Are you still scrambling to get all your gifts together? Shipping may decide whether or not your present reaches you or its recipient in time. It may actually be too late to send a package already.
So what can you do? We have prepared a list of digital alternatives to physical presents. On top of being guaranteed to arrive in time, these last minute gifts also have a small ecological footprint.
The Usual Suspects: Gift Card, Certificate, Voucher
Do you know where your gift recipient likes to shop? Most stores offer gift cards or vouchers and most will have an online outlet.
H&M, for example, offers E-Gift Cards. The world’s biggest online retailer, Amazon, offers both eGift Cards and Print at Home Gift Cards, which will buy your giftee anything Amazon has to offer, including Kindle eBooks.
Does your friend own a Mac or an iPhone? Get them an Apple Store or App Store and iTunes Gift Card (but don’t fall for the iTunes gift card scam), which will let them choose from a world of Apple accessories, apps, and entertainment. Likewise, Android users will appreciate a Google Play gift voucher. Make a gamer happy with a Steam gift card. The Netflix gift card is one of many PayPal Digital Gifts you can choose from, also including eGift cards from Best Buy and eBay.
In short, if it’s online and selling things, it most probably has a digital gift option. If you know a little about your friend’s hobbies, the devices they own, or their online shopping habits, you can select a gift card from a matching online store and they will certainly appreciate it.
Inspired Gift Cards: Giftly
If you’re still at a loss what kind of gift card you should get, use Giftly to spur your inspiration. First, you choose what you want to give, with options ranging from anything to hot cocoa, then you choose a place. Next, you customize your voucher before you pay and either print it out yourself or have it sent to the recipient via email, text, or card. If you have absolutely no clue what your recipient might appreciate, you could select to give them anything at any place.
Be careful when purchasing a gift card for someone abroad or outside the US; not all gift cards work in all countries.
Premium Web Services
Like online stores, other online services offer pro memberships or subscriptions. Many people are somewhat reserved when it comes to investing in such services; it’s a luxury. And that actually makes these services a perfect gift.
What better gift could you make, than to improve your friend’s experience with their favorite online service. Find out which services they frequently use and surprise them with an upgrade. Should they already have a premium subscription, it only means you made a great choice and their expiry date will be extended. Below is a short list of options:
- Pandora – Taste-based music streaming.
- Netflix – Unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows.
- Audible – Gift an audio book per month for three months for $45.
- Spotify – Ad-free commercial music streaming gift cards starting at $10. While you can’t buy them online, you could just buy one at a local store and share the PIN with your recipient.
- Hulu Plus – One month of unlimited movie and TV series. As with Spotify, gift cards aren’t sold online, but you can just share the code.
If you want to give the gift of entertainment, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Other Premium Services
- LastPass Premium – Secure passwords stored online and synced across devices.
- Amazon Prime – Extra fast shipping, streaming blockbusters, and borrowing Kindle books for free for one year with a prime subscription.
Our list of online subscriptions contains even more ideas and details on the services suggested above.
Individual Digital Gifts
Gift cards and subscriptions can be boring and may seem uncreative. Here are options for those of you seeking for less generic alternatives to a physical gift.
You can gift an iOS app and thus make your present a little more personal.
In the App store or on iTunes, navigate to the app you wish to gift, tap the Share icon in the top right, on the next screen tap the Gift icon, then sign in with your Apple ID, type the email address of the recipient, add a custom message, select a date and theme for the gift, and finally tap Buy and confirm your purchase.
If your friend is into music and if you know what genres or artists they like, you can probably find a great album for them on one of the many places that sell music. Several allow you to give music as a gift.
- Amazon MP3 has a Give album OR song as gift button. Also, double-check your friend’s Wish List.
- iTunes has an option to gift albums, which works just like gifting an iOS app, see description above.
- Bandcamp lets you send songs or albums as a gift.
Audio & Electronic Books
Finally, everyone loves a good story or learning new things. Some people prefer reading, others have embraced audio books. Find out what camp your friend belongs to and what devices they own and you’ll soon be able to identify a compatible and individual gift.
- lets you gift an ebook to anyone, anywhere in the world. You can even choose a delivery date.
- Amazon Kindle eBooks sport a Give as a Gift purchase button, as do Amazon Audible audiobooks.
- At the Barnes&Noble online store, you can also Buy As Gift whichever audio or ebook your friend may desire.
Give the Gift of Consideration
Whatever you decide to give as a gift, be considerate. Don’t gift just because you have to or to entertain yourself. Make your gift personal, meaningful, and useful for the recipient.
Note that whenever you do online shopping, you can donate — for free — to a charity of your choice by using a service like Giftfluence. Just visit Giftfluence, choose a cause, then use Giftfluence’s online store link/s, and do your online shopping as usual. Giftfluence also lists vouchers you can use to save on your online purchases.
And if you’re not sure which gift card to choose, simply gift money.
What were the best gifts you have ever received and why did they create a lasting memory? Please share and you might inspire others looking for the perfect gift idea.