In my family, I’m an acknowledged nerd. Everyone dear to me accepts my interests with responses ranging from enthusiasm to mild concern. Thus, no one would be particularly surprised to see me show up to our family Christmas dinner dressed as San from Princess Mononoke. Not surprised, perhaps, but not happy, either.
So I had to start getting a little tricky to bring some nerdy goodness into the holidays. If you’re like me, your nerd-dom cannot be contained. So here are some ideas for how to bring your hobbies to your holidays without having to explain to your grandmother what LARPing is.
Dress to Impress
One way that I’ve found to work my love of cosplay into my holiday season is to dress in an appropriate costume. You can be creative and delight the family by nerdifying any – sure, someone might take exception to Sephiroth Santa, but no one can be mad at Steampunk Santa! Other options include any elf (like Legolas, Deedlit, or Link), Jack or Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas, and Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians, who is great fun to lead merriment as. Of course, these all work best when there are children to entertain, but I wouldn’t be deterred by a room full of adults. Maybe it’s just me.
For anyone who wants to emphasize the “subtlety” that was promised by this article’s title, there are gads of restrained nerdy accessories that you can wear to get-togethers. From 8-bit hair bows to Rebel Alliance cufflinks to Game of Thrones pins, there are definitely ways to work your obsessions in without even the slightest bit of notice. Also at your disposal are Harry Potter leggings, Death Star dresses, and Doctor Who scarves and jackets. You can stylishly represent without any hassle.
Especially if you’d like to corrupt your younger cousins and niblings into becoming as nerdy as you are (yes, yes, let the nerd flow through you), you can try bringing some fun pastimes with you. While most folks will be watching the football game on Christmas Eve, you and the other super cool members of your family can slip away to play Minecraft. Bring along your Munchkin game and use mini candy canes as level indicators.
You might also ponder having some games that are friendlier to all generations. Playing Droidel (the R2 unit version of a Dreidel) is a fun way to unite generations over an ingeniously nerdy activity. Maybe go outside and make a nerdy snowman (Bowser’s a good challenge) with your parents. My favorite is to bring along materials for gingerbread houses, but bring blue frosting for a T.A.R.D.I.S. As a standby that my family enjoyed, bring along one of your cardboard cutouts (I chose Batman), pop a hat or garland on them, and have your family take posed pictures with it. The pictures are pretty priceless.
Host the Celebration
If you’re at the point where you’ve established a home away from your childhood home, maybe you could offer to host the Christmas Eve dinner. Not only will your family be impressed by your put-together presentation, but they’ll also be wowed by your geektastic decorations. A Lego menorah? A Star Wars or Star Trek Christmas tree? A Cthulu wreath? There are plenty of ways to be festively geeky without shoving it into people’s faces.
There are also nerdy foods you can serve at your assembly. I find it amusing to turn the hummus bowl into a mini Sarlacc pit with a Lego piece in the middle. Rolls wrapped in leaf-shaped paper easily become Tolkien’s lembas bread. You can emulate Dr. Seuss’s roast beast by adding a couple of extra turkey or chicken legs to your roast. Of course, butterbeer is always a good choice for beverages, as well. Get creative and you’ll be showing your loved ones the best side of nerd culture.
I stalwartly believe that you should be able to be yourself and have fun when you’re with your loved ones. But sometimes, it takes a little discernment and nuance to make our favorite fandoms suit the occasion. Be mindful of and considerate to the tone that your loved ones want to strike for holiday gatherings, but putting a little extra fun into the festivities never hurt anyone. Long live the nerdy holiday!
Marie is a cosplayer and costume consultant who has found, through trial and error, that there are very few places that are not appropriate for nerdiness.