Growing up, mom always had catalogues come in the mail. There were some fun ones, some designed for more adult audiences (nothing "mature", just things like tools and cookware that children wouldn't necessarily care about), and some truly insane ones.
All year 'round sis and I went through the catalogues and marked what we wanted. We'd circle it, put our initials, and fold the corner of the page down. And often by the time Christmas or birthdays came around, we'd forgotten what we'd marked in the catalogues. But mom had a ready-made list for us. And whatever catalogues we didn't mark, one year, she saved up for a ready-made white elephant gift. (Nothing like a giant box of catalogues to make friends laugh.)
Actually, sis and I still go through the catalogues whenever we're over at mom's. But by now she's figured out what we need and what we want. One year I got new tires for Christmas. It was honestly my best Christmas ever, because otherwise I'd have to dip well into savings to afford them, and then only scrape by for several months building money back up. So you never know what's going to be the best gift.