I don’t have very long to write because I still have a Podcast Episode to finalize and packing to do for traveling south for Holiday stuff. Busy time of year. Yeesh.
I did however want to do a quick community service post. This topic hits really close to home for me as I get approached about it quite a lot, specifically like so:
My [FRIEND/RELATION] is really into [HOBBY/COLLECTIBLE]. Which one should I get them?
Okay, at the very get-go, this is nearly impossible for someone to just SOLVE. Namely, the question just doesn’t have enough information. Whether the person is into board games, comics, movies, figures, roleplaying games, or anything, simply approaching someone also familiar with those things and saying “find them a gift” is not going to cut it. Typically, I respond with three questions:
- Do you know what they need?
- Do they frequently by new [PRODUCT] or just have an extended library of classics?
- Do you mind getting them something they potentially already have?
I ask these questions because it helps me dictate what the appropriate item to purchase for a gift should be. To alleviate the NEED for the questions, I’m going to give you the three key gifts for someone with a hobby. This can be anything from tabletop war games to stamp collecting to shoes and clothes. Essentially if there is something that someone spends a distinct portion of their time gathering, learning about and engaging in, here is how to shop for them once the Holidays roll around.
Know specifically what they need
If you have the ability to ask the person what specific cards or books or whatever else they need to fill out their collection or serve the purpose they need it to, then ask. Everyone is always afraid of spoiling the gift, so ask for more than what you intend to buy. Every year (minus this year, because I honestly could NOT think of anything) my Mom has me send her Christmas ideas. I send them over and it’s always more than I KNOW I’m gonna get. However, this way she isn’t just shooting blind. She can get me stuff from that list and KNOW I’ll enjoy it. Meanwhile, I am still surprised based on what she chose to get over other things. It still maintains the mystery of gift giving, but gives her the necessary info to shop with.
This holds especially true for collectors and card gamers, a la Magic. For the former, it is extraordinarily easy to get them something they already have, and for the latter it is extraordinarily easy to get them something they don’t even NEED. Say you have a friend who collects every Nicolas Cage movie. You can’t just roll into a shop and buy the first copy of Ghost Rider you find without knowing if they have this one or not. Take the chance to ask the person for ideas and go into the shop informed.
Get them something brand new and super fresh
In a pinch, if you have minimal details and no way of acquiring more, try and focus on whatever is the newest on the market. Got a friend who likes Hulk comics? Buy them the newest issue. Got a Magic player? Buy them a pack of the most recent set. Got a friend who collects Nicolas Cage movies? Get a new friend.
The risk here is that you have to be okay with getting them something they potentially already have. No clerk at a store or friend who is also into the hobby/culture is going to be able to magically know what gaps need filling in somebody else’s collection. If you are unwilling or unable to ask, but you still want to buy them the thing they collect, then you run this risk.
Get them supplies or resources
I have started recently pointing a lot of people to this option. I know if somebody were to buy me a few packs of bags and boards or mylars or a board game storage box, I would be ECSTATIC. This option, though, is often overlooked as I think people outside the hobbies see it like getting socks for Christmas (something else I would absolutely LOVE). Every hobby comes with things you NEED to maintain it. Comics have bags, boards, boxes, shelves. If you collect movies, you need storage, figures and funkos and even shoes have specialized cases to keep them in good condition. Card games have boxes and sleeves, Board Games have the same. Modeling and War Gaming need paints and glues and storage and TIME. CAN YOU GIFT TIME?!? I WOULD LIKE TIME FOR CHRISTMAS PLEASE!
Hobbyists have all these things that they need to buy in order to adequately perform their hobby or preserve their collection. This is true in just about every hobby, whether collector or creative. Painting, Writing, woodworking, coin collecting, knitting, running, cosplay, comics, dice, Gundam models, bird watching, swimming, hiking, stalking ex-boyfriends, stamp collecting, Dungeons and Dragons, and on and on. You may not know exactly what item to get that pertains to the MEAT of the hobby, but there are so many supplies and resources you could buy. It’s a sensible gift that says “hey, you have a hobby and I think that’s neat and want you to be able to engage in your hobby in the best way.” Don’t overlook the sensible stuff. You’ll be saving your friend or family member time and money in the future.
Happy shopping, everyone!