Every year, our Christmas gift giving goes something like this. My sister sends out an email to a small handful of family members with a list of all the things her family wants. Then I send out a similar list, to a different handful of people regarding our family. Mom does the same. You already know where this is going. Everyone then independently goes on a buying spree and forgets to communicate with everyone else buying from the list. Present overlap runs amok and suddenly Grandma has three bottles of the same perfume. This year, we’re going to try something new. Here are a few ideas to help you organize your gift-giving lists so you can get through this holiday season relatively unscathed.
Create a Pinterest Board.
A Pinterest board is nice for those occasions where you have a very specific item in mind: your gift-buyers can actually see a picture of what you want. Simply pin an image you upload from your desktop or the web and enter a few notes about the item. You’ll want to make your board “secret” so it’s only shared with the people you want. This setup has a similar caveat to Google Docs – you’re not able to communicate efficiently with other gift-buyers as to what you’ve purchased without the recipient seeing the note too. So, you’ll still need a separate line of communication to prevent present overlap.
Start a wish list or registry.
Amazon can help you with your shopping in a few ways. You can create a Wish List for your whole family under your account, or maintain separate lists for each individual. Settings allow you to make it public so anyone can search for your list, shared with individuals you select, or private so only you can see it.
Comment boxes for each item allow up to 500 characters to specify any details. Amazon even allows you to add generic items to your list, so if you don’t have a specific brand of dress socks in mind, you’re still covered. “Shared only” lists require you to email a link to everyone you want to have access to it.
Just like a gift registry, when shoppers purchase an item through the site it’s automatically marked as “purchased” so duplications are less likely.
If you can’t find what you want on Amazon, but it’s available on another website, you can install Amazon’s add-on to your browser to get an “Add To Wish List” button. From any online store, simply click the button and the item is automatically added to your Amazon Wish List.
Don’t want to know what you’ve gotten until Christmas? Check the Don’t Spoil My Surprises button under profile settings.
MyRegistry offers an alternative to Amazon with a similar downloadable tool that allows you to add gifts to your list from any online store. You can shop direct from your favorite online retailers, use a smartphone app to scan barcodes of items you find in a physical store, and sync any registries you’ve already created (including Target, Walmart, Amazon and more), all in one online location. Share your list through social media, create a custom link, or allow people to search for it using your name.
All of these solutions assume a relative comfort level with navigating the internet and shopping online. Those less comfortable with technology or those who favor shopping at brick and mortar establishments can still benefit from being able to see exactly what you have in mind, even if they need a little help accessing images or updating what they’ve purchased.