Your male author views the shopping part of the consumerism Christmas season very much like a military operation. I do my recon well ahead of time when possible; I know my targets. I pick off as many as I can remotely (using the internet). If all else fails, I launch a quick-strike ground strategy. I descend on the mall, getting in and getting out as fast as possible with minimal casualties. If you think that last bit is hyperbole, then you’ve clearly never witnessed the kamikaze tactics taken on the asphalt battlegrounds I’ve tread. I've seen mom-piloted minivans do some unspeakable things during the season of cheer. It can be hell out there.

But make no mistake. I’m no hero, and I won’t prattle on about my Christmas shopping war stories. I do, however, want to discuss how I’m doing the recon phase using Evernote.

While Evernote is not universally useful in all of my information workflows, it has greatly aided the recon phase of gift giving for me. 2009 was the first year my Evernote-based strategy saw action in the theater of Christmas shopping, and it performed well. I’ve been using it ever since for this niche purpose.

Gift giving and thought capture

If you think about it, effective gift giving is really just the result of a well-honed information gathering process – not unlike the other “thought capture” processes I’ve discussed in the past.

Evernote’s access points are nearly ubiquitous, an aspect that makes Evernote a highly effective tool for keeping a running log of gift ideas for those you care about.

How to use Evernote as a gift-giving aid

Since Evernote allows you to store just about any media format under the sun, anything goes. If you have a smartphone with an Evernote app, this works even better.

  • Jot down notes about gift ideas throughout the year. Write down only the important stuff. Don’t sweat grammar. For example: “Suzy shoes green size 6 Macy’s $50 item 12345.”
  • Record audio notes when your hands aren’t available to type or tap.
  • If your spouse drops hints while you’re in a store, take a picture on your smartphone. Store photos of items, signage, price tags, labels, and images of anything else that will make finding the gift easier when it’s time.
  • Use the Evernote web clipper to gather web clippings containing images of items, prices, web addresses, and more so they’re easy to find when the time comes.
  • Organize ideas into a master note and check items off as you go.
  • Use a tag like “gifts” so you can quickly filter out your other information in Evernote.

While Evernote doesn’t do everything perfectly, one thing it does very, very well is work across platforms. This makes it exceptionally good for staying organized around the holidays—or really year-round for birthdays, anniversaries and other events that sometimes ambush us.

Whether you’re on a Mac or PC, iPhone or Android, your gift list is always current and at hand.

Share your own thought capture holiday tips and war stories.