In the heyday of direct mail, the holiday gift guide reigned supreme: The Sears Wish Book, Neiman Marcus’ Christmas Book. These catalogues, sometimes as large as 500+ pages, did two things: They offered an unofficial start of the holiday season and they started planting the seeds of gift-giving inspiration for consumers.

Those experiences, though, are largely gone.

Brands have invested in online versions of these gift guides and look books, often taking one of two approaches:

1. Recreating the gift guide experience to drive product discovery.
2. Winning the SEO game to attract search traffic.

The problem?

Neither execution brings the elements of inspiration and discovery that used to exist when that physical catalogue showed up in the mailbox.

That’s because that PDF viewer/flipbook experience can feel clunky and slow, serving as an imitation of what once worked on a different channel. And the SEO play? They’re often category landing pages that are focused on funneling consumers through the path to purchase specific products—not on helping consumers browse a variety of products in a way that helps them discover potential gifts in a more natural fashion.

And that’s the challenge: According to the National Retail Federation’s research, consumers said they expect that 62% of all the money they spend on Holiday-related purchases will be gifts for family, friends, and coworkers.

There are, though, ways to build browse-based experiences that are optimized for helping consumers discover gifts for their family and friends, while still optimizing the path to purchase and attracting organic traffic.

Here’s how three brands we love have been doing that in holiday campaigns.

The Holiday Lookbook Reinvented Through Influencer Content

Last holiday season, Joie chose to skip it’s in-house-created Holiday lookbook for an online version driven by their partnership with fashion influencer Taylor LaShae.

joie holiday lookbook

To build it, Joie used Curalate’s self-serve galleries to create an engaging Influencer shop for the brand’s Holiday release.

“Due to the craze of the holiday season, our site team was insanely swamped, and asking them to build a new page with the exact specs we needed was out of the question,” said Tiffany Bowman, Senior Digital Communications at The Collected Group (Joie’s parent company). “The self-serve implementation was not only exceptionally easy, but it also allowed us to customize the page to look exactly how we wanted it to.”

A More Shoppable Gift Guide

While Lucky Brand still creates a holiday catalogue, they skipped the flipbook execution last year for an online version that’s more suited for ecommerce.

lucky brand holiday gift guide

To do it, the team at Lucky Brand turned its branded catalog creative into shoppable content using Reveal. The result? A more intuitive, mobile-friendly shopping experience that brings together the editorial content of the catalogue with the commerce component that’s often lacking in flipbooks.

Shoppable Holiday Promotions on Social

This year, Sephora’s already kicked off the holiday-gifting craze by bringing a bunch of ideas to social:

Rather than take a full-fledged catalogue approach, though, Sephora is highlighting specific holiday gift guide ideas in singular posts, then making them shoppable.

They’ve done it on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, using Showroom and Like2Buy—two tools that help turn social content into shoppable storefronts. Using these types of experiences, brands are driving down bounce rate by 50% and increasing time on site by 45%.

While Holiday isn’t the only time of year to up your gift guide and lookbook game, it is the time of year that consumers are more open to buying from a new brand or retailer—meaning building a better experience for your gift guides and lookbooks can help you acquire new customers.