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5 Easy Last-Minute Gifts for Holiday Procrastinators

by Adriana Lee | December 24, 2011December 24, 2011 8:00 am PDT

It can be tough for even the best-intentioned shoppers during the holiday season. Time can elude you (or perhaps you overlooked someone on your list), and before you know it, you’re standing there empty-handed and red-faced.

Don’t let it happen to you. Even if you waited until the last-minute, or simply forgot someone by accident, you can still spread a little joy. Here’s how:

Gift Cards: Amazon, iTunes, and Best Buy are just a few of the digital retailers who offer e-Gift cards, making it easy to load up a set amount and email it off. (In some cases, you can even print it out and slap a bow on it, so you can physically put it under the recipient’s tree, if you want.) You can also hit your local drug store or supermarket for physical gift cards for big-box retailers across the country.

eBooks: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Sony’s Reader Store, and others have huge selections for great, giftable ebook titles — a perfect present for avid readers with applicable gadgets, whether hobby enthusiasts, cooks, history buffs, and so on. (As for iBooks, some people have spotted actual iBooks-specific gift cards, but general iTunes gifts should work as well. Ditto for Amazon.)

Memberships: Why not give the gift of savings? Amazon Prime costs $79/year, and with free two-day shipping on Prime-eligible products and free content streaming, it can make for one extremely nice gift. Too expensive? Well, you could go for incremental memberships — places like Netflix and Hulu offer gifts from one month up to a year starting at just $8.

Magazine Subscriptions: If all else fails, there’s always the trusty old magazine subscription to fall back on. Not that it has to be a second-choice gift. The modern take on these are digital subscriptions, and they can be truly awesome gifts. For example, the hubby and I couldn’t live without our online account at Cook’s Illustrated. All year long, we can parse the whole database of articles, recipes and kitchen tests. Every year, we give a dupe subscription to our sister-in-law, and she loves it.

Restaurant Gift Certificate: Not all restaurants offer gift certificates, but these days, more of them do. If you know what your loved one’s favorite resto is, why not spring for dinner via a gift certificate? You can pop in and buy one there, or hit up the website and see if they offer emailable ones. (Some actually do. Your chances go up if they’re part of a larger restaurant group.)

We all know that the holidays are about sharing warm wishes and good feelings, and that it’s the thought that counts. But there’s also nothing wrong with giving something that can offer an ongoing feeling of joy that can last beyond the season. Thanks to resources like these, they’re within your grasp — whether you planned a week in advance, or waited until the last moment. (And for this, technology, we thank you!)

Got any other ideas for last-minute gifts? Share with your fellow readers in the comments below!


Adriana Lee

Adriana is the resident writer-slash-culture vulture who has written about everything from smartphones, tablets, apps, accessories, and small biz...

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