Giving gifts to friends and family has never exactly been an exact science. Unless you know someone very intimately, it can be difficult to guess what kind of physical thing they would best appreciate for a birthday or holiday, and if you choose wrong, you're in for a very awkward moment. In these situations, virtual presents can provide a lot of relief, offering a greater range of goods and services that your gifting target might appreciate and that you don't need to put in a box.
If virtual presents are on the table, you can give your recipient something cool related to their interests and let them choose for themselves what to do with it, and you can also get instant delivery. If you've forgotten someone's birthday the day before and need a quick gift, you can prepare a virtual present and have it shipped to them in just a couple of minutes via email.
If you're looking for ideas on what kind of virtual gift to grab, the modern online economy offers all kinds of nifty options.
Digital gift cards
It's a bit of an old joke that a gift card is like money that's less useful since you can only use it in one place. Amusing, but that line of thought is a bit too cynical. Getting someone a gift card says, "I know you like shopping at this place and have given you the ability to shop there guilt-free for a brief moment." Frankly, that's something we could all use sometimes.
Even if a gift card can only be used in one place, there are gift cards available for just about every storefront, real or digital, in the world. If you're unsure where your recipient would best utilize the funds, you can opt for a generic banking gift card instead. Load a disposable Visa with cash and let them decide how to divvy it up. Besides being an easy gift, this is also a good option for kids to teach them to manage their funds.
Online games have never been more popular than they are right now. Sprawling online communities in games like "Fortnite" and "Roblox" provide players with all kinds of opportunities for fun and creativity. Of course, the coolest aspects of these games are usually stuck behind in-game stores and "Battle Passes." Luckily, a little cash can help grease the wheels; with in-game currencies like V-Bucks and Robux, players can get access to whatever content and experiences they want.
If you've got a friend or relative who's into online gaming, some in-game currency for their favorite game would be greatly appreciated, allowing them to get rare skins and items. You can buy gift cards for in-game currencies both online and in stores, or if you play the game yourself, you can directly gift them items. Alternatively, you could always give them a gift card for a gaming storefront like Steam and let them pick out some new games for themselves or gift them new games directly.
According to a survey conducted by Forbes back in March, streaming service subscriptions are the most popular type in the United States, with 90% of surveyed consumers subscribed to at least one. Services like Netflix, Disney+, Max, Hulu, and more have become the dominant means of engaging with entertainment over cable, and many individuals subscribe to a handful of services at once to maximize content availability. Of course, having multiple subscriptions can be costly, which means some people may miss out on the big shows of the season.
If you've got a friend who wants to watch the next big Netflix show but can't afford a subscription, you can buy a standalone subscription for them to help them get on board. Alternatively, you can roll them into your subscription for a service and split the cost. Unfortunately, password sharing isn't as readily encouraged as it used to be, but if you pay an extra fee, you can add more users around the country to your account.
News and magazine subscriptions
Reading the news every morning can be a bit of a drag, but it's always important to stay informed. While there are plenty of free news sources on the internet, many high-profile sources, especially those that either used to or still operate print formats, often charge a subscription fee. This can be a bit frustrating for those who used to get their news from a certain publication but can't access it anymore.
If you want to do them a favor, you can give them a subscription to digital newspapers and magazines like The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. Depending on the publication, you can tweak some of the finer points of the gifted subscription, including how long it lasts for and which sub-sections of the publication it grants access to. It's a great way to get your dad to put down the newspaper and join the rest of the world in the modern information age.
Educational and fitness subscriptions
The digital age is one where everyone is encouraged to use available resources to improve themselves. Thanks to online classes and sessions, you can receive recorded tutelage from some of the world's brightest minds or get one-on-one training with a dedicated fitness instructor, all from the comfort of your own home. If you have a friend or family member who has some free time and is looking to learn something new, you can help them take the first step.
Services like MasterClass offer gifted subscriptions for lessons on all topics, including professional development, artistic endeavors, and practical life skills. For the fitness-minded, you can purchase a subscription for a Peloton membership to go with a new Peloton Bike or Tread device, providing them with curated, community-focused training sessions. Just make sure these are things you know your recipient wants, as gifting this kind of stuff unprompted can be mildly insulting in the wrong context.