Holiday shopping just got a little bit easier. The latest trend in gifting is perfect for procrastinators and tech-savvy shoppers (and those of us who dread wrapping presents because we can't get our ribbons to curl properly): e-gifts.
As more and more people are using tools like mp3 players, tablets, and e-readers, virtual gifts are becoming viable options for the good boys and girls on Nice lists everywhere. And what's not to love? They don't have to be wrapped, so you can save time and money. They don't have to be shipped, so they're environmentally friendly and great for long-distance recipients. They don't have to be purchased in a store, so you can avoid the holiday crowds. And they can be bought and sent instantly, so you never have to worry about meeting holiday deadlines.
Gift cards are always a popular alternative for holiday shoppers, but for those who want to give more personalized presents, try some of these e-gift options:
- iTunes: iTunes lets users send apps, music, movies, and TV shows to someone else's e-mail address, or print out a certificate at home. Just click the arrow next to the “buy” button and select the “Gift This” option.
- Amazon: Gift Kindle books or mp3s on Amazon.com by using the “Gift as a Gift” button. All songs are in a standard format that is compatible with multiple music players. Books can be viewed using Amazon's apps for phones, tablets, and computers, as well as in a computer's Web browser.
- Subscriptions: Many popular media services sell subscriptions that can be given as gifts. Try Netflix or Hulu for the film buff in the family, and Pandora or Spotify for the music lovers.
- Barnes & Noble: Not to be outdone by its entirely virtual competitors, Barnes & Noble also offers an e-gifting option. With the “Instant Gifting” feature, you can purchase apps and e-books for the Nook tablets and e-readers. Unwanted gifts can even be exchanged for store credit.
Just how big is the market for virtual presents? According to the research firm Inside Network, e-gift revenues will top $2 billion this year, and expand to nearly $3 billion in 2012. And when you take into consideration the popularity of digital music downloads, which will reach an incredible $6.3 billion in sales this year, the market is massive.
So forget about looking in your stocking this year...you may want to check your inbox instead.