It's Monday, and Christmas Day is Thursday, which means we have officially reached The Realm of the Last Minute. First and foremost, yesterday was the last day of Two Day Shipping from Amazon, if you have actual items you want to buy. You can also pay the late tax from other sites like ThinkGeek, but if you want to be certain to have gifts in your hot little hands before Christmas Eve, here are some instant/digital gift ideas that don't require the transport of physical goods:
There are upgrades to a larger amount of space with an online service, but the most popular ones don't offer an easy way to gift that space: Dropbox suggests using your card to pay as you upgrade the recipient's account, and iCloud space can be gifted in the form of physical gift cards or digital codes [iTunes link]. Evernote requires you sign in to purchase a code, or contact Evernote Support to set up the purchase, but it is still possible to make a purchase for someone else.
Online music services are good gifts too, with Pandora and Spotify offering additional features such as ad-free listening and with Spotify you also get more listening options like unlimited skips. There's also the option to gift someone the iTunes cash for iTunes Match and help them set it up.
You can also check into gaming subscriptions, with both Playstation and Xbox codes. Look carefully, some codes are for that service's "premium" account, and some are just for redeeming in the store to get goodies, so make sure you get the right one. Also they are available in a wide variety of prices.
If you'd rather level up someone's skills than their Warcraft character, you can check into online learning such as Lynda.com or O'Reilly's Safari books, as well as the new O'Reilly School which offers learning and even certification programs. Plans from Treehouse and edX also offers free courses (paid classes include verified certificates).
Another suggestion is software licenses; you can always buy a license for an app that is outside the App Store, or give an iTunes card and let them know it's for a specific app. This is a great way to expose someone to software you love, or perhaps pick up the latest version of something they haven't gotten around to upgrading yet.
Gifts can also include time. If you know someone who just got new tech, or you know someone is going to get new tech, you can offer some of your time as a gift to help them get up and running. Even better, offer preemptively to help set up Skype or other remote assistance software so when there are more questions (and there will be), you have the means to jump in and help easily, wherever both of you may be.
If you still feel like physical goods are the way to go, you can do a smidge better than Jelly of the Month. Try a Love With Food snack box subscription, or Birchbox for personal care samples. These are instant gifts you can print out and give someone, but the real deal shows up in the mail down the road.
Hopefully these will give you some ideas that are better options than whatever happens to be left on the shelf if you venture out of the house to shop! If you have a killer "instant" gift idea, please leave it below as a service to others.
Image made with help from Shutterstock.