The holiday season is just around the corner, and for many people, this also means crazy sale, traffic jams and a gift-buying frenzy. But even before you head down to the nearest traffic jam, errr, I mean, shopping centre, your main challenge is figuring out what your friends want!

Fear not, though, as help is at hand. The Internet has revolutionised many industries and markets, and gifting (perhaps) might be just the industry it revolutionises next.

What people want

There’s nothing worse than discovering that someone’s random gift exchange at a party was what you gave your best friend last year (oops!). Like it or not, we’ve all probably received gifts we didn’t care much for, and probably have promptly re-gifted them to others.

This is why one needs a gift list, where everyone within a circle of friends or family unashamedly tells everyone else what they want. That way, there’ll be zero wastage and everyone will get something that’s useful to them.

A modern twist on the gift list is the new site Gift.Ly ( that allows you and your friends to register and post your list online for others to see.
Once you’ve registered, Gift.Ly gives you a short link you can share with your friends, tweet or post on Facebook. It invites them to check out your list or share with you a list of their own. All your gift requests can be linked to URLs so your friends can do their shopping for you from their armchair and never get the wrong item.

An even more technologically-advanced take on the art of gift-buying comes from Imply Labs and their “predictive buying engine” at GiveEmThis (

Shopping for someone special? Go online!

The geek in me absolutely loves this technology. Here’s the deal, you can sign in with your Facebook account and select any of your Facebook friends.

GiveEmThis will then analyse your friends’ public data, such as his stream, posts and biography and age and interests, and then give you a list of suggested gifts from Amazon.

GiveEmThis only makes use of public data and gives you the option of using it anonymously as well, by simply entering a friend’s Twitter account you want it to analyse. Or, you could fill in a questionnaire and get results that way, too.

I tested GiveEmThis on myself and got some pretty accurate results. It recommended for me a series of card games, board games and gadgets, as well as the A Game Of Thrones Art Book (now, I’m really impressed!).

At the same time, it also recommended the Playskool Easy Bake Ultimate, which I thought was a little strange. I later realised that it’s probably because I’ve been posting stuff on Facebook about my daughter and my newborn son!

Let’s talk money

If you’re looking for stuff at great prices (aren’t we all?) I’ve only got one answer for your – group buying sites. I think group-buying as a business model is slightly tacky, but as a consumer, I’ve kind of grown addicted to checking the latest deals on sites, simply because there are some really good deals.

But first, here’s a caveat – be sure to really read through the fine print, and also remember to check out the delivery terms (for example, when will you receive the product?). Also, be sure to compare prices, as not everything is a good deal.

I find that Groupon ( has the best deals in town. For me, variety is key, and some sites give you a lot of deals, but for very similar goods or services, like car washes, restaurant deals, and slimming/spa packages.

In contrast, I picked up a nice tailored suit at Groupon for RM700 recently.
Other sites I check frequently include Dealmates (, MilkADeal ( and GroupEGo (

If you don’t care much for deals, and don’t mind buying stuff at full price, then there’s a bunch of cool webstores on MySimplifieds ( You can browse through various categories and most likely find good deals from local sellers on what you want.

For a savvy and digital generation, I also think a great gift option is iTunes credit or digital goods such as PC games etc. You can get credit for computer games and iTunes through services such as MOL ( or OffGamers (

The only place I buy my PC games now is the Steam online store ( where there are great daily deals.
I hope I’ve given you some ideas on what good gifts you can give and made selecting a gift for your best mates much less of a hassle. Now, that you also know what I’d like this holiday … feel free to send a gift my way too!

q David Lian wasn’t actually serious about that last comment asking you to send gifts his way. However, if you really want to send him something, tweet him at @davidlian and maybe he’ll give you his address.

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