Great Gift, Little Package: 7 Awesome Stocking Stuffer Games

Have you noticed how Christmas stockings are getting bigger and bigger as the years go by? That’s just an observation, definitely not a complaint! The bigger the stocking, the more goodies Santa can put inside. It’s very true that sometimes, the best things come in small packages, and it’s always fun to see what little treasures that stocking contains on Christmas morning.

If you’re playing Santa this year, add a few games to your list of stocking stuffer possibilities. There are tons of great games out there that are the perfect size to tuck into a stocking (card-based games are great for stockings!). Here are just a few:

Chez Geek

This card game is a little disturbing in its familiarity. You and your buddies are sharing an apartment, trying to make your way through life with the most geeky activity and the least work possible. Obviously, Steve Jackson Games has installed hidden cameras in all our houses! You don’t score a lot of brownie points in real life for sleeping, watching TV, or nookie, but you do in Chez Geek! Best with four or more adults (in age, if not in maturity).

Cthulhu Dice

This fun little game will fit in even the smallest stocking! It consists of a single 12-sided die, 18 Sanity stones, and the instructions, all neatly packed in a little bag. Based on the roll of the die, you can steal Sanity from other players, force them to lose Sanity to Cthulhu himself, or even gain Sanity from Cthulhu. The goal is to be the last sane one standing. Two to six players, at any age that can handle Cthulhu. (Steve Jackson Games also makes another version called Zombie Dice. Braaaaiiiiiins…)

Fluxx

If you like game rules to be set in stone, Fluxx may not be for you. It starts out simple enough: everyone begins play with a hand of three cards. On your turn, you must draw a card from the deck, then play one card from your hand (including the new card you just drew), and the instructions on the card played must be followed. The card played might be a New Rule, stating that everyone has to play a card immediately, or start drawing more cards. So the rules of the game change constantly, depending on what cards are played. How do you win? By meeting the conditions of the Goal card currently in play. Sound confusing? Well, it is. But playing it is easier than explaining it! There are several variants of the game, including Zombie Fluxx and Monty Python Fluxx. Two to six players, ages 8 and up.

(Update 12/10:  Looney Labs has given us a special discount code for their online store! Use code HH535XG for $5 off any order of $35 or more until 1/15/11. Check out their online store!)

Are You The Traitor?

From Looney Labs (the makers of Fluxx) comes this card game of bluffing and deception. Everyone is dealt a card assigning them a role: Guard, Key-Holder, Traitor, Good Wizard, or Evil Wizard. The key held by the Key-Holder is evil, so naturally both the Good Wizard and Evil Wizard want it (to destroy or to use for evil devices, respectively). They players have to question and watch each other, waiting for someone to do something that reveals who they are, so they can be called on it. Good wins (and gets points) if a Guard captures the Traitor, or the Good Wizard gets the key. Evil wins if the good players screw up, or the Evil Wizard gets the key. Four to ten players, ages 13 and up.

(Update 12/10:  Looney Labs has given us a special discount code for their online store! Use code HH535XG for $5 off any order of $35 or more until 1/15/11. Check out their online store!)

Gloom

Perhaps you’ve heard of this Keith Baker fellow. Creator of Eberron, E’s most famous client to date? Well, he came up with a nifty little card game for Atlas Games, too. The premise is a little morbid, but fun: you want your character to suffer as many woes and tragedies as possible (like being mocked by midgets!) before they die. To make sure your character has the worst go of it, you try to make the other character’s lives happier, by playing cards of marriage and babies upon them. The cards are transparent plastic, making the game look as cool as it is to play! Two to four players, ages 8 and up.

Runes or Tarot Cards

Divination devices like runes or the tarot can be a tricky gift. Obviously there is powerful spiritual mojo involved, and they’re not the right gift for everyone. However, some folks just really like the symbolism, and may want some for an RPG prop (when the soothsayer does a reading for a character, why not lay out the cards?). Know your recipient on this one! Don’t give them to someone who might freak out over them. Don’t give a set to a serious rune or tarot reader without knowing if it’s a set they’d want (or if they’d even use a set they hadn’t picked out themselves). But if the owner of the stocking in question just loves cool stuff and especially if they’ve expressed interest, go for it.

Plain Ol’ Playing Cards

I have to admit that I don’t know a lot of classic card games. But there are so many different games you can play with a simple deck of cards! (A pocket book of card games may be a nice addition to the deck for the stocking gift.) They can come in handy in RPGs, too. You need a deck of cards to play Deadlands. One of my GMs likes to use cards instead of dice for random chance in his games. If you ask, “What time of day is it?” he’ll have you draw a card against him, or play a hand of faro – if you win, it’s whatever time of day you want it to be; if he wins, he chooses. The possibilities are endless! So if you have an extra buck or three, and know there’s just a little room left in the sock, buy a nice dice of cards. (The geeks I know – me included – especially like the Hooters edition cards. Just sayin’.)

There are many more stocking-sized games out there for your holiday gift-giving needs. Check out the selection at your FLGS, or on Amazon (psst, click the banner to the right to get there!), and give the gift of gaming this year!

What stocking-sized games do you like to give for the holidays? What’s your favorite one that you’ve received?

About c

By day, Connie Thomson (aka Ariel Manx) is a mild-mannered shoe salesgirl, geeking out about insoles, outsoles, and shanks. But when night falls, she takes her turn at the helm of 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming, where she writes, edits, and does layout for table-top RPG products. Regardless of her persona, C is always a fangirl, bookworm, and craft diva. (Email C or follow @arielmanx on Twitter.)

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