If you’re struggling to find the perfect gift for that weird uncle you only see once a year – don’t worry.

Many of the UK’s biggest retailers are currently promoting gift guides and finders, conveniently designed to help you discover the ideal present for all.

But are these features really that helpful? Or are they just a way of fleshing out email editorial or pointing you towards the most expensive items online? 

(Forgive me – what’s Christmas without a healthy dose of cynicism.)

Here’s how top retailers are using gift guides to inspire Christmas shoppers this year.

Firebox

Firebox is a brand that’s built around the premise of gift-giving.

I mean, you might buy a bottle of scorpion-infused vodka for yourself… but you’re probably more inclined to get it for someone you mildly dislike.

With a ‘Gift Finder’ tab as well as a separate one for ‘Christmas’, Firebox is clearly about helping consumers find what they’re looking for all year round.

The ‘Christmas’ guide is nicely designed, separating categories into ‘Gifts for Her, Him’ etc. as well by different price ranges.

However, I actually prefer the standard Gift Guide.

Mainly because it allows you to filter by personality type, including ones like ‘Procrastinator’, ‘Outdoorsy’ and even ‘Dirtbag’.

It’s a simple feature built on the brand’s humorous tone of voice, but it’s very effective. 

Why Firebox hasn’t created a Christmas themed one – for the ‘Scrooge’ or ‘charades cheater’ in your life – is beyond me.

Disney

I’m not sure whether a gift finder is necessary for a retailer like Disney. Surely it’s already quite niche?

Anyway, the ‘gift finder’ is prominently displayed with a dedicated tab on the homepage.

The tool itself turns out to be a pretty basic filtering system, allowing you to sort by categories like ‘Movies and TV’ and price.

Very simple, but I guess it’s helpful for narrowing down the options.

John Lewis

While it has curated various other categories, such as ‘Luxury Gifts for Him’, this year John Lewis has also designed an interactive gift finder.

It allows you to first choose between eight different kinds of gifts, before helping you to narrow it down further by price.

The concept seems quite cool at first. However, the categories are quite specific, which means that if you fail to identify with things like ‘glitzy’ or ‘warm and cosy’, it’s a bit useless.

That being said, the tool itself is pleasing to use, automatically filtering products as you go.

The only other bugbear is that the results are a bit jumbled, with no option to sort by ‘low to high’ or type of item.

ASOS

I recently mentioned how ASOS is nicely promoting its Christmas gift guide in emails, focusing on budget instead of category type.

This approach is effective, and definitely helps customers to narrow down that huge array of options available on the site.

There’s nothing majorly original or impressive about it otherwise, and you could just use ASOS’s regular filtering function in the same way.

Harrods

The Harrods Gift Guide is located in the site’s dedicated Christmas section.

Unsurprisingly, it has a focus on luxury, but overall it’s a bit lacklustre.

Essentially, it just curates items into simplistic categories like ‘Gifts for Girls’ and ‘Stocking Fillers’, before allowing you to sort and filter further.

Nothing majorly inspirational, unfortunately, which is a shame when you compare the experience of shopping for gifts in the Harrods store.

The results do include a prompt to remind customers about Christmas delivery dates, however, which is a helpful touch.

Pandora

Pandora is yet another example of a drop-down filter being promoted as a gift guide.

Despite looking Christmassy, and being highlighted on the homepage, there’s oddly no ‘Christmas’ option for the ‘What Are You Celebrating?’ question.

It’s also quite basic to be honest.

There is an option to add gifts to a wish list, which is handy for anyone who might want to shop around and come back again later.

Or, if you’re using the guide to sneakily leave hints for your other half. 

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