No matter what type of shopper you are – the early bird who has everything wrapped up before Thanksgiving, or the mad-dasher that goes to grab everything the night before, it is easy to lose track of everybody on your gift list. There is the challenge of making sure that nobody gets the same present twice, especially if the same lists are circulated throughout your family. Nerds on Call would like to share a few tech tools that you can use to organize your holiday gift giving.
Keeping track of what you want to get for somebody, or what you have already purchased for others is challenging, particularly in large families. What good is planning ahead if you forget what you bought and where you hid it last month? How can you really keep your budget in mind when you are just wandering the store shelves aimlessly buying random gifts? If you have an iOS device, you can get the Santa’s Bag app. This gift giving app helps keep track of what everyone wants, how many gifts you have bought for each person, how much money remains in your budget, and even whether or not you have wrapped the gifts yet. You can add recipients as you go, as well as input what they want or what you think they want into a “gifts and ideas” list. You can set a certain budget for each gift recipient, sort out what store you will be buying the gift from, and set the status of wrapped or unwrapped, and add a gift location so that you don’t forget where you hide it.
A great gift giving app for those who do not have iPhones is the Christmas Gift List for Android. This app tracks ideas for what you want to get each person. The Christmas Gift List app also has quick click icons that let you update the status to bought, or from unwrapped to wrapped. Much like Santa’s bag, you can set personal budgets for each recipient- and see how many gifts you still need to buy at a glance. There is additional room for notes about each gift such as how you wrapped it, how large it is, and what color it is. This app is great for keeping you on top of your holiday gift giving.
The apps mentioned above are great for staying on track of your own gifts, but for those who need to coordinate with friends and family to avoid gift overlap, consider using Google Sheets. Google Sheets will help you form a complete gift giving spreadsheet, with each recipient having their own tab. The only downfall of this system is that users will be able to see when a gift from their list has been crossed off. The best thing about Google Sheets is that it is free and can be accessed from any device that has an internet connection. All you need is a Gmail account, and family members can see who has added what. As soon as an item is purchased, it can be removed from the wish list so that no item is gifted twice. Although Google Sheets was designed to be more of a tool for school or business, it is surprisingly effective for use as a gift giving organizer.
Of course, there are some families that are spreadsheet challenged. For those families, there are several online wish lists that are good for beginners. Certain wish lists may be harder to manage, such as Amazon Wish Lists, because products from physical stores cannot be linked to. If somebody buys something on the list from a place outside of Amazon, they will have to tell you so that you can remove it from your Wish List. MyRegistry allows you to add gifts from any online store, as well as sync any existing registries you may have at places like Amazon, Target, Macy’s Cost Plus World Market, and more. You can also use the smartphone app to scan bar codes of items that you find in physical stores. After you have compiled your list, you can share it on social media, a custom link, or allow people to search for it using your name. People with whom you have shared your list can update an item to show you when it is purchased. If every member of your family signs up for a MyRegistry account, everybody gets what they want and nobody ends up with three of the same gifts. MyRegistry is probably the most comprehensive tool for organizing your gift giving, but it does not work unless everybody is on board.
No matter how many people are on your holiday shopping list, staying organized can be a challenge. When it comes to gift giving, it is best to stay on top of things and not wait until the last minute, but no matter what your holiday shopping approach is, these tech tools will surely help organize your gift giving. Check back on our Blog page for more holiday shopping tips, and the best deals in tech for the upcoming holiday season.
About The Author: Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.
Ken: Hey, and I’ve got a good friend here with us, Ryan Eldridge from Nerds On Call, here to help us out. So it’s a common holiday problem. Daddy went shopping at IKEA, Mommy went shopping at Walmart, somehow they bought the same things for the kids.
Ryan: How do they do that at IKEA?
Ken: I don’t know. I’m just spit-balling here.
Ryan: Well, here’s what my wife does. Three days before Christmas, she lays out everybody’s presents on the floor and invariably some cousin, or some aunt, or somebody somewhere has one present where they should have had three presents, and she’s got to run out last-minute, and urgh. Or, let’s say, you’ve got a list of stuff that you’re going off of, and your wife is going off the same list, and you guys bought the same things at Walmart and IKEA.
Ken: I don’t know how that’s possible.
Ryan: Here’s how you stay organized. This first one is an iOS app. You can use this on any iPhone. It’s free, it’s called Santa’s Bag, and here’s some of the cool stuff you can do. You can set a budget by person, so that way you can say, “I only want to spend $100 on that kid,” or “This kid’s been bad this year, I’m going to give him $25.” And so you can go, “Okay, well…” When you’re out there in the store, and you’re buying two or three different gifts, you can see when you’re getting close to your budget and when you’re not getting close to your budget.
Ken: Because you get all wrapped up in the emotion of it. You’re out there shopping, you want to make people happy, spending more money than you should.
Ryan: Get me in the LEGO aisle at Target and my kid is going to get all of it if I don’t have a budget of some kind. So this is also cool, you can put it by store. So let’s say you’ve got 16 different gifts you need to buy and you don’t know, “Am I going to go to Walmart? Am I going to go to Target? Where am I going to go?” this will give you by store. And you can go in and get all your things on your list in that store, so you don’t have to keep coming back to that store over and over again.
Ken: That’s what I need to do.
Ryan: Plus, you can share your lists, so that way, if several people are using the same list, they can go, “Okay, well, I got this one,” or “I got that one.” There’s also one you can use for Android. That was just for iOS. On Android, this one’s called…son-of-a-gun…I think it’s just called Christmas List.
Ken: Christmas List, I think. It’s what it says right there. It just says, “Christmas Gift List.”
Ryan: I literally did a Google search for it, and that’s what it was. So this one’s great. It does the exact same thing as the iOS device one does. So you can set a particular budget for everybody. You can also set up where the gifts are hidden. We were talking about this earlier. You don’t wrap them until Christmas Eve. We’re the same way, but our house isn’t so big that we can put them all in one spot. So we’ve got some in the attic and some in a closet. So you can put on this app where they’re hidden so that you don’t forget them. And in June go in there and go, “What the heck, where did this light saber come from?”
So spreadsheets, every nerd’s best friend, spreadsheets. So here’s the problem with gift lists, especially on Amazon, is you’ve got this huge gift list, and everybody can kind of see what’s on there, but two or three people could buy things, and you don’t know who bought what and when, and you’re duplicating gifts. So here, you’d create a spreadsheet with three different tabs. You put one for Mom, one for Dad, and one for the kid, and then you can put down all the things they want. And the cool thing about Google Spreadsheets is, you can share it amongst everybody and you can see real-time updating. So if somebody buys something, they can just check it off, boom, it’s off the list.
Ken: I like it.
Ryan: If you want to be away from spreadsheets, go to a registry site. This is pretty great. This is just called MyRegistry.com. This is something you would normally use for a baby registry or a wedding registry, but you can use it for gift wish lists too, and you can do multiple stores and multiple registries. So if you go into Target and you’re like zapping in all the things that you want on your list and for the rest of your family, you can sync that up with a Macy’s list, as well as a Walmart list, and all kinds of other things, and then share it amongst all your friends and family.
Ken: I like it. Coming up a little bit later on, we’ll be talking about…
Ryan: We’re going to play with toys.
Ken: Ooh, we like toys!
Ryan: We’ve got all kinds of great tech gifts that we’re going to talk about next hour.
Ken: Aw man, all this talk about shopping and registries is making me hungry.
Ken: You know what I want?
Ken: Cookies for breakfast, Mary-Ann, cookies for breakfast.
Mary-Ann: It’s too bad you don’t get any, because you didn’t bring any.