Presents you don’t need to wrap: Your guide to shopping for contactless gifts

Media Credit: Kate Carpenter | Staff Photographer

COVID-19 can live on surfaces for hours or even days, so consider a contactless gift option to keep your loved ones safe.

Updated: December 7, 2020 at 8:40 p.m.

Even if you can’t watch your friend unwrap your present this year, there’s still a lot of ways to give. 

You could always box up a gift and send it through the mail, but delivery can cause transmission and the price of sending packages can add up. Try sending one of these virtual or low-contact gifts to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 this holiday season. 

Store-bought items:

E-gift cards

If all else fails, you can’t go wrong with an e-gift card. Your friend in college would appreciate credit for food and groceries – whether it’s a hometown spot or a Chipotle, Whole Foods or Sweetgreen card for those living in D.C. You could also consider sending your secret Santa a certificate to a delivery meal kit service like Blue Apron or HelloFresh to simplify their meal prep and grocery shopping. 

Gift delivery from small businesses

It’s tempting to hop on Amazon and use its gift feature to send a friend a bundle of gifts to their front door, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all about supporting small businesses. A great option for contactless gifts is to order products from small business’s online stores like Etsy clothing and art stores, boutiques in your hometown or independent bookstores. Many of them have gift wrapping options for shipped items.

Sentimental notes:

Custom video

Sitting in quarantine has us all pondering about the good old days of the pre-pandemic. Commemorate the good times and remind a friend of the happy memories to come by creating a custom video montage of nostalgic photos, videos, TikToks or whatever might bring a smile to their face. Piece together a video with highlights from 2020 or, if you want to leave 2020 behind, clips from over the years. You can edit together video clips from your camera roll by using the iMovie app on your phone, Adobe Rush mobile editing app – which is free for students – or TikTok’s editing features. 


Cameo, a video-sharing website, allows people to purchase customized messages from several A to D-list celebrities. Wish a friend a happy Hanukkah from Wizards of Waverly Place’s David Henrie ($50), Dance Mom’s Abby Lee Miller ($99) or Kyle Massey from That’s So Raven ($65). If you’re willing to spend more money, offer seasons greetings from Tiger King’s Carole Baskin ($299) or actor Jim O’Heir, who played Jerry Gergich on Parks and Recreation ($175). Videos take up to seven days to be processed, made and sent to you, so make sure to plan ahead.

Food & drink:

Gift basket from The Milk Bar

For the foodies in your life, this sampler gift box from The Milk Bar in D.C. can be delivered right to their front door. It comes packed with six assorted cookies, three birthday cake truffles, three chocolate cake truffles and a slice of Milk Bar’s signature pie. If you’re on the market for something bigger and that incorporates holiday vibes, you can gift the season’s greetings box that includes a dozen peppermint bark truffles, one six-inch peppermint bark cake and a Milk Bar signature pie.

Harry & David charcuterie gift baskets

If savory is more their thing, check out Harry & David’s gourmet wine, cheese and meat baskets. These gift baskets are ideal for a friend or family member who loves the look of a charcuterie board. Gift baskets range from $50 to $229 depending on the size and extravagance. 

Reading and TV:

Digital magazine subscription 

For the fashionistas, culture buffs or politics fanatics, give the gift of unlimited online content with a digital magazine subscription. Cosmopolitan, Vogue and Vanity Fair offer yearly digital subscriptions for $25 and under for the friend who loves topics of style, fashion and lifestyle. Those who love to read about culture and long-form journalism might enjoy a New Yorker  ($4/month) or Rolling Stone ($7.99/month) subscription. 

Netflix, Disney+ or Hulu subscription 

We’ve all probably binged movies and TV shows a little more than usual this year. Lighten the financial load of a streaming service by giving your special someone a subscription. Allow a friend to catch up on childhood favorites like High School Musical (2006), the Hannah Montana series or classics like The Lion King (1992) with a Disney+ membership ($69.99/year). A Hulu subscription ($5.99/month) offers several original series and reality and late night television like The Bachelorette, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live. A Netflix subscription at ($13.99/month) offers a range of documentaries, movies and shows.

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