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holiday giftsOne of the most wide-spread traditions in this world is gift-giving. This is an especially hot subject during the holiday season, but is stays highly relevant throughout the entire year. Birthdays, weddings, births, anniversaries, new houses, dinner parties, and of course holidays, are all occasions that usually require us to search, decide on and buy gifts.

There is no lack of holiday (and other occasions) gift guides, and there are plenty of places to find ideas or buy gifts online, but even when you finally make that decision, how do you know if it’s the right one? Wouldn’t it be awesome if your friends could choose their own gifts, without it losing its festive “gifty” feeling?

What Is Wantful?

Wantful is a beautiful and original gift giving service. It learns about your occasion and the recipient of the gift, offers a list of gifts which you can customize until perfect, and then sends the catalogue to the lucky person who can choose their gift from their own personalized gift catalogue, and get it delivered to their doorstep.

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Sounds too good to be true? It gets even better. The service will only cost you as much as you choose to pay for the gift. No service charges and no fees. For now, the service is only available for shipping in the US (the buyer can be from anywhere), but the developers promise international shipping in 2012.

Getting Started

To get started with Wantful, you’d have to either log in using a Facebook account, or create a Wantful account through the website.

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If you log in using Facebook, you’d have to authorize Wantful to access your Facebook account. Wantful will then pull birthday information from your Facebook friends, and insert them into your Wantful account automatically. You can, of course, not use Facebook, and create your own events.

Once you’re signed up, simply click “Get Started Now” to create your gift catalogue.

Helping Wantful Choose Right

According to the information you give it, Wantful will present you with a list of gifts your friend/family member/colleague should love. The more questions you answer, the better those recommendations will be.

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Start by giving it some basic information, such as the occasion, the person’s name, age and gender, and how he or she is related to you. Wantful will then launch into a set of questions which you are not obliged to answer. Answer as much as you want or know, and continue onto the next step. I went through the process with an imaginary recipient whom I appropriately dubbed “friends”.

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For example, Wantful would like to know about Friends’ living conditions.

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What kind of home would they find attractive?

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What do they think about music, food and technology?

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What range of styles are they more likely to go for?

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The questions are easy and fun to answer. When you’re done supplying all the information you know and wish to give, you can continue to the actual gifts.

Creating The Gift Catalogue

Now it’s time to really get into it. The first crucial thing you need to decide is how much you want to spend. You can’t choose any amount; you need to decide between the 7 possible amounts Wantful offers ($30, $50, $75, $100, $150, $250 or $500).

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You can then browse the list of gifts Wantful recommends, read about them, view more pictures and decide whether they should be on the list or not. If you decide a certain item shouldn’t be included, simply click on the “Replace This Item” button.

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If you do this, you will be presented with a nice list of substitutes, from which you can choose a new gift for the catalogue.

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After you’re done customizing it, and you feel the gift catalogue is perfect, all that’s left is to design it and send it!

Finishing Up

A personalized gift is not the same without a personalized holiday gift wrap. Wantful offers a good number of design options for your catalogue. Choose a cover, add names and a short message, and voila!

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And here is the cool part. If you wish, you can pay only the gift’s cost for the whole thing. Simply have the catalogue emailed to your friend and you’re done.

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If you want to take it one step further, you can mail a nice printed catalogue via regular mail for ~$10 extra. The mailed catalogue will arrive after no more than 7 days, but during the holiday season the catalogues are rushed, and may take as little as 2 days to arrive.

Wantful Dashboard

While Wantful is a very useful service for the holiday season, it can and should be used year round. When you log into your Wantful account, you can access your dashboard where you can create new gift catalogues, add events to remember and view your in-progress gift catalogues.

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Receiving Gifts

When you or your friends receive a Wantful gift catalogue, all you have to do is go to the Wantful website and enter the code from the gift book.

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If you already have an account, the gift you received will also appear on your dashboard.

Bottom Line

Wantful is one of the best designed and most original web apps I’ve seen in a while. The idea behind it is fantastic and using it is a delight. The service is relatively new, and more gift options will be added with time, as well as additional shipping options.

Have you tried Wantful and want to share the experience? Do you know of some other helpful holiday gift-choosing services? Let us know in the comments!

Image credit: Shutterstock

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