Gift guides on Substack make giving fun again
The perfect gift does exist. It comes from a trusted recommender
Gift guide culture can be overwhelming. Gift guides exist for mother-in-laws, for best friends, for a child’s kindergarten teacher. The internet is awash in suggestions for cashmere sweaters, pickleboard paddles, and candles that smell like the woods.
As gift guides have proliferated, it’s become even harder for discerning readers to know who to trust. Is this product being recommended because a real person bought it and loves it? Or is it being recommended because it will appeal to the widest audience possible? Are those the best packing cubes for your older brother who’s always on the go? Or does the gift guide’s creator have an undisclosed partnership or advertising deal with the brand?
On Substack, writers have an interest in building and keeping the trust of their readers. When they choose to recommend another writer, or curate a gift guide, it’s with the understanding that their audience—including paying subscribers—values their opinions. Writers and culture makers are motivated to share things they truly love and offer ideas that may appeal to a niche audience they know well.
That’s whycan create “A new-parent gift guide for product managers”—a twist on his annual gift guide that reflects his recent experience becoming a dad. “I use all of these products daily or weekly, and everything in this email is in my home today,” he writes. echoes the importance of recommending things he actually uses. In introducing the “Shut Up Evan 2023 Gift Guide,” he writes: “This is solely intended to be a resource for Shut Up Evan readers, a peek into me as a gift giver with the hope of inspiring you in what can be a very stressful search.”
We rounded up great gift guides published recently across the Substack network. Inherent in each of them is a principle that underpins Substack itself: that trusted recommendations come from people you trust—writers you invite into your inbox, who make you laugh or share a novel idea that changes the way you think.
We hope you enjoy them as much as we did:
Thinking of putting together your own gift guide? We noticed the best gift guides on Substack have two key points in common that ensure they hit the mark for readers:
Recommend things you use, and would buy again for yourself or a friend.
Don’t be afraid to get weird and specific. Creative, niche ideas are so much more interesting for your readers than generic ideas they can find somewhere else.
And if you’re a writer listed above—tell us your top tip for fellow writers starting out on their first gift guide.
Give the gift of a Substack subscription
A paid subscription to a favorite Substack publication is a thoughtful gift for a friend, family member, or colleague—especially one who values great writing and the people who create it.
Be sure to look at our guide to setting up gift subscriptions for readers this season, as well as how to purchase a subscription as a gift for a loved one:
Has one of your favorite Substack writers shared a holiday gift guide? Or are you giving Substack subscriptions as gifts this year? Share your gift guide links, as well as your favorite publications you are gifting this season, in the comments.