Deck (the Halls) of Many Things: Homemade Holiday Gifts for Gamers

If you fail your save against the Spirit of the Season and feel compelled to hand out gifts to your gaming friends, you have oodles of options. Nerdy merchandise is widely available in stores and online, but if you’re feeling frugal or craving crafts, here are a few ideas for making real-life relics for your favorite party members.


Custom dice can be a great way to remind roleplayers that they’re important friends. They can also be used to create a permanent souvenir so they’ll never forget that one time they were dumb. After all, mockery is the highest form of flattery, right?

Start with pre-cut wooden blocks from an arts and crafts store or cut appropriately sized cubes from a square-sided dowel. Somewhere between 1.5 and 2-inch cubes will be much easier to write on, but harder to fit in your friend’s dice bag. Use sandpaper to smooth any sharp edges. Or, keep them crisp if you like to give out presents that contain a small element of danger, like I do.

You can decorate the sides of your new six-sided die however you like, using a pen, paintbrush, sticker, engraving tool, or wood-burning iron. For writing and drawing, try to find the finest tip instrument you can to make words legible and pictures clear. And to protect your new creation from reckless rolling, consider an acrylic or polyurethane clear coat.


If your best mate already has too many dice for their own good
(this is not possible), you may want to present them with a handy carrying case, rolling cup, or dice tray. The easiest way to do this is to buy a pre-made item, glue in a piece of felt or foam or corkboard to control the rattling noise, paint it up however you like, and you’re finished.

A tin of mints can also be kit-bashed into a nice little dice box, as in this example.

My personal choice for a dice tray is to buy a small, cheap, wooden picture frame, remove any glass or stand, glue a square of felt in instead of a photo, and that’s it! Tell them it’s “bespoke.” They probably won’t know what it means, but they’ll smile and pretend they do.


Miniatures and tokens are a good gift for players, and the rise of 3D printing has made custom minis financially feasible for many. But if you prefer the hand-made touch, consider papercraft. Draw or print whatever image you think best represents your party member on relatively thick paper (I recommend 110-pound cardstock which you can often find in packs next to regular printer paper). Cut out your artistic endeavor and rig it into some kind of stand, like this one from TheDMGinfo.

If you need free images, you can start with this archive from PrintableHeroes.

There’s also a shrinkable plastic option, like this one by Silvorous.

If your gaming crew doesn’t use minis, you can still pay tribute to a beloved character with a pixelated representation using meltable plastic beads. You buy the beads (by the thousands) in any kind of craft store, set them up on little trays, and then use a clothes iron to gently fuse them into a single icon of heroic might. Or a blob of goo if you press too hard. Beads like these go by brand names such as Perler, Hama, Nabbi, etc. depending on where you live.


What kind of gift should you make for the best game master in the world? And more importantly, what should you get for the guy or gal who runs YOUR game? Why not an easy to assemble GM screen?

The simplest way to build a GM screen is to cut a handful of panels to the size you like using cardstock, book board, thin wood, or any other fairly sturdy material. Hardware stores also sell sheets of dry-erase and chalkboard material if you want to make the surface writable. Set the panels in a line, leaving a small gap to allow for folding. Bind them together with a line of duct tape or packing tape on both sides. Then glue on print-outs of all the kinds of rules you think your GM would need (nothing but treasure tables).

If you really want to impress (and be remembered when it’s time to hand out experience points), you can add campaign-appropriate artwork to the player-facing side of the screen, add a stick-on strip of magnetic tape, or include a set of binder clips for custom notes.

And to really make it customizable, try using clear, plastic report covers or sheet protectors so your storytelling friend can slot whatever notes are needed, no matter what game system you’re playing.


Let’s say you haven’t put any ranks into your
Arts and Crafts skill since your coloring book days. Or it’s the night before the gift exchange and the only place open is the drug store. What then? Hit the school and office supply section and make a gamer’s kit out of pencils, folders, 3-ring binders, index cards, and graph paper. It’s a great stand-by gift that you can put together in minutes!

Gamers tend to be naturally creative people and will appreciate a well-thought out gift, even if you aren’t the most artistic person in the world. So, get crafty and share some of your ideas (so I can steal them next year).

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