Unfortunately the season of giving often turns into the season of forgetting. If you’ve never been short at least one gift to give, you’ve probably never been awake in December. But good news awaits, as the power of the Internet is far-reaching and it often steps in as the holiday savior. With most large companies offering email-ready gift cards and online-redeemable coupons, there’s always plenty of gifts to be given with just the click of a button. Here are our picks for the best gift options that will get there in an instant, and it’ll look like you planned it all along…maybe.
Netflix: Despite a flailing business structure and a series of blunders in the past year, Netflix remains one of the most popular ways to stream content online and get quick access to full movies. Even after ending a past partnership with Starz, the online streaming service offers plenty of episodes for popular shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men, as well as a fair amount of mainstream movies. To send a gift certificate, go to Netflix’s gift page, click ‘buy,’ and select the number of months you want ($7.99/month), up to a year. The gift card is customizable with your message, and can be printed or sent via email.
E-book Fling (credits to borrow ebooks): A book without pages is like, well, an eReader without… the ‘e’? You get the idea. If you’re like one of the many folks that will be wrapping up a Kindle Fire or B&N Nook to stash under the tree this year, make sure the recipient has something to read by setting them up with a subscription to Fling, where eReader users borrow and read books. Just head to the site, choose an amount of credits to buy and send the card on its way at a specified date – or print it out.
iTunes: If there was ever an all-encompassing gift to give a youngster – or really, anyone riding the ever-longer Apple train, it’s the iTunes gift card. With an iTunes certificate or gift card in hand, your happy little music buff can choose to download songs, albums, TV shows or movies on iTunes. Just start at the iTunes Store and choose to either email a certificate, print one out or actually send a specific album or movie.
Steam (send a free game): For the gamer in your life who has a decked-out computer and is eagerly awaiting a generous benefactor to throw down some extra cash so they can get started exploring Skyrim. Steam enables PC gamers to legally purchase and download the best computer games right onto their machine with full functionality. So grab a game and gift it to someone; they don’t even have to be a Steam user yet.
Newegg: For the geeks, nothing comes with more applause than cash to be used at one of the web’s most renowned technological supermarkets. Selling everything from SSDs to floppy disk drives, Newegg is a playground for electronics aficionados from all walks of geek life. To send a gift card, take a second to make a Newegg account and then email it on its way.
Amazon: Now here’s a last-minute gift for a last-minute friend. If you really have no clue what your gift recipient likes, is in need of, or wants, rest assured they’ll be able to find just about whatever it is with an Amazon gift card. The gift cards never expire, can be given through Facebook, mailed, printed out, or sent online. The digital ones are quite customizable as well; an uploaded picture of your choosing is sure to give this last minute thought an ephemeral spark of thoughtfulness.
Pandora: A nuanced gift with a clear message, the gift of ad-free Pandora lets your buddy know you’ve been listening each time he told you – in length – about the sweet live version of a song that unexpectedly popped up on his Johnny Cash channel. For $36, give the gift of unlimited music and and the peace of absent advertising for an entire year. With the full membership, Pandora can be downloaded as a desktop app for convenient radio-like access.
Best Buy (Geek Squad): Not everybody is as technologically handy as you. With Best Buy’s Geek Squad Relax gift card, you give the gift of insurance – if nature calls. This gift card, for up to $200, can be used to get help from the store’s technology assistance service, Geek Squad, or just any regular product. It’s sure to get your computer-challenged relative out of your way, at least until their birthday. Standard e-gift cards can also be purchased for immediate delivery.
Gamefly: If you don’t know whether your kid is the shoot-em-up or racing type, giving a subscription to one of the top game rental services, Gamefly, ensures that the recipient will find what they’re looking for. By grabbing a gift certificate, you can actually save money – up to 20 percent – by selecting a plan longer than a month. Certificates can either be printed out or e-mailed on a specific date.