You know what's weird about holiday gift guides? They presuppose that your friends and family are too inconsiderate to actually tell you what they want. Gift guides assume that your loved ones would rather leave it up to you to blindly come up with the perfect gift than give you suggestions. But despite the fact that these guides might potentially cause an awkward "You don't know me at all, do you?!" kind of scene come Christmas day, sometimes your family and friends really don't give you any hints.
Enter the gift guides, which have been cropping up left and right. And going over every single one yourself is so tedious, right? Wouldn't it just be easier if someone rated all of these guides so you knew beforehand which one was the best? Well, your dreams have come true! We've put together this guide to the guides! (And if this article runs long, we'll draft a Guide to the Guide to the guides, etc.) Below are some of our favorite holiday gift guides for 2013, along with a sampling of what they're suggesting.
Description: Probably the most anticipated of all gift guides, Oprah doesn't disappoint with yet another over-the-top, yet somehow relatable list. One may almost find the items she (or her "team") includes are down-to-earth, even if they are "splurges." But, c'mon, it's the holidays! "Treat yourself," right?! And then you see the $2,700 watch. Yeah, this one is aimed squarely at rich women.
Highlights: Pickwick & Weller T-Shirts 4-Pack (co-designed by Ashton Kutcher!) for $136; Present Cake (a cake that looks like a present) for $79; Oprah & Deepak's Meditation Master Trilogy for $100; Custom Illustrated Throw Pillow for $395; Caddylicious Stationery Set for $300; Rado True Thinline Jubilé Watch for $2,700; Truffle Risotto Kit for $500
goop (Gwyneth Paltrow's site)
Description: The glitzy presentation and the oh-so-precious selection almost makes Oprah's list seem like a steaming pile of garbage. (Until you remember Oprah's has a $2,700 watch on it!) Yes, this list, with its "if you have to ask the price, then what kind of gift is that, daaaaahling?!" approach is in a category of its own ... and we love every pretentious moment of it!
Highlights: The Jan Eleni Collage (which is a collage of your own child's art) starting at $950; Clare Vivier for goop Personalized Duffle Bag for $485; Happy Menocal Customer Coat of Arms for [Price Not Listed]
Description: Nerdy, but in a kinda acceptable way, you know? Like Doctor Who ... or your uncle Barry. The fact of the matter is that most of us wish we could afford to have the kind of friends we'd like to give goop gifts too, but the majority of us are buying straight from this list. (Except for those Superman pants, of course. No one we know is getting those, so don't get your hopes up, Dad.)
Highlights: Man of Steel Movie Leather Pants Prop Replica for $525; Thor Nerf Hammer for $13; Theremin Mini-Kit for $40; The Hobbit Gandalf's Staff Prop Replica for $180
Description: A list of the most obvious tech gifts (iPad? You don't say!), but with a few curve balls. (We're still figuring out how to fit a Tesla Model S into a stocking.) We decided to analyze only the Top Editors' Choice Gifts list, as their unabridged gift guide is so exhaustive that almost every tech item known to man is on there. Also: Be sure to note the subtle slap in the face to Microsoft, as the PS4 makes the list but the Xbox One does not!
Highlights: 2012 Tesla Model S for $57,400; Samsung Galaxy S4 Smartphone for $99.99; Roku 3 for $99.99; PlayStation 4 for $399.99; MacBook Air for $999; Philips' Hue Connected Light Bulb for $199.99; iPad Air for $499
Description: It's sensationalist and bombastic, but with one or two really good ideas ... OMG! That's just like the site! Are these "the most important gifts you'll see all day!?"
Highlights: DUDE No. 1 Beard Oil for $65; Tom Tom Triple V Cuff for $250; Byredo Bohemia Candle for $80; Koostik Ambrosia Maple iPhone Dock for $95; Cole Haan Men's Grant Scuff Slippers for $158; J. Crew Montague Weekender for $475
Description: Rachael Ray's gift guide is kinda like Oprah's list, but for real people. If you're a RR fan, the appearance of so many Rachael Ray-branded items probably doesn't come across as self-serving. (Speaking of self-serving: Serve yourself some baguette with those Baguette trays!) One shocking omission? No EVOO!
Highlights: "Gift cards" (to anywhere) for "$25 and up;" Uncorked Glassware (made from old wine bottles) 4-Packs from $34; Rachael Ray Lasagna Lugger for $30; Rachael Ray Baguette Tray for $27; Rachael Ray Salt and Pepper Grinder Set for $30
Description: Apparently this list was put together as a way for The Grey Lady to move some merch. And when it's not being a total sell-out selling NYT shirts and mugs, its items are ridiculously expensive. We've been reading the Times for years, but if these are the kinds of gifts its readers can afford, maybe we've been reading above our pay grade!
Highlights: Standard Oil Novelty Gas Pump for $390 (this one was in the "for kids" section, because that's what kids want to play with); The NYT Ultimate Birthday Book (every front page from your birthday, throughout history) for $180; Crossword Puzzle Cufflinks for $49; Gourdant Antique Promotional Poster from 1933 for $1,050; Stadium Infield Dirt From All 30 Ballparks in Collectors Box for $249
Description: Gifts for the cool dude on your list (or the guy who thinks he is because he wears a French-cut shirt every now and then) for whom you don't want to spend a lot. If your key gift-getting-for demographic is male aged 18 to 30, this one has what you need. After all, no other demographic is going to appreciate an $18 comb.
Highlights: Mason Pearson Pocket Comb for $18; Sagaform Bar Whiskey Glasses for $25; Muji Red Cedar Hanger for $29; Hook + Albert Colored Shoelaces for $32; Peg and Awl Waxed Canvas Lunch Bag for $44; Apolis Indigo Bow Tie for $68; Hanger Project Lambswool Shoe Polishing Mitt for $85
Description: This is definitely the most grounded of all the gift guides we're reviewing. It's full of things that regular people (like your family and friends) might actually want and things that you can actually afford... while still all seeming like gifts. The other lists might be good for "big gifts" and "treat yourself" luxury items, but this is "for the people!" Can you hear the gift guides sing? Singing a song of angry gifts!
Highlights: Highland Park 18-Year Single Malt Scotch Whiskey for $100; Arbequina and Arbosana Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars for $18; Corkcicle for $25; Chocolate Shoes for $60; Bliss Raspberry Champagne Body Butter for $29; Salts of the World Test Tube Set for $35
Description: Better gifts through engineering. This list is full of stuff for people who like their gifts to harness the power of technology no matter the task. Was it made to work better, shine brighter, or suck (vacuum) harder? If so, you'll find it here. Of course, all that design means a higher price tag, but if you're shopping for someone who's worried about how well something is crafted, then this is the list to browse.
Highlights: Bose Soundlink Mini Bluetooth Speakers for $200; Dyson Animal Canister DC47 Vacuum for $450; Lego Mindstorms EV3 for $350; Coast HP314 Long Range Focusing Flashlight for $205; Zoomer Robot Dog for $100; Celestron NexStar 4SE Computerized Telescope for $500; Tern Joe D24 Folding Bike for $650
Description: Aimed at the younger fashionistas & trend-followers, there are actually a lot of affordable, quirky gifts on this list that would be suitable for a wider audience than you might expect from an E! list. OK, maybe grandpa doesn't want a Big Lebowski Kit, but those fun-lovin' 20-somethings (and 30-somethings who don't make New York Times Gift Guide money) will sure appreciate it.
Highlights: Jao Beard Scent for $30; Ricky's Scented Candle in Street Meat (smells like a kabob stand) for $24; The Big Lebowski Kit for $17; Mr. Turk Bow Tie for $58; Ernest Alexander Pocket Square for $30
It's pretty clear that few media outlets put their gift guides together without an eye on price, huh? We guess the holidays are a time to splurge, so why not pull out all the stops and offer a $3,000 gold-plated yak head?! (Though that does not appear on any list, we are looking for one for our Dad, so if anyone has any leads let us know.) Working, as we do, for a deal-finding site, maybe we have a skewed perspective, but we thought most people were concerned about the cost of holidays. No one seems to have made a list for those who are looking to stretch their dollar. (Unless you consider the entirety of DealNews to be exactly that! Not-So-Subtle Plug!)
What do you think readers? Should gift guides keep price in mind, or are they supposed to be wild, pie-in-the-sky dream lists of things most people will never actually buy? Are holiday gift guides out-moded dinosaurs, or do you still use them to spark gift inspiration? Tell us in the comments below!
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