The Amazing Xmas Gift Ideas Machine

A few weeks ago I was talking with Mike about carefully choosing gifts for our loved ones, about how to select the right things for the right people, so that come holiday season joy would be brought to them. We were discussing this arduous task at great lengths, using big words and long sentences, reflecting the importance of the outcome and the process itself.

I believe our conversation started when the phrase “I need some random Christmas crap” was muttered by one of us.

So obviously, I am not the only person having this particular problem. I am part of a larger group. But this knowledge is no real consolation. What to get family and friends to show them our affection? Each year the same questions arises, like a clockwork, and each year we’re more or less at a loss.1

I wish there was a way to simulate long browsing sessions in a mall in a very very very condensed way, to allow for picking out gifts – while at the same time taking my very high-importance, hectic lifestyle into account. Oh, and if there was some soothing music, favorably some sort of Easy Listening, to sweeten the experience, that’d be great.

As it turns out, I had to build this simulation myself. I’ve decided to call it random.li, which, incidentally, also happens to be its domain! (I know, what are the chances?!)

Here’s a screenshot.

Screenshot of http://random.li/.

random.li grabs a number of different items from your favourite Amazon store, in your selected price range, shuffles them, and shows them to you in a 3x3 grid, along with the prices. You won’t even see their titles!

We’re talking about fast-paced, crack S.W.A.T. team-style gift finding. Shiny? Check! Affordable? Check! Bag it, we’re done!

Clicking an item (or hitting the related keyboard shortcut) will bring up some details: its title, what it is etc. A click on the details display will open its Amazon page in a new window.

It’s all rather simple, and I’ve tried to keep the amount of clutter low (yes, the music player in the lower left corner is an essential for me). There’s no registration, no wishlist, no shopping list, no learning curve to speak of. Go there, pick a store, your price range, maybe finetune the categories to search in, that’s it.

Well, have a look if you’re in the market for gifts. Maybe it’ll work for you as it works for me! Comments are welcome, and I’ve also set up a FriendFeed room for support issues.

If you like it, feel free to use the handy “Bookmark” button at the bottom of the random.li site to post the link to your favourite bookmarking / social networking / web 2.0 site, like delicious, Digg, Facebook, Twitter and whathaveyou. I might even send you a cookie if you do!

Cheers! :D


  1. Over the years it’s become less of a problem for me, as I’ve learned to better keep track of wishes mentioned to me during the year. Still. [return]