Quality entertainment can be hard to come by, especially for those who are actively trying to stick to a budget. When household expenses need to be slashed, entertainment is usually the first thing to go — and that’s no fun for anybody.
You can help your friends and family out by gifting them a form of entertainment to make up for what they’re missing out on. In this article we explore all kinds of gift cards, subscriptions, and gadgets that are perfect for this, and most of them work just fine as last-minute ideas!
1. Netflix or Hulu
Netflix is one of the safest options for gifting. Its library may be shrinking, but most of what remains is top-notch stuff and there’s something to watch for everyone. Even if you don’t watch dramas or comedies, you can still enjoy documentaries and “slow TV“.
Gifting Netflix is easy. Just buy a Netflix Gift Card off Amazon (if you want to do it electronically) or buy a physical gift card available from most major retailers (if you want it to be more personal).
If you think Hulu is more their style — check out our comparison if you aren’t sure — then you can purchase a physical gift card from locations like Target, Best Buy, and Walmart. As of this writing, Hulu’s digital gift card program is temporarily suspended due to the system undergoing a revamp.
2. Spotify, Pandora, Google Music, and iTunes
For the entertainment freak who’s more into music than movies or TV, it doesn’t get much better than Spotify. You can purchase a Spotify Gift Card directly on the website, or you can get a physical card at a major retailer.
Other music-related gift cards include:
- iTunes Gift Card for purchasing individual songs and albums for keeps. Digital and physical versions available.
- Apple Music Gift Card for full access to stream Apple’s entire library of music. Digital cards only.
- Google Play Music Gift Card for full access to stream Google’s entire library of music. Digital cards only.
- Pandora One Gift Card for ad-free listening to Pandora. It may not be as popular now due to the rise of on-demand music streaming, but it’s still great. Digital and physical cards available.
Not sure which streaming service is the right one to gift? We have an in-depth comparison of Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music you may find insightful, but they’re all pretty good so it’s hard to go wrong here. Go with Pandora only if you know the recipient actively listens to Pandora already.
Note that while many of these services offer Family Plans or other shared plans that can be cheaper overall, such plans are usually excluded from gift card redemptions. Also note that these cards are usually only redeemable in the same country in which they were bought.
3. Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime may not be for everyone, but it’s extremely useful for many! And chances are, gifting Prime to a friend or family member will be met with much gratitude. There are so many benefits to Amazon Prime that this may just be the safest gift idea ever, second only to the Amazon Gift Card.
What kind of entertainment does Prime provide?
- Prime Video — Unlimited ad-free streaming of movies and TV shows. The library currently contains thousands of different titles across dozens of genres. (These ones are must-watches!)
- Prime Music — Unlimited ad-free streaming of music. The library size is noticeably smaller than dedicated services like Spotify, but it isn’t bad at all. Note the differences between Prime Music vs. Amazon Music Unlimited.
- Prime Reading — Unlimited access to Prime’s library of free ebooks, magazines, and more.
- Twitch Prime — All of the benefits of Twitch Turbo are available for free with a Prime subscription. Learn more in our overview of Twitch Prime.
- Free 2-Day Shipping — Though it may not fit the traditional definition, online shopping can be a form of entertainment, especially when you aren’t bounded by shipping fees.
Scribd is an excellent choice for someone who prefers reading over other forms of entertainment that involve watching or listening. Its library consists of hundreds of thousands of eBooks, comics, academic papers, and other documents.
What’s nice is that Scribd has special agreements with several major publishing houses, which lend to its massive library size. Some Kindle exclusives aren’t available though. See our comparison of Scribd and Kindle Unlimited to learn more.
Give the gift of Scribd using the dedicated webpage.
If you know someone who loves reading (fiction or non-fiction, it doesn’t matter) but doesn’t have enough time these days to sit back and block out segments of the day for it, then audiobooks can be life-changing — they can be listened to while driving, cleaning, cooking, exercising, or anything else.
Audible is the industry leader for audiobooks, and the nice thing about its gifting program is that you can either gift full memberships or individual titles.
6. Amazon Echo
For music lovers, the Amazon Echo is paradise encased in a cylinder. It provides immersive audio in 360 degrees, responds to hundreds of voice commands, and can stream music from all kinds of services including Spotify, Pandora, Amazon, and more.
But the Echo can be used in lots of other ways too, so it’s not just for music lovers. It’s extremely entertaining in its own right.
7. Roku or Chromecast
For someone who wants to stream Netflix or Hulu to their TV, there are many media streaming devices to choose from — but without a doubt the Roku and the Chromecast are the two strongest options, and we recommend the Roku because it has a slight edge in usability and features.
8. Amazon Kindle
A Kindle is the perfect gift for any avid reader — even those who may think they prefer “real” books. The e-Ink technology that powers Kindle screens is nothing like reading on a smartphone or tablet, and some even think it’s superior to paper.
The nice thing about the Kindle is that there are several different models to choose between. But if you’re gifting and if you can afford it, the Kindle Oasis is a luxury that’s arguably worth its steep price.
9. GameStop Gift Card
Games are tough to gift. You never know whether a person is going to like a game or not. Even if you know someone’s favorite genres, not all games in that genre are the same.
So if you’re buying a gift for a gamer this year, don’t buy them individual games unless they’ve specifically asked for one. It’s too risky. Just get them a GameStop Gift Card and let them decide. Digital and physical cards are available.
10. Amazon Gift Card
When all else fails, you can always rely on a trusty Amazon Gift Card (CA). This thing is so versatile and valuable that it’s almost equivalent to cold hard cash — the benefit being that it doesn’t feel as impersonal or as desperate as cash.
If you don’t want to gift it electronically, you can opt for the Print-at-Home Amazon Gift Card. Or you could just buy a physical card from any major retailer.
Will You Be Gifting Entertainment This Christmas?
Whatever you do, just make sure you don’t go overboard and ruin your finances just because it’s Christmas. While it’s always nice to receive gifts, nobody wants that to happen to you.
So tell us, which of these, if any, are you giving as gifts this year? Do you know of any other entertainment-related gifts that we have overlooked? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below!