Explosives vs Dressing Up

burning guy

Halloween in the UK is often presented as the grey squirrel of festivals – imported from the US and busy trying (and succeeding) to kill off our more adorable native festival of Guy Fawkes Day. Because what could be more adorable and kid-friendly than burning 400 year old political dissidents in effigy and letting off fireworks?

Still, my childhood memories of this time of the year all involve a bit of Halloween vs a lot of going to big public fireworks displays (usually in the freezing cold), burning guys, eating cinder toffee and waving sparklers around in a criminally dangerous fashion. (I do apologise for all the recent nostalgia, I don’t really have a good explanation for it. Maybe it’s an Autumnal thing.)

I can only feel that it’s a shame that none of my MMOs have a proper fireworks festival. Oddly enough, the one that came closest was A Tale in the Desert which had a very elaborate crafting system for fireworks and planning creative fireworks displays.

I don’t have any issues with in game holiday events (well, aside from the pointless achievement side of things), even for holidays that we don’t really celebrate here. But increasingly I’m not that interested in doing the same holiday events every year except for unusually cool events. I suppose it’s the usual problem of old content and/ or old players…

Trick or Treat?

sweetsOver the past year, I’ve been running ‘sweet swaps’ for our LotRO kinship. It involves members of the kin giving me their real life details (name/address) and then me doing some shuffling to enable everyone to send and receive a goody bag. Think Secret Santa, but outside of Xmas.

In fact, it did actually start last Christmas with a secret Santa sweet swap. I told kin members the idea was to keep the entire thing to around £5 commitment, but to include mailing costs in that. We have members across Europe and Scandinavia and probably even further afield, but so far the swaps have been limited to Europe and Scandinavia. For the first time I tried very hard to match up every non-UK person with a UK sweet swap and the idea was always to try and find something unique to your area, if at all possible. I honestly can’t remember what I sent, but I do remember the ‘squee’ of joy when a bag of sweeties from the South of England arrived! A simple gesture, bringing happiness, and spread throughout those taking part – like a little club.

It was pretty successful, so we did a chocolate swap the following Easter. Following the same rules, but with a few more people trickling in and solely focused in on chocolate this time!

I meant to do a summer one, we had people requesting all manners of weird swaps (including my nemesis: Cheese!), but due to laziness and a kin meet-up, I’ve left it till now. Last year we followed the ‘Christian’ festival calendar, so this year we’re starting with Hallowe’en. While we may not celebrate it as much as America does, we still have cool sweets and chocolate to mark the date. Not sure everyone in the kin does, but hey, it’s also a way to spread cultural differences and note them. I think I may include some cinder toffee in the bag I send out also, and a note about Guy Fawkes.

I’d definitely recommend it to anyone interested in a fun little sideline for their guilds. It’s really not that hard, other than to gather addresses. I simply put names on paper and literally draw them from a bag. Though, we have an uneven number of participants this time, so (as Spinks might put it), I’m changing my algorithm and will create a ‘circle’ of giving where A gives to B gives to C gives to A, etc. Then I simply send everyone a forum mail with the name and address they’re sending to and a deadline date to get their sweets out.

Try it. For very little work, it gives a lot of pleasure. It’s probably my biggest contribution to the kin to date. But.. not sure what I’ll do after Hallowe’en, so all suggestions gratefully received!