Tales from the Gazebo – Holiday Gaming

Holiday Gaming
By Cape Rust

I have been giving advice on GMing a Progressive game for quite a few weeks and with the holidays fast approaching, I thought it was time to take a break and lay down some of my thoughts about the highs and lows of holiday gaming.  While holiday gaming should be a time of joy for some gaming groups, it is usually far from that. Holiday gaming, like most other things having to do with getting a group of like minded people together, always needs a healthy dose of expectation management.

Don’t worry, I’m trying the “be the Grinch that stole holiday gaming,” but if you adjust your normal approach to gaming just a bit, you might find that holiday gaming can actually be very fulfilling, rather than disappointing. For many years this is kind of how my holiday gaming went. Because people tend to have a bit more time off, I would get really excited anticipating a few extra game sessions. I would bring this up at the beginning of December and my group would get excited and say that they would let me know the following week what extra days they could game. As you can imagine, the following week was filled with news of holiday commitments that killed the hopes of any additional gaming and threatened even the normal gaming sessions.

This news, while expected, always made me a sad panda. It didn’t matter that it happened every year; I still got my hopes up, kind of like Ralphie in footie pajamas. It never failed, until a few years ago when my wife gave me the best gaming gift of all time. You see, I would always come home from finding out this disappointing news, upset and dejected. Like the amazing woman she is, she would console me, but often to no avail. A few years ago she suggested that we host a small party at our house with the gaming group. Nothing fancy, just a pot luck dinner, with a cheap white elephant gift exchange. She then suggested that we do it early on the night we normally game and then we could game as usual right after the party; simple and brilliant. But the party wasn’t just for people in the group, their entire families were invited as well. With this one good idea my wife had solved quite a few problems. First we were going to get to game, then we were still able to spend time with our loved ones and did I mention that we still got to game?

Here is the thing; gaming is a social hobby and we often forget the social aspect of it. The holidays are a time to reconnect with people and to share the joy of whatever season you choose to celebrate. So rather than trying to force more table time in, it might be best to actually push away from the table completely for a few weeks. I love to game and I get really cranky when I think I’m going to be able to game and can’t. So during the holidays, why not just shut the game down for a week or two, take a break and enjoy your friends and family? If all of your friends are in your gaming group then it is even better! But we all have those times when we get so focused at the table that we forget to socialize and have fun.

Doesn’t your gaming widow spouse deserve a few extra hours with you over the holidays? If you decide to take a holiday break, then there are no feelings of letting the group down because you had to go to yet another tacky sweater party with your significant other. I’m not saying you shouldn’t game over the holidays; I’m just saying that you should peek your head above your GM screen, look around and enjoy the people around you.

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