The Washington Post

Forget last-minute gifts, here are some for the last moment

In this product image provided by Barnes & Noble, the youtube app is displayed on the Nook e-reader. Barnes & Noble is adding an applications store and an email program to its Nook e-reader, bringing the $249 device closer to working like a tablet computer in the vein of the iPad. (AP Photo/Barnes & Noble) (AP)

Breaking into an icy sweat because you realized you left a person or two off your list? Stop short of getting them whatever’s leftover at your nearest 24-hour convenience store — “Pantyhose and breath mints? Oh. You really, really shouldn’t have.” — and head to your computer instead. In the digital age, delivery of desirable gifts happens faster than ever before.

Sure, you could give gift cards and e-gift certificates, but if you know your giftee well enough, you can still add the personal touch without waiting for shipping.

For example: is your forgotten recipient a bookworm? You can not only give them that e-book title they’ve lovingly thumbed through at the bookstore, you can time it to make it look like you planned it that way all along.

If you’re looking to buy something for a Kindle user, you can sign onto Amazon’s Kindle store, select the “give as a gift” button on any title’s main page. Schedule a delivery date to send a literature-laden e-mail, and you’re done.

You can also gift books to Nook readers on Barnes and Noble’s Web site by hitting the “Buy as gift” link and filling in an e-mail address.

Digital distribution is particularly good for gamers, many of whom are already using the Web to buy their favorite titles.

Steam, the gaming platform run by Valve, is offering crazy deals on their titles — indie and AAA — through Jan. 1, offering up new ones every day. Discounts tend to be for 50 percent or more, though you won’t have to tell that to the person you’re gifting.

Other thoughtful but lightning-fast gifts include subscriptions to services such as GameFly, Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime. It’d be impossible to wrap those gifts anyway, so you’ll never have to let on to that friend or relative that you forgot all about them.

Related stories:

Holiday Guide 2011

Tech stocking stuffers for the holidays

Michelle Singletary: If you’re giving or getting a gift card, some safety tips to follow

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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