Need a holiday gift? Try online subscriptions

Story highlights

  • Consider streaming services for the TV or music buff on your list
  • Get access to thousands of comics via Marvel Unlimited
  • For the home chef, food delivery could an option

(CNN)If you're one of those people who waits until the last minute to purchase your holiday gifts, you no longer have to settle for the limited options available at your local pharmacy. Stuffed teddy bears, boxes of chocolates, discount gift cards — these are the last-minute gifts of yesterday.

In this age of streaming media and online shopping, the edifice of procrastinated gift-giving has changed. There is now a whole new set of gift options at your disposal: online subscription services.
Online subscription services range from content streaming to home delivery. They reflect our changing lifestyles while remaining practical, personal, and affordable — the hallmarks of any great gift.
And the best part? You won't even have to leave your house to purchase or deliver them.

For movie, TV & superhero fans

Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, HBO Now, FilmStruck. With their low subscription costs and instant access to hundreds of movies and TV shows, these streaming services represent the future of home entertainment.
This holiday season, consider gifting a subscription to one of them for somebody you care about who's still tied to the cable box. And if they already subscribe to one of these streaming services, there's no harm in subscribing them to another. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and HBO all have original series and other content exclusive to their platform. The more of them you subscribe to, the more titles you have available to watch.
If you'd rather avoid being responsible for fomenting a binge watching habit in your loved ones, there are other digital subscription options available. Have a niece or nephew who's obsessed with The Avengers? Sign them up for a month or even a year of Marvel Unlimited and they'll get access to thousands of comics featuring their favorite superheroes.

For music & book lovers

When you're reading or watching TV, it's hard to multitask. You can't drive to work or jog in the park with a screen in front of you. But these activities can be enhanced by listening to something. That's where audio subscriptions come in handy.
A subscription to a music streaming service virtually eliminates the risk that the recipient won't get anything out of your gift. With more than 30 million songs available, there's something for everybody to enjoy.
Google Play Music, Apple Music, and Spotify all cost the exact same. But each of them has its own perks. You can use Siri to play songs on Apple Music. Spotify's 'Discover Weekly' playlist gives you 30 songs you haven't heard before based on your tastes. And Google Play Music gives you access to YouTube Red, a paid service that removes all ads from YouTube videos and allows for offline viewing.
Unlike video streaming services, where subscribing to both Netflix and Hulu would only expand one's options, it would be redundant to subscribe to both Google Play Music and Spotify. So make sure your potential recipient doesn't already subscribe to a music streaming service before choosing this option.
For the bibliophile in your life who wishes they had more time to read, give them the gift of Audible. With a vast selection of audiobooks to choose from, your friend can listen to their favorite books on their morning commute or lunch break.

For food aficionados

Even before we had our books, clothing and furniture delivered to our homes, we would order pizzas and Chinese food. Home food delivery has been around for decades.
But now we're seeing this phenomenon evolve into something entirely different. Companies like Blue Apron, Plated, and PeachDish are giving rise to a new industry of meal package delivery. Instead of ordering prepared food, customers order the ingredients to prepare meals in their own kitchens.
This is the perfect gift for the friend who wishes they cooked more but doesn't know where to begin. Not only do these meal packages save them a trip to the store by including all the required ingredients, but they also include clear step-by-step instructions for how to prepare the meals.
You really have to know the person's tastes and dietary habits if you go with this option. Blue Apron has vegetarian items, but nothing vegan. So if you want to sign your vegan friend up for one of these services, go with Purple Carrot, which specializes in vegan meal packages.

Practical, personal, affordable

When you gift somebody a three-month subscription to Hulu or a week's worth of meals from Blue Apron, you're giving them the opportunity to get a sense of what their life would be like with this service full-time and make a decision on whether or not to stick with it.
Of course, receiving a gift card by itself can feel out of touch. So include a personal note telling your loved ones why you chose this gift for them. If you went with the video streaming option, list your top 10 movie suggestions. Make a collaborative playlist on Spotify and share it with them.
Pro tip: Many of these streaming and meal delivery services offer free trials. It's definitely worth mentioning this fact when you give your gift. Doing so doesn't take away from your gesture, and it enhances the experience of the recipient by giving them more time to spend with the service.