Q: I haven’t done a single second of shopping yet. What should I get? I need to shop for multiple people, too – preferably tech stuff. And I would like to not have to go to an actual store to get it.
A: Are you serious about not wanting to go to the store? You put off your shopping until now, you want tech stuff, but you don’t want to leave your house. Anything else, your majesty? Newsflash: You’re screwed!
Sorry for being a Grinch. You’re not screwed. Come back. I’ll help… I’ll help. You actually still have quite a few options.
1) Give Up
And by “give up” I mean get people digitally-delivered gift cards to stores like Best Buy, Amazon, or anywhere else that sells electronics. Short of dropping a wad of cash at the feet of your recipient and cackling as they bend down to pick it up, this is pretty close to the minimal amount of effort you could put into this entire endeavor. If you want to feign even the tiniest bit of originality, you could do something quirky like a Netflix subscription.
Here are links to tech-ish options that might work:
You can also use sites like eGifter to browse a nearly endless supply of email-deliverable gift cards. And if you’re really intent on a physical card, check your local gas station. It might be open Christmas day and might sell gift cards up near the register. But don’t do gift cards, physical or otherwise. I’m mad that I even had to write this section.
2) Speaking of Gas Stations…
…they sell lottery tickets. This is neither here nor there, but my family does a Christmas grab with a $150 limit each year, and while everyone is scrambling to find $150 worth of gifts for whatever name they pulled out of the hat a month earlier, the person who grabbed mine is sitting pretty because all I ask for each year is $150 worth of scratch tickets.
Over the years, I’ve at least broken even or come out ahead. My worst year was around $100, but most other years have been decent. No jackpots (yet!), but it’s fun to scratch the tickets on Christmas morning, and it’s not quite as rude as asking for $150 in cash. It’s either this, or I get sweaters. So many sweaters.
3) Back to Tech (Sort Of)
If someone on your list is asking for a video game, there’s a very good chance you can buy them a download code for the game they want instead of the actual, physical copy of the game.
Here are a bunch by platform:
As for downloadable PC and Mac games, Amazon has a bunch. And Steam is the gold standard for downloadable games, each of which can be gifted. If you’re shopping for an older gamer, GOG.com is amazing and carries gift-able downloads of classic, old-school games.
4) Geeky Subscription Boxes – and Booze!
Another gift idea to consider: some sort of box o’ the month club. Cratejoy has a big selection in its Nerd & Novelty section; these are boxes of semi-related cheap crap thoughtful items that get shipped out periodically. The presentation may not be particularly awesome on Christmas morning, but it’s the gift that keeps on giving all year long if you’re willing to spend enough.
Read Next: The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Techies
If your recipient is a jolly old booze-bag, I would warn against beer of the month and wine of the month clubs. Don’t get me wrong: I love beer like I love my own child—and I’ve been enrolled in beer clubs before—but the selection is just way too random.
They’re expensive, too: It costs a lot to ship heavy liquids, believe it or believe it. You’re better off going to a fancy beer or wine store. Many of them will have gift boxes with certain styles of beer in them, so you can be sure to get something your giftee actually enjoys drinking.
5) Cross Your Fingers and Hope That Shipping Company Shows Up…
If I’m not mistaken, this column is running on a Wednesday. If you’re reading this on Wednesday, there are plenty of online stores that offer overnight shipping. It’s going to cost you a bit extra and you’re banking on overworked fleets of FedEx and UPS drivers, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can roll the dice and hope your package shows up on time. Order right now, though. Enough’s enough: You’re making us all nervous.
6) …or Pony Up for Same-Day Delivery Service
If you’re in one of its delivery areas, then Google Express can be incredibly handy for getting stuff within hours of ordering it. Delivery fees start at $5 which, given your insistence on not leaving the house, is a great deal. Staples is one of the participating stores. Staples has gadgets. Ergo… well, you get the picture. Amazon also offers same-day shipping in 16 areas for more than a million items, so it’s worth a look as well.
Doug Aamoth lives in Boston and has spent more than two decades in the technology industry, working for consumer electronics retailers, support centers, startups, cybersecurity providers, and media companies.