your gamer a game-related gift, because it can be hard to buy something for someone in a hobby you’re not also part of. Don’t be afraid to ask so you can find that perfect gift!

*Images that are not mine are royalty free*