Skip to content

Christmas on iOS: the best apps for gift shopping

Christmas is zooming toward us like Santa’s sleigh pumped full of rocket-fuel. Fortunately, your iPhone and iPad can help you shop for gifts, right from the comfort of an armchair – if you have the right apps installed. Sure, in a perfect world you’d have all your Christmas shopping finished by now – but we bet a good chunk of you are cutting it fine. You’ve got a week to go, and these are some of the best apps to help with your last-minute hunt for the perfect present.

If you missed it, read part one: the best apps for making plans.

Part two: shopping for gifts

Buying stuff is such a hassle. You have to leave your house, and mooch around stores so crowded with people that you fear you might all get wedged in and have to be crowbarred out by an angry mall employee dressed as a snowman. But it doesn’t have to be this way if you shop online.

Without further ado, here are our five favorite apps for present (and card) shopping!

Amazon [Free]

Give it a few years and there will be no shops — only Amazon. Help usher in this shoppy dystopia by buying all your gifts from the comfort of your iPhone. The app makes it easy to browse, or to search for specific items. In fact, by the time you’ve checked out, your wallet might argue the app makes everything a bit too easy.

Amazon [US]

Amazon [UK]

eBay [Free]

Most people think of eBay as the place they sell their tat and then buy new tat that they subsequently sell on eBay again. But in recent years it’s also become a shopfront for a whole range of outlets, from the smallest indies to the largest stores. It’s often a place to find a great bargain, but do take care to check shipping times before you buy something, lest your sister’s amazing gift not arrive until the middle of January.


Etsy [Free]

Away from the corporate claws of Amazon lies Etsy. It’s also a global marketplace, but one that encourages handmade goods. Here, you can find all kinds of unique items, crafted by creative people from all around the world. Even if someone’s deeply into tech, Etsy’s worth a look — when we browsed, there were some seriously lovely iPhone stands available.


Lyst [Free]

Whether someone’s said “just get me something nice to wear,” or you fancy something yourself but have no idea what to ask for, Lyst is ready and waiting to aid you. Outline the style of whoever you’re shopping for, select brands you think they might like, and you’ll be served up a bunch of options that can be sorted, filtered by price (sorry, granddad, but you’re not getting those $200 jeans), and hurled at a wish list for later perusal.


Notonthehighstreet [Free]

This app’s name gives you an idea of what you’re going to find. It’s about heading off the beaten track, to find something a bit different from the norm. So whether you fancy getting dad that urban beekeeping experience he’s always dreamed of, or your kid a world map pillowcase they can color in, you won’t be disappointed with this app’s gift selection.


Moonpig [Free]

There’s something deeply impersonal about many cards you can buy in stores. Pre-packaged, canned verses and generic imagery don’t get across your wishes in a sincere manner. So try Moonpig, which enables you to personalize cards with your own images and messages. It’s also handy for sending cards to other countries when you’ve missed the last post from your own.