Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gift Ideas: Getting and Giving

I use the Amazon widgets to recommend products because it's convenient, and the Amazon Affiliates program is this site's sole support. However, I also like to encourage people to buy locally when they can, and consider searching out some independent retailer. Here are a few other places to consider when you're searching for just the right gamer gift.

TaroBear's Lair: I only discovered Gary Brunger's mail order business a few weeks ago, but I'd definitely recommend it for anyone searching for imported playing cards. TaroBear stocks French, Italian, Spanish, German, Austrian, Swiss, and Tarot at reasonable prices for imports. Everything in the store is marked down until 12/23.

All Things Fun (South Jersey): This is my local game store, and they have a good stock of games and maintain a large space for gamers. Dina & Ed run a great business, located in West Berlin, NJ. If you live in Philly or South Jersey, you should check them out.

"Play in Public" Swag: Kevin Schlabach's Play in Public campaign has really taken off. The idea is to introduce people to Eurogames by playing them in public places like bookstores and coffee shops. It's a great way to get Eurogames out in the mainstream world, and now your game group can all have matching shirts so you can find each other more easily and really complete the geek tableau. (I kid, I kid...)

Great Hall Games: A reader sent me a link to this store in Austin, Texas. I've never ordered from them, so I can't vouch for their service, but their stock is quite interesting. They have a lot of pieces and historical reproductions, and a big historical miniatures business. The photos of the store make me wish I lived closer!

Funagain Games: It's hardly a small independent business, but if you can't buy local and won't buy from Amazon, then Funagain is the premier site for getting all kinds of games. They always have some sales, and their prices are usually pretty reasonable.

Games Magazine: Every Games Magazine comes with a color section of features, news, and reviews, and a newsprint section of pencil puzzles. It also gives off a pleasing scent of jasmine and lilacs, and plays Bach's Fifth Brandenburg Concerto when the pages are riffled correctly. Please subscribe, so they can pay me. 

If anyone wants to give a shoutout to any other local game stores or small online retailers, feel free to use the comboxes. Spammers, of course, will be defenestrated. 

The truth is, we all have too much stuff already. You know it, I know it, and the people you're shopping for probably know it, even if they don't always admit it. People are suffering right now, and the best gift you can give is hope and love to another, particularly if that person is a stranger. 

Child's Play: Penny Arcade's charity provides money, games, and toys to children's hospitals throughout the world, and has become the largest charity in the game business. My children have been in the hospital, and the ability to play games was one of the best medicines.

Heifer International: One of the best charities out there, Heifer allows you to buy farm stock for poor people all over the world. Instead of just giving people money or even food, Heifer gives them the animals they need to make a sustainable living. It's a wonderful way to give.

Catholic Relief: I'm linking to Catholic Relief because I'm Catholic and they do good work. The Church remains the largest provider of charitable goods and services on the planet, and Catholic Relief gets the money where it needs to go without a lot of waste on overhead. Other religious charities, such as Samaritan's Purse and local St. Vincent de Paul Societies, are also on the front lines working with those in need.

These are just a few ideas. I'm sure you all have charities that you trust and support. I'm always inclined to give to places with the lowest overhead, or the ones closest to those in need. I never give to any group whose main function is to "raise awareness" about some pet issue, but instead focus on those who actually can make a difference. I've volunteered with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, for example, and we actually went to the homes of people in need, gave them vouchers for food from our thrift stores and pantries, helped them get housing and furniture, and paid their utility bills. In the midst of the Second Great Depression, that's where the real need lies.


Thomas L. McDonald said...
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