December 23, 2011 / by Lauren Bigge

The holiday gift-giving season is about to peak, so now is the ideal time to find out what kinds of gifts media industry representatives have concluded are the most popular for 2011. Do some consumers have a preference for tradition? Are high-tech mobile devices hotter than ever? Is choosing one’s own gift the perfect alternative to a loved one enduring shopping stress? Yes, yes, and yes, the experts said.

As always, gift cards are seriously trendy. Which is why 1to1 Media editorial director Ginger Conlon tackled writing about gift cards this season. “Some gift cards are store-specific, meaning that you can only redeem them actually in the store. They’re not coded so that you can also redeem them online,” Conlon said in an interview with inVocus. Yet consumers want gift cards that can be redeemed in a store as well as online. “There are plenty of people who still love to shop in brick and mortar stores for many reasons, but there’s just an increase in the number of people doing holiday shopping online this year, as compared to prior years,” she said. “The First Data [2010 U.S. Gift Card Consumer Insights] Study basically implies that you’ll have more people buying the cards when they are themed.” So gift cards featuring holiday designs are especially popular. Electronics like tablets are also still hot this year. “Some analysts expect a share of iPad sales to come from children actually asking for iPads for Christmas from their parents,” said Conlon.

Conlon was right on. Federated Media Publishing (FMP) surveyed 1,200 online publishers and bloggers this holiday season and found that the Apple iPad, tablets and MP3 players are in demand. “These bloggers spend all day sharing their thoughts, ideas, and suggestions with their readers, so naturally they would have some opinions on holiday trends,” said Deanna Brown, CEO of FMP, in an email interview. The survey’s results indicated that bloggers are saying cookbooks, books and magazines are also hot gifts to give in 2011.

Personalized gifts also are popular this year. In fact, 70 percent of FMP’s food bloggers said homemade food items would be given. Yet the Do-It-Yourself concept is not just about edible goodies for the holiday season. For example, shared how to make a personalized cookbook for friends. Anthology Magazine’s 2011 Winter Gift Guide includes such unique DIY gift ideas as personalized apron and recipe card gift sets, or handmade iPad sleeves. The Dekalb County Daily Chronicle included simple gifts like embellished totes, beaded jewelry, and felt soap.

DIY gifts can range from small, simple stocking stuffers to more elaborate gifts, Zest Digital Magazine DIY editor Erika Pitera told inVocus in an email interview. “People are often much more appreciative of a thoughtful or sentimental gift (when it’s obvious that time and effort went into its creation) than a traditionally pricey gift or gift card,” she said. “When there’s not as much of a budget for gift giving at the holidays, making a gift by hand is a thoughtful alternative. Many people love making and receiving handmade gifts because they’re much more personal and reflect the spirit of the season.”

For PR pros looking to pitch during peak gift giving times in the year, these trends are most likely to continue all year – Valentine’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day are just around the corner.

— Lauren Bigge

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