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10, 9, 8, 7, 6…

Don’t look now, but the 15th of December represents the first of The Last 10 Shopping Days Before Christmas!!! Not sure what Secret Santa present you should buy for the weird guy in accounting? Let the World Wide Web decide for you. Countless online gift programs are just waiting to help you make up your mind (and take your money). So, with my nearest and dearest in mind, I took some of the software for a spin…

Don’t look now, but the 15th of December represents the first of The Last 10 Shopping Days Before Christmas!!! Not sure what Secret Santa present you should buy for the weird guy in accounting? Let the World Wide Web decide for you. Countless online gift programs are just waiting to help you make up your mind (and take your money). So, with my nearest and dearest in mind, I took some of the software for a spin…

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I started off with the Perfect Present Picker, a six-step program with a few hundred potential characteristics to refine one’s search. As the site claims objectivity (“Our database of gift ideas is fully editorial”) I was optimistic. And after plugging in a set of traits for my roommate (“American,” “Artist,” “Big City,” etc) I was served a wide selection of possibilities and corresponding match values. For example, the PPP claims my roommate is a 57% match for some snazzy “custom neon bar signs.” (uh…) But a quick look down the list revealed a pile of schlock. (A wood and metal wreath ornament, an electronic holy bible.) Maybe not.

For my brother, TK Maxx’s Gift Genie was next (The UK division swaps the “J” for “K”). Compared to the analytics of the PPP, the Gift Genie is more intuitive, asking questions like “Does he embrace the modern world” or “Is he a stickler for tradition?” As an added bonus, the Genie’s interface is sleeker and easier to use than the PPP – and the results were better, too; the Genie gifted Charles with a passable set of modern-looking housewares and knick-knacks. And he didn’t get any calculator-bibles, which was a good thing.

When it came to my cat, Hayworth, I turned to The Petsmart Gift Selector (Petco doesn’t offer an online gifting tool). Petsmart starts by asking if you have a cat or dog, so if you’re looking for just the right gift for your parakeet or ferret, well, tough. After ruling out the obvious (Catnip? Thanks, but no thanks.) the Gift Selector ran me through some general questions about Hayworth’s demeanor, then spat out the short list: A gingerbread cat collar, some glittered mouse toys and a Petsmart gift card. (…) Here you go, Hayworth, a $20 giftcard to Petsmart. Good luck with that.

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