With Christmas just days away I’m sure many of you are at the point of panic if you have not already completed your shopping for the holidays. Finding that last minute gift can be stressful, but its doesn’t have to be. We use our iPhones to help organize our lives in so many venues; so why not with gift giving? While it may be too late to organize and manage your gift giving strategy for this holiday season, now is a great time to star working on a system for all those anniversaries, birthdays, secretary’s day, house warming, etc gifts you find yourself giving through the year. We are going to look and four applications for the iPhone that aim to help you make sense of the gift buying chaos, as well as track gifts and ideas for those times when you need a gift idea now.
We have reviewed Gift Plan previously and found it to be a great tool for organizing your gifts for any gift-giving holiday. Gift Plan lets you also input clothing sizes and likes/dislikes for each person which is helpful for those times when you need a quick gift. You can put in your ideas for each person and then check them off as they are purchased so that you don’t forget that great idea you had from Christmas time when the person’s birthday rolls around. The downside to Gift Plan is that it is not free. It is currently $1.99, but for an app with an ease of use, and beautiful interface, a couple of sawbucks isn’t too bad.
While Gift Plan is all about ideas and data about the person to help you make a gift decision, Gift List is all about gifts and budgets. One of the hardest parts of gift shopping, especially during the holidays, is to keep it under budget. Every store seems to be begging you to open up a line of credit so you can get that extra nice present. Gift List is a stripped down list app that is designed for listing gifts and people. Each person is assigned a budget that you will spend on them. As you put in all your gift ideas , you can check off the ones you have bought and the bar at the bottom will show you how much of your total budget you have left. This lets you simulate your purchases ahead of time to see what the final damage will be. Gift Line rolls in at the inexpensive $.99 and even offer a ad supported free version. While it may not have the pretty layout like Gift Plan, it’s focus on budgeting, and the free version may be just the ticket for your gift planning needs.
So far we have looked at apps that are focused on the gift ideas, and those that are focused on the budgeting of giving gifts. Chase’s Gift Planner app brings the best of both world with a fairly comprehensive Gift Tracking and budgeting app. The app can be a bit daunting at first, but it has an in app help that will get you started. Chase Gift Planner lets you import your contacts from either the iPhone’s contact lists, or from Facebook. Once you have put in the people you shop for, budgets, and the gift ideas, you can easily keep track of who is getting what, and on what holiday. You budget tab will let you keep an eye on how much you are spending. While the interface is by far the most cluttered of the apps we have looked at, there is a lot of information that Chase is throwing at you, and with app’s price tag of gratis, you can’t complain too bad. Chase’s Gift Planner, may not be pretty, but it certainly keeps you organized and on track for holiday shopping.
By now we have looked at a wide range of apps for gift planning. each one has their strengths and weaknesses. I place mSoftware’s mGift app in the middle of Gift Plan and Gift List. It has the budgeting features that let you track your spending, but also has a better interface for gift ideas, likes/dislikes, and a better interface for inputting your data into the device. when you have an idea you want to move to your list of gifts you will be getting, you simple check the box and it moves it to the need section. The same can be done with needs when you have purchased them, and they then move to the “haves.” Your gifts can be sorted by person, holiday, or location. Of the gift apps we have looked as so far I think mGift has the best balance of features without over crowding the app’s interface. As you can guess, mGift stacks as the highest priced app at $2.99. This still seems affordable if it can stave off the impending insanity that comes with gift shopping.
With the iOS devices always being at hand, it makes sense to use the power of the device to organize our lives in so many avenues. There are those that might utilize their current task management apps for their gift shopping and tracking, but for those of us that find “Getting Things Done” more of a dream than reality, these custom build task managers hold out hope for our holiday shopping to be a relaxing time to share with friends and family. Do you have a favorite gift planning app? Let us know in the comments.