You know the scenario, you've just had a phone call from your mother, reminding you that it's your fathers birthday next week. You wrack your brain till it hurts, wander aimlessly around the shops for hours, and then go to Argos and flick back and forth through their catalogue.
It can be tempting to just put a couple of banknotes into a card and be done with it. When recently discussing presents with a colleague, she said "My husband and his brother just swap cheques at Christmas"! She agreed that this seemed a completely pointless exercise, as seeing the look of surprise on a loved one's face is part of the joy of gift giving.
The internet has been a real boon as we can now browse for gifts when it suits us - over breakfast, lunchtimes, or even at 2am when the baby is having a feed. This saves endless trudging around shopping centres and high streets, getting aching feet, whilst being weighed down with bags.
The problem with using the internet is the number of sites vying for our attention. Using a search engine inevitably results in 39 million sites being found (believe me, Iíve just typed Ďgift ideasí into Google!). You then spend time clicking onto each site to see what products are on offer, come out of the site back to the search engine list and into the next site. Some sites draw us in with adverts promising hoards of fantastic gifts, only to then let us down with their measly selection of 7 products. A more recent and annoying development is the proliferation of sites that are just lists of adverts for other sites. This can be frustrating to the extreme, especially if you get stuck in a loop!
The internet is great if you know what you are after, but when you are just browsing it can be a nightmare. There are some great web sites out there; itís just a case of finding them amongst the dross. Try creating a folder in your favourites for gift giving, and then whenever you come across a good site for gifts, you can then add it to this favourites group. You could even get as sophisticated as having sub-folders for different gift types, or age groups.
Good Luck with your gift hunting!
Mark Rowe is the co-creator of the 'Gift Ideas Generator' UK website - GiftGen.co.uk
Notes for editors
GiftGen.co.uk was Radio 2's 'Website of the day' on 18th December 2006, and we were featured on GMTV on 19th December 2006. For more info click here