From computer chip shortages to on-hold ports, a number of factors could make it difficult to find gift items on store shelves this year. And while you may find the gift you want, expected shipping delays can make it difficult to get it to the intended recipient on time.
The answer may be to skip any gifts you can wrap and give a virtual or digital gift instead. These go beyond simple gift cards and include gifts that can be redeemed for subscription services, fitness programs, downloadable games and more.
Here are nine of the best virtual and digital gifts to give this holiday season:
- Meal subscription service.
- Celebrity cameo.
- Fitness program.
- Animal sponsorship.
- Downloadable video game.
- Clothing subscription service.
- Virtual workshop.
- Charity gift card.
Meal subscription service
For many households, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a resurgence of family cooking. Not everyone has found their way, and a meal subscription service gift card can be the perfect gift for those struggling with meal planning.
âEspecially for parents, a meal subscription service is an incredible gift,â says Bobbi Rebell, personal finance expert for Tally, a debt repayment app. “It saves time and mental energy because you don’t have to think about what to cook and the ingredients are already distributed.”
Meal subscription services can also be good choices for young adults working on honing their cooking skills. Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and Home Chef are examples of popular options.
If your friend or family member has a favorite musician, actor, or politician, you may be able to buy them a personalized message through the Cameo website. Customers can purchase a personalized, pre-recorded message from the featured celebrity, and one-on-one live video calls are also an option in some cases.
Prices on Cameo vary widely, with some influencers and social media creators charging as little as $ 15 or $ 20 for a video post. For the big names, you will pay more. Tom Fenton, who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter film series, charges $ 599, while a message from boxer Mike Tyson will set you back $ 20,000.
Even with gyms widely reopened now, some people may prefer to work out at home. In this case, membership in a fitness program or app could be the perfect virtual gift.
â(It’s) a great fit for everyone, regardless of your fitness level or experience level,â says Kevin Transue, CEO of the Yes.Fit fitness app. With Yes.Fit, people can run digital runs, complete fitness challenges, or access on-demand workouts. Popular events include a virtual Forrest Gump race that takes participants across the country over the course of a year and The Wizard of Oz series. Finisher rewards are sent to participants at the end of each race.
Other fitness programs to consider for virtual gifts include Bulldog Online Yoga, Les Mills +, and the Peloton app.
For animal lovers, sponsoring an animal or an exhibit at a local zoo or aquarium can be the perfect virtual gift. Depending on the institution, sponsorship may be available at various levels and include perks such as a certificate, photo of the animal, or a plush toy.
Some charities, such as the World Wildlife Fund, also have options for token adoptions of wild animals. These can be accompanied by an adoption kit that includes information sheets, a plush toy, and other extras. Or in the case of a virtual adoption, the recipient can receive a certificate by email instead.
Audiobooks and podcasts have a moment right now, with many enjoying the flexibility of being able to listen while cleaning, commuting, or doing other chores. And that means they’re a top choice for a digital gift.
âAudiobook subscriptions or premium paid podcast platform subscriptions are a great option for someone in your life who enjoys reading or listening to podcasts or for busy parents who wish they had more time to read,â says Rebell .
Audible may be the best-known subscription service for audiobooks and podcasts, but Libro.fm, Audiobooks.com, and Downpour are other options to consider. With most services costing less than $ 15 per month, this can also be an affordable giveaway.
Downloadable video game
If you have a gamer at home, you may not need to buy them a physical copy of the video game on their vacation list. Many popular titles – from Far Cry 6 to Mario Party Superstars – are available for digital download.
Additionally, games like Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite offer gift cards that can be redeemed for in-game currency. Depending on the game, these can be used to purchase character outfits, new worlds, game passes. combat and virtual items.
Clothing subscription service
“After a year or two in sweatpants, who isn’t ready to upgrade their wardrobe?” Rebell asks. Clothing rental companies can help the fashion enthusiast in your life try out new styles and designs without any obligation to make a purchase.
Rent the Runway, FashionPass, and Nuuly are all examples of these subscription services. Some, like Rent the Runway, focus on high-end designer clothes. Cheaper services can send more affordable clothes.
Prices for many subscription services range from $ 70 to $ 100 per month, with some companies offering unlimited rentals and others limiting the number of outfits you can borrow each month. Services may also offer one-off rentals, which can be a good choice for those who want to wear something special for an upcoming party or event.
Traditionally, if you wanted to take a cooking class or an art class, you would need to find a local taught class in your area. However, thanks to the pandemic, many of these workshops have moved to the virtual realm and can be viewed by anyone, anywhere. Giving a virtual workshop as a gift can also help support artisans who have seen their sales decline over the past year.
âClassBento is the only platform designed to support local artisans who want to share their craft with their community,â says John Tabari, co-CEO and co-founder of ClassBento. The company offers face-to-face classes in the California Bay Area and New York City, but virtual workshops allow everyone to learn how to make natural candles, seasonal decor, cocktails and more.
“We take care of all the payments and logistics involved in teaching a course, including the delivery of the kit, so artisans can devote all of their energy to doing what they love most,” explains Tabari.
Other companies offering virtual workshops include Skillshare, CreativeLive, and MasterClass.
Charity gift card
For the person who really has it all, a donation to charity can be a meaningful gift. However, rather than selecting a specific charity on their behalf, let them choose the recipient by offering a charity gift card.
âA lot of us are privileged to be comfortable and have way too much stuff,â said Marina Glogovac, President and CEO of CanadaHelps, a website that makes it easy to donate online at Canadian charities. “With a charitable gift card, the recipient chooses which charity to support, and the sender receives the charitable tax receipt.”
TisBest and Charity on Top are two websites that offer charitable gift cards for US organizations, and Glogovac notes that these cards can also be great holiday gifts for employees.