A Very Techy Holiday

Brooke German

December 05, 2016

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The holidays are only days away, sending many people into a frenzy of cooking, cleaning, and wrapping. For some, Christmas is the highlight of the year, a time to cherish and spend with family. For others, it's just another day to get through.

No matter how you feel, it's still gift season. Thanks to the evolution of technology, buying presents in 2016 is easier than ever; it's just a matter of knowing what your options are.

Christmas as we know it is only a little over 100 years old. The act of gift-giving specifically didn't truly catch on until the 1870s, occurring as a product of consumerism. The giving of gifts became popular at this time because it helped those who were seeking symbolic solutions to the strife that was happening around them. Today, gifts are a highlight of the holiday season, and shoppers want it to be an easy process.

The Internet is a great innovation for holiday shopping. Sites like Amazon and Walmart are among the top five choices. Online shopping is probably the most popular way to make purchases for multiple reasons.

First, shoppers don't have to leave their house to search for that perfect gift. All they have to do is purchase it with a click and wait until the package arrives at their doorstep. Second, shoppers can search for exactly what they're looking for. Shopping is difficult in person because you only have time to search so many stores. Third, there are no crowds or lines to wait in, which can get especially frustrating around the holidays. Finally, it's easier to compare prices and to see how other customers reviewed the item.

The downfall to online shopping is the possibility of your credit card information being stolen. Thankfully, most major sites have heavy security measures in place, and you should look to see if the website has a security certificate.

This measure allows you to know that your information will stay between you and the service provider. To find out, look for a lock symbol at the beginning of the URL.

In conjunction with online shopping, Black Friday has also made its debut on the web. The term "Black Friday" stems from the idea that during this shopping day, stores finally get to go "in the black," meaning that they make a profit. Stores participating in this phenomenon, such as Walmart and Best Buy, have recently started posting their ads online ahead of time so that they can draw in more buyers.

Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, is basically the online version of Black Friday. Shoppers can scour the net for those great deals without having to leave the comforts of home.

For the on-the-go tech-savvy shoppers, iPhone and Android have created apps to assist with Christmas shopping. The Christmas List, the number one shopping app in the United States, helps you organize your Christmas lists and budget your money accordingly. These lists can be synced from your email, and a checkmark will show up when a person on your list is complete. The app also provides a countdown of the shopping days left until Christmas.

Another great shopping app is RedLaser. An app created by eBay, RedLaser has many aspects that make shopping a dream. You'll never have to worry about keeping track of reward cards anymore because this app stores them all in one place. It allows you to access nearby stores with its map capabilities and lets you search or scan barcodes to compare prices so that you receive the best deal.

Gilt on the Go helps keep trendy shoppers up to date on the latest designer brands at up to 70% off. This app will alert you to new sales so you can be the first to buy because supplies are limited. Brands that Gilt sells include Tiffany & Co., kate spade, Valentino, and more.

Christmas is ever-evolving. People love to shop, so technologists will continue to provide nuances to make it more interesting and easier. Until then, take advantage of the present-buying abilities mentioned—you won't regret it!

Brooke Lazar is WITI's content manager and digital editor. She has a BA in professional and technical writing from Youngstown State University.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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