Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pros and cons of using an online gift registry for birthdays and holidays

Who says gift registries are only for weddings or baby showers?  And who says they have to be tied to just one store?  Not me!

Gone are the days of trying to remember which gift idea we gave to which person.  Gone are the days of wondering if the gift giver will know exactly what was wanted.

Several years ago our family started using online gift registries for birthdays and Christmas.  Things are much simpler now, both for us and for our family.

I'm sure there are many online registries out there, but the one we use is called My Gift List.  It's very simple to create a registry for yourself and add items to it.  When you add an item, you can list the price, how badly you desire that item (high, normal, low), give details like color or size, and even list up to three URLs to direct the gift givers to the exact item online.  Even if Christmas or your birthday are months away, you can add gift ideas to the list as you think of them, rather than trying to remember down the road when the gifting occasion is near.

You also create a list of gift givers, then send out a message that gives each of them their own link to your list.  When they buy an item, they mark it off.  After that, all gift givers can only see the items that are left, which prevents gift duplication.

Like with everything, there are pros and cons, but the former far outweighs the latter.


  • All gift ideas are open to anyone
  • You don't have to keep track of which ideas you gave out
  • Gift givers can see prices before choosing an item to purchase
  • By marking your desire level, you're more likely to get the items you most want
  • Gift givers can mark an item as purchased and remove it from the list, preventing duplicates
  • You can be specific about exact items you want, and even provide a link to it at an online store
  • Items can be added at any time when you think of them
  • Unlike most registries for baby showers or weddings, you're not tied to a certain store, but can list items from anywhere
  • No need to keep fielding questions from various people about what you want.  Just send them the link to the list.

  • You're dependent on the gift giver to remember to mark an item off after it's purchased.  If it's not marked off, duplicate gifts can indeed occur.  It has happened to us!
  • If you want to delete or edit an item from the list after you've already invited gift givers to see the list, there's no guarantee one of them hasn't already purchased the item as-is, because you can't see on your end what items have been purchased.

An online gift registry is so liberating because it takes the awkwardness and the work out of gift giving for both parties.  I know, I know, the gift giving specialists out there say that if you're giving someone a gift, you should know him or her well enough to choose a personal gift that would be meaningful.  But let's face it -- not everyone is that talented.  And not everyone is that close to one another.  And some people (like me) are so picky that even though the gift giver has an idea of something we want, they may not know how to pick the right version of it that we will actually like.  (You know it's happened to you that you try to describe exactly what you want, but you end up receiving a less-than-desirable version of that item, right?)

We convinced my mother-in-law to create one for herself a couple years ago.  I wish all our relatives that we buy for would do it, because it's less awkward and much faster than having to ask people for gift ideas.  It would be especially awesome for my brother-in-law's family.  There are five kids and one on the way, and they have sooo many toys, that even if we try to be creative and pick out something fun, they most likely already have it!

I'm curious how many of you out there have used an online gift registry for yourself, or have been the gift giver and someone has provided a registry link to you.  If so, what has been your experience.  If not, what do you think of the idea?



  1. I use the wishlist from Amazon but I've only started using it because I realised I could 'pin' (probably not the right word but pinterest on the brain)from other sites on to it, make notes and prioritise! Definitely comes in handy!

    Trying to get my OH to use it now for Christmas shopping as well because he's impossible to buy for...

    Now to convince the rest of the family! x

  2. Okay okay. I can take a hint. :) But we already decided a few weeks ago that part of our Christmas gift to you would be to start one of these for next year. We figured we'd need a year to build it up, but we'll be ready!


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