Having found the web’s best pages for sourcing the perfect present, it’s time to delve more deeply into the fashion industry’s most high-tech initiatives for gifting, and gifting well. A slew of new programs and mobile apps are making it easier than ever to personalize presents or get the best of Black Friday sales. Let’s take a look:
1. Personalized QR codes: JC Penney’s new Santa Tag uses QR code technology to let gifters personalize their presents with audio greetings. Available starting on Black Friday, gift givers scan a QR code at any JC Penney store, record a personal voice message to go with it, and adhere a print-out of the QR coded tag to their gift. The recipients then scan the code to access the audio message.
2. Exclusive Black Friday mobile apps: Use your smartphone to get organized before entering the Black Friday fray (or use these apps to assuage any sense of dread that would keep you from going out altogether). Two free apps for Android include the aptly named Black Friday Deals & Coupons, which sources discount codes and provides digital coupons, and TGI Cyber Monday, which aggregates online deals from over 50 stores. For the iPhone, there’s TGI Black Friday (hm, we’re sensing a naming theme here) which shows Black Friday ads and lets users make price comparisons and share-able shopping lists.
3. Create-your-own gift cards: If you can’t make it to your in-laws’ store of choice for a gift card — or you know they’ll quietly complain about your impersonal present — use Giftly to put together a gift card yourself. The site lets users create cards, in any denomination, from Yelp’s 2 million businesses. Attach a personalized photo and send the card via Facebook or email (or print it out and hand it over in person).
4. An online plan to tie it all together: Gift Plan is $2.99, but it’ll ultimately save you, so we recommend downloading it to use for the 2011 holidays and for every gift-giving occasion to follow. The app lets users make color-coded gifting calenders, recipient profiles, and shopping lists.
5. An app to learn to wrap: The iPhone app iFinger gives tips on proper wrapping, but it really comes in handy by turning your phone into an actual tool. By entering the dimensions of the item to be wrapped, iFinger calculates how much paper to use, along with how to position the iPhone in order to hold everything in place while you work on taping.
6. Smartphone tools for finding Santa: We seriously doubt Mr. Claus would approve of this, but BlackBerry’s Santa Tracker lets you send letters to the North Pole, “track” the toymaster’s location, and see him get closer to your house according to your kids’ bedtime (which you input yourself). Okay, so this one isn’t useful whatsoever, except to delight your little ones and get back in touch with your own inner child. And that’s what the holidays are all about, right?