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Six digital Valentine's Day gift ideas

These presents don't ship -- so you can order them five minutes before you exchange gifts, you slacker.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal Freelance Writer
Sarah is a freelance writer and CNET How To blogger. Her main focus is Windows, but she also covers everything from mobile tech to video games to DIY hardware projects. She likes to press buttons and see what happens, so don't let her near any control panels.
Sarah Jacobsson Purewal
4 min read

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

I'm a serious procrastinator - so serious that I usually end up ignoring shipping deadlines before major holidays, which means that I usually end up scrambling to find gifts in the $1 aisle at Target. Yeah. Don't be me.

Actually, with technology, you don't have to be me -- because everything, or at least everything that matters, is digital these days. In other words, there are plenty of real, legitimate gifts you can give to your significant other on Valentine's Day that come in digital format. Match the gift to the recipient and you'll look thoughtful and caring instead of like the lazy procrastinator that you are. Here are a few digital gift ideas to get you started:

An app

OK, so gifting an app is a little sad, especially when most apps cost between $0 and $0.99. But a fun paid mobile game like Monument Valley ($3.99), or a photo-editing app like Afterlight ($0.99), is a good casual gift idea for a new relationship. You're not going all out -- but you're letting them know that you are thinking of them. The key here is to match the app to the person: Give the selfie-editing app Facetune ($3.99) to an Instagram addict, and the sleep-tracking app Sleep Cycle alarm clock ($0.99) to the insomniac. Another idea is to find out what apps they use and gift them an in-app purchase -- for example, I gave my husband some virtual currency in the chat app Line (free) so he could buy some chat stickers. The more thought you put into an app gift, the less likely your recipient is to notice that you're kind of a cheapskate.

An e-book

Giving someone a book is nice, but giving them an e-book is even better -- because e-books can be purchased last-minute and delivered digitally. An idea for this upcoming Valentine's Day? Don't feel like you need to stick with the romance theme -- I can't in good conscience recommend "50 Shades of Grey" ($2.99) - but instead look at popular new titles your recipient might enjoy.


Music is a great digital gift option, because you can buy it for just about anyone. A romantic idea: Purchase several tracks from iTunes or Google Play and arrange them into a digital mix-tape for your partner. A romantic but cheaper (read: free) idea: Make a Spotify playlist for your partner. You can buy music in different increments -- a single song, an album, or even a premium subscription to Spotify (free for one month, then $9.99 per month) or Rhapsody ($9.99 for first three months, then $9.99 per month)

A movie

A digital version of a movie is far cheaper than a movie date -- and you can watch it over and over again. The key here, as with e-books, is to not get caught up in the romance of Valentine's Day. Your partner doesn't want a digital copy of "You've Got Mail" or "The Notebook;" they'd much rather have something that came out in the past year - like "Guardians of the Galaxy," which costs $19.99 for an HD version. This way, you're not just buying them something they can see on Netflix or a shady third-party streaming site -- it's kind of like the real deal.

A digital subscription

If your partner is a consumer of entertainment -- whether that means reading, listening, or watching -- a more thoughtful gift might be a digital subscription to an unlimited e-book, streaming music, or streaming video service. Oyster Books is a digital e-book subscription that lets you read an unlimited number of e-books from your tablet or smartphone for just $9.99 per month. We've already mentioned Spotify and Rhapsody, but other streaming-music services include Beats Music ($9.99 per month or $99.99 per year), ad-free Pandora ($54.89 per year), and Rdio Unlimited ($9.99 per month). For streaming video, your recipient is sure to love a Netflix subscription ($7.99 per month) or the ability to catch up on their TV shows with Hulu Plus ($7.99 per month).

A real-life subscription

OK, so a real-life subscription isn't really digital -- but it is a great last-minute gift, since you can explain to your partner that it's coming in the mail...every month, just not this month. If you're shopping for a lady, you'll want to look into PopSugar's Must Have box ($39.95 per month), which delivers a curated box of jewelry, beauty products, home goods and healthy snacks to her door each month. If you're looking for a guy, go for something like Birchbox Man ($20 per month), which features grooming and lifestyle products for dudes, or Curator and Mule ($60 per quarter), which has men's accessories (wallets, hats, belts, etc).