Best Holiday Gift Guides in 2023
Oprah, TODAY Show, New York Times, these publications produce some of the top gift guides in the country. Many of our clients list them as dream publications. But they most certainly are not the only gift guides out there. Niche bloggers, national TV shows, big glossy magazines, and even small-town newspapers all publish holiday gift guides as we get closer to the shopping season. The best holiday gift guides for your brand are going to depend on a lot of factors. What works for one product might not work for another. That said, there are some general all-around favorites. Here are our picks for the best holiday gift guides for small consumer brands in 2023:
Oprah’s Favorite Things
Oprah is the crème de la crème of holiday gift guides. She started publishing Oprah’s Favorite Things back in 1996 as a segment on The Oprah Winfrey Show. When the show went off the air, the Favorite Things list lived on in “O” The Oprah Magazine. Today, editors publish it on OprahDaily.com. Coverage on the list can catapult a brand into instant respect and recognition. That’s why getting chosen for the list is a competitive business. According to OprahDaily.com, editors start their selection process at certain trade shows in January. They review products throughout the year, so it is important to pitch the editors early in the year. If you wait until the fall to pitch, you’ve waited too long!
Oprah’s editors are looking for more than just a nice product. They want brands that tell a story. They want to know why the product exists, who benefits from it, how it changes lives, or what makes it an incredible and special gift. You can learn more about Orca’s experience with Oprah in our post about what it takes to get chosen for Oprah’s Favorite Things. Even if your product isn’t chosen for the big holiday list, OprahDaily.com publishes multiple guides throughout the year. For example, Oprah Daily included eat2explore in this guide called “75 Mother’s Day Gifts That Are As Unique As She Is“, and FlyWithWine in this list of Birthday Gift Ideas.
The TODAY Show and Good Morning America
A nod from one of the top two morning shows on American television can give a brand a lot of clout. The TODAY Show and Good Morning America bring on multiple lifestyle experts and presenters throughout the holiday season to talk about gifts and shopping trends. The media outlets also publish multiple gift guides online at Today.com and GoodMorningAmerica.com. NBC editors, producers, and show contributors vet and review the products to select the very best of the samples they receive. For TV, the producers prefer to feature products that are visually appealing and something the hosts can interact with – like this segment featuring Orca client Plankpad on The TODAY Show. Like many other top-tier gift guides, curators collect ideas throughout the year which means PR pitching starts early. We’ve written more about How to get on the TODAY Show based on our experience over the years.
New York Times – Wirecutter
Wirecutter is a product review site from the publishers at the New York Times. They write thorough product reviews throughout the year. At the end of the year, they curate a gift guide based on the best products their editors and staff found and reviewed throughout the year. The editors there have an extensive research and testing process for each product before they review it. They never accept unsolicited products, so don’t bother sending them a sample without confirming with a writer or editor that they want to review it. This is one of the most coveted gift guides by brands, but getting into it isn’t easy.
Forbes publishes numerous gift guides throughout the year on Forbes.com. Many of them are via the product review program, Forbes Vetted. These gift guides are honest editorial reviews, although they often include affiliate marketing links. (We’ve written about how affiliate marketing plays into modern PR). New products and gift guides are published regularly and they include all kinds of products – like this Mother’s Day gift guide for traveling moms that includes Orca client, PhoneSoap. Or this Valentine’s Day gift guide that includes eat2explore. Orca Communications publicists pitch Forbes staff and freelance contributors throughout the year.
Buzzfeed perfected the ‘listicle’ style of articles years ago and it is still a top place for brands to be published in gift guides today. Millions of readers click through the articles and shopping guides to find fun new items to purchase. Like many other gift guides mentioned in this article, it helps to have an affiliate marketing link set up or to be included in a major retailer like Amazon or Walmart if a brand wants to be featured in Buzzfeed, but it isn’t a requirement. Writers want to include unique, fun, and clickable products that will attract people to their articles. Here’s Orca client Tiny Twinkle in an article called, “Practical Parenting Products that You Should Just Own Already.” Or here’s an example of a fun piece featuring Tiny Treehouses called, “If I Were President, I’d Make Sure Everyone Had These 31 Products.” It is important to incorporate humor into your pitches.
New York Magazine – The Strategist
The Strategist is a product review website from the publishers of New York Magazine. Their seasonal holiday gift guides often include unique small business finds, trending products, and other unique offers. They do sometimes include affiliate links, but not always, and it can be a great place for a brand to land for holiday press coverage. Much like the other gift guide curators on this list, the editors at The Strategist have a distinct product review process to make sure the products they recommend are the best bets for their audience. These are journalistic and editorial choices. For example, the editors included Familink in this article running through their picks of the ‘Best Digital Photo Picture Frames’.
USA Today is the most widely circulated newspaper in the United States. In addition to its successful print issues, USATODAY.com gets more than 68 million unique views monthly (UVM) according to Cision. Its product review entity, Reviewed.com, gets another 1+ million UVM. Between those two sites alone, USA Today pumps out numerous gift and product guides all year long for all kinds of occasions and price points. Here’s one example featuring Orca client Kloveo in a list of Unique Secret Santa Gifts Under $25. Editors also regularly update their previously published gift guides, creating more potential exposure for brands.
Niche Gift Guides
Of course, there are plenty of excellent holiday gift guides out there that aren’t necessarily in top-tier publications. The publicists at Orca Communications look at each client individually to determine which publications and products to pitch for the holiday season. Oftentimes, a niche blogger, podcast, or small digital magazine will stand out as a good fit. For example, a dog toy that might work well for PEOPLE Magazine could also work well for smaller pet-specific publications, like this placement on Petguide.com.
Orca publicist Jennifer LaVoie-Trimble knows the gift guide beat well. That’s why she almost always incorporates pitches to smaller gift guides in her overall PR strategy. “It is great to pitch new products/businesses to niche gift guides in addition to top-tier outlets as the variety of brands they cover can increase and elevate awareness,” Jennifer says. “This can help our small business clients better align with their audience and other larger national brands that are consistently featured as well.”
How To Get Into Holiday Gift Guides
The PR team at Orca Communications has been securing press coverage in holiday gift guides for over 20 years. We know what it takes to get featured in the biggest and the best! Check out our extensive guide for ‘How to get into holiday gift guides’ to learn more or set up a consultation with a member of our team to learn how to get started for your brand.