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Subscription boxes: What took me so long?

Who doesn’t want to come home to a surprise box of goodies waiting on the porch? No one, that’s who. If you’re unsure about subscription boxes, or you’ve never given them a thought, consider sending a curated, thoughtful gift to yourself or someone you really, really like.

Flourish separator

It’s safe to say that I’m pretty much never on-trend, and never really have been.  I definitely didn’t wear cool clothes in high school, I didn’t read Harry Potter until about four years ago, I’ve never been on TikTok, and I am not often able to contribute when people discuss popular TV shows.  I’d be a terrible journalist, because I don’t operate with my finger on the pulse.  I won’t be aloof and say I don’t care about what the world is into at any particular moment.  I’m not above the current, just bobbing around in my own cove.  

Stephen Orr composes beautiful Editor’s Letters in every issue of Better Homes and Gardens, and in the September issue he writes about trends. He suggests that as we age and understand more about ourselves, we gain the confidence to sit back watching the ever-evolving stream, plucking from it the occasional idea that tickles us.  Adopting and embracing elements that enhance our lives is what it’s all about.  

The other night, in an effort to inject some enthusiasm into my cleaning routine, I stumbled upon Grove and had way too much fun selecting honeysuckle hand soaps and rosemary orange cleanser concentrates.  The thought of a box arriving on my porch every month full of little boosts to revitalize my cleaning routine (since I need to clean anyway) became so appealing that I began to search for other subscription boxes.  The concept itself isn’t new, but I had never really considered them.  And it looks like they have improved by leaps and bounds since Clark Griswold received his membership to the Jelly-of-the-Month Club.  

The world of subscription boxes has exploded, and this time I really am sorry I am so late to hop on the bus.  These boxes are designed to surprise and delight, and there is literally something for everyone.  You can find boxes for pregnant moms, for men, for kids, for bakers, for readers, for gardeners, for athletes, for pets.  You can find eco-friendly boxes, food and drink boxes, home decor boxes, fashion boxes.  You name it.  We’ve come a long way from jelly.  

I’m positively giddy over the possibility of a package of surprise goodies materializing on my doorstep.  When I was little, I used to compulsively check the mail (ask my mom).  I loved the idea of messages appearing in that box with the flag.  I had penpals.  I sent away for cassette tapes.  I wrote to fan clubs.  Let’s face it, who doesn’t love receiving a box?? Amazon nailed it with their symbol of the little smirk connecting the A to the Z. 

In these years as a primarily stay-at-home mom, I appreciate (okay, some days I am desperate for) a shake-up in routine and something to look forward to that is about me.  Come on mamas, who is the creator of the magic in your house?  Who plans the birthday parties?  Who makes sure Santa delivers?  Who remembers to buy the orange and black sprinkles so the kids can have festive fall pancakes?  That’s what I thought.  Setting yourself up with a little monthly or quarterly surprise is an investment in your happiness and well-being.  If you don’t want to spend the money on yourself, request it as a gift!  Many of the subscriptions offer gifting options where you can purchase just one or two months as a treat for someone special.  

Speaking of gifts, have you started making your holiday lists?  How many people are on it for whom you have no idea what to buy?  I’m telling you.  Think about what he or she is into and find a box.  If all else fails, send snacks!  It’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.  

If you’re thinking that they’re too expensive, I worried about the same.  But honestly it depends what it is and what you’d be comfortable spending.  For instance, you can send someone a cute sampling of teas for about $16.  The home decor boxes are understandably more expensive, more like $75.  But they contain 6-8 pieces, so when you figure $10 per decoration, that’s not so bad.  Most boxes I found are around $50, with a discount if you sign up for a year. 

Here are a few that I am excited about.  I do not receive any compensation whatsoever from these links. They are just suggestions I wanted to share with you if you are curious about these cardboard-contained wonders.

  • Cratejoy.  This is the place to start if you’re new to the world of subscription boxes because it gives you the lay of the land and introduces you to the possibilities.  You can search by category to get a feel for what’s out there, and every subscription includes gifting options.  
  • Sips By.  Tea drinkers, rejoice.  These boxes promise a “personalized tea journey”.  
  • Alltrue.  Every brand featured in Alltrue boxes uses sustainable and socially-conscious practices.  They offer a nice mix of products, from handmade leather bags to makeup to cooking utensils.  Goodies you can feel good about.  
  • Boxy Momma.  This one is so fun for moms.  Each month, the box features themed, curated treasures for mama, most with a sense of humor.  You might receive a shirt that says “Laundry Today or Naked Tomorrow” or a bath bomb that “Smells like a Locked Door”.  
  • Green Up.  These boxes help people replace household items with more environmentally-friendly ones.  Think swapping out plastic wrap for beeswax wraps, or dryer sheets for wool balls.  This is a great option if you’re looking to slowly adopt greener practices at home.  
  • Shaker and Spoon.  Each box contains a recipe card and everything you need to whip up a signature cocktail suited to the month.  Put the kids to bed and get that ice tinkling.
  • Authentic Books.  If you’re a reader, this one’s for you.  These boxes immerse you in the reading experience with sensory elements.  You receive a bestseller, a candle that evokes a smell from the story, a tea blend inspired by the book, a customized playlist to echo the characters in your head.  Sign me up.  No, seriously, friends. I would like this one as a gift.  Just saying.  

This list doesn’t begin to do justice to the possibilities, but I felt inspired to write about these today because it feels good to be excited.  These boxes are trendy, but for good reason.  And if a trend can deliver joy to my life in some way, then for me it’s here to stay.  

Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.
- Samuel Johnson

2 comments writes:
Sep 27, 2021 8:13am
See, this is why we are friends--I'm notorious for missing out on/being unaware of societal trends! I've never heard of any of these boxes, but you definitely piqued my interest in Authentic Books (of course!) and Boxy Momma. Now to decide whether I buy it for myself or hint hint to someone else, ha ha. I missed your writings, friend, so keep 'em coming (but no pressure)!
Heather Walsh writes:
Sep 27, 2021 9:21am
Treat yo'self, mama! We all could use a fun little pick-me-up, especially when we're mostly at home. Consider it self-care, and go for it. You give, give, give, with your hands, words, and heart, so let yourself be a recipient.

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