Whether your holiday celebrations include candy canes and sugar plums, lighting menorahs, decorating a tree, seeing the light show at Phipps Conservatory or attending midnight Mass, December offers lots of meaningful moments to savor. The downside of the season is the stress that often accompanies attempts to find the perfect presents for everyone on your gift list. A variety of apps aim to minimize that anxiety.
Giftster takes the stressful guesswork out of present-getting. Families or friends create a private group. Each person shares their wish list, and the rest of the group can view it and then mark it as purchased to avoid duplicates. Gift status is hidden from the list maker. Particularly for families with teens or adult children—or a large extended family—Giftster can prevent hassles and avoid that moment of wondering whether the recipient will like the gift. (Free; available for iOS and Android)
Christmas Gift List is a convenient tool for keeping track of everyone on your list. Users can add gift ideas as they occur throughout the year, create a budget for each person and track progress. The app saves past gift lists so that users can avoid repeat gifts for the same individual. Its best feature is the “stats” snapshot, which counts down the remaining days until Christmas, budget spent, budget remaining, and even how many gifts are left to wrap. (Free; available for iOS and Android)
If the struggle is about ideas (or lack thereof) rather than organization, GiftGen – Gift Ideas Generator is the app for that. This amazing tool exists as both a website and a smartphone app, providing excellent suggestions for everyone on your gift list. Users select a price range and the recipient’s age, personality and gender. A search for a $30 gift for an 8-year-old, nature-loving boy generates suggestions such as a giant yard game, binoculars, a personalized money box, a wall mural, a 3D movie wall light and a Harry Potter invisibility cloak. The app offers direct links to both websites and brick-and-mortar stores that sell the items, plus price comparisons. Because the app developer is in the United Kingdom, the stores may not be convenient, but the ideas are pure gold with items easy enough to find on both sides of the pond—especially since Amazon.com is a frequent source listing. (Free; available for iOS and Android)
Gift Ideas by Subject Mastery Academy might be the best app around for those who want to get better at giving gifts. Rather than collecting demographic information and spitting back a list of products, Gift Ideas coaches the user through a series of questions to help that person come up with their own unique and creative plan for a gift. Tips include things like turning the gifting experience into a scavenger hunt, stalking the recipient’s social media profiles for ideas and using humor to make the gift special—with specific examples. Though the advice is simple, these suggestions are bound to get the user’s creative juices flowing and can help them personalize a gift that will be truly meaningful to the recipient. (Free; available for Android only)
Elfster is a fun tool for sharing wish lists among family and friends. The app has a Secret Santa Generator feature that will organize a group gift exchange. Elfster allows the user to track a loved one’s wish list and also offers ideas for trending gifts. (Free; available for iOS and Android)
Groupon has reached “old faithful” status in the app world. For lots of savvy shoppers, Groupon is a solid first stop when looking for deals on restaurants, water parks or gym memberships. The app comes in super-handy as well when trying to come up with creative gift ideas. Not sure what to get that special someone on your shopping list? Spend a few minutes clicking through the categories and offers on the Groupon app, and something is likely to spark the imagination. Your partner might love a gift certificate to get their car detailed, or you can purchase driving lessons for your teen. You can also find a hotel stay at Niagara Falls, gift cards for spa services and tickets for a distillery tour and tasting experience for two. (Free; available for iOS and Android)
Targift – Events Manager & Gift Ideas Generator has the potential to be outstanding. It collects information about each person on the gift list, such as age, interests and upcoming events that require gifts. Users can even get reminders about upcoming events. However, the gift generator portion of the app needs work; when prompted for gift ideas for a 3-year-old boy, Targift suggested a complex 3D Eiffel Tower puzzle and a mosquito zapper. Bottom line: avoid Targift for now, but keep an eye out for updated versions. If the developer can address this issue, the ability to personalize and save gift lists will make it a winner. (Free; available for Android only)
Don’t let shopping stress steal the joy from your holiday season. Whether you need help with organization, ideas or just a new and creative approach to gift giving this year, rest assured that there’s an app for that.