July 22, 2011 / by Lauren Bigge

Holiday GiftThough winter is a distant thought for most Americans enduring the summer heat, magazines editors are looking ahead to the holidays while preparing their fall-winter 2011 holiday gift guides. AutoWeek is leading this trend with its “Christmas in July” gift guide for the July 25 issue, followed by the “Holiday Gift Guide II” in its Nov. 28 issue. Carolina Country’s gift guide will appear in the November issue as well. More than 360 other magazines are printing gift guides in 2011, and quite a few are finishing them in July. Deadlines are fast approaching for several magazines.

While some magazines are open to reviewing any product, a number are specifically looking for those that fit their themes. For example, Fit Pregnancy’s theme this year is toys for children 12 months and younger that feature shapes and colors. Family Circle and Twist both want to be pitched products for teenagers and tweens. Working Mother’s assistant editor Irene Chang Kwon is focusing on household products, personal care items, toys, and technology. “Our theme is broken down by recipient – for your child’s teacher, your neighbor, the nanny, etc.,” she told inVocus via email.

Editors looking to review a variety of items for adults and kids include Anne Kim at InStyle. She wants to hear immediately about new products for men, women, and children, including pet owners. Targeting their sporty readers, three Fitness editors are heading up the 2011 Gear Gift Guide. Associate beauty editor April Franzino is looking for beauty must-haves, and assistant fashion editor Mellisa Freeswick is taking ideas for fashion gifts. Features assistant editor Sarah D’Angelo is interested in sports gear and technology products. Their Bicycling Gift Guide will include “must-have” adventure gear, for both on and off the bike. Fitness’ guide will appear in the November/December issue, but editors wrap it up on Aug. 3.

Technology will be as hot as ever during this year’s gift-giving season. Network World’s Cool Yule guide is accepting techy pitches in several categories: home entertainment, portable entertainment, computers, photo and video devices, telephones, iPad accessories, and travel gear. Sound & Vision technical editor Al Griffin is also looking for electronic gadgets and audio as well as video equipment pitches. Pitches for Spin magazine should be about boxed sets, videogames and other media items. TV Guide senior editor Rich Sands says their gift guide is “restricted to TV-related products.”

Expensive tech toys are not appealing to all consumers, however. Good Housekeeping, Ladies’ Home Journal, Real Simple, and Essence want budget items for their holiday gift guides, thus continuing the budget-minded trend that family-oriented magazines followed in 2009 and 2010. Know of a hot gift under $25? Let Good Housekeeping editorial assistant Kate Westervelt know about it. Ladies’ Home Journal and Real Simple both have an “under $50” theme this year, while Essence has chosen “$100 and under.” All four magazines have deadlines in early September.

More than 400 North American consumer magazines printed gift guides in 2010. While many magazines print a guide every year, deadlines and themes may change. A targeted effort each summer to keep on top of deadlines and gift guide topics will pay off come winter. Now is the time to target editors, as many have July and August gift guide deadlines. PR pros certainly don’t want their clients’ products left out in the cold come December.

— Lauren A. Bigge

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