Sunday, December 4, 2022

From Grinch to Giver(?)....It's THAT Time of Year

From Grinch to Giver(?)....It's THAT Time of Year
There's a few things I'd like to chat about today, but it's the first weekend in December and we generally have one particular day, towards the end of the month, that kind of dominates this time of year.

Yes, for the dense one at the back of the room I am actually talking about Christmas. What, the red & white cap in my pic didn't give that away?

Undoubtedly I have mentioned before that I spent a decade or so in retail and the majority of that was spent overseeing the seasonal section of a larger box store, which has kind of biased me against Christmas. Now don't get me wrong, I like Christmas and I enjoy the season, but so many things rub me the wrong way this time of year and I know it's all me. Please don't ask me to to assemble another fake Christmas tree as I've done enough for several lifetimes (the idea of "fluffing" an artificial tree makes the back of my hands itch....like it used to back in the day). Christmas cards....meh. I'd rather visit with friends and family than send a card and maybe a letter of what I've been up to. 

...and presents for the sake of buying presents for people....no thanks.

I'm at least self aware enough to know that I'm a bit....grinchy during Christmas and when kiddos are involved I can and will suck it up. While I am making note of my more negative feelings of the holidays, don't think for a second I don't participate. I do, just on my terms.

I do like giving gifts, I just loathe the obligation of gift-giving. I tend to get things year-round as I see them for friends and family. I may or may not hold off on giving them until Christmas, but with one exception (and not kids) I'm not going to feel bad if I didn't get someone I call friend or family a Christmas gift. I also don't feel the slightest bit unhappy if I don't receive anything from others this season. Like a few of us I'm a grown-ass adult with no children and grandchildren. Everyday is Christmas for me!

One thing I do this season though, is make gifts.....more for my friends and co-workers. I probably spend more than I should doing so and I don't leave any of my coworkers out, and this flies pretty much in the face of everything I've typed out so far. The thing is I really enjoy making gifts, probably much more than I should. I'm like 20% hoarder to begin with so the collecting of raw materials and tools required to make said gifts is sometimes a scavenger hunt that takes months. Often there is a fair amount of research involved, maybe some test runs and tweaks.....it's a freakin process!

My gaming group is definitely part of my extended family (sorry guys, that's how I roll) and they may or may not be in my recipient list.......last year Christmas came in May or June because my elf had dissemination issues....which are only being pointed out to make fun of him today (Hi Richard!). Last year I did something special for the group in addition to the "normal" gift I made which was a small collection of homemade bitters.

Now clearly I've been rambling on a bit, as I do, but if you're still with me and haven't said, "Screw this, Elf is playing on Netflix, or somewhere..." you might be hoping I'll come around to a point, which is....if you are the "normal" type you might want to get something for your fellow gamers. Again, for my home group, I really hope the previous paragraphs highlight how I'm 110% not needing anything, but for anyone/everyone else the thought of having to add a few more gifts to your Christmas shopping list might be a bit much, so maybe we can brainstorm this thing....and (obviously) I'm going to have some biases thrown in.

If I was feeling any pressure to get some gaming gifts my inclination would be to make something, so that's where I'll start. I like to double-dip somewhat so my initial recommendation would be to get some printed "books" from a small publisher. I'm d30 biased and the man behind New Big Dragon Games Unlimited is my home GM, so I'm suggesting heading over to Lulu.com and getting some of his materials. You can also do DriveThruRPG if you want to print it locally (a quick trip to FedEx Kinkos can work in a last-minute pitch). Now I'm a dice snob, so generally giving me dice (not that this is about giving me anything) isn't ideal, BUT I've recommended Monday Knight Adventures DCC compatible dice sets before. I gave out a few sets last summer and I used some in a game and I actually liked them. The D30s rolled well for me and after my "lost dice" scare this summer I'm totally using one of these as my relatively-expendable travel dice.

I'm also a big fan of Inkwell Ideas and Inked Adventures. Giving the gift of some mapping software or cool map dice from Inkwell Ideas or getting some of Billiam's (Inked Adventures) token or dungeon tiles is cool. As I'm thinking about it I'm seriously considering getting some IA dungeon tiles printed out, glued to some cheap Dollar General foam core, and then cut out as maybe a gift to myself........

I like the idea of getting some digital products, supporting those creators, and then using that to make some physical products as the gift. It does take a little more work, but it isn't that expensive (cash-wise) and I'm really burying the lead here.....at least for me this kind of creation is mentally and physically relaxing during what can otherwise be a stressful holiday. Can't get some normal games in and things are feeling a little hectic? Spend some time building terrain as a gift.....

You could take some of JV West's character sheets and printed them up as a small pad of PC sheets. If you have a decent enough printer you could print them to blank 4x6 index cards and then take some binder clips (to use as a vice) and some white/rubber glue to make a pad.....might even find a small tin/box at the dollar store that can hold a pencil and some dice (let them supply the dice.......) and you're good. Honestly I'd buy a package of gridded index cards for a buck or so and toss in a few so they could map if needed, but you do you....go nuts.

These are just some gaming related things......if your gaming group's waistlines can handle it a plate of cookies or fudge always works in a pinch. Yet, again just me.....I'd go off-book a bit and do something like some Hot Sauce Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies......

......now as a small gesture of goodwill and kind of a present to you for suffering my ramblings not just today, but all year......here's a cookbook I put together a few years ago of previous food gifts I've made over the years. I do recall adding a couple of different "family" recipes and I'm 110% that some of these came from other unattributed sources, but may or may not have been tweaked by me. At least one recipe is totally mine because it took me a good 10 years to get from the initial, somebody-else's recipe (actually a conglomeration of like three recipes) to mine. 

I'll have to update this cookbook 'cause this year I'm making my own concoction I'm calling Triple Fermented Mustard.

PS. IIRC the cookie recipe is on page 23.

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