Holiday guides can be a helpful resource — as long as you use them thoughtfully. Below are several tips for finding quality presents and avoiding pitfalls.
Start by identifying your recipients
With the recent explosion of holiday gift guides, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. To avoid getting lost, start by narrowing your scope.
Make a list of the people you plan on getting presents for this holiday season. Think about what you know about their tastes and preferences, and use guides that fit.
That simple, initial step will let you be strategic and avoid endlessly scrolling through lists that aren’t relevant to your giftees. There’s little point in spending time on guides for sporting goods if your list doesn’t include anyone who plays sports.
Use guides as inspiration
Being open to holiday gift guides as stepping stones rather than hit-or-miss resources will yield a more successful gift hunting experience.
Finding the right present for someone you care about can be tricky, and often, a guide will help you stumble on a gift that is close but not quite right.
When that happens, don’t give up and start over by immediately hopping to another guide. For example, if you liked the headphones you found but they’re over your budget, see if you can find a better deal by scouring for deals on other retailers’ sites or through Google Shopping.
That stepping stone method can have other benefits, too. You might find a recommended locally. For example, if you encounter a new thriller novel that a relative would love, the bookstore in your neighborhood might have it in stock, or they would usually be happy to order it for you. That local option removes any shipping expense, helps support a neighborhood business, and also protects the environment by not generating unnecessary carbon emissions.
Look for nonprofit tie-ins
Keep your eyes peeled for connections to nonprofits. That could mean a percentage of every sale is donated to a good cause. Or maybe the item itself is produced in partnership with an organization you admire.
A socially-conscious gift is a way of getting two gifts in one — you purchase something that your recipient will love while also supporting a worthy cause. For your giftee, that can add extra meaning at a time of year that can feel consumer-driven.
There are a number of gift guides entirely devoted to socially-conscious gifts, like this one from The Strategist.
Begin your hunt early
Try not to wait too long to sift through gift guides. Guide-featured items are, well, featured, so they have a greater chance of going out of stock sooner.
By searching early, you can sidestep the unpleasant experience of out of stock items. Acting with some haste this year is even more important with the expected delays due to supply chain logjams.
Steer clear of overly obvious lists
When you browse a list of “Gifts for Dads,” for instance, you may get lucky and find the perfect item, but there’s also the risk that you’ll be stuck with options that feel generic.
Take a moment to think more specifically about your recipient. To use the example of “dad” again, if yours is a movie buff, scan a film-related gift guide. That targeted approach will help the gift feel more personal and thoughtful.
Another way to avoid the same old lists is to seek out brands you’ve come to know and enjoy and track down their curations. For instance, if your giftee is a little quirky and might get a kick out of unusual items, Atlas Obscura’s guide would be right up their alley.
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Use Bright to stay on budget
During the holidays, many people overspend and often rely too much on credit cards. Your personal Bright Plan can keep you on track, showing all your cards’ balances in one place, along with your checking account balance.
Throughout the year, Bright can make smart card payments for you, always on time and optimized to get you debt free fast. Bright builds personalized budgets too, so you can track your spending and see what you can afford, during the holidays and beyond.
If you don’t have it yet, download the Bright app from the App Store or Google Play. Connect your checking account and cards in a snap, set a few goals and let Bright get to work.