You procrastinated. You waited. The weather was bad. You were buried at work. Whatever your excuse, you need to get gifts for friends and family -- and time is running out. Well, don't worry: thanks to fast shipping, gift cards, and subscription services, you can send movies, games, books and all manner of goodies to your giftees without braving crowds at the shopping centre. On the following pages, you'll find some of our favourite last-minute gift options.
If you'd rather let your recipient buy exactly what they want, consider a gift card. But if you don't have time to run out and buy a real, physical card. There's an alternative: You can send an Amazon electronic gift card, or even print one out at home if you want to be classy. PayPal has its own selection, as well.
Just be aware that not all electronic gift cards can be set to arrive on Christmas morning. You'll want to check and see whether you can schedule delivery, or whether your gift will immediately arrive in your recipient's inbox.
Amazon can also help you send e-books as gifts over email. What's really cool is that the recipient can choose to accept the e-book or exchange it for a credit of the same value. That means you don't have to worry whether your recipient already owns the latest from Stephen King book. Just click "Give as gift" on any Kindle e-book in Amazon's catalogue.
Steam's digital distribution service hasn't just changed the way people buy PC games, but it's changed the way they can shop for them as well.
Luckily for you, you can turn any Steam game purchase into a gift while you're at the checkout. If your loved one uses Steam, you'll be able to see if they already own a game or if it's on their wish list. If they don't, you can send it to their email address.
Just note that gifts are sent immediately. To avoid the gift being sent too early, you can add a game to your Steam Inventory when you buy it and then send it days or weeks later.
Or maybe what you really want to give your giftee is a nice day out. Groupon and LivingSocial specialise in offering discounted group rates on spa treatments, event tickets, hang-gliding and skiing lessons, and all sorts of other rare opportunities for adventure and relaxation.
Want to gift a specific song, movie, TV show or app to someone with an iOS device or an iTunes account?
To send an iTunes credit: Scroll down on the iTunes app to the "Send Gift" button. Email a credit of £25, £50 or £100. You can schedule it to be sent immediately or on a future date.
To send specific apps or media, go to the song, album, movie, TV show or app in the iTunes Store app and hit the "share" button. It's the same button you use for Facebook or Twitter. Then click the "gift" button on the following screen.
The best last-minute gift might not be the one that arrives on Christmas morning -- but again and again throughout the year. That's what you'll be giving if you sign a friend up for a subscription box.
Subscription boxes work like this: Every month, a box arrives with some goodies inside. You'll find dozens and dozens of such boxes with all sorts of themes (gadgets, coffee, wine, shaving razors, etc) and entire websites dedicated to helping you find the right one.