PickyPresents link

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Time

Today is the first of December, and that can only mean one thing: Christmas is just around the corner.

You're probably wondering a lot about Christmas present ideas and are maybe even asking yourself questions like "What should I get my mom for Christmas?" or "What is a good present to get my dad?" as you should be. Family always comes first, so you need to make sure that out of all the gifts you purchase this holiday season you buy the best gifts for your family. This is a time for you to show your family how much you care (or at least how much you're willing to spend to keep them distracted while you eat all the Christmas cookies and eggnog). If you're worried about the whole process of gift giving, worry no more. Picking the perfect gift is simpler than it seems.

Let's start off with parents. After all, your mom and dad gave you life. The least you can do is buy them a decent gift. Any kind of gift for the home such as picture frames, pillows, or throw blankets will do. For mom you can buy jewelry, clothes (if you know your mother's proper size), or maybe even a certificate for a day to the spa to unwind from all the holiday stress. Dad would surely appreciate a new work tie, a watch, or something to go along with his favorite sport, such as golf clubs. However, if you are looking to be more frugal, flowers and other plants are always a nice gesture.

When it comes to your siblings, it is most important to take into account their personalities and interests. The same applies to children if you have any. Just take the time to listen to those oh so "subtle" hints they've been dropping. For younger brothers and sisters, the toy store is where you want to go. The young ones shouldn't be hard to shop for because they normally make it very clear when they write that list for Santa. However, older siblings may be more challenging to buy for because they probably don't send out a list, but if you listen to them, I'm sure they'll talk about what they want for Christmas.

If you are going to a relative's house, food is always the best and most widely appreciated gift you can bring with you. If you can't cook well, then have no fear. It isn't a problem nowadays with so many easy-to-cook dishes. There are enough options that you're sure to find something that even the most culinary-challenged people can prepare.

Just remember, the best way to find the perfect gift is to just pay attention to the people around you. Take notice of their interests and listen for those hints. If you need help with any specifics, or could use more gift suggestions, then don't be afraid to check out the latest gift ideas. And if all else fails, there are always gift cards.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What to Bring to Dinner

Thanksgiving is coming up.

As the most heavily-traveled holiday of the year, most of us will be partaking in the annual tradition of visiting extended family for dinner where we genuinely enjoy the company of some and pretend to genuinely enjoy the company of others, all while  making a mental list of the 8,000 other things we'd rather be doing.  Like having an apicoectomy.  

Honestly, I really do enjoy Thanksgiving.  The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is reputed to be the biggest drinking night of the year, followed by a gluttonous feast of turkey and that cranberry sauce that stays shaped like a can.  What a great holiday.

I've also no doubt that the drinking phenomenon is directly related to the extended relations attempting to mesh.  As with most situations in life, beer helps. 

What also helps is not showing up at a someone's door empty-handed, especially if this is the first time meeting them.

Homemade baked items are best, but if there's no time or one's simply not a baker, grab an item from the grocery store.  You can even grab it 5 minutes before showing up at the person's house and they'll never know.  Though, to be on the safe side, it's always a good idea to trash the receipt and threaten the kids to secrecy. 

Some other ideas include flowers or a bottle of wine.  If you have any unique situations you might like some help with, check out our latest gift ideas and we'll offer our insight for what to bring to stymie any chance of your extended relatives speaking ill of you once you leave.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Getting It Right

In determining what presents to pick out for our friends or family members, we often find ourselves trying to predict what items they might choose if they were to select presents for themselves.

Maybe they'll make it easy by dropping hints.  They may even make it a non-issue by explicitly saying what to get them.  Or maybe we've simply been paying attention for the past few weeks, trying to see if there's anything that has attracted their attention.

Even when we're told what to get, it's worth focusing on specifics.  What particularly attracts the recipient to this gift and not an alternative?  Does it have to be exact color? Brand?

For example, a child may want a video game system for Christmas, but what type of system can make a huge difference, say between a PS3 or a  Wii.  Maybe one loves John Grisham and his latest novel would make a great gift... but only if the recipient doesn't already own a copy of "The Litigators".

It's helpful to have an 'inside man' in situations like these, whenever possible.  For instance, if I'll pick out a present for my dad, I'll first ask my mother whether he already has an item, or what he might prefer instead.

If that's not possible, consider discretely prying for ideas extra-early.  If it's far enough away from the gift-giving date, there's a good chance any questions may be interpreted as mere conversation.  Better yet, if done far enough in advance, the recipient will likely even forget if we fail to be discrete and they pick up on our all-of-a-sudden unusual interest in, say, their preferences in engagement rings. ;)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Almost That Time of Year

Hard to believe it's time to start Christmas shopping.  Stores around here seem to inch the season earlier every time around.  This year, our grocery store had Christmas decorations up even before Halloween had passed.

Then again, maybe there's some method to their madness.  Not only am I done gift-shopping for my fiancée, but so is she, apparently.

I choose to hang on to my wishful hopes that she finished early to get me on a waiting list for the Ferrari 458 Spider.  In the (guaranteed) event this is not the case, I'm sure I'll be happy with whatever she's chosen, even if it can't go from 0-60 mph in under 3.4 seconds.

Retailers expect shoppers to have tight budgets this holiday season, so they're jockeying for as much attention they can get early-on.  Macy's, for instance, is opening the midnight after Thanksgiving.  Here's a list of when other major retailers are starting their Black Friday sales.

So while it's never too early to start Christmas shopping, there is at least one challenge it presents: Finding a good enough hiding spot to last so long undiscovered.

And if you're my fiancée and you're reading this, don't try to discover your gifts as you'll never find them.  But if you want a hint, you're welcome to explore the laundry room and, while there, do my laundry.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Finally finished!

At long last, the coding freeze on Picky Presents has been reached, and the site is finally ready to go live.  Time to ramp up the marketing engine!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Getting ready for more user testing

Justin did a great job reworking the login workflow to make it all uniform and smooth.  Hopefully by the end of this week we'll be done this sprint and start more user testing.

We (re-)discovered Amazon Turk and its potential use for this scenario.  Hopefully all will go well and we'll get some good insight from some Turk users.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Small updates

Thanks to 'bunnylover3000' we posted some small fixes: no longer showing incomplete announcements on the user's profile page, clarified the 'I'm done looking, thanks for the ideas' text, and removed some of the headers over the 'liked suggestions' area on view_details.  Thanks bunnylover3000

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Facebook and openId

Google App Engine (GAE) supports Federated user logins with the OpenId standard, which thrilled us.  Unfortunately, Facebook uses their own Facebook Connect for logging in, which requires a few extra steps.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Finishing touches are nearly... finished

A few more style changes, some new OpenID providers, and then we'll start user testing to try and break the site.

Then we'll fix whatever we discover is broken and start some user acceptance testing.  Then finally... at long last-- release Picky Presents to the wild!