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written by Kelly Schwarze
If This Then That
IFTTT is a service that automates your life in all sorts of I-didn’t-know-I-absolutely-needed-that ways with digital “recipes.” Think: sending a text if the weather report says it’s about to dump buckets or emailing you every time a possibly perfect new apartment is listed on Craigslist. When it comes to shopping, use IFTTT to notify you if your favorite Etsy shop adds to its inventory an ironic notebook perfect for your cube-mate, or to send a daily digest of all Alexander Wang items currently up for grabs on eBay (maybe keep this one for yourself).
If your best friend is forever heartbroken over the demise of her favorite pair of Madewell jeans, hunt down her sartorial holy grail by taking your shopping to ThredUp, an e-consignment store that makes searching for the ultimate whatever so simple. Not only can you browse gently used clothes, shoes, and handbags by designer, but the site is great about specifying exactly what sort of condition an item is in, meaning no surprises upon arrival. And if browsing through the goods is a not-so-subtle reminder of the pile of clothes collecting dust in your give-away pile, order a free ThredUp Clean Out Kit. Fill the bag with your used fashions, ship it back to ThredUp on them, and receive site credit or PayPal cash when the goods sell. If they don’t get scooped up on the site, you can opt to have the duds returned to you for a fee or recycled responsibly.
Found a pair of Alexis Bittar earrings that would look killer on your college roommate? Track when they drop in price by saving them to your Shoptagr watch list. They key is downloading the browser extension, so as you come across any need-not-want fashion finds during your holiday shopping ritual or get little hints from your S.O., you can click the Shoptagr button, select which color and size you’re after, and indicate how much of a price drop you want to know about (can’t fool us, stores that call $5 off a sale!). You’ll then be notified if an item goes on serious sale or becomes low in stock.
The parentals have some very specific electronics — say, a 50-inch LED 1080p Smart TV — on their wish list this year. Alright, guys, game on. Instead of going mad navigating the parking lots of big-box retailers or sorting through their corresponding shopping sites, take your big-ticket purchasing decisions to DealNews, which does all the heavy browsing for you. Search for gifts by every last detail including brand, screen size, free shipping, and resolution, then click directly over to the product page on a store’s website to buy the one. Not convinced yet? Sale-alert newsletters will keep you light-years ahead of brick-and-mortar shoppers when it comes to knowing when the goods drop in price.
Unless you’re expecting an especially epic end-of-year bonus, you’re likely not purchasing flights as a gift for anyone. And most of us don't add tickets to our lists either. Knowing this is one expense that’s too emotionally complicated to get out of around the holidays, we recommend setting up Airfarewatchdog fare alerts immediately. The site uses real people, not algorithms, to verify that listed sales are valid. Create alerts based on city-to-city travel, from a departure city, or to an arrival city. Then, sit back in that plane seat feeling pretty smug about how much you didn’t pay for the opportunity to give your gifts in person.