First things first: we’re not here to judge. Yes, you’ve left your present buying duties until the very last minute after more than enough prior warning, but what’s done is done, and now here we are: perilously close to the 25th with a severe lack of giftable items.
But we can help. If you’ve missed the delivery deadline – very few retailers will be able to get you anything after the 22 December – then you’ll have to look to online-based gifts for redemption. Here, we’ve rounded up a list of gifts that can be bought mere minutes before Santa wriggles down the chimney and, in most cases, you can even print something off so there’s still something to unwrap, or at least put in a card.
Readly subscription: £7.99 a month, Readly
In terms of value for money, we’re not sure many subscriptions out there can beat Readly. It’s a magazine subscription service which, for £7.99 a month, gives you unlimited access to 750 UK titles – from Empire and GQ to Total Guitar and The Non-League Football Paper – which can either be read via an internet connection or downloaded for offline reading. And what’s more, five devices can be added to the same account, so this could even work as a gift to your very own self. Choose from subscription plans lasting for one, three, six or 12 months.
Audible subscription: from £23.99 for 3 months, Audible
Audible is the wing of Amazon specialising in audiobooks, and has over 200,000 titles in its library, such as Sherlock Holmes narrated by Stephen Fry, or Dan Brown's Origin narrated by Paul Michael. Gifting options include a three-month, six-month or year-long subscription, which gives your recipient one book credit a month (you can buy more if you want), as well as a range of exclusive discounts. The gift voucher itself can be printed out on a Christmas-themed card along with a personal message.
E-voucher: Various prices, Voucher Express
Gone are the days when you’d have to trundle into a shop to buy a gift voucher. Now, a whole host of retailers offer e-vouchers, from high street fashion brands like TK Maxx and Next, to the National Trust and various book shops. A good place to look is Voucher Express, which works alongside a whole host of brands and retailers, from John Lewis to Topman to Clinique. You can email the voucher directly to your recipient so, in theory, you could sort this one out just before you head downstairs on Christmas morning (not that we're strictly encouraging you do this literally last minute, but still).
Spotify Premium Gift Card: from £9.99 for 1 month, Spotify
Buying for a music obsessive who’s uninitiated in the ways of streaming? This may be the gift for them. Spotify Premium gives access to over 30 million tracks – everything from Drake to that weird industrial techno they’re into – which can be downloaded for offline listening. Prices start at £9.99 for a month’s subscription, with three-month, six-month and year-long options. A few things to bear in mind: the buyer has to already have a Spotify account, gifts can only be redeemed in the same country they’re bought in, and you have to choose the date on which the gift voucher is emailed (you can’t print it off).
Oxfam Charity E-card: from £5, Oxfam
Christmas is a time for giving, after all, so if your giftee is charity-minded, opt for this. Oxfam will allow you to make a donation in your recipient’s name, and they’ll get a card emailed to their account on a date of your choosing. The donation sizes vary greatly, and Oxfam give you an idea of what the money will go towards – from £5 for some soap to £500 for safe drinking water for 500 people.
Netflix Gift Card: from £15, Paypal
Do you know someone who thinks they might like Netflix but isn’t sure about committing to a subscription? Or is a loved one an existing member who would appreciate a bit of help with the bill? Then we’d suggest treating them to a gift card. Choose any amount from £15-£100, which can be used to either start a new membership or pay for an existing one. Either way, they’ll get instant access to the service’s thousands of films, TV series and documentaries, such as Series 2 of The Crown, or Netflix’s much-anticipated original German-language series, Dark, and Judd Apatow’s first stand-up set in 25 years (just make sure you've got a PayPal account, and if you don't, you'll be able to make one in seconds). When you purchase the e-card, the code is emailed so either send to yourself or set it to get to the recipient’s inbox on a set date. If you want more ceremonial presentation, we like this printable gift voucher from Etsy that just requires you to write on the code that is then redeemed on Neflix’s website.
WWF Adopt an Animal: from £3 a month, WWF
Treat an animal-lover to an adoption scheme that will help protect their favourite species. WWF has 14 mammals and reptiles to choose from, including polar bears, pandas, big cats and elephants. You’ll get a printable certificate to present on the day, then they will receive a cuddly toy and gift pack containing a fact book about their new charge, as well as other goodies. Throughout the year, they will get updates on the animal as well as three issues of Wild World magazine. You can choose how much you pay each month or make a one-off payment.
The Verdict: Last minute gifts
If it's value for money you're after, we'd recommend Readly. For a relatively small price you get access to so much, and because you're able to add five accounts to one subscription, the whole family can get involved. In terms of the best-looking present, the voucher for the London Sock Company is particularly pleasing.
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