When a friend or relative asks you what you want for your birthday, do you often just look at them with that glazed over look of one without a clue? On the spot like that, I can never think of those great little suggestions that would be perfect. Then, when I get those clunker gifts, I deeply regret that I hadn't planned ahead so I was better prepared for this inevitable and reoccurring question.
I started keeping a wish list in my portfolio, then later on my PDA. Then I started using web based wish lists. Most online shopping sites have a wish list feature, but it's specific to their store. I tried a site called TheThingsIWant that let me create a list linking items for any website, but my luddite friends and family really had a difficult time accessing my lists on that site and it became more trouble than it was worth.
Recently Amazon rolled out their Universal Wish List. They've offered a wish list for a long time, but now you can link to items not sold on Amazon. An answer to my prayers, I tell you! Like other universal wish lists, when I see something I'd like to add to my list, I hit the installed browser button "Add to Wish List" and it's captured by Amazon. Now, friends and family need only go to Amazon, and type in my name in the "Find Someone's: Wish List" section of "Gifts & Wish Lists" drop down found at the top of the main Amazon page. One stop shopping for Tracy, if you will. Are you reading this, mom? :)