10 last-minute digital gifts people can enjoy during the holidays (and beyond)

These presents can't be held, but they will definitely be felt.
The best digital gifts
These presents aren't physical, but they're still thoughtful. Brandt Ranj / Popular Science

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The beauty of the digital era is that if you’ve waited until the absolute last second to get someone a gift, you don’t have to worry about shipping logistics or stock issues. Instead, you can send someone something virtual, which will arrive in their inbox the day it’s purchased (or sometimes can be pre-scheduled). There’s no harm in giving someone a gift card, especially if you know where they often shop, but we have some alternative suggestions. We’re focusing on subscriptions to services your friends and family members may enjoy throughout the entire year, which may not be tangible but are very thoughtful digital gifts as they acknowledge and nurture that special someone’s interests.

Best for the perpetual student: MasterClass

MasterClass Subscription

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MasterClass subscribers get unlimited access to thorough video courses taught by masters in their chosen field(s). Courses are taught video prerecorded video instructions and include cooking taught by Gordon Ramsey, drumming taught by Ringo Starr, and writing taught by Roxane Gay. MasterClass offers new classes regularly, so this subscription will only get more valuable over time.

Best for the cord-cutter: Sling TV

Sling TV

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Cord-cutters sometimes regret their decision to cancel cable service. Internet video streaming is incredible, but sometimes you want to watch the latest episode of your favorite show or sports match as it airs. A subscription to Sling TV allows you to stream live TV from several premium channels, including CNN, ESPN, TLC, TNT, and TBS. Sling can be accessed on any device, so they can stream any of their shows from anywhere.

Best for avid readers: Kindle Unlimited

Kindle Unlimited

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There’s bound to be a person in your life who continues to complain about how they’ve never read the classics, or missed this year’s hit novel. A Kindle Unlimited subscription makes a great gift because it’ll give them instant access to millions of books on demand. These books can be read on a Kindle or any device that runs the Kindle app, including smartphones and tablets. Kindle Unlimited’s library contains titles from every genre and is continually refreshed, so they’ll always have something new to read.

Best for busy book lovers: Audible

Audible Subscription

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If you’re shopping for someone who can’t read as much as they’d like because of time constraints, give them the gift of Audible. The audiobook service has millions of titles, and their subscription will allow them to download one to two books per month and listen to them on their smartphone, tablet, and even Echo smart speakers. Audible will automatically sync their place, so they can leave off at a certain point on one device, and pick the “book” back up on another without losing any time.

Best for online shoppers: Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime Subscription

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We all know someone who has completely abandoned in-person shopping, and chances are they’d benefit from an Amazon Prime subscription. Prime members get free two-day (or even one-day) delivery on millions of items, plus fun perks like free access to a selection of the Amazon Video and Amazon Music libraries. An active Prime subscription will also allow your friend or family member to take part in Amazon’s Prime Day, a two-day deals event that happens over the summer.

Best for people who want to relax more: Headspace


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Meditation can seem intimidating, but Headspace walks you through it step by step, breaking multi-minute sessions into digestible chunks. The app is available on iOS and Android, so all your friend and family member has to do is pop in a pair of earbuds, choose the type of meditation they’d like to do, and hit play. Headspace is very beginner friendly, which is why it makes a particularly good gift.

Best for travelers: Airbnb Gift Card

AirBnb Gift Card

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If you know someone with wanderlust, Airbnb will help finance their new adventure—and it’s a gift they might not see coming. Airbnb is the premiere service for renting apartments or homes for short (or longer) stays. Many people don’t know the service offers gift cards, which makes this gift a little more personal.

Best for TV watchers: Paramount+

Paramount Plus

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Paramount Plus has one of the largest libraries of on-demand TV shows (and movies) on the internet, so if you know someone who loves to binge-watch the latest CBS shows rather than settling for clips on YouTube, this is the best digital gift. The service has also begun dipping its toe into offering live sports, especially UEFA Champions League games, so this also makes a great gift for fans of soccer.

Most practical: Backblaze Cloud Storage

Backblaze Cloud Storage

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Everyone goes through memory and hard drive space faster than they might think. And, if they are serious about keeping their files safe, they should be backing things up to multiple locations, ideally to desktop drives at their home or office along with a cloud backup. Redundancy is the best way to ensure all those files stay intact should something happen. And while a physical drive may not arrive in time for the holidays, a cloud-based backup system is a perfect digital gift.

Best for people who love language: Rosetta Stone Lifetime Subscription

Rosetta Lifetime Subscription

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If you’re shopping for someone whose New Year’s resolution is to learn a new language, gift them a lifetime subscription to Rosetta Stone. The well-known language learning platform will lead them from basic phrases to advanced conjugation in small steps. They can continue to review previous chapters until they’re comfortable moving on. Rosetta Stone was a PC-only application, but you can download the service’s mobile app to learn on the go.

Brandt Ranj Avatar

Brandt Ranj

Staff Writer, Commerce

Brandt Ranj is a commerce reporter at Popular Science. He writes about the latest and greatest gadgets, from headphones and TVs to chargers and cables. He splits his time between New York City, Long Island, and Croatia, carting test gear around the U.S. and the globe.