Tag Archives: gifts

Subscription Box Guide 2018

By Tracey Dowdy

Do you have someone on your list that’s virtually impossible to buy for? A parent who doesn’t want or need more “stuff” because they’re planning to downsize? A child that has more toys then Tom Hanks in “Big?” A friend that eschews consumerism?

Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy – the subscription box. No matter their interest or personality, there is a multitude of great subscription boxes out there at a variety of price points. Here are some of the most popular.

The granddaddy of them all is Birchbox, who kicked off the subscription box trend back in 2010 when it offered a monthly delivery of personalized beauty samples for just $10. Once you fill out your profile, Birchbox picks five samples of both “prestige and niche” beauty products for you to try. If you decide to purchase full-size versions of your favorite products, you get $1 back in Loyalty Points for every $10 you spend in their Shop. They have several promotions right now on their original $10 a month subscription, $30 for three months, or $110 for a year.

If you have a foodie in your life, Try the World or Love With Food are great options. Try the World does just that – every month you get a selection of foods from around the world. You can choose Countries ($39/month) or Snacks ($19/month). Love with Food ships junk-free all-natural, organic or gluten-free snacks and each subscription helps fight childhood hunger. For every box shipped, they donate at least one meal to American families in need. Subscriptions start at $7.99 a month.

If you’re looking for something for the wine connoisseur in your life, Winc, California Wine Club, and Cellars Wine Club are great options. Each has you complete a taste profile that helps identify your wine preferences. You can stick to what you like or explore wines you may be unfamiliar with. Subscriptions start at $13 a bottle and up, so you can choose to be as fancy as you like.

For the pet owner on your list, there’s no end of options. Choose Bark Box, that ships you and your dog a box of toys and healthy treats for as little as $19 a month or even a WINEDOG Box a seasonally themed monthly box with wine-themed gifts for you, and a (non-alcoholic obviously) treat for your pup.  Subscriptions start at $35 a month. For the cat-lady – or gent – in your life, The KitTea Kit subscription box ships cat-themed samples and accessories every month, or choose The BUB CLUB SUB BOX, a quarterly subscription that ships exclusive premium Lil BUB items, with a portion of proceeds providing food for homeless pets. Subscriptions start at $23.

Kiwi Crates make great family gifts. Every month, you’ll receive all the supplies for creative art, science, games, and activities. Set your preferred age group – e.g. ages 0-36 months, ages 3-4, ages 5-8, etc. – choose your plan, and then sit back and anticipate activities designed by educators, makers, engineers, and rocket scientists – seriously – rocket scientists. For example, in the toddler themed box, you’ll get two to three developmentally appropriate projects, a copy of Wonder Magazine, access to Online Resources, and a Tadpole Board Book. Subscriptions start as low as $16.95 a month, shipping is free, and you can cancel any time.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Last Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts

By Tracey Dowdy

There was a time when last minute Valentine’s Day gifts meant a single rose in a plastic tube or a tiny teddy bear and a mylar balloon with “I Love You Beary Much” stenciled across it.  They all carried the sweet smell of gasoline and coffee – the scent of the gas station where they were purchased on the way home from work.

Thankfully, those days are over. Say goodbye to dusty roses and faded teddy bears, now you can order everything from couples massages to an at-home feast straight from your phone. Skip the flowers and candy and surprise your Valentine with one of these sweet gifts.

For the foodie:

OpenTable searches restaurants near you and lets you know which ones have open reservations. You can search menus and make a reservation straight from your phone or tablet. LocalEats focuses its search on smaller restaurants in your area, allows you to make reservations (through OpenTable) and even order a cab.

If you can’t get the reservation that fits your schedule, bring the food to you. Ordering in isn’t limited to pizza or Chinese anymore. Many restaurants offer carry out service and apps like Eat24 and GrubHub search nearby eateries, allow you to choose your cuisine, order and pay all from within the app.

For pampering:

Consider a spa package for him or her. SpaFinder gift cards are good at over 20,000 locations so chances are there’s one near you. Cards are valid not only for pampering services like manicures and massages but also for yoga, spinning and other fitness classes, or can be used toward a spa vacation.

Another fun option is to go with a monthly subscription to a service like Pop Sugar’s “Must Have Box”. For $39.95 a month, recipients have a box filled with an assortment of sample and full-size fashion, cosmetic, beauty, home décor and wellness products delivered to their door.

Birchbox offers a similar service but focuses on high-end beauty and lifestyle products. Because you’re getting samples instead of full-size products the cost is lower, but it’s a great opportunity to try more expensive brands at a reasonable cost. Birchbox also offers a men’s version with 3-4 grooming samples and a full sized accessory like a bar tool or headphones. The women’s Birchbox is $10 a month or $110 a year and for men the cost is $20 a month or $195 a year.

If you really want to impress your sweetheart, get them a Barkbox for their four-legged friend. Every month their pup will receive four or more items ranging from toys and treats to hygiene products and gadgets. Even better, 10% of the profits go directly to rescue organizations, shelters, and volunteer training. Boxes start at $19 a month. How sweet is that?

For the techie:

If your Valentine is a techie, Verizon Wireless has great deals on last minute gifts like phones and tablets, Fitbit wristbands and Beats headphones.

Go even further and add a subscription to a streaming service like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Spotify, or Rhapsody for the music and movie lover in your life. For book lovers, gift cards to Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble and Audible are a guaranteed hit.

Or, simply buy them an app. Seriously. There’s an app for every budget from 99 cent games like “Heads Up” all the way up to VIP Black app (also known as the “The Millionaire’s App”) to the tune of $999.99.

So there’s no need to panic. With so many great options in the palm of your hand, this could be your best Valentine’s Day yet!

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.