A person wrapping a token gift to pair with a digital code.
Ostanina Anna/Shutterstock.com

Digital gifts are more popular than ever, but there’s something to be said for unwrapping something tangible. Here are some easy ways to give a digital gift and still hand over something they can unwrap.

Why Wrap a Digital Gift?

Maybe your recipient doesn’t care about the trappings of the holidays, and it just doesn’t matter if there is anything physical in their hands when the gift is exchanged. If that’s your situation, then it’s easy peasy. Just send your sibling the game they want via Steam, email them the gift card code to their favorite online retailers, or shove a gift card in their hand.

But if you like giving people something to unwrap, there’s a lot to be said for investing a little time in a flashier presentation. Especially if your gift recipient is a kid that will get a much bigger thrill out of unwrapping something than they would out of you just telling them you sent a game to their Nintendo account.

As a bonus, it makes it look less like you forgot about them and bought a digital gift at the last minute and more like you planned the gift all along. And hey, no judgment about that—we’ve all been the “Did we forget to buy a gift for Cousin Eddie?” person at some point.

Clever Physical Ways to Gift a Digital Present

Don’t worry, we won’t leave you hanging with just the advice “you should wrap up a digital presence.” Let’s take a look at some different ways you can do so. With just a little extra effort, you can make the gift much more memorable than an emailed code.

Buy a Gift Card that Corresponds with the Digital Gift

A row of Nintendo gift cards on a blue background.
Nintendo/How-To Geek

If you’re planning to buy the gift code online to email or text to the recipient, consider buying a physical gift card that clearly represents the gift in question.

You can’t do it for everything, but increasingly you can find a huge number of gift cards at big box retailers (often in a stand near the front of the store) that cover a lot of ground.

If you’re planning to gift someone money to spend in the Nintendo eShop, you can get physical gift cards with Nintendo characters and themes. The same goes for many video games, retailers, and so on. While purchasing digital gift card codes, like Nintendo eShop codes, is easy online, we recommend buying your physical gift cards in person to avoid shipping delays and potential fraud.

Keep this idea in mind as you read the rest of the suggestions, as a pretty gift card with a digital code on it can be incorporated into many of the other ideas below.

Create a Simple Custom Greeting Card

The beauty of this method is that you can apply it to literally any gift under the sun. Whether you’re giving your niece a copy of Pokémon Legends: Arceus the Switch, your brother a year of Netflix, or your spouse a spa trip, you can use this trick.

Just hit up Google Images and search for a digital image related to the gift you’re giving, such high-resolution promotional image for the game. If you have a photo printer at home you can use that, but it’s really easy to pop into places like Walgreens, CVS, and big-box stores like Wal-Mart, and use their self-serve photo printers to print off a photo.

Then all you need is a blank card to stick the photo on using double-sided tape or a glue stick, the gift code to put inside, and with a personal message, you have something more interesting than just a computer printout or an email.

Animal Crossign Pop-Up Greeting Card

No time to make a custom card? Look for cards, like this one, that already sport the theme of your gift.

If you want a one-stop shop where they can print the card directly onto the card stock, pop into a Fedex Office branch or an Office Max or Office Depot location with a print shop. But be forewarned that such locations are usually slammed around the holidays, so there might be a bit of a wait.

If you’re lucky, you might even find a card with the theme of your gift. Giving the Animal Crossing: New Horizons fan in your life the Happy Home Paradise DLC? Why not pair it with this absolutely adorable Animal Crossing greeting card?

It might seem simple, but over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this method, and people love getting a card customized for the gift they’re receiving.

Pair the Digital Code with a Symbolic Trinket

While adults will likely appreciate thoughtful cards, kids love the thrill of unwrapping things. Because let’s face it, we all remember being children, and opening an envelope just can’t compete with opening an actual present, big or small.

If you want to give your recipient more to open up than a card—no matter how cleverly designed it is—one of the best ways to do so is to pair the digital gift card or code with a physical object.

You can splurge a little on the object if you want to make it part of the overall gift experience or keep it modest. If you’re giving a copy of the aforementioned Animal Crossing: Happy Home Paradise DLC, for example, you could pair it with a pack of amiibo cards or some Animal Crossing amiibo figures.

Toy sections at big box stores are filled with inexpensive “blind bags,” too. A blind bag is a bag or capsule where you can’t see the contents without purchasing it and opening it. Inside is a random figure or toy connected to the theme of the blind bag, like Animal Crossing, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, you name it.

Star Wars Mandolarian Grab Bag

Little grab bags and other trinkets make perfect companion gifts to anchor your digital gift to something tangible.

You’re hardly limited to gaming and toy-related trinkets, either. Gifting that year of Netflix or any other streaming service? Wrap up a box of popcorn and include the code with it. Gifting a friend a virtual cooking class? Wrap up a little container of gourmet sea salt or a pack of inexpensive chef aprons.

Whatever the digital gift, be it a game, a virtual class, or even a travel voucher, there’s always something small and physical you can connect the gift to and, in the process, give your recipient something fun to open at the holidays.

Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »