From the middle of November it’s impossible to avoid the inevitable: the onset of the festive gift guide, designed to help you pick great gifts for your loved ones ahead of the Christmas season. Whether it’s edits of premium treats, recommendations on bargain buys, stuff you think your mum would love or just inspiration as to what to get your other half, there’s so much content out there – that is, if you’re looking for it. Historically speaking, opening up a seasonal catalogue from Boots or Superdrug was the highlight of my season; I’d circle my faves and look to pick up some bargains in the sales ones Christmas was over, as well as taking full advantage of in store offers and those brilliant ‘3 for 2s’ that we all know and love. Picking up the December issues of my favourite magazines would give me lots of ideas and leave me itching to get out onto the high street, but with the decline of traditional print and the increase in digital media these moments have been replaced with tonnes of online alternatives.
A few years ago I was fully immersed in the gift guide world, thoroughly enjoying creating edits of beauty treats and finding great buys that I know my readers would love. I spend an age creating festive inspired imagery and researching the best deals out there, but the response to the posts became limited as the blogging world became saturated with so much of the same kind of content. In a nutshell, what started as a great way to bring together edits of treats others may not know about has evolved into a mass of indistinguishable content that (in my opinion) fails to add much value.
With so many brands failing to produce anything more creative than a festive box with an edit of product favourites inside, there are only so many ways you can make it seem exciting. Gone are the days when we got in a tizz over a beauty cracker or beauty bauble; we’re now looking for something refreshingly different or great value in order to add it onto our wishlist. It’s harder than ever to be creative and unique with your Christmas content, because it all feels tired and overdone, and readers are starting to feel the same: I asked my Twitter audience what they felt about gift guides, and nearly 60% said they found them repetitive, boring and worthy of being ignored altogether, while around 30% said they were only good for a touch of inspo. It seems that fewer than us than ever are reading, engaging with and actively hunting out gift guides – so is it worth the time, effort and money involved in creating them?
For me the pleasure about the Christmas season is wandering through the shops on the high street and discovering little gems and new ideas to please the most important people in your life. It’s about finding a bargain, or rummaging around in the Black Friday sales trying to find that special something; it’s about looking online and spending hours scrolling until you find exactly what you didn’t know you were looking for. Gift guides have made, in my opinion, everything a bit clinical and repetitive – exactly the opposite of what the season is supposed to be about.
Everything is about personal choice, but this year gift guides feel to me like more of a chore and annoyance to create than a pleasure. If you’re a blogger that loves pulling together your annual gift guides, then I’m thoroughly pleased it gives you so much joy and helps get you in the festive spirit. If you’re a reader that loves reading gift guides, then I’m glad you’re getting the inspiration you’re looking for. But for me, I don’t feel like the content offers the longevity, point of difference and relevance I’m looking for right now; so in 2017 I think I’m hanging up my gift guides for the foreseeable future. I’m going to channel that time and energy into creating content you can enjoy far beyond these few weeks of December (or at the very list edits of treats I think will actually be a bit different,) and hope it will be just as relevant in six months time as it is when you first click on it.
That will be my festive gift to you…
What do you think of gift guides, whether you’re a blogger or reader? Which edits stand out to you or how do you make your content unique enough to generate those all important views? I’d love to know your thoughts.
(If you’ve stumbled across some great gift guides or have one you’re super proud of, leave a link in the comments below so we can enjoy them this holiday season!)
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