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4 essential search tricks to finding the perfect holiday gifts on Etsy

Caitlin McGarry | Dec. 18, 2015
Finding handmade and vintage gifts just got a little easier with Etsy's new search tools.

etsy search primary
Credit: Etsy

Tell me if this sounds familiar: You sit down in front of your computer to do a little holiday gift shopping, only to realize your mind is completely blank. You have no idea what to get for your dad. Your niece would like…some kind of toy, right? OK, it’s time to admit you need a little—or a lot—of help.

Online shopping is like falling down a rabbit hole. You can waste hours and hours without buying a single thing. Nowhere is that more true than Etsy, which is known for its wealth of handmade treasures—but, like a physical marketplace, it’s a better experience if you wander in without knowing exactly what you want.

Etsy realized how difficult it was to find the millions of items its sellers are hawking, so a few months ago it completely overhauled the way you search the site. I recently spoke with Jaime DeLanghe, Etsy’s senior product manager for search and discovery, to find out how to use the new search tools to find holiday gifts.

“Unlike a site like Amazon or another big, known e-commerce retailer, we don’t have a lot of things people have necessarily seen before,” DeLanghe said. “You’re not going to buy a flatscreen TV for the lowest price for the holidays, you’re going to buy a unique gift that shows the unique connection between you and the person you’re buying for. That makes shopping a little bit different, and to address that difference, we built a bunch of stuff.”

The new search tools have dramatically changed the holiday shopping game, making it easier to find a perfectly distinctive gift without stepping foot outside your house. We’re down to the wire in terms of the present-buying window of time, but don’t worry: There are tips for that, too.

A new way to search

etsy search

It helps if you have a vague idea what your loved ones like: old TV shows, photography, watches, a certain George Lucas–created space franchise. Before Etsy revamped its search tools, when you typed in a phrase like Star Wars, the site would show you all 80,000-odd results. Now, it surfaces the top categories of Star Wars listings—collectibles and clothing, just so you know—and you can filter products by price, seller location, and whether the items are handmade or vintage.

The search bar also autocompletes your phrases as you type, just like Google. A friend of mine loves everything rose gold, but I’m not about to drop a few hundred dollars on a rose gold iPhone 6s or Apple Watch for her. The autocomplete feature is populated based on what other Etsy users are searching for, so I typed in “rose gold” to see what popular items turned up. The search bar autocompleted “stud earrings,” which would make a great gift.


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