It’s almost Christmas! You’d never know from the weather ’round here, since it’s like 75 outside, but I just looked at the calendar and it! is! almost! CHRISTMAS!
Christmas is my favorite holiday. This is true for many reasons, among them Jesus, carols, wassail, Spree-flavored candy canes, and cheap-ass holiday cookies. But food isn’t the only thing I love about Christmas! I also like gifts!
Gifts are awesome. I know that; you know that. So let’s talk about gifts for the ren faire participant in your life, since I know all of you have at least one faire performer in your life.
Which is to say, me.
A few notes before we begin: this list is geared towards performers, because that’s what I do. It’s also constructed with an eye towards gifts–things that are not so much practical as they are awesome. Obviously gift cards to the places they like to buy fabric/trim/notions are always good, but if you’re looking for something slightly more personal, give these a try:
Monogrammed hankies – This is one of my favorite gifts to give people, because they’re easy (if you know someone with an embroidery machine) and give the best bang for your buck. I have like seventeen million of them. Obviously these are for display purposes only, not for nose wiping.
Various useful things. This is a pretty varied list, but off the top of my head: Clip Clocks, hand mirrors, mugs/tankards (get these engraved with something faire-appropriate), a set of eating utensils and something to carry it in, pouches, embroidery scissors. Please note: this should be fancy stuff; that’s why it’s a gift. Also, the more you can personalize it, the better. And this should be obvious, but if they have a particular color scheme, stick with that color scheme.
Framed pictures of the two of you, or just your person in his or her faire finery. Make sure it’s a good picture (that is, make sure the recipient of this gift thinks it’s a good picture. If necessary, ask him or her to pick a favorite. If they are an actor, they will have one).
Ridiculously expensive accessories you know he or she wants but won’t buy for themselves. Examples I can think of include combat-ready swords, lavish reproduction jewelry, a new instrument, a spectacular hat (or a crown or tiara, why not?), expensive leather accessories, good beads to replace the crappy plastic ones they were going to bead with, and ponies, but everyone has different wants.
Smallish, leather-bound journals with unlined paper – these are sold at every faire ever, and are enormously useful, especially for musicians or street performers. You can use them to log tips and/or expenses, store lyrics and poetry for easy reference, make notes on things you need to remember, analyze your experience at the end of the day, turn them into “guest books” for patrons, or half a dozen other things. If you start shopping early enough (i.e. in July), you might be able to get these custom-made from some vendors.
Along those lines, a pen they can use on site. Nothing plastic. NO, SHUT UP, I SAID NO PLASTIC.
Commemorative shit from their faire(s) – almost every renaissance festival sells limited edition mugs, and I know a ton of performers who collect them. For extra awesome points, fill the mug with something like leather roses*. Or, you know, scotch.
A donation to The RESCU Foundation. RESCU, which stands for Renaissance Entertainers, Services, and Crafters United, is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and maintaining the health and well-being of people who work at renaissance festivals. It’s an amazing organization, and chances are your ren faire participant will make use of their services at some point, especially if they are on the circuit.
Their merchandise for other people you know, plus glowing praise and business cards. Word-of-mouth is vital for smaller entertainers, and it will absolutely delight your performer.
Season passes for their loved ones. Which is to say, you. Which is to say, GO SEE YOUR PERFORMER PERFORM. Your ass in a seat, honest to God, is the best gift you can give to a performer you love.
*As of this moment in my life, I’ve seen roses made of leather, crystal, glass, silver, pewter, steel, feather, silk, bronze, I think brass, and copper, as well as real flowers dipped in wax, silver, and gold. If you find roses made out of other materials, please assuage my curiosity and let me know what and where. I love this particular quirky bit of faire merchandise.