Tabletop RPG (including D&D) gift ideas that aren’t just stuff
I also have a very cool list of gift ideas that support small business for you to check out, but this list below is intended to help you find some alternative gift ideas or ways to celebrate together for your next tabletop RPG occasion that don’t really show up on most gift guides I’ve seen.
- Communicate (just like session 0)
- Celebrate in your game
- Thank you notes
- Celebrate with food!
- Make a donation to a TTRPG charity
- Gift a TTRPG class
- Run a game for your game guide
- DIY game tools
- Final thoughts
Start by communicating with your table (like session 0)
If you’re trying to set up a gift exchange with the group, ask if it is OK with everyone without trying to pressure. If there’s an expectation at your table that everyone’s exchanging gifts, but you’re low on funds, it is OK to tell your group, ask that a budget be set, or request that you run a no cost option instead (there’s examples throughout this article that you can use for ideas).
Think of this like a 1-2 answer session zero but for gift-giving.
Celebrate the event with in-game gifts
One of the best holiday games I ran with my tabletop RPG group was celebrating purely in-game. We didn’t get each other physical “real life” gifts, but we did have an in-game festival, complete with a little winter market that had a bunch of weird presents for characters to buy and exchange, and then we had a fun adventure.
Players got each other everything from embroidered team bandanas to giant novelty glasses to favorite baked goods to printed fliers for the cleric and barbarian to pass out around town about their god. As the game guide, I also gave them a small deck of “nice list” cards at the end of our adventure that provided some unique items and boons at random as my gift to them.
That whole game was so much fun, and I remember everyone just having a good time and laughing at how well the gifts each fit our characters.
We say that it’s the thought that counts, and that goes here too. Giving a thoughtful gift in-game can mean just as much as giving a gift outside of the game. It shows that you’re paying attention and know that person.
Write thank you notes for your tabletop RPG group
A lot of times, we kind of forget to say thank you or that we appreciate the people that we like spending time with the most because we get used to them. Taking a minute to think about why you like playing tabletop RPGs with someone and then telling them means a lot (especially for game guides).
If you don’t want to say it out loud, you could write a nice letter or send a text along the lines of:
“Hey, I wanted to say… I really appreciate these games you set up every month. You are doing an awesome job, and I look forward to every session. I know it takes time, and I wanted to say thank you.”
“Last game, your character really saved mine! That was a lot of fun RP’ing against the boss, and I just wanted to say thank you for the awesome game! Been a lot of fun adventuring with you!”
With regards to using with kids, this is also a FANTASTIC way to practice writing (if you do a nice thank you note), gratitude expression, and mindfulness about other people to build that foundation for later in life. If you or your kids are in a tabletop RPG class or program, teachers and game runners really appreciate thank you letters. I teach, and getting a heartfelt note from a student is the best gift I’ve ever gotten.
Celebrate with your tabletop RPG group with food!
Snacks and food are always a good addition to a tabletop RPG session AND you can do it remotely too, if you get a little creative.
For in-person sessions, designating one of these celebratory games as a potluck or just offering to bring a special snack (like birthday cupcakes or a fruit tray) is an awesome and fairly low cost way to celebrate that makes the game feel extra special. Particularly for kids (but also for grown ups), making tabletop RPG cookies (cookie cutter idea!) and letting players decorate them can also be a fun “extra” activity to do before the game or during breaktime.
For remote sessions, you can also either all agree that each person should make themselves a fancy meal or get some extra special snacks to enjoy for this extra special game session together (like a remote party), OR, to celebrate an individual, each person could chip in a small amount through Venmo or PayPal to order the birthday person a pizza or deliver some birthday cookies.
Make a donation to a tabletop RPG related charity
A nice alternative gift that you can “buy” for someone is a donation to a charity in their name or in the name of a group.
As an individual gift, you would pick a charity that you think that person would like and then make a donation in their name (or their character’s name). You can ask for a receipt, or sometimes they will send a virtual thank you note or certificate that you can share with the named person.
You could also go in as a group, agreeing to forgo gifts but instead have each player put $10 towards a single donation in the name of your adventuring party. “The Inferno Five” donating together to a charity and having a receipt or certificate with that on it is going to be priceless for your game group and something really cool that you’ve all done together.
For some tabletop RPG related charities, check out:
- Creators Assemble! (see also interview)
- Game to Grow (see also interview and game features)
- Extra Life
- Jasper’s Game Day
- Critical Role Foundation
Sign up kids for tabletop RPG classes and services or help find them a group
If your kids are into tabletop RPGs (or you want to get them started), but you’re short on time, are unsure where to start, want to get an educational boost, or want to focus on therapeutic aspects, there are online classes and programs that would make an awesome gift. These do cost money, so this is more the “not stuff” part. You’d be providing something fun, a safe social situation, and a helpful environment while also supporting a teacher or cool organization (so there’s multiple wins here).
Check out some suggestions below!
- Luck of Legends (see also interview and game features)
- Game to Grow (see also interview and game features)
- Games Unbound (see also interview)
- Geek Therapeutics (see also interview)
You can also help with doing some leg work to find a local group for them to join. Some good places to look are schools, community centers, libraries, and game stores.
Run a game for your game guide (or try a collaborative game)
There’s the stereotype of the forever DM never getting to be an adventurer in the games that they run. If you have a game guide like this, it can be a really cool gift to offer to run a game for them to give a break.
The fun part about this gift is that you don’t have to commit to a full campaign, you can run a one-shot. If you are nervous about guiding a game, you could also suggest trying a collaborative game, like Stacks of Goblins or Wanderlust, where there is no DM or game guide.
Just ask ahead of time if this is something they would like (some “forever DMs” like that role), and make sure that if you’re giving it to them as a gift, it’s a setting that they would enjoy too.
If your kids are asking you for a gift suggestion, you could offer that maybe they run a game for you (as long as there’s no pressure to do so). Tell them that it would be a special gift and you could help teach them what to do. This might prompt your kid to try out running a game, and it’s an opportunity to have some quality time together as well.
Make DIY game tools!
There’s some really cool game tools out there like spell cards and terrain pieces, however, if you don’t want to buy them, you can make some of these for either a specific group member or to share with the table.
For spell cards, you can get a big pack of index cards, colored pens, and a card holder box from the dollar store – the big thing here is taking the time to write them out, but that’s where some of the special-ness of the gift comes in. You took the time to make that for your fellow player, and it’s something that can be super useful. If you have a printer, printing them on some nice card stock would be a quick way to do this as well.
For terrain pieces or maps, you can get poster boards from the dollar store and make a lot of these. They make a fantastic gift for a game guide who uses physical maps since it reduces their prep time.
With kids involved, these are cool crafts and are something very doable for them to make for fellow players… plus, I imagine it’s going to be really cool when their terrain piece is used in a game or a friend uses the cards they made.
Final thoughts on gifts for your tabletop RPG group:
I know I LOVE getting new dice and minis and books and everything related to that, however, I also really enjoy just spending time playing tabletop RPGs and D&D with my fellow players. I’ve shifted a lot of my perspectives on gift giving recently as I’ve gotten away from some of the ideas and expectations that I grew up with, and the “not stuff” gifts end up being such a treasure.
So, whether times are tough or you just want to try something different with your gift giving, I hope this gives you some ideas and that, whatever your celebration may be, you enjoy it together with your group and friends.
Thank you for checking out this article and the blog, and I hope you have a wonderful adventure!
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