Have you joined us in the quest to get your holiday shopping done by Thanksgiving? (#DoneByNov21) I’m breaking it down to 6 steps. The last post was step one, which is about getting organized and starting your list.
There are tools to help you do that. I hope to be a resource for you on that. I’ve researched apps and created a simple spreadsheet for you to use (download the free pdf or MS Xcel spreadsheet here). My report on which apps I liked best are applicable only for the iPhone because that is what I use and was able to test.
My method: I read several articles and did searches for various gift tracking apps. Based on what I read and knowing what features I was looking for, I downloaded six apps. All but one was free. After poking around, there were two that I liked the best, deleted the rest and am using those two, plus my spreadsheet. Yes, I am doing the work in triplicate to find out what works best.
The app that rose to the top: Christmas Gift List Tracker
This one is my favorite (link to App Store) and here’s why:
It’s simple to use, but to the point. Because it is easy and quick, I found myself going there first. I sent texts to my nieces and nephews asking what they want and current sizes when relevant, and as they respond, I can copy what they sent into the app with a few clicks, which lowers the barrier to just doing it as soon as they respond.
It has the best tracking of all the apps because it is so relevant. You can mark an item in all the steps from idea, purchased, arrived, and wrapped. I love that you can mark it all the way to wrapped - because those are the realistic steps that I most need to track. Since we travel for the holidays, I do most of my shopping online and have it shipped directly to where I am traveling to, so I don’t need to pack everything. Then I wrap upon arrival. When I get there, I will have this list already on my phone to keep track of it all. That’s perfect for me.
The budget displays in a way that just makes good sense. You can set your total budget for all shopping, and it displays the sum of all spending, as well as the ability to allocate a per-person budget within the total.
I also like the main display. You can see everything you need to know in one screen: budget, status, and all people with the presents listed under them. Not the other way around (a present list with recipient below the present). That just makes sense to me.
Criticisms? Just a minor one: it really is just for Christmas. This suites me just fine since it is the only holiday that is complicated to track, and I am Christian. Even so, it would be nice to be able to adapt it. For example, I wish I could suggest it for Hanukkah (by changing the date and name of holiday- the countdown timer is Christmas specific). So it might not suit you.
My second favorite, at least for now, is Gifted – Gift List Manager
(link to App Store) The reason I qualify that as “for now” is that what I like best about this app is that you can use it year-round. One of the things I noticed right away is that as I added my family member’s birthdays, it automatically creates an event for their birthday and names it by that person and how old they are turning. What’s great about that is the ability to save ideas for that person any time the idea or preference comes up.
It is a more robust app. It allows you to write up more information per person. You can create additional events, name them as you wish and set the dates. I love the feature that allows you to add the store to the gift idea and then consolidates a shopping list by store. If you want to keep using the app beyond just this Holiday season, this is the app to go with. There is a small cost associated with it ($2.99 right now).
Criticisms: There isn’t a screen or view to see my holiday list that shows the progress in one glance. It contains more information, but that also means that it requires more clicks to see what I want to know. The downside of this app is related to the perks: because it can do more, it also is more complex to learn and use.
My other criticism is one that I hope they will fix. The budget is only per person, with no total.
There is also the spreadsheet I’ve used for years. I have to say that now that I found these apps, I may not use the spreadsheet anymore. But having said that, I did really find it useful when the kids in my life were younger. I have a close-knit extended family and for many years, we were even getting gifts for my cousins’ children. That was hard to keep track of, especially remembering their ages, which is a bigger deal when they are small. Having a spreadsheet with birthdays was a huge help. If you can relate to that, the spreadsheet might be for you.
This is all simply my opinion. No developer has asked or approached me to review their app. If you’ve found something you like, let me know! Additionally, I’d love to hear from those of you who use Android phones if you find an app you love. I hope you found this helpful.