Here are Matt’s picks for the gift-giving season. Let us know what’s on your wishlist!
Pin trading is back in a big way, and there are few better ways to put your fandom on display or give a glimpse into your sense of humor. Online shops like Pinvader and Nostalgia Vault have some great options and even Bethesda and Marvel have some more official options if you’re interested. If you’re really feeling crafty, or you have a family crest or something, order your own to share!
2. Board/Card Games
We’ve come a long way from the table-flipping moments caused by Monopoly. Some fun, new games may still cause tables to flip, but only because you’ll be ROTFL. Exploding Kittens is a good choice and comes in two flavors, depending on the maturity (or immaturity) level of your recipient. Speaking of adult, Cards Against Humanity is always a good choice, and their holiday metagame is a rabbit hole that is always entertaining. For more great suggestions, check out my friends Aaron and Liz over at The CoOperatives Podcast.
3. Custom Retro Video Game Experience
Chancers are, the person you’re gifting is someone you grew up with and shared many great video gaming moments with. Recapture that magic by giving them a retro game console. The Classic SNES and NES are hard to track down in the wild, but you can usually score a Retron unit that allows for many different varieties of games to be played through one unit. As for the games themselves, thrift shops and Goodwill are a good idea as long as you put in a little elbow grease to assist with the presentation. Last but not least, Raspberry Pi users have a long history with making “Retropie” consoles that can do pretty much everything. Combined with 8bitdo’s throwback controllers and a 3D printed retro console case, you simply can’t do better. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you more than that…
4. Escape Room
I love LOVE escape rooms. My day job recently sent us to Fox in a Box for team building, and I tried and failed to act like I wasn’t super excited. For those unfamiliar, escape room experiences vary from place to place. The basic idea is players are locked in a room with puzzles scattered throughout that provide clues to ultimately escape or solve a mystery. Some companies dedicate entire customized former warehouses and factories to huge escape experiences. Others keep it simple and repurpose old business offices. Either way, you’re sure to have a great time with a lively group of people. Remember: check the number of participants allowed for each room and try to meet that number. Booking below that amount usually results in you, your friends, and a couple of random strangers who may not be as motivated as you are. Check out Escape The 13th Floor for my personal favorite.
5. USPS Operation Santa
Each year, the USPS works together with certain groups that help lower income households and individuals by having them write letters to Santa Claus asking for one or two items. I can’t imagine how humbling it must be for a parent to write a letter to an imaginary being to try to make sure their kids have a happy Christmas. Our previous lists have had some excellent suggestions, but this one in particular is near and dear to me. I’ve woken up Christmas morning to nothing but breakfast and a day off from school. I’ve also had the experience of dressing like Santa and working with moms to surprise their family with a bag of toys and new clothes. Everyone deserves that moment of joy. Folks can go to select post offices (the main post office here in Chicago) and pick a letter sorted by the staff (usually dressed as elves). Please consider adopting a family on December 5th and make their Christmas bright.