Among the dozens of iOS apps that aim to help you manage your holiday shopping, Drag and Drop Christmas List stands out for what it doesn’t do. The iPhone and iPad offering from EasierLife removes the writing step from the list-making process—almost.
You start by adding the names of each person on your shopping list. Each name appears on a stocking at the bottom of the screen; you’ll find a festive-looking countdown to Christmas at the top.
To select a person to shop for, you flick your way through each stocking until you get to the right person. It’s a novel approach, but it’s also the source of my first problem with Drag & Drop Christmas: The app doesn’t offer a way to organize the people on your list. You can’t create groups or even sort the names alphabetically. Cute as the stockings are, the screen gets cluttered very quickly if you add more than four people. And again, you can only select an individual stocking by swiping through the rest; that makes it difficult to navigate through a long list of recipients.
Above the stockings, you’ll find categories of potential gifts—toys, clothes, electronics, sporting goods, jewelry, home, tools, and miscellaneous. When you select a category, dozens of icons show up, detailing specific gifts you can then “drop” into the stocking. Tapping the icons reveals what each picture is—a good feature, since some of the pictures are pretty indistinguishable. (I wondered why there was a picture of a camp fire in the toys category; tapping the icon revealed that it was actually an Easy Bake Oven.)
Once a gift is in the stocking, you can then add other details like how much you want to spend on that item. You can also adjust the budget you’ve set for that recipient. You can check off gifts that you have already bought, keeping track of what you still need to buy.
Categories with preset gifts may seem limiting, but they turn out to be pretty inclusive. Each category has between 15 and 40 gifts to choose from, although many seem a bit odd, even silly. (I have to wonder how many people will be buying “fridge,” “meat,” “nails,” or “hatchet” for their family and friends.)
If you can’t find the gift you want among the categories in Drag & Drop Christmas List, you can use the Add Custom Gift option and manually type in the name of the gift. This presents another problem, though: The app simply lacks the details that will help make your holiday shopping truly organized. The gifts are just too general. While it’s true that you can manually add notes to each gift to make them more specific, that would seem to defeat the whole purpose of a drag-and-drop app. In reality, if you want a detailed list, you will end up doing twice the work in Drag & Drop Christmas List that you would do with another gift-giving manager.
One feature Drag & Drop Christmas List does get right is its budget page, which shows a detailed breakdown of your total budget, making it easy to keep track of how much you spend. Your total budget—the sum of the budgets for each recipient—appears at the top of the screen. Each person on your list appears below that, along with how much you have spent and how much of your total budget you have allocated for each person. If you’ve gone over-budget for an individual, the amount shows up in red. In this way, you can easily keep track of exactly how much you are spending.
Drag & Drop Christmas List offers a sharing option via email, letting you mail an individual list. I didn’t find the option particularly useful. The email displays blown-up versions of the gift thumbnails with no other information unless you added a note. And while the pictures may look OK in the context of the app, they don’t translate well to email.
While I appreciate the novelty of an app like Drag & Drop Christmas List, it fails in execution. Perhaps with a few tweaks it could be more useful; as it stands now, you’d be better off turning to another option for managing your holiday shopping list.
[Karissa Bell is a Macworld editorial intern.]