The following scenario will play out thousands of times this holiday season, and if you're buying a lot of presents for friends and family, it'll likely affect your life personally.
You: What do you want for the holidays?
Them: The new Akali skin for League of Legends!
You: I can get you some Riot Points, but I can't wrap them. Anything else?
Them: The Staccato Shotto for Fortnite!
You: Same problem.
Them: How about Luigi's Mansion 3? Here, just download it on my Switch.
With the advent of living, online worlds and digital-first storefronts, plenty of gamers' wish lists include intangible items like cosmetic upgrades, fresh weapons, extra characters and new games. Gift cards make it easy to hand out in-game currency for most major titles, and download codes mean you don't even have to put on pants to pick out a present. However, white elephant gift exchanges are pretty boring when everyone passes around nondescript envelopes. Even in the modern online age, there's something deeply unsatisfying about giving someone a fully digital present.
Luckily, there's a way to give your friends and family all the in-game goodies they want and also provide something to unwrap, all without buying extra presents. It's craft time, baby.
The following crafts are cheap yet effective, utilizing materials you might already have in the house. Each project is fairly simple, but if you get frustrated, remember that's part of the process. Spending an hour fretting over the color of your homemade Fortnite chug jug is actually an hour spent thinking about the person receiving the gift, and that's what infuses these items with love. That, and the download codes.
League of Legends Riot Points | Poro plushie
Materials: Scissors, hot glue gun, black marker, Styrofoam ball, modeling clay, craft foam (pink, brown, white, black)
Time: 45 minutes
Notes: There are a handful of Poro crafting guides online, but the cutest and simplest one we found comes from former Canadian eSports group eLESGA, and it's right here. As with all of these projects, feel free to improvise! If you're looking to save time on your Poro, leave out the mustache and the little feet and make the horns out of brown craft foam rather than modeling clay.
Fortnite V-Bucks | Chug jug
Materials: Tall food container, paint (dark blue, light blue, turquoise, silver), paint sponge, foam or modeling clay, scissors, hot glue
Time: 45 minutes
Notes: Grab your supplies, pull up a photo of the Fortnite chug jug and go wild. Or for a visual rundown, check out this how-to YouTube video from Troom Troom.
You can't purchase V-bucks directly, but a gift card for the recipient's preferred platform will let them purchase all the wacky weapons and pink bear suits they want.
Minecraft Minecoins | Diamond sword or pickax
Materials: Printer, paper, foam-core board, glue stick, metal ruler, cutting mat and craft scalpel or rotary cutter
Time: 1 hour
Notes: If you want to get fancy with this one, print images of the sword or pickax at a copy shop on shiny, 11x17-inch paper. Or keep it simple and print at home on standard-size sticker paper: The tools will be tiny, but that makes them more adorable. Plus, this method eliminates glue from the equation. Writer Kerry Ann Morgan provides clear images of the Minecraft tools on her blog, alongside instructions for putting it all together.
Nintendo eShop gift card | Masks and more
Materials: Printer, paper or card stock, glue stick, string (for most)
Time: 10 minutes
Notes: Nintendo has taken crafting into its own hands, offering an official selection of printable masks, dioramas, tags and paper projects featuring Mario and pals. Simply pick your favorite and your craft is nearly finished.