When it comes to wedding or baby gifts, we are very used to buying from a wish list or gift registry. Even when no one tells me whether there is a registry for the wedding or baby shower, I automatically go to Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, William Sonoma or Babies”R”Us to look for it. I wonder why that custom isn’t adopted for Christmas, birthday or other occasions. But why not? We want to get the perfect gifts, and what’s more perfect than getting exactly what the recipients wish for? According to the Retail Insight Center, 35% of the people returned some of their holiday gifts last year. That means a lot of them actually got returned. That’s probably not such a bad thing if the gifts get returned. Worse would be the gifts end up sitting in the corner in the “never-see-the-day-light” pile.

amazon.com wish listMany tech start ups attempt to change this wasteful phenomena by organizing wish lists. For example, wishlist.com lets you create wish lists or a registry for any occasion, of anything you want, from any site using the ‘Add to WishList’ button. Another one is wishlistr.com. But quite frankly they are far from being adopted, or at least none of my friends is on it. My opinion is that it’s still a bit awkward for people to broadcast wish lists to friends and families. And if you don’t do it, then obviously the wish list is not useful.

That’s why it’s the more traditional wish list on retailers’ site is less awkward. You just click, click, click away to record the stuff you want, and if your friends and families know you well, they will go there to find what you want. Unfortunately there are millions of retailers out there and we can’t expect everyone to know us well, can we?

amazon.com wish listSo currently the best one is Amazon.com’s wish list, because, needless to say, Amazon is the largest online retailer and has everything under the sun. The only thing that you really want and it doesn’t have is a house (I am afraid no one is buying you a house even if you can put it on your wish list). If you are a Facebook user, you can even tell Amazon to connect to your friend list on Facebook. It will automatically retrieve their birthdays (if they put them on Facebook), at the same time pull up their wish lists on Amazon. Of course you can manually search for someone’s amazon wish list by entering their email addresses. And guess what? They make it easy for you to purchase right then and there. Be careful though; watch out for the date they added the item on their wish list. If it was added in 2008, the chance is that your friend may not want it anymore. Not everyone updates their wish list vigilantly.

So if you still have no clue what to get your friends and family this holiday, or any occasion for that matter, why not just try to see if they have a wish list online?