What's the Best Holiday to Game?

With the Thanksgiving season upon us in the U.S. and many families getting together around a table, it's not too much of a leap that some of them might play a tabletop game after dinner. Which holidays lend themselves to playing RPGs with your family?

dinner.jpg

Photo by Libby Penner on Unsplash

Tabletop role-playing games were always meant to be played around a table. In the earliest games, that table was large -- co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons Gary Gygax references games with as many as 20 players -- not unlike a large family gathering sitting down to a meal. That's not all holiday get-togethers share with tabletop gaming.

Experienced gamers know that a significant barrier to gaming is scheduling. National holidays make that easier, ensuring friends and family are off from work and school to be able to play. Scheduling games to play on certain holidays can be a good idea, unless there are other obligations that wouldn't make it appropriate to play. Depending on the holiday, those obligations can be significant. Let's take a look at the federal holidays and their applicability to gaming:
[h=3]New Year's Eve/Day[/h]There's no reason that New Year's Eve can't be a tabletop gaming event, particularly as games often run late into the night. That said, New Years is often a time to spend with a significant other, so any game will likely need to be inclusive for both. There might even be value in a game that races against the clock, with the finale ending at the strike of midnight.
[h=3]Martin Luther King Jr. /Columbus /Memorial /Veterans Day[/h]These holidays can be recognized as a day of service. Depending on how a family observes it, gaming would be best served as part of a community outreach (for example, an educational RPG at a library for kids). It's important to be sensitive to your player's backgrounds and preferences. If everyone is amenable, you could celebrate Memorial or Veterans Day by running a historical military-themed game as a form of remembrance.
[h=3]President's/Labor /Independence Day[/h]These holidays don't usually have a specific obligation, which makes it perfect for gamers to get together. Any game on Independence Day would be best served if it incorporates explosions into the backdrop of the game. And of course, the game will have to work around fireworks or any other celebratory activities.
[h=3]Religious Holidays/Thanksgiving[/h]Including Christmas, Jewish holidays, and Thanksgiving, these holidays tend to have a family obligation, so plans for game will likely rely on your family's interest in role-playing games and their own holiday traditions. Some holidays have specific religious observances that will make a game difficult, but if there's a holiday of a religion your family doesn't celebrate, then it's similar to the aforementioned "low obligation" holidays.

These holidays will of course vary depending on your region, country, and family customs. Any tabletop game, including role-playing games, will need to be playable by the whole family, so kids may be part of the equation. The game probably can't drag on for very long. And for gift-giving holidays, gamer gifts can be put to good use right after.

No matter what holiday you celebrate, here's to getting together with friends and family, sharing a good meal, and hopefully a good game too!

Mike "Talien" Tresca is a freelance game columnist, author, communicator, and a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to http://amazon.com. You can follow him at Patreon.
 
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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca

SirGalrim

Explorer
Ugh. Narrow minded article. There are other holidays. And there are other countries than USA.
 
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Anselyn

Explorer
Boxing Day: For most people the big family gathering is Xmas Day but Boxing Day is a bank holiday, can be a quiet day, and there's no need to cook with so many lefovers around.
 

delericho

Legend
My former gaming group had a semi-formal tradition of getting together for a game a few days after Christmas. It was always good fun.

(Perhaps interestingly, there was an old tradition in the UK of telling ghost stories at Christmas - "A Christmas Carol" being the most famous of these, of course, and also the point where the character of the stories really started to change. So getting together for some sort of horror RPG might be surprisingly appropriate.)
 

talien

Community Supporter
Ugh. Narrow minded article. There are other holidays. And there are other countries than USA.

I agree, which is why I wrote:

talien said:
These holidays will of course vary depending on your region, country, and family customs. Any tabletop game, including role-playing games, will need to be playable by the whole family, so kids may be part of the equation. The game probably can't drag on for very long. And for gift-giving holidays, gamer gifts can be put to good use right after.

Thanks for reading!
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Extremely narrow minded article. I mean, come on! Who is gonna want to learn rules, build characters, and provide backstories for the annual holiday RPG your weird uncle tries to get everyone to play and show where his real talents for make believe and Tolkein emulating shines outside of his temp jobs where he is constantly held back and his dreams are suppressed by the realities of real world obligations. Let them play Monopoly and pretend to enjoy their company like true Americans by being competitive, cut-throat, and greedy!

Or play Cards Against Humanity and let them find out what an awful human being you really are without the excuse of alcohol. Or with, your call. ;)
 

Koloth

First Post
2nd the best games for holiday family gatherings are likely board/card games. Preferably ones that are fast/easy to learn/explain. You don't want some young kid's first group gaming experience to be hours of tedious character design followed by running out of time when folks decide it is time to leave. One of the Holiday themed Munchkin games would be a good place to start. Or something Cthulhu related for Halloween.
 

delericho

Legend
You don't want some young kid's first group gaming experience to be hours of tedious character design followed by running out of time when folks decide it is time to leave.

Indeed. For a one-shot, I would recommend that the DM prepare a suitable set of pre-gen PCs for use. If people have their own characters to use, that's fine, but if not they can at least jump straight in with a pre-gen.
 


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