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Holiday gift guide trends this season are techy, sweet and charitable

Shopping bags are full and emails are filled with confirmations as the holiday shopping season is well underway. With Christmas around the corner, now is the ideal time to find out what gifts are hot in 2012, according to the media.

In a recent article, Forbes contributor Larry Olmsted wrote that personalized gifts like photo frames, boots or even dog beds are really hot this year. Of course, we can’t forget electronics. Variety’s Chris Morris reported shoppers are expected to spend more than $250 each on tech gifts. Variety suggested items such as a plasma television with a motion-activated control system, a future-proof fourth generation iPad, a Lytro camera and Apple’s iPhone 5 are going to be big.

Variety is not alone in focusing on electronics.  Squidoo.com’s Bruce Eisner recommended tech gifts for the “inner geek,” including a streaming media projector, a virtual keyboard for mobile devices, a wireless Bluetooth speaker system and the Android 7-inch tablet.

E-readers are popular this holiday season too, Notebooks.com and Gottabemobile.com editor Josh Smith reported.  He noted that the Kindle Paperwhite, the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight, the Kobo Mini and the Sony PRS T2 are all good choices.

“One area I’m seeing more interest in is in accessories that add value to something shoppers already own, like a tablet or a smartphone, or a subscription they already have like to cable,” Smith told inVocus in an email interview. “The Slingbox place shifts a cable subscription to the iPad or iPhone – as well as Android devices – allowing users to get more out of the devices they already own. The same goes for cases and accessories like the Nike FuelBand and in-car adapters. Tablets are very much in demand, too. This year, a lot of parents are looking at tablets for kids, and the price of these tablets is very important, but so are the features. Parents want tablets that can grow with their kids.”

But not everyone is in the market for electronics. For those who love traditional gifts, sweets are prominent. Time Out Chicago’s Holiday Gift Guide features cakes, cookies and chocolates as nice gifts, while Sail Magazine’s editors also recommended chocolate. Both Atlantic City Weekly’s and Backpacker Magazine’s guides also include chocolate as a stocking stuffer.

It seems treats that indulge the senses are definitely trendy this season. The 2012 Holiday Gift Guide from Content That Works suggested chocolate, spa treatments, classic toys and jewelry as gifts this season. “Our approach to the Holiday Gift Guide is to paint with broad strokes, covering gift categories that are important to local merchants on Main Street USA,” Mary Connors, editorial director of Content That Works, told inVocus in an email interview. “We serve local media who do business with advertisers who own brick-and-mortar stores across the country. We do pay close attention to retail and trade industry reports and news, consumer research, new product introductions, and do our fair share of surfing for holiday trends.”

Jewelry and sweets comprised most of FINE Magazine’s gift guide, while The Washingtonian’s guide included sweets and spa gifts. W magazine swooned over jewelry, while Good Housekeeping’s guide featured toys (classic, as well as favorites through the years) and Do-It-Yourself sweets and other edible goodies. Details focused on spas and Houston Lifestyles & Homes’ guide promoted both massage and jewelry as gift ideas.

Though shopping for loved ones is foremost in everyone’s mind right now, the needs of Hurricane Sandy survivors on the East Coast are also present in the American conscience during this season of giving. With that in mind, Forbes offered The Best Gift Guide for the Post-Sandy Downsizer. Meanwhile, NJ.com featured its holiday gift guide this year as Gifts that Benefit Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts in Hoboken. Additionally, New York Magazine’s Holiday Guide mentioned a gift registry on Amazon, which reporter Matthew Giles told inVocus is run by three individuals representing Occupy Sandy. The registry has already processed thousands of products.

Generosity of time and money for Sandy survivors may turn out to actually be the ultimate gift-giving trend in North America during the holidays this season.

–Lauren Bigge

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