Digital Gift Ideas: Picks to Consider in 2021

It’s not even Halloween yet and there’s already panic about the winter holiday season. That’s because several U.S. businesses are currently eduring a variety of supply chain issues while bracing for more. Although steps are now being taken to hopefully avoid the worst of this, consumer might want to start considering alternatives as the shopping season gets underway. In particular, it may be worth looking at gift ideas that aren’t physical goods but instead are purely digital.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few quick benefits of digital gifts followed by some specific suggestions and broader gift ideas for 2021.

Benefits of Digital Gifts

Availability

Not to worry you but, as I noted in the intro, there could be some supply shortages this holiday season. Sure, Americans are already used to tracking down in-demand toys and electronics, but the list of items that will be harder to find could grow this year unless some current issues get resolved. In any case, the beauty of digital gifts is that, for the post part, there’s no limit to worry about, so you’ll be able to get them without issue. If this means you end up waiting until the last minute to buy as a result, well, that’s your business.

Clutter free

I realize that not everyone is a minimalist but, thanks to Marie Kondo and others (not to mentioned being cooped up in our living spaces during a pandemic), many Americans have started to take an interest in decluttering and tidying. This means that even your most well-intentioned gift could be see as another piece of clutter. Meanwhile, digital gifts take up no physical space, create no waste, and might still be able to spark joy regardless. Point: digital.

No shipping

Lastly, if you live far away from your family and other loved ones, then you surely know the pain of shipping gifts. On top of the extra cost associated with shipping, there’s also deadline and delays to contend with. Instead of worrying about your physical gift arriving in time, a digital gift can be delivered in a matter of seconds thanks to technology called “email.” As a result, I’d aruge that digital gifts are far less stressful overall, making the season joyful once again.

Specific Digital Service Gift Ideas

Masterclass

If you somehow haven’t seen ads for Masterclass before, the idea is that users have access to a number of lessons created in partnership with celebritites, athletes, and other experts in their fields. For example, you could learn some basics of magic from Penn & Teller, get tips for writing better stories from Aaron Sorkin, absorb acting insight from Natalie Portman, enhance your cooking skills with Gordan Ramsay, etc. etc. Basically, for nearly any interest you or a loved one have, there’s surely a Masterclass about it. Currently, the platform has annual membserhips plans that start at $180 a year and are giftable. However, they’ve previously run 2-for-1 primotions where you could get a membership for yourself while gifting another for free. While I can’t say for sure that sure a deal will return, you may want to keep an eye out for other offers as the holidays draw closer.

Audible

One subscription that I started last year and have really enjoyed is Audible. As much as I love reading physical books and turning the pages, it’s really great being able to consume audiobooks while traveling, multitasking, or just relaxing. With Audible Premium Plus, users get a credit for one free audiobook per month as well as access to exclusive podcast and some complimentary audiobook titles for $15 per month. At this time, Audible offers gift memberships for one month, three months, six months, or a year — with the 12 month plan saving you $30, coming in at $150. Alternatively, you can also gift specific audiobook titles to friends and family if you have something in mind.

Calm

With 2020 and 2021 both proving to be challenging years, there’s been a real emphasis on mental health and self care. That’s where the popular app Calm comes in, offering a number of features for realaxing times. These include daily meditations, celebrarity-narrated Sleep Stories, music playlists for different moods, and more. Calm actually has two gifting options: a one-year membership for $69.99 or a lifetime membership for $399.99. While that lifetime option is a bit pricey, it could be a good value and help prevent your giftee from having to renew their membership once their year is up. By the way, Calm does have a free trial if you’d like to explore the app for yourself first and see if its something someone in your life would appreciate.

Adobe Creative Cloud

This one might be a bit specialized but could also be a very practical gift for those with creative aspirations. Adobe is the company behind such programs as Photoshop (photo editing), Premiere (video editing), Audition (audio editing and mixing), and others. Subscriptions to each of these programs can be purchased individually — or you can subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud suite for access to more to than 20 apps and programs. In terms of downsides, the full suite is fairly expensive, coming in at $52.99 per month (with a one-year obligation). However, the student plan is a much better $19.99 per month (for an annual plan) for the first year. The other downside is that gifting Adobe programs seems to be a bit convulated as you’ll need to ensure that the subscription is set up with the Adobe ID of the person who will be using the program. But, if you can get over that hurdle and the price, this might be a perfect gift for the right person.

Streaming services

Finally (for this section) we come to a category that’s grown trendously in recent years: streaming services. What started with Netflix has grown to include HBO Max, Peacock, Disney+, Paramount+, Apple TV+ and about a dozen other “+s.” Due to sheer volume, holding subscriptions with each of these services can add up, yet there are talked about shows on nearly all of them. Thus, if you’re looking to fill a hole in a loved one’s streaming mix, you may be able to gift them a subscription. As a big Disney fan, I’d personally recommend Disney+ or the Disney Bundle — but the choice is yours. In any case, such a gift will probably run you between $60 and $200 for a year depending on your pick.

Other Digital Gift Ideas

Bitcoin/crypto

When I was a kid, we had an uncle that would buy me, my brother, and my cousins scratch-off tickets as part of our Christmas gift. Consider this the 21st-century version of that concept — or a much riskier alternative to buying bonds for kids. There are a few different ways you can obtain crypto and pass it along to a loved one as a gift but I think one of the easiest options is the Cash app. On there, you can easily buy Bitcoin and send it to another Cash app users without having to learn about crypto wallets and other intricacies that might scare off some people. Speaking of scaring people off, keep in mind that crypto is extremely volatile so this gift might bust, but it could also prove to be a fun digital “stocking stuffer” of sorts.

Donations

Another great digital gift option is to donate to a charity your loved one supports, doing so in their name. If you already know their charity or choice, you can typically head to their website and arrange for your gift. On the other hand, if you’re on the search for a good non-profit to support, you might consider using tools like Charity Navigator to help you with your search. Either way, this is a doubly good idea as it keeps things digital and hopefully does some good.

E-gift cards

Is this a cliche at this point? Indeed. But is it effective? Absolutely! Yes, if all else fails, there’s always the gift card (and specifically digital gift card) route. In fact, if you do land on this one, you may even be able to score a kick-back for yourself by using Rakuten’s gift card marketplace or other such platforms. While some people hate how impersonal and lazy gift cards can be, others love how simple they are. In other words, it’s not an option that should be ruled out automatically — it’s just a matter of picking the right gift card for the right person.


Even if the concerning headlines we’re seeing about supply issues don’t come to pass this holiday season, there are still plenty of good reasons why digital gifts may be the way to go this year. Whether one of these particular subscription ideas strikes your fancy or you opt for a more generic pick, your digital gift could mean less stress, less waste, and less money overall. Happy Holidays!


Also published on Medium.

Author

Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and has recently starting publsihing his own personal finance blog at https://moneyat30.com/

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