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Last-minute Christmas gifts: Subscription services to bail you out

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Xmas gift

It's nearly Christmas, and we can almost guarantee you'll have forgotten to buy a gift for someone in your life by the time the big day rolls around. Fortunately, we have some top last minute gift ideas for you.

When we say 'last minute' here, we really mean it. Not 'I'll just nip down the shops at 5 o'clock on December 24' late. We're talking 'wake up in a cold sweat at 1 am on December 25' late.

The beauty of these suggestions is that they are all virtual, so they can be bought at any ungodly time – no physical shops or postage delays necessary. They could really save your bacon this Christmas.

DisneyLife

This is for that one niece or nephew you invariably forget every year. Toys 'R' Us is a no go, Argos is out of the question. You're going to be persona non grata with both the grumpy-faced kid in question and their parents.

To you, we recommend DisneyLife. It's the House of Mouse's new subscription service that provides unlimited access to the company's vast library of content for £9.99 per month. That includes films, TV shows, music, and ebooks.

You can stream this content to up to ten devices, including Android and iOS smartphones (mobile network streaming is supported), and you can create six distinct profiles so that all the family can get involved.

As part of the package, you also get to download a Disney app for free every month. It's quite a bundle.

Related: Best Christmas gifts for him | Best Christmas gifts for her

DisneyLife

Now TV

Every man and his dog knows about Netflix, and a few months' subscription to the service is hardly going to impress anyone.

But have you considered giving a Now TV subscription as a gift? It offers far more potential for personalisation depending on what the receiver likes, and you don't need any special equipment (despite the availability of a Now TV box) aside from a device that can run the free Now TV app.

There are three Now TV passes on offer. The Now TV Sky Movies Pass grants access to Sky's exemplary library of some 1,000 films for £9.99 per month. You get 16 premieres each month, and the ever-updating selection remains the strongest outside of straight rental or purchase services.

The Now TV Entertainment Pass is for the box set lover in your life, or perhaps the Netflix fan who's itching for the next big drama series to watch. For £6.99 per month (or £24.99 for six months), you get access to an enviable library of drama series across 13 pay TV channels, including Sky Atlantic, Fox, and ABC.

Finally, the Now TV Sky Sports Pass offers access to Sky's unmatched sports channels, which is home to Premier League matches, full F1 coverage, and more. This is the most expensive pass by far at £31.99 per month, but we're sure even a month of access for a footy fan during the congested Christmas/New Year's period would be greatly appreciated.

Related: Christmas gift guide

Now TV

Google Play Music

How about the music fan in your life? Continuing our theme of avoiding the obvious pick, we're going to steer you around Spotify here. Like Netflix, that's the obvious choice, so it's likely to come across as a little thoughtless.

We'd draw your attention instead to Google Play Music, which offers much of what Spotify does so well and plenty more besides.

Like Spotify, you get streaming access to some 35 million music tracks through a mobile app (Android or iOS) or the Google Play Music web page. You can create playlists, save tracks for offline listening, and follow curated recommendations to discover new music. That's the regular stuff.

But slapping down £9.99 per month for a Google Play Music subscription for someone gets them much more besides. For example, they can upload their existing music tracks to Google's servers, enabling them to stream back those rare beloved CDs that are gathering dust in the loft any time they want.

There's also the promise of YouTube Red, which is out now in the US and will be coming to the UK soon, and will be included as part of the Google Play Music subscription. YouTube Red cuts out the ads from the video service, enables offline viewing and background playback on mobile, and will feature original video content starring established YouTube stars.

A Google Play Music service, then, is literally the gift that will keep on giving this Christmas and beyond.

Related: Google Play Music: 10 Tips and tricks to get you started

Music

PlayStation Now

Is the person that's incited this last minute festive panic a gamer? Do they own a PS4 or a PS3? Perhaps they're getting one this very Christmas. Either way, a subscription to PlayStation Now will be a welcome and somewhat left-field gift, guaranteed.

Besides Sony's most recent home consoles, PlayStation Now also works onthe PS Vita handheld, as well as some compatible Sony Blu-ray players and Sony Bravia TVs.

Think of PlayStation Now as a Netflix service for PlayStation gamers. For £12.99 per month (there's also a three month option), you get to play 100 classic PS3 games on your PS4 or PS3 - but you never need to insert a disc or download a single game file. It's all streamed in the cloud using some very clever technology.

It's not the cheapest service, and you don't actually get full access to the whole library through the subscription model. There's a whole bunch of games that can only be rented from an a la carte menu.

But as a gift, it's essentially like buying someone 100 classic games. It'll make you look positively generous, rather than the forgetful, inconsiderate klutz you are.

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