When it’s too late to order an item and have it delivered on-time and all the stores are closed, there are still plenty of gifts you can buy online and give immediately. Whether you’re panicking because you forgot to buy for someone or you just procrastinated for too long, we’ve got you covered with our last minute gift list. None of these gifts require that you leave the house to buy them, so you can even duck into the next room and purchase something for your aunt when she shows up at dinner unexpectedly.
Amazon — Send a DRM-free song or album electronically with Amazon’s MP3 Gifting option. On most album or individual song pages you’ll see a “Give album or song as a gift” button. Then just enter the recipient’s email address and go through the checkout process as normal. Full instructions here.
iTunes – iTunes gift cards are found in many stores and are easy enough to buy and use. But you can also make a gift of an individual song, album, or a mix of songs (mix tape!) and send it directly to the giftee’s email, just as with Amazon. iTunes also gives you the option of printing the code so you can slip it in a card for a more personalized gift.
Zune Pass — If someone on your list has a Windows Phone 7 smart phone or an MP3 player that’s not an iPod, consider gifting a Zune Pass. Microsoft’s underhearalded music service gives subscribers access to all the songs in their catalog, which can be downloaded for free and listened to as long as you’re a member. Plus, every month subscribers get to keep 10 songs for free forever. You don’t need a Zune player to take advantage, just an MP3 player or phone that can handle protected WMA files. You can buy 1 Month Pass gift cards from BestBuy in the store or online, or directly from Zune for 1, 3, or 12 months ($14.99, $44.97, or $149.99), then email the code to the recipient.
iTunes — You can send episodes, seasons and movies from iTunes the same way you gift music. Gift cards will work for any of them, or you can send individual titles right from iTunes via email or a printed code.
Netflix – Netflix has a very flexible gifting program that allows users to choose a subscription plan and the number of months to give as a gift. This includes the new, streaming-only plan that costs $7.99/month. Once you’ve chose then plan and the number of months, Netflix will either email the gift code (with a nicely designed e-card) or allow you to print out for giving.
Sadly, there does not appear to be a way to give Hulu Plus or Amazon on Demand videos as gifts this season.
Gamefly – These gift subscriptions come in 1, 2, 3, 6, and 12 month denominations, and gifters can choose the 1 or 2 Games Out plan for the gamer on their list. For gift subscriptions over 1 month, users get 5 – 20 percent off the price as well. Print or email the gift certificate.
Steam – Send a Steam game as a gift right from your dashboard. Find the game you want to gift, add it to your cart, then choose “Purchase as a gift” during checkout. Steam will send the game code (and instructions on how to join Steam) via email to the recipient.
PopCap Games — If you’re shopping for a more casual gamer, a PopCap Games Gift Certificate will fit the bill. PopCap only lets users send certificates in specific amounts ($14.95, $19.95, $29.25, $39.90, $89.95) and giftees can only redeem them for certain games, not a PopCap Passport. Check out the list here.
Xbox 360 Live — You can purchase Xbox Live monthly subscription cards or Microsoft Points gift cards at most game retailers (GameStop, Best Buy, etc.) and online at Amazon. Xbox Live and Live Gold monthly passes give subscribers access to games. Microsoft Points cards can be used to buy games, TV shows and movies through Microsoft’s store, which you can play/watch on Windows Phone 7 devices.
Facebook Credits — If the gamer on your list is obsessed with Facebook apps and games, they’ll appreciate the gift of Facebook Credits so they can buy that secret cow in FarmVille or premium petling habitat in Pet Society. The credits are redeemable in dozens of apps and games. Currently, facebook doesn’t give people a way to gift credits online, so you’ll have to visit your local Best Buy, Wal-mart, Radio Shack or GameStop to snag one. Wal-mart is the only one selling them online ($10 and $25 denominations).
Amazon – Just as with music, users can gift Kindle eBooks by clicking Give as a Gift from the product page. Then just enter the giftee’s email and send it off. Gifted eBooks work the same as regular ones. They’ll be able to read on a Kindle or in the Kindle apps for Android, iOS, PC and more.
Kobo – You can either send an eGift card to the Kobo store or send individual books as gifts at Kobo. On any book page, choose Send this book as a gift and enter the recipient’s email during the checkout process. Kobo will even hold off on sending the email notification until later.
Most software available on physical media is also available via download from the company’s site or even from Amazon. That means no waiting for it to ship. Here are our 5 favorites from Amazon’s Most Gifted and Most Wished For Software Titles:
iPhone/iPad Apps — Like music and video, users can also gift apps right from the desktop iTunes software. On an app page, click the drop down arrow next to the price and choose Gift This App. You can send the app code via email or print it out.
If you’re the technically savvy person in the family and the one everyone calls when things break or they can’t figure out how to make them work, consider giving the gift of tech support to make everyone’s life easier. Third-party support companies that have handy gift cards or otherwise make it easy to gift their services include: Geek Squad and CrossLoop.
You can also gift a third-party extended warranty from SquareTrade to ensure that, if electronics break, someone will be there to pick up the pieces.
Though gift cards can be impersonal, you can show that you care by buying one from a store that you know the geek on your list loves to shop or a service you know they use. Here are our favorites: