Gift-giving Made Simple


UCSD alumnus speaks about Giftovus, an online platform her and her husband created for gift givers to promote effective collaboration

It’s no secret that one of the most stressful aspects about the holiday season is figuring out the perfect gift to give to your loved ones, but Giftovus — an online, collaborative gift-giving service — allows gift givers to work together to find the perfect gift. According to, a person will struggle finding gifts for six out of 10 people that they shop for, and in the end, gifts are still dissatisfactory 20 percent of the time. A simple collaboration between the gift giver and the family and friends of the receiver will make special occasions less hectic and less costly.

Giftovus was launched last month by UCSD alumna Jessica Jessup, who got help from fellow UCSD alumni husband Brian Jessup, Tim Schilling and Andy Sammons.

“[My mom is] really hard to shop for, [so my sister and I] were just online, emailing each other back and forth trying to figure out the right gift,” Jessica Jessup said. “That was just taking a really long time, so that’s where we came up with the idea of creating Giftovus — to try to help myself, as well as a lot of other people, [with the process].”

Giftovus is formatted similarly to Facebook, and users connect through Facebook so that family members and friends can “recruit” one another to contribute to the effort. First, a user posts a wish list on his or her Giftovus profile. Then, friends and family collaborate on the user’s profile by posting different ideas on the receiver’s profile and work toward making the gifts more personal. For example, if someone lists “sweater” on his wish list, his loved ones can discuss different styles, colors and brands that he might want, allowing for a more personalized, thought-out gift. Throughout this whole process, the receiver will not be able to see the activity on his or her profile other than the wish list that he or she has posted.

Giftovus also serves as a money saver since Jessica Jessup says people end up spending more money to overcompensate when they’re unsure about a gift.


“People often think, ‘If I don’t know exactly what to get, then I’d rather overshoot in money than undershoot,’” she said. “People think that spending more equates to caring more, but that is not true.”

According to Giftovus, the average American spends about 18 hours struggling to think of a perfect gift and wastes $102 each holiday season.

“The expression, ‘It’s the thought that counts,’ falls perfectly with what we’re trying to do,” Jessica Jessup said. “[With Giftovus], you’re thinking about someone, putting in the effort to learn more about them and trying to figure out a way to express your relationship in the gift that you’re giving to them. What we don’t agree with is someone saying, ‘It’s the money that counts.’”

Jessica Jessup believes that Giftovus makes gift giving a learning experience.

“In that process of bringing people together [and] throwing around a few ideas, you also learn about [the receiver],” Jessica Jessup said.

When a Giftovus user makes a list of gifts he wants, his or her loved ones can narrow down their search for the perfect present while not completely ruining the surprise.

“He wants a bike, and his loved ones can help him figure out what size he is, what style he likes, what color he’d want,” Jessica Jessup said.

Jessica Jessup explained how college students in particular could benefit from the platform.

“In college, you live on campus, and you have a lot of friends,” she said. “[You can] get everyone involved in [it], and get everyone posting about each other. You know a lot of little things, and college students can help the parents and other friends know what to get.”

Giftovus allows its users to select gifts that receivers are more likely to appreciate.

“To put it succinctly, the right gift costs less,” Brian Jessup said. “If it’s something they’re really going to love, it could be five dollars, [and] it doesn’t matter — it’s what they love. The emotional component [of gift-giving] is restored.”