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Find the perfect gift with the help of algorithms

It never fails. This time of year brings a month-long, manic search for the perfect gifts. All the browsing and coupons in the world won’t help if you don’t know what you’re looking for, and asking for a gift list is a futile effort. Say you do actually get one: half of the items don’t mention a brand name, and the rest fail to include important specifications, like color or size, where to buy them, or you know, price.

“What do you want this year?” just becomes background noise we start to filter out, and before you know it, it’s December 24, you’re aimlessly wandering the world’s most chaotic mall, and themed socks are starting to look like an acceptable present.

So here’s our gift to you this year. We’ve taken a look at some of the better site’s that use algorithms to create personalized gift ideas, and with their help you can narrow down or even select presents for everyone on your list.

    Hands down, this is the best choice of them all. has the most convenient UI, allowing users to quickly edit any of their recipient’s information as well as their price points. It takes you through a survey, including questions concerning whether “she” carries lipgloss or chapstick. And in addition to displaying highly customized options for the demographic you’re buying for, the site also offers subcategories like “Personalized Gifts” and “Geek Gifts.” You can find incredibly unique presents without spending 30 minutes describing the most minute aspects of the receiver’s identity. The site also now pairs with Hunch, allowing users the option of logging in with Facebook so the site can pull information about your friends, analyze it, and deliver gifts based on this data. Whether or not you want to trust the third-party application is up to you.
  • Random Gifts
    All Random Gifts wants to know is the recipient’s relationship to you, the occasion, his/her personality, and your price limit. After that, you’ll be treated to pages of the some of the quirkiest presents on the web. It’s a UK-based site, so be sure to note the price difference, but otherwise it’s a great tool for finding something for the person that has everything.
  • Gift Gen
    Gift Gen serves more as an idea source than a gift finder. It’s also a UK-based site, so again, notice pricing discrepancies. It also doesn’t offer photos of the ideas it generates. Still, it has a variety of categories to look through for your recipient and lets you describe the person’s character with three phrases. It will link you to sites where you can view and purchase each item, as well as lists physical retailers that carry the product. So it’s definitely a good starting point.
  • Toys ‘R’ Us Gift Finder
    If you have anyone under the age of 15 or 16 on your list, Toys ‘R’ US has got your back. It keeps the questions short and sweet, and spits out the results even faster. It also provides user ratings and any benefits that come with ordering the gift through its site (bonus Nerf darts with purchase! Free shipping!).
  • Overstock Gift Finder
    There’s nothing flashy about Overstock’s advisor. After four steps, the generator delivers categories of gifts your recipient should like, and then asks which you’d like to see more of. The finder doesn’t get too in-depth with questions about the person you’re buying for, but it does offer various holiday specifications (Chanukah and Kwanzaa are included). And of course, there’s the peace of mind that comes with ordering from a discount site.
  • Gift Girl
    Men seem to suffer from shopper’s block, especially when it comes to holidays. It’s this type of thing that leads to millions of toasters being returned every year. Gift Girl rises to the occasion and generates gift ideas for the women in your life, determining the best items based on relationship, age, and (if applicable) how long you’ve been together. It also takes you through an extremely easy survey to evaluate her personality, i.e. does she prefer fine dining or comfort food?

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