Welcome one and all to the Kitchen Table, Holiday Edition. Casual Magic, and Magic in general, is about the people we meet. Magic is a tool for social interaction, for meeting new people, and introducing us to new friends. Magic is about community.
Magic is not about tournaments, or winning, or even having fun. Lots of games are fun to play, and are about winning, yet they don’t keep millions of players coming back year in and year out. Magic is still around because of the people. Fourteen months ago, I was the best man at a wedding of a guy who I met because we both played Magic. All of the groomsmen were Magic players in our group.
That is Magic’s foundation. Us. We are Magic.
What better time to celebrate the foundation of Magic than the holidays?
With Thanksgiving just finished, and more holidays upcoming, many Magic groups throughout the lands are hosting parties. Today, let’s leave the beaten path of articles about strategy, tournament reports, and card evaluations behind. Let’s just talk about your get-togethers over the next few weeks.
All I want to do today is give your playgroup a chance to relax and have some fun together in a celebratory fashion. In this time of hustle and bustle, let’s pause and remember that Magic is all about each other.
Ideas for Your Holiday Fun!
Some of these ideas were not made up by me, and some come from one of my previous articles, and then a few are brand new for this article. Who cares where they are from? Let’s get some ideas for your Magic Festivities!
Magic Tree — Do you know what would be fun? A Magic Christmas Tree! Grab a tree, and then use Magic cards as ornaments. Get some cheap ones, like commons you don’t want. Grab some X-Mas tree hooks and a small hole-punch. Then turn the cards into ornaments! Hang them all over the tree. Now, what to use for a tree topper? How about a giant Magic Card, which you can purchase from various places (like here on SCG)? Then we need a tree skirt. We could use a Magic playmat. You could also use bead-like counters as more decoration.
Magic Garland – Another good idea for decoration is to make a Magic Card Garland. You can put these on a tree, or use them elsewhere for festive decorations. Grab some of those cheap commons of which everybody has extras. Buy a box of paper clips and get that hole-punch. You want to punch a hole in the top and bottom of each card. Then open your paper clip by bending it in the middle so that there is a hook on each end. If you’ve done this right, it should look like an S. Now hook two Magic Cards together, and then bend the clip so that they will not unhook. I would unfurl each hook and place it in the card’s hole, and then bend it up and around the card so that it will not come off. Ideally, you’ll need a smaller hole-punch for this, not a normal sized hole-punch. You can also try tree hooks and see if they have the needed combination of flex and strength.
Magic Elsewhere — Garlands and the tree are great places to start your Magic themed Christmas, but what about elsewhere? Tape or glue a few Magic cards to stockings! You could secure some of the larger cards, or the box toppers from some sets to the wall and various places as decoration. Use your imagination!
Together — When you do some of these awesome decoration ideas, why not do them together? Have everybody decorate the tree and make garlands when they come over to play Magic. If your multiplayer group is as slow as mine, if gives you something to do while waiting for your next turn. When someone gets knocked out, they can go work on decorations until the next game.
Magic Card Gift Exchange — Everybody has done a Christmas secret Santa with each person drawing the name out of a hat of another. Do that like normal, except the rule is that each person must give away some cards that they know that person would want or need. Give away an extra Ravenous Baloth or Rout or whatever to the person you have. Remember not to be stingy! Giving away cards is a great way to use and reuse the cards you have and are not playing. You are a Magic group after all, so why give away toys and DVDs? Give away some actual Magic this year, new school style
Stocking Stuffers — Magic cards as gifts make great stocking stuffers! So do dice, beads, and many of the other accoutrements of Magic.
Holiday Spirits — Instead of the usual grub you serve up, why not spice it up? How about punch for drinks? Grab some Ginger Ale and Sherbet, and you have a quick punch. There are other recipes out there on the internets for your perusal. Find something and make it! How about holiday snacks instead of the usual chips? Gingerbread cookies perhaps? Or maybe Candy Canes?
Protect Your Cards — You know how every family has an aunt or uncle or someone who has fifteen boxes of tablecloths? Grab a cheap festive holiday one that is as ugly as you can, and use it for Magic night. Your cards are protected from the table, so that’s good. You have something in case of spillage or mess-making. It gets everybody into the holiday spirit!
Play the Tunes — Nothing says “festive” more like some holiday cheer in its pure music form. A lot of cities have local radio stations that play holiday music this time of year, so if you have one, turn it on. Otherwise, grab a streaming internet channel, or borrow some CDs from a friend, and make your music joyous.
Holiday Life Counters — Do you know what else would be awesome? How about holiday life counters? Grab some of that string and a needle that you would use to make popcorn garlands, and put thirty pieces of popcorn on a string. Then leaves some space to slide them around and knot it up. Now slide over ten, so that you have twenty on one side, and an extra ten on the other. You have a festive edible life counter for the night! If you want, make some string with ten pieces of popcorn and some space, and then another with ten cranberries and some space. Then tie the end of one to the end of the other, and now you have a Yuletide abacus! Use the popcorn for ones and the cranberries for tens.
Holiday Tokens — Everybody has something they use for counters and tokens. Beads, pennies, figurines, whatever. Make a declaration that this December, you must use holiday figures as your tokens. Now that shepherd is a 2/2 Illusion token. and that nutcracker is a 3/3 Beast. and of course Baby Jesus is Ajani Goldmane’s Avatar Token. Feel free to have a Menorah token, or Judah the Hammer, and Maccabee figures too.
Build Holiday Themed Decks — What if everyone was forced to construct a deck ahead of time built around some holiday inspired theme. One person might play Donate with some cards to give away, just like giving away presents! Another person might play a bunch of cards that everyone can activate, like Squallmonger. It’s about sharing! Find uses for cards like New Frontiers or Veteran Explorer. You could have a Snow deck from Coldsnap. Run cards like Goblin Snowman and Snow Fortress.
Play a Holiday Themed Format — Get crazy and invent a multiplayer format for your group to try out. Possible themes include sharing, giving, celebrating, joy, cold, coal, or even Red and Green. Perhaps your format says you can only play Red and Green together, no other colors? Everyone starts with Veteran Explorer in play! Now that’s a format, go to it. Be creative!
Give to Charity — Take up a collection for your Magic night, and instead of using it for pizza, give it away to charity, as a nice way of giving back to the community. Remember, just because we are Magic players doesn’t mean everything we do has to be about Magic. Help someone out this season.
Teach Someone to Play – You could also take up a collection of some basic Magic cards, and then try and teach someone else how to play this season, and give them the cards as a holiday present. Perhaps there is a mutual friend who doesn’t play Magic. Invite them! Seize the opportunity. Magic is not about flipping cards anymore than Dungeons & Dragons was about rolling dice, so bring them in. In today’s day and era, when virtual communication is regularly replacing real life communication, use this as a chance to bring in some new blood and get everybody together for an old-fashioned game around the table.
Make Crafts — In addition to the various ideas above, why not make crafts, from ceramics to leather, from carving to painting? Make some holiday mementoes as part of your game day experience. How about making a Gingerbread House?
Play Elsewhere — Instead of rocking someone’s apartment living room, how about you change the venue for a week? How about a restaurant, bar, or my favorite, a Strip Club? I’ve always wanted to play Magic with a group of guys at a Strip Club. There cannot be anything more festive than that.
Don’t Be Afraid of Fromage — Look, I know some of the people around there might not normally do this sort of thing, but who cares? You are not that precious. Don’t be afraid that it might be a bit cheesy. Embrace the cheese. Grab that cheesy tablecloth, listen to that cheesy music, and more. Don’t be afraid to have fun! Cheese will never kill you. Unless you are lactose intolerant.
Giving Away Magic — As you may know, my grandmother, Thelma Snider, passed away earlier this year. She was a great woman, full of love and life for all of those around her. After my mom passed, my grandmother’s only child, Thelma continued to give love to my father. And when my dad remarried, my grandmother brought my dad’s new wife into the family with open arms. Then my dad’s new wife’s mother came to stay with them. On no family tree would you ever be able to draw a line from Thelma to my father’s second wife’s mother, and yet, it didn’t matter. Love knows no lines. I remember a Christmas after I came home from school and my father, his new wife, my grandmother, the second wife’s mother, my sister, and my dad and his second wife’s new children, were all together at my grandmother’s farm in Clarksburg, WV. My grandmother was a woman of love. As I said in her eulogy, when God starts filling you with His love, he doesn’t stop. It just spills out and affects and touches all those around. In honor of my grandmother, I want to remind each of you to invite everyone to your holiday festivity. My grandmother had a habit of hiding gifts in box the wrong size for them. I would open up a gift and it’s a cake mix box, and inside, a pack of Magic cards, or a pair of socks. So this year, all of the gifts I give will be in larger boxes recycled for such an occasion. Why don’t you do that too? Put some gifts under the tree, and then when it is time, have everyone open up a box, only to find a pack of Magic cards or a similar gift inside them all.
Remember the reason for game nights in the first place. It’s about your friends, your buddies, your acquaintances, and that guy from work or that gal from school. Get everybody together and have a night that no one forgets. Come up with your own ideas or take some of these and add your own spin. Enjoy your time with your fellow players.
See you next week.
P.S. – Okay, fine, you got me. Let’s build a quick holiday inspired deck.