Tag Archives: Holiday gift guide

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 Holiday Gift Guide

By Tracey Dowdy

‘Tis the season for last minute shopping. Although many of us vow that this year will be different, inevitably, there’s one more gift you forgot to grab. Maybe it’s a last minute RSVP for Christmas dinner, Secret Santa, or to replace something you’ve ordered that won’t be here in time, these suggestions should cover just about anyone on your list.

The Takeya 10310 Patented Deluxe Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker is under $20 and available with Amazon Prime, so you’ll have it by the weekend. Cold brewing extracts only the rich coffee essence, leaving behind the bitter, acidic bite of the hot brewing process. Once brewed, concentrated coffee from your Takeya can be kept fresh in its airtight container for up to two weeks and used for either hot or iced coffees.

When you were a kid, getting socks was like, so lame, but as an adult, it’s a whole different story. Actually, even kids will get a kick – see what I did there? – out of Target’s Santa’s Sleigh 12 Days of Socks Advent Calendar. It’s a mix of holiday-themed low-cut, no-show and crew socks and shipping is free and guaranteed for December 21.

Remember when getting the mail was fun? Other than the occasional birthday card or wedding invitation, the only time of the year it’s fun to go through the stack of bills and junk mail is Christmas. Change that up with a magazine subscription. Magazines.com offers discounted subscriptions on both digital and hard copies of magazines. Currently, Sports Illustrated is discounted 76%, us Weekly 67%, and Entertainment Weekly is 87% off the cover price.

Everyone’s crazy about the Yeti water bottle, but at $39, it’s a little steep for some budgets. Instead, opt this highly rated dupe from Walmart – the Ozark Trail Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle. Available in nine colors, it keeps your drinks hot or cold for hours. It’s on sale for just $6, so you can afford to get one for everyone on your list.

If all else fails, it’s never a bad idea to grab gift cards. Once the go-to of aunts and uncles who don’t really know you, gift cards have become far more widely available for almost every restaurant chain, movie theatre, or even specialty stores like Bass Pro Shops, The Disney Store, Pet Smart, and Jiffy Lube.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Tech Gifts for Parents

By Tracey Dowdy

Like most parents, you’ve likely spent most of your list-making energy deciding who’s been naughty or nice and curating your kids’ wish lists to match your budget. But what about you? What about your partner? This holiday season, what are the best gifts for moms and dads?

This list of holiday tech should help you come up with some great ideas.

Whether you’re into the medicinal benefits of essential oils or think it’s the modern version of snake oil, you can’t argue that everyone enjoys a house that smells good. An essential oil diffuser can smell nice and scents are known to alter moods and performance. Soothing lavender or vanilla, energizing peppermint or eucalyptus, or even frankincense for relaxation.

If you’re in the market for a new TV or an upgrade for your home theater, consider swapping your flat screen for a projector. The cost of home theatre systems has dropped making customizable options more affordable than ever, plus they’re a great option if you have little ones who have trouble sitting through an episode of Peppa Pig let alone a feature-length movie. Individual specs vary, but some can project a 50-inch diagonal image from as little as 32 inches away, and with LED projection, you won’t have to replace the lamps.

Speaking of home theatre systems, even if you’re not in the market for a new TV or projector, you can boost your home theatre experience with a new surround sound system. You can choose from a Home-Theater-In-A-Box (HTIB), or if you prefer to customize, you can buy the speakers and the receiver separately. Keep in mind lower end systems will mean running wires and cables while higher-end systems will be totally wireless. Either way, a complete system is within reach for less money than you may think.

Tablets have come a long way since the introduction iPad, though tablets were around long before 2010. They keep our kids entertained, have become essential to the way many do business, with their lightweight portability and robust software. Whether you opt for a PC based tablet like Amazon’s Fire 7 Tablet with Alexa or Apple’s iPad Pro with iOS 12, whatever your need, there’s a tablet for that.

When the smartwatch was introduced back in 2015, many thought it was going to be one of those “Nice try, not interested,” devices. Not so. Today’s smartwatches are sleek, pack user-friendly interfaces with larger buttons than previous iterations, and longer battery life than ever before. If you’re in the market, this list can help you decide which best fits your needs.

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.