How To Get The Gifts You Want

The holidays are over and you’re already tired of all the crap that was given to you that you didn’t really want in the first place. It doesn’t have to be that way. This year, although I didn’t get everything I wanted, I wanted everything I got; without having to return anything. So while your stuck with the Doom 3 Board Game I’m opening up gifts I actually wanted.

How did I do it? Well the first step is to be easy to shop for. Have lots of hobbies and interests and then talk about them. But also start a wishlist. Do it now so that there is plenty to choose from by the time your next birthday rolls around. Then when your uncle Guido asks you what you want for your birthday you can say “This Stuff”, then shoot him an email of your wishlist. I’ve been keeping a wishlist for a couple of years now and it’s worked like a charm. I suggest not sending your wish list to people who doen’t actually ask you what you want or you’ll come of as a greedy little ingrate. Below are a bunch of webapps, a short review, to help you get your wishlist started. Remember, the easier you make buying the gifts you want, the better your chances of receiving them are.

Amazon
The Amazon wishlist is probably the internet standard for wishlists. It is robust, full of features, easy to use, and slick in design. The big draw back – it can’t be used on any other sites than Amazon.com. This is a huge drawback when you step back and look at all the great loot to be found outside of the Amazonian empire. Update: Over the past year Amazon has allowed the addition of items not sold on Amazon.com to it’s wishlist manager. We spoke Amazon listened. If your an Amazon junkie, this is going to be your list. If your horizons are a little broader, keep reading.
Overall Grade: D B

Wists
Wists bills itself as a social shopping network – it definitely fits this definition more than it does that of a wishlist manager. I included it here because it can be used as a wishlist manager; it just lacks many of the features for that capacity than do some of the other services listed here. Wists has a bookmarklet too that allows you to easily add items to your wishlist or your “list of cool things”. Wists also provides a multitude of customizable widgets to so you can display your “list of cool things” on your blog easily, including an rss feed to your list. The page displaying the list of items people have added to there wishlist could be useful in finding neat gifts to give or ask for. Unfortunately people looking at your wishlist have get very little useful information about the cool stuff on your list, including the price. Ouch. Overall Wists is sort of the MySpace of wishlists – alright for what it is intended for but pretty crappy in general.
Overall Grade: C

GiftGivr.com
Giftgivr, despite its very web 2.0 name, is basically just a mailing list with a unimpressive and rudimentary wishlist making application. But basically it is just a mailing list. The website claims, “the general idea to this website is to share your holiday wish list with all of your friends and family around the world”. It does this well but is terrible for actually creating and managing your list. The one cool thing about this website is it allows you to see who bothered to view your wishlist after you have mailed it to all your friends and family begging for gifts.
Overall Grade: F

WishCentral
WishCentral is easy to use personal wishlist service where you can create your own custom wishlist and add wishes from any store. Your Amazon wishlist can be easily imported into WishCentral. WishCentral makes it pretty easy for family and friends to reserve and share wishes, saving guesswork by getting the right gifts from the start. Item on your wish list can be sorted by price, description, priority of need, or category of item making it easier for your friends and family to decide what to get you. I think the coolest feature included in this particular wishlist manager is for recipients of your list to “reserve” items on your list so they aren’t purchased twice. Adding pictures to your wishlist items can be a bit cumbersome if the auto-discovery feature doesn’t work but the capability is there. The only thing I see missing from WishCentral is a way to display your list on your blog. WishCentral has an RSS feed for your list but it’s hard to get to. Otherwise WishCentral comes highly recommended and is probably the best wishlist manager you’re going to find out there.
Overall Grade: B

Giftbox
The beauty of Giftbox is that it places just as much emphasis on giving as it does receiving. Giftbox has a section for “Gifts I’m giving” as well a a section for “Gifts I’m receiving”. It also allows you to assign those gifts holidays and will send you an email reminder a couple of weeks before the holiday arrives (great for saving you from those mother’s day fuck-ups). Giftbox even goes as far as having a “Gifts I need to return” section which I’m sure is rarely utilized. Giftbox has a button that makes it very easy to send thank you eCards (which I personally think are tacky, if somebody bothers to buy you a gift, at least get them a real thank you card people). Giftbox has no bookmarklet or plugin that makes it easy to add or manage your wishlist. In addition, if you want keep track of more than one holiday with Giftbox, you gotta pay. These are both huge drawbacks and should really exclude the service from this list, but I figured I had to give at least a little.
Overall Grade: D

Wishlistr
Wishlistr’s glitz, glimmer, and web 2.0ness really had me excited for a second. At first glance this service has a lot of potential. when you get under the hood it isn’t so great though. The sight is very ajaxy which allows for a lot of editing without ever reloading the page and as soon as you make any changes to your list, others will know about it. Wishlistr makes it easy to make your list look good with templates and a slick design. Wishlistr also make it easy to start your wishlist by importing from Amazon or from your del.icio.us bookmarks (a feature no other service provides). And to top it all off, wishlistr makes it really easy to display you wishlist on your blog via a linkroll, rss feed, or wordpress plugin. On the surface Wishlistr is one hell of a product. But there a re a few areas where Wishlistr is really week. There are no pictures of items on you wislist. There are no prices for the items on your wish list. There are no priorities, tags or categories for the items on your wishlist. Your wishlist is simply a link to stuff you want. None of this really helps the people who want to get you stuff, which is really the point of this whole stupid thing anyway.
Overall Grade: C

Mygifts
Mygifts is for control freaks. Mygifts is hosted completely on your own server. It requires that both PHP installed and you have mySQL/SQLite database. It allows you to add gifts to your list, decide who can(cannot) see them, add ideas to other peoples lists, and claim other people gifts. It’s free to boot. Because this service requires your own server space, I’m just gonna tell you to go ahead and move on.
Overall Grade: I (incomplete)

Gifttagging
Gifttagging is another web 2.0 wishlist manager with an emphasis on, you guessed it, tagging. Your gifts. Gifttagging is an application that allows you to keep an up-to-date online wish list and to search out gifts and the best places to get them. Gifttagging has the option of importing your list from Amazon but it doesn’t really work that well. Giftagging has most of the features that you would look for in a full fledged community -type wishliting service. Gifttagging.com is good but is a little hard to “buy” something for someone. Gifttagging’s “reserved” feature is pretty archaic. If someone buys you something from your wishlist it is not ‘hidden’ from you which can really ruin a good surprise. The other drawback to Giftagging is that when you use their bookmarklet you are led away from the product page to your wishlist and thus interrupting your web surfing. I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal but try it a few times and I guarantee you’ll find it annoying. Despite these drawbacks giftagging has some cool features other don’t – including Internet Explorer toolbars, Firefox extensions, RSS feeds, a nice linkroll and widgets. Apparently you also earn commission if someone buys from one of the vendors on your list though I haven’t actually seen this in use yet. And do you really need to earn money from other’s gifts to you – greedy bastard, you’re lucky to have gotten anything.
Overall Grade: B

TheThingsIWant.com
TheThingsIWant.com is a little more old school than many of the services so far reviewed but it isn’t lacking on any of the features. This website is definitely not as flashy but is packed with helpful features and tweaks. Among the most notable is the ability to create multiple wishlists within your account. Each of these lists can behave differently by choosing weather or not you wish to include a deadline for the wish list (like a birthday date) or choose not to see reserved items that have been purchased from your list. Along with all that, TheThingsIWant.com also has access levels to your wishlists that can regulate who sees which lists. Excellent! The service has several ways to display your list on your blog including a great CSS engine and a RSS feed. The website claims there is a WordPress plugin too, but that service seems to be broken. There are plenty of fields for information on the items you have selected for your list including pictures, tags and quantity. Another cool, but very under-utilized, feature of TheThingsIWant.com is a “review this product” feature. This service is also geared to baby and wedding registries, much like WishCentral. This is an excellent service overall and will be my leading means for tracking my wishlist despite not having a way to import from my Amazon list.
Overall Grade: A

WishRadar
WishRadar is only able to manage your Amazon and Half.com wishlist for you. WishRadar will monitor all the items on your Amazon wishlist, sort and filter them any way you like, and notify via email you whenever anything on your wishlist matches the price you are willing to pay for that item. You set your price. WishRadar finds your deals. In this sense it does exactly what it say it will do. It however is not a wishlist manager strictly because products from websites outside of Amazon or Half.com cannot be added. Sucko!
Overall Grade: F

Wishroll
Wishroll is bare bones and ajaxy. In addition to having most of the main features it competitors have, it is extremely simple to use. You don’t even need to supply an email address to sign up. It has three different bookmarklet to use, space for comment on your wishlist, and an rss feed for your wishlist. Like Giftbox, Wishroll allows you to keep track of the gifts you have given as well as the gifts you have recieved (unlike giftbox, it does not keep track of gifts that need to be returned). It doesn’t appear multiple lists can be created but I suppose you could bypass that by creating multiple accounts. Also, Wishroll falls into the trap that many on this list have – you can tell when somebody has reserved an item on your list – there goes your surprise. What Wishroll really has going for it is absolute simplicity in registration and use.
Overall Grade: B

Gift Hat
The Gift Hat is still in beta which is sooooooo web 2.0. It’s real ajaxy too which is good for the fancy. The Gift Hat is a fun way to store and share your wishlist with others but really offers nothing that the myriad of other wishlists reviewed here do. I has a simple Amazon import that didn’t work when I tried it and the bookmarklet lead me away from the page I was surfing (a problem discussed in the Giftagging review). Gifthat is a mediocre service at best.
Overall Grade: C

Kaboodle
Kaboodle starts out with a bang by asking if you’d like to import your contacts from you email account so you can easily email those people your wishlist when you want to. What a great idea. Kaboodle also has both firefox extensions and bookmarkets to easily add new items to your wishlist. But Kaboodle fails in my eyes because it is trying to be more than it is. Kaboodle is really del.icio.us with pictures and comments and fails to work strictly as a wishlist. It has many of the necessary features but nothing to make it really stand out as a wishlist manager. It’s very social, adaptive and easy to start using. It allows and encourages you to and almost anything to your wishlist, including people and places. But as a wishlist manager it’s not perfect. Kaboodle gets all kinds of rave review around the web so you might want to see if it fits your own needs. Kaboodle is more along the lines of Stylehive, Yahoo Shoposphere, MyPickList, and Wists and maybe shouldn’t even belong on this list.
Overall Grade: C

Metawishlist
Metawishlist is the wishlist manager I have been using for the past couple of years and it has treated me extremely well. This was metawishlist was the wishlist manger by which I have judges all others I’ve run into over the years. It has Amazon import capability. It has a Firefox extension. It has tagging, priorities, categories and price fields. And it allows you to display you list in multiple ways. You can even created multiple lists if that suits you. One great feature that Metawishlist has that I hadn’t seen on any others was an “automatically update prices” button. But after writing up this review I’ll be switching to TheThingsIWant.com. Metawishlist is good but it doesn’t allow friends and family to reserve gifts and believe it or not, but that has actually caused problems in the past.
Overall Grade: B

JustGive
And because seriously, you don’t need all those gifts and features anyway. Now you can create your own Charity Wishlist so your friends and family members know what charities to donate to in your name! You can also find friends’ Wish Lists and make gift donations to their favorite charities!

9 thoughts to “How To Get The Gifts You Want”

  1. What a fantastic article! I wish I had this article to hand this time last year when I was looking for a wishlist website. Instead, I decided to create one of my own http://www.myelist.co.uk. I still have a long wishlist (!) of extra features I would like to incorporate and your article has given me a good insight to what people would like to see from a site like mine.
    Thank you.

  2. I would love to get your feedback on our site, as it seems like you’ve tried ’em all. If you have the time to check it out, please do:

    http://wishlisting.com/

    We’re constantly building new features, but I personally use it and enjoy it right now. Hopefully you’ll find it helpful as well. Please let us know!

    Tom

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