Gifts HD keeps gifting on track

FYI. After Carol’s and my own disastrous experience with iOS4 on the iPhone (which has effectively rendered them useless except as phones) I am reluctant to download iOS 4 for the iPad until I start seeing some user comments on Apple’s site that are positive (which, so far, they are not). I am trying to get someone at Apple to promise me I will be able to revert back to iOS 3 or replace my iPad if I hate it.

It looks good, I would love for it to work, but I love my iPad just fine now.

I was also burned with OS 10.6 with didn’t support my off-the-shelf Canon wireless printer for more than a year.

I will review it as soon as I am assured I can recommend it to readers and they won’t hate me for saying they should install it.

Spoiler alert! Gifts HD is kind of cool if you don’t already have a digital gift list program, and you’re really looking for one. If you have your listing process down pat, I’m not sure Gifts HD will be any better. Still, it wouldn’t hurt for you to read the review and decide for yourself.

Today is Thanksgiving, which means it’s officially the first day of Christmas. Not the real Christmas, the empty out your bank account commercial Christmas where you get in line at 4 am tomorrow morning and prepare yourself fight everybody at the mall for Black Friday tomorrow.

Or you could sit at home and do your ordering from Amazon.

Being raised as a Baptist Preacher’s Kid, I can tell you that there is some debate as to whether Christmas has been abandoned by Obama’s secular humanist America, or Christmas is a pagan holiday foisted on us by a corrupt Catholic Church looking to control the Visigoths, or Christmas is really Jesus’ birthday because he was really born on December 25 just like it says in the Bible.

I think I’ll hold that discussion for another column.

The real issue here is that you had better not venture in the bowels of Black Friday without a carefully prepared gift list that you stick to religiously, or you’ll end up spending three times as much as you budgeted and mostly for impulse buys to reward yourself for the thankless work of shopping on Black Friday.

And then you have to go back and do your real Christmas shopping.

We used to do gift lists on paper, then spreadsheets, or, like me, in the back of our heads and hope we remembered everybody. My way is pretty easy because Carol actually does the gift list and lets me know what she was doing. And I usually say, “Sure. Sounds good. I trust your judgment.”

Then she says, “Don’t you have any suggestions? Half of these people are your family.”

And I say, “That doesn’t mean you love them less than I do.” When she presses me I suggest a Barnes and Noble gift card because that’s what I usually want people to give me. And in my family you give the gifts you would like, not what members of your family would like.

So my family members all get gift cards from Barnes and Noble and not from the Christian bookstore they would rather shop, and I get plastic cows with space helmets, jalepeño pepper jelly, jalepeño wine, jalepeño beer and DVDs of movies like “Santa Claus Conquers Mars.” I send a check to my son Bryan and he phones me to tell me what a great gift he got his stepdad with the money.

One Christmas I did try a kooky gift in the spirit of the crap I get. Just to see if family members would appreciate the gift as they thought I should appreciate the ones they give me. Mr. Smith’s soda offered a Christmas dinner six pack one year and one year only. I got that for my sister Aimee and her husband Gary. It had turkey pop, mashed potato pop, gravy pop, stuffing pop, pumpkin pie pop and even brussels sprouts pop.

Can you believe it? It wasn’t a hit. In fact, Aimee insisted Carol and I have it with them at Christmas dinner. And that we take home what was left in the bottles (which, in the case of the brussels sprouts pop was most of the bottle).

On Christmas morning, Stephens family members thank each other profusely with smiles so tight our lips might freeze in place if we have to hold them longer than a minute. Then we regift everything. Fortunately we don’t have to hold those smiles that long because it usually takes thirty seconds for the nephews or the nieces to get into another fight over who gets to play with what. The whole process works out well for me. The Barnes and Noble card I give for Christmas becomes the Barnes and Noble card I get for my birthday. After all, they think, how am I going to know that’s the very same gift card I gave?

But some people actually think about their gifts. I don’t know why.

If you’re serious about your gift list and you want an iPad app for that, you can try Gifts HD.

Technically, it doesn’t have to be an app for Christmas gifting. I suppose you could use it for your year round gift giving. But it has a feature that counts down the days until Christmas—not just the days, but the shopping days. Those are the most important days. And the icon and splash page feature a gift box with a green Christmas ribbon. So it’s really meant for Christmas gifts, you can just use it for non-Christmas gifting if you want.

Oh, I forgot, you can also set it for shopping days to Chanukah so it is okay to use it for non-Christmas stuff. I don’t know why you would want to use it for Chanukah. When I was a kid my Jewish friends got stuff like socks and underwear and little wooden tops. What a gyp. I never got what I wanted, but at least it was something useless that I could play with until I got into a fight with my sister Beth over who got to play with what.

I guess my friends could have made puppets out of the socks, but if their parents were anything like my parents, there would have been hell to pay when their mothers found a sock with holes for eyes and a magic marker mouth in the laundry.

Or maybe Chanukah’s gotten as commercial as Christmas. It’s possible, but I never see any Home for Chanukah movies on the lifetime network. And I never hear Bill O’Reilly or Glen Beck pissing and moaning about how they took God out of Chanukah.

So we’re left with shopping days until Christmas. Christmas itself doesn’t count because you can’t buy stuff on Christmas. Except online. If you keep a gift list for yourself, which I do, you can go online on Christmas and buy all the stuff you really wanted that the people who love you failed to get.

Shopping accounting

Gifts HD actually functions as more than a gift list. It allows you to budget and keep track of the status of your gift purchases. Even better, if you have to share your iPad with other family members (because they are pretty damn expensive) you can keep your gift list private with password protection.

In my family password protection is important because all of the adults still want to know what you’re getting them before Christmas. I learned long ago not to peek at presents and gifts lists because the stuff I wanted was never on the list or in the wrapper. At some point (I think I was ten) it dawned on me that peeking at gift lists and presents only prolonged the disappointment of Christmas. If I peeked I knew several days in advance that I wasn’t going to get what I wanted.

But for some reason, Carol and family members still think I’m getting them something other than a Barnes and Noble gift card so they can give it back to me for my birthday. So the password protection is useful.

Keep your gift list secret from prying eyes with password protection

Once you set up your user account and establish your budget for Christmas shopping, because it’s early enough in the season that you can still fool yourself into believing you can keep to a budget, you can add the names of every one you need to buy a gift for. You can also budget for each of them.

You can keep track of who needs gifts and how much you want to spend for each.

If you go over budget there are no warning bells or alarms. You just see the negative number on your balance PostIt. For someone like me, that’s a guarantee that I will never even notice I’ve gone six hundred dollars over budget. For people who are good with money, however, it should be all the warning you need.

When you’re calculating the cost of a gift against a budget you should always remember any sales tax or shipping fees. Fortunately, Gifts HD also provides a handy mini-calculator to arrive at your total gift cost.

In app online shopping

It would be a pain to have to leave the app to launch your browser when you actually need to look up gift info. Fortunately, Gifts HD features an in-app browser with buttons that take you directly to online retailers. Ironically, Amazon isn’t one of the featured retailers, and there is no bookmark feature.

The browser window can use your gift list to create Google search strings. Depending on how well you name your item, you should be able to track down your gift without too much effort.

The magnifying glass links to an in-app browser that uses your gift list for search terms.

The notebook

You can manage gifting for everyone on your list with a gift PostIt. When you select a name on your list, the gifts notepad allows you to enter and follow all of the gifts you want to purchase for her. A separate spiral bound notebook keeps track of the gift details. As you page through the notebook you can enter the ordering details on the “To Do” page and see whether it’s been ordered or shipped, or check the summary page to see how many gifts you have orders and how many remain to be ordered.

You use a blue PostIt and a spiral notepad to keep track of gift items.
One page in the notepad can tell you each gift’s status in a single glance.

The important thing to remember is that you have to have a gift selected (with the check mark visible) on the gifts PostIt to see the details in the spiral notebook. It took me several times to figure that out.

You can also follow the ordering and shipping status of every gift
as well as get a summary of all of your purchasing activity so far.

I really couldn’t find anything to complain about when reviewing Gifts HD. I didn’t really use it to prepare this season’s gift list, as you probably know from the introduction. But I did comp up a gift list of half-a-dozen family members. And Jenny Manytoes, who is sleeping beside me content that I didn’t forget her. Everything seemed to work without crashing the app.

Gifts HD is a little cutesy for my taste, but I suspect that it will be just fine with the developers’ target market—gift givers who aren’t cynical bastards like me. And cute isn’t bad. Nor is it so cutesy that I wanted to trash the app before my cynical gag reflex kicked in. It’s just a little cutesy. For my taste.

The price is reasonable at four dollars. It’s just cheap enough to make it fairly painless to purchase, and just expensive enough to insure the developers will keep it working. It may seem high to some, but when you check out what Martha Stewarts charging for an iPad app with recipes you can probably download on the web, the price will suddenly seem reasonable again.

Jenny Manytoes rates Gifts HD

Personally, I wouldn’t buy this app if I were’t reviewing it. But Jenny reminded me that people who would use this app definitely would like it. And if you always wanted a better tool for keeping your gift lists, this will do everything I can imagine a gift list should do. So we compromised and gave it a purr.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.


About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in 4 Stars - Purr, Seasonal, Utilities and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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