Another holiday deadline looms near and you forgot to do your gift shopping in advance. We get it. You’re not disorganized and lazy, you’re just busy—and we’re here to help with some great gifts you can deliver by email.
The key to pulling off a gift giving maneuver that doesn’t look like you totally half-assed it and bought it on Christmas Eve (which you might have, but that’s none of their business!) is thoughtfulness and presentation.
On the first point, just because you’re in a rush doesn’t mean you can’t take a moment to think about something they’d actually enjoy—we live in a magical age where you can buy gifts of all sorts and stripes online so you can definitely find something for anyone.
One the second point, if you’ll be seeing them in person and need some sort of gift to physically give them a picture is worth a thousand words: literally. You can print 4×6 photos at kiosks all over the place (like Walgreen’s, Wal-Mart, etc.) for 50 cents or less. For example, when I bought a friend a game from Steam (a digital game service), I printed an eye catching promotional image for the game and put it in a card. In the same vein, you can cut and paste a cool image into your email to really make the experience stand out more than a simple gift code would.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the cool virtual gifts, subscriptions, and goodies you can by at the last minute that will still be really appreciated by the recipient.
iTunes or Google Play Gift Cards: Mobile Fun for Everyone
Apple and Google have come to completely dominate the mobile computing world and as long as you know whether your recipient is an iPhone devotee or an Android fan you can easily picked out a gift card for them to spend on games and more.
Speaking of the “and more” part, don’t limit yourself to thinking about the gift just in terms of mobile games and music. With the right streaming device (like an Apple TV for iTunes or a Chromecast for Google Play access) they can enjoy TV shows and movies on the big screen.
Video Games: Gift Cards and Individual Games Are Great
If you’ve got a video gamer on your shopping list then digital gifts are a slam dunk, for sure. Rare is the game that will turn down money to spend on their favorite hobby.
The key is knowing what platform the recipient does most of their gaming on. You can easily pick up gift cards for Xbox Live, the PlayStation Store, and the Nintendo eShop. (Note: Unlike some of the other gift card options in our roundup, you’ll have to manually print off or email the gift card codes for these services. After purchase they can be found in your Amazon account here.)
if your recipient isn’t much of a console gamer but loves PC gaming, Steam offers a great way to both purchase and send games as well as peeking at what games they want (if you know their profile name and their wishlist is public) as long as both you and your friend use the service. You can purchase Steam gift cards in amounts ranging from $10 to $100 dollars or buy a game and gift it directly to their account—both methods allow you to specify the day and time of delivery, so you can buy it right now and have it appear on Christmas day.
For those of you who don’t have a Steam account but wish to gift a PC game, you can always shop on Amazon for digital games and send the game code (redeemable on Steam) to your recipient. Here’s a listing, as an example, for the recent and super popular game Cuphead—notice that the listing says “Buy Digital” and the DRM is “Steam”. Look for those two indicators when you’re searching for games to buy to give to a Steam user.
Music Subscription Services: 365 Days of Tunes
Streaming music is a great way to get a wide variety of music right at your fingertips. If your recipient listens to a streaming service the gift of an additional streaming is a welcome gift indeed.
You can gift a yearlong Pandora subscription to someone easily by email. Pandora is a fantastic service for those that just like to turn on the music and let it flow.
Spotify makes it easy to gift anywhere from 1 to 12 months; it’s a great fit for people who want a more granular control over their music experience with the ability to select individual songs and build playlists.
Netflix Gift Cards: Friends Encourage Friends to Binge
Let’s say you have a lot of people you need to give gifts to and let’s also say that maybe, just maybe, based on the fact that you’re still reading this article about last minute email gifts you happen to need a lot of gifts.
You can hit up Amazon and use their email-gift-card system to shotgun out not just one but up to 999 Netflix gift cards at one time (no joke, the gift system really allows you to cut and paste almost a thousand emails in at once).
Give the gift of binge watching this holiday season and fire off a couple Netflix gift cards to friends near and far.
Subscription Boxes: Super Splashy for Super Friends
If you have somebody you really want to spoil, it’s tough to beat a gift subscription box. Rather than give them a single gift or gift card via email you can sign them up for a whole year of really cool deliveries.
We’ve covered a bunch of neat subscription services recently in our subscription services for super fans roundup, the best subscription services for kids, and our favorite geeky subscription boxes. Between those, there’s a good chance you’ll find a just-right-pick for your friend whether they’re a hardcore Harry Potter fan or a kid that dreams of becoming an electrical engineer.