Last Thursday I received a festive email from TCGplayer describing the author’s opinion on “The 5 Strongest Holiday WOTC Cards.” The email explains a brief background:
“Since 2006, Wizards of the Coast has celebrated every holiday season by printing a special promotional card for internal team members and business partners. These silver-bordered holiday cards aren’t really meant to see play, they’re just a fun excuse to indulge in puns and references to old cards.”
Peter proceeds to rank his top five choices:
#5 Mishra's Toy Workshop
#4 Decorated Knight // Present Arms
#3 Stocking Tiger
#2 Topdeck the Halls
#1 Evil Presents
The email describes the rationale for this choice of ranking. It was a cute and entertaining read for the holiday weekend.
In the meantime, I’ve been seeing my Twitter feed rife with jealousy-inducing pictures of content creators and Wizards partners receiving the 2021 holiday promo:
While I regrettably don’t receive these gifted holiday promos, I still like to track them for their rarity and value! This is a Magic finance column, after all, so let’s dive into the top 5 most valuable holiday promo cards!
#5 Evil Presents ~ $160
It’s fitting that arguably the most powerful holiday promo card is also one of the most valuable. I assume the most popular application for this card (should it see play) is in combination with Phage the Untouchable for an instant win. While not instantaneous, Blightsteel Colossus is another fun one to combine with Evil Presents. That self-attacking clause is really what makes this card so versatile.
Perhaps playability is the factor that drives this card’s value. Currently, the card sells for around $160 on TCGplayer for a lightly played copy. I think its age also plays a role since this was the holiday card from 2008—that’s 13 years ago!
#4 Season’s Beatings ~ $190
The fourth most valuable holiday promo is also one of the older ones, from 2009. The artwork is pretty entertaining on this one, along with the gothic, holiday-themed flavor text. The random nature of the card’s effect would make this one pretty annoying to resolve in a game of Magic, but you can’t argue with its power. I’m not sure if it’s the artwork, the age, the power level, or a combination of the three that makes this card worth nearly $200.
#3 Snow Mercy ~ $250
This is the newest holiday promo in the top five, printed in 2010. Still, the card is eleven years old and I’m definitely seeing a theme here. The older holiday promos are also the most valuable! So while power level and flavor may play a small role in driving value, the most significant factor is surely age.
Here’s a fun fact about Snow Mercy: this is one of the few holiday promos I’ve ever owned. I forget the context, but I think I picked up a copy through some store credit arbitrage or something along those lines—this is my guess because I don’t remember owning the card for very long. Now that I see the card is no longer worth $70 and is now worth about $250, I of course regret flipping the card so quickly. I also love the ability because it effectively has you shake the card back and forth, reminiscent of shaking a snow globe!
The flavor text is a bit over-the-top in my opinion. I guess the intent is to indicate that shaking the snow globe is effectively shaking an actual world. In any event, the snow enchantment (why isn’t it a snow artifact?) comes in as the third most valuable Wizards holiday promo.
#2 Fruitcake Elemental ~ $300
The second most valuable holiday promo card happens to be the very first one Wizards of the Coast created, back in 2006. Can you believe they’ve been printing these holiday promos for 15 years now?
I vaguely remember reading about this card when it first came out, thinking it was pretty strange that Wizards made a promotional, holiday-themed, silver-bordered card to give away. I found the artwork disturbing, and I largely ignored the concept at the time. Now in hindsight, I wish I had scooped up a bunch of these given how valuable they’ve become, nearing $300!
The flavor of the card is pretty spot-on. The running holiday joke that fruitcakes never expire and are frequently re-gifted syncs up perfectly with this card’s abilities: indestructible, harmful to the controller, and easily “giftable” to a different player! The flavor text does a great job describing what a fruitcake elemental would be like in real life. The longer Wizards does these holiday promos, the more valuable this one will become, being the original.
#1 Gifts Given ~ $400
If you want to purchase a copy of Gifts Given, the most valuable holiday promo card, you’re looking at over $370 for a moderately played copy. A nicer condition copy will cost you north of $400…currently, the cheapest LP copy available on TCGplayer is $499 (though no copies have sold for that much yet).
What makes this card so valuable? First off, we need to acknowledge that it’s the second oldest holiday promo in existence, printed back in 2007. We’ve already established that the older holiday promos (certainly the first five printed from 2006-2010) are the most expensive. But I believe this card’s value is derived from a couple of additional factors.
First, the artwork is a fun spoof of the Champions of Kamigawa card, Gifts Ungiven.
Not many tournament legal Magic cards directly mention gifts in them, so this was a natural card to model off of when creating a holiday promo. The artwork is really cute, depicting the same character as the one on Gifts Ungiven wrapping presents that look very similar to those being wrapped in Gifts Ungiven. The parallels are numerous and very well done.
While this card didn’t show up in Peter’s top five most powerful holiday promos, I have heard stories about Gifts Given seeing some fun play in casual Commander games. As long as you’re playing amongst friends, this is a fun card that isn’t necessarily overpowered. Perhaps this playability is another driving force for this card’s value?
Lastly, I just want to mention that this is the only holiday promo that I currently own. I loved the parallel to Gifts Ungiven so much, that I picked this card up many years ago. It remains in my binder as a card I’ll possibly never sell—how could I sell it? After all, it was a gift (how fitting!).
Wrapping It Up
The holiday promos have been a Wizards tradition for 15 years now! While it started as a fun, festive way to thank staff and content creators, I have to admit that these have become pretty valuable cards in their own right. Some may even be worth investing in—there has been no precedent for reprints of these cards, so perhaps they are effectively on a “Reserved List” of sorts.
In that context, I don’t hate picking up any copies of these for a personal collection. I wouldn’t necessarily go out and purchase a dozen copies of Last-Minute Chopping—I can’t imagine these cards sell all that rapidly, and your opportunity cost would be steep. But if you like any of the previous holiday promos, I wouldn’t suggest waiting. It would be best to prioritize these since they seem to appreciate over time.
The cheapest promo currently is 2017’s Some Disassembly Required, which you can currently pick up for $35 or so. If you’re looking for a low-cost way of getting exposure to this space, this seems like a budget-friendly pickup. Though I’ll admit that this one’s ability is underwhelming. I’d rather go for the second cheapest, Goblin Sleigh Ride, which has a Chaos Orb type effect with physical dexterity being required.
Whichever way you decide to go, these fun and festive cards are sure to get your play group’s attention. If played right, they’ll also give you some laughs and help you get into the holiday spirit. Even if making money isn’t your primary angle, I’d definitely recommend adding a couple of these promos to your collection.