Season Salutation Gentle Entities and Wassailing Wumpuses;

This is the end of a delightful first year of delving into the hyper local customs of the plane where Hipsters of the Coast resides.

Here in this solar system, in this hemisphere there are many celebrations from many cultures involving the magic of light in darkness.

Therefore this column shall focus on one of the most useful guidelines for such a multiplicity of rituals, and events and we shall explore intentional gift giving.

While Hipsters of the Coast will be going on hiatus after December 11: you, my dear readers shall never be far from my thoughts and I hope to see you all again at some future date.

As this is our forty-first column, we at Mizz Mizzet’s School for Complicated Lifeforms would like to remind you that we answer between 1-3 letters from our interrogative entities across the multiverse each month.

If you missed our initial column, you may peruse it at your leisure at this location.

Content Warnings

Mizz Mizzet’s Guide to Magical Manners is pleased to provide Content Warnings, given that solving bad behavior often means describing bad behavior.

We shall begin at the beginning. In Mizz Mizzet’s Guide to Avoiding Interstellar Warfare, we have an entire chapter exploring how to research the protocol for giving gifts in a new environment where a traveler may not know the rules or expectations. This specifically helps a diplomat  or avuncular planeswalker avoid unintentional marriages, needing or becoming a sacrifice, and the difference between a tribute, a gift and an exchange of tokens.

I trust my seasonal sentients will look up this passage if it is more relevant to their needs. Here we shall focus on smaller scale gift giving of a personal nature to friends, family and immediate members of one’s community where you should have the lay of the leylines.

A Considerate Guide to Gift Giving: It takes a community to diversify a hoard:

On the plane where this magazine is distributed, the occasions of gifting are generally  instigated for at least one of these four reasons:

  1. There is an etiquette requirement for a gift to be given.
  2. You want to express an emotion towards a recipient in a tangible, material way.
  3. Something made you think of the recipient and you want to share the thing.
  4. The recipient has a need and you would like to fulfill that need with no expectation of material or emotional concern.

Any combination of reasons may interact together when gift giving, and indeed these four reasons may stack.

For example – let us suppose  your broodmate has recently spawned. They are about to have hatchlings of one’s own and therefore their community has present giving rituals to help support the new family.  The entire mountain is holding a warming pit celebration as soon as the eggs are thickened  and part of the etiquette is the expectation of a material gift.

The event is a gift given for  reason 1. Gifts given to meet communal standards and social expectations.  While not an exchange per se it is considered reciprocal and you have a reasonable expectation that if you spawn someday this communal  courtesy will also be extended to you. However, gifts are never given with expectation of return so although reason 1 is why you are giving the gift reasons 2-4 might be how you choose what gift to give.

There is a process that can be used to decide what gift to give. Things one must consider:

Who is the gift for? – If it is someone you do not know well or do not have an emotional attachment to you might only need to choose a gift that also meets the requirements for Reason 3- Something made you think of the recipient and you would like to share it with them. This will lead to a gift with  a personal touch. But in ritual events  such as a warming pit celebration you would do well to also consider if the recipient has a need that should be met. This is the usual goal of event  based gift giving and new life milestones have well defined equipment lists that make it simple to choose a gift to meet that need. This is an example of how reasons may stack – the social expectation is you bring a gift – the life milestone determines appropriate objects to meet a need and then you choose a variation of the object that reminds you of the recipient so that the gift is then “personal and meaningful.”

In some places Local Humans use gift registries for big milestones to prevent confusion or reduce guesswork. It is lovely that someone would take the time to choose something the recipient already thought hard about. While it is not a custom amongst dragonkind I find I am quite enamored of the elegance of a registry for life event celebrations.

But even with a registry you still have to choose from multiple options – and what if there is no guideline? How do you even decide which type of gift to give?

Ask this question:

“Why is the gift being given”  – If you are giving the gift because it is a matter of protocol then there is  usually a predetermined list of rules and suggested values to follow, as well as precedence for what rituals are being fulfilled and can study previous gifts to decide for yourself what will best achieve your protocol goals for the gift.

Do you think the average person who is not ruling a small hellscape never has to engage in protocol gifts? Au contraire! There are business to business gifts, hosting gifts, office ritual gifts for mandatory fun and theoretical team building. There are group gifts for services and gratuities for professional services to keep competitive edges in future business engagements:

As an example; many government workers may not accept gifts over a certain monetary value, so gifts of food or plants, or shiny office toys will already be designed to fulfill the protocol constraints and you can purchase from pre-vetted gifts and the recipient knows the gift is being given for protocol requirements and expectations are easily met. It is not a personal gift.

If the gift is being given for a personal milestone or cultural home holiday ,then it is not a protocol based gift but a personal one. We at Mizz Mizzet’s School for Complex Lifeforms suggest that in choosing such a gift  you should  first be identified if the recipient has an unmet need that can be provided in a way that feels like a gift, even if it otherwise seems mundane by making it exceptional or customized.

For instance one might need pit trap replacement stakes after the last group of murder hobos unsuccessfully attempted to remove your friend’s horde. This might seem like an unexceptional housekeeping item. While they might only get new pit spikes for themselves, you can buy the more aesthetic silver inscribed cursed pit spikes allowing the trap to carry the elegant aesthetic of their home decor.  In this way a homey gift is made slightly more luxurious and personal. A practical gift is the elevated because you know your recipient would not have purchased them for themselves.

Do you have to have a reason to send a gift? 

If you are simply sending an entity a gift on impulse because of Reason 2 – expressing an emotion in a tangible way – I highly recommend sending the gift to your recipient at the moment you are feeling the emotion or inspired to make the gift. Do not wait for an occasion.  Removing the need for a “gift-giving occasion” allows the gift, and the sentiment to stand on its own. This will make the heartfelt aspect  stand out in the memory of your recipient. Never shy away from giving a gift simply because you feel like it!

The same guidelines  apply to reason 3 – something reminded you of the recipient and you wanted to share it with them. You might acquire the object in advance and save it for a future occasion but existence can be short and apocalypses are always nigh. One should not assume time will always be linear and gift-give accordingly.

I do hope this process helps you in your intense crush of gifts to be given and in the quieter times when big gifts need to be planned.

We end this discussion with the caveat that you should truly never give gifts with an expectation of anything else in return – gifts are like inedible birds – you simply take joy from their journey.

This brings us to the most practical of gift giving questions:

Dear Mizz Mizzet.

I understand all the “best intentions” you have described when choosing gifts,but can you simply advise me on the best way to choose a gift for someone who plays a game I do not play? I have a lot of trouble understanding a lot of what makes folks like things and I don’t want to give any kind of gift that’s just going to sit there or never get opened. 

A Pasha who thought that elephant was a great idea. 

Dear Pasha,

Allow me to provide you with a guide for the perplexed.

If you know the game your recipient plays and it is not a game that you play, one of the best gifts to any gamer is offering to learn how to play that game with them, perhaps as part of an evening with dinner as the “gift”.

If you would like to gift them a “thing they need” you might want to do a bit of research on Etsy or gaming magazines to see if you can upgrade the components of their game to “fancy” versions of the game pieces.

For instance Flamecraft players can have new dragons or player organizers gifted to them. Look up expansion histories of games your recipient is playing and acquire handmade accessories for them.

You might want to buy an expansion. I can quite honestly tell you it is never a bad idea to buy more cards for a collectable card player. You simply cannot go wrong, it’s like gifting gold to a dragon – multiples are good, they just make better hordes. Thus  for players of any collectible game buying smaller sealed product and treating them like “flowers” is the correct mindset.

N.B. Always write a note of personal intent and well wishes with these types of gifts. Spend time selecting the sort of container you are gifting dice, booster packs, or tokens used for that individual’s favorite game and you will be supporting them in the thing they love.

Buying associated clothing, or game accessories with the beloved game icons can be quite charming but make sure that you have a clear return policy for gifts from whomever your purchase such a thing from and enclose a gift receipt. This is because others may have had the same idea and a good gift is one that gives the recipient future opportunities to enjoy a thing rather than extra responsibility or a sense of obligation. 

And finally a gift certificate to the places you know they buy from, given with a small decorative trinket from their preferred game is always acceptable. As we all know, the gaming hobby is rough on hoards.

The key is thinking of what you know they might use and making sure you spend a wee bit of time learning about the thing to find a relevant gift to support their game. A polite gift-giver makes sure they  are providing a thing desired or a thing easily converted into a thing desired.

Remember cost of the item might matter for protocol reasons but it NEVER matters for gifts between friends and loved ones. Choose the option that lets them play their game and is within your price range. And once again – offering to play with them or learn to play from them is the most powerful present.

May those who present you with gifts take as much time and care as you do when you present gifts to them.

Until we all meet again. Au Revoir until the East Wind blows….


Thank you to Adrienne Reynolds, for her interplanar transcription services.

Mizz Mizzet Portrait by Andres Garcia

Delightful Readers, Please Submit Your Questions to Mizz Mizzet.

You may submit your questions to Mizz Mizzet using this form.

New Mizz Mizzet columns are posted every Wednesday right here as well as in Hipsters of the Coast‘s weekly email newsletter. You are also encouraged to follow her at @MizzMizzet on Twitter.

Any questions answered publicly will be made anonymous, and noms de plume will be created to represent any parties mentioned.

Born a perfect dragon in an imperfect multiverse, Mizz Mizzet (she/her) is the pioneer broodmother of today’s multiplanar civility movement.  She is now working to persuade Planeswalkers to participate in it.

Her tireless efforts to expand the understanding and exercise of etiquette beyond the stereotypical terror of too many pieces of silverware, and whether to use poisons or explosives at celebratory conquest dinners, have not escaped official notice.

She specializes as a consultant in seating arrangements for inter and intra planar political events as long as contracts include the option to eat the rude.

Out of respect for her relative’s delicate sensibilities regarding draconic rank, she does not reside on the plane of Ravnica.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.