Gifts That Keep on Giving

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There are two types of people in the world when it comes to gifts: the one-lump-sum-ers  and those who love delayed gratification. For those in the second group who love to stretch out that feeling of receiving, there’s nothing better than a gift that keeps on giving. We’re talking about subscription gifts!

Subscription services have become a major business innovation, even more so since the start of the pandemic. From the no-contact safety of dropped-off delivery, the convenience of not having to remember to re-up on regular supplies, plus the projectable revenue for the brands supplying the products — it’s no surprise that subscriptions took off! The trend has done especially well with treat-yourself products.

So, this holiday season, for those who like a longer, more drawn-out gifting experience, here are some of our top picks for presents that will continue to bring joy through the winter blues and into the bloom of spring… or longer!

1For the Home

It feels like everyone’s gotten very into plants since we became homebound. And, why not? They clean the air and spruce up décor. Plus, watching things flourish and grow during a time when most living creatures are floundering is incredibly gratifying. For that reason, subscription gifts of low-maintenance plants have increased in popularity, particularly with succulents.

You can arrange for teeny-tiny low-water plants to be shipped to your recipient for 3-, 6-, or 12-months straight. There’s Succulent Studios, whose plans are only $10 a month for two little organic babies (plus shipping) and Succulents Box, which lets you choose how many you want sent per month and if you want an air plant, too. Its packages are comparably priced (read: affordable), as are Cratejoy’s, which also offers air plants. There’s also Succulents Depot for those who delight in the more unusual plant finds.

These types of plants aren’t your only option, though. It costs twice as much, but Rooted offers mystery boxes and pet-safe collections for less than $20 a month. Pricier still is The Sill, but it gives you the freedom to choose small or medium plants in your choice of planter color also. The House Plant Box is another good one, and they let you choose themes such as aquatic plants and cacti, among others. And, if you don’t mind these more costly options, Horti is great for beginners, complete with guided care lessons to turn any thumb green.

2Indulgent Treats

Surprise sweets are the sweetest surprises. And, the ability to bring that joy into a loved one’s life every month? A treat for sure!

I’m obsessed with Clarkson Avenue Crumb Cakes, whose Crumb Cake of the Month subscription program has knocked it out of the park with nearly every one I’ve personally ordered. The Almond Love with almond cake, Peck’s of Maine real cherry preserves, the almond crumb is one of the best bites I’ve had all year, and the moist Kitty’s Carrot Crumb Cake with cream cheese frosting is outstanding. I first got hooked on its Fuhgetddaboutdit, which has strawberry with marshmallow cream and vanilla wafer crumbs. These all ship free, and you can sign up for a 3- to 12-month subscription for a discount on each cake. 

Another imaginative regional artisan, McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams’ Pint of the Month Club is also ideal for collectors of taste experiences. It’s also available in 3-, 6-, and 12-month subscriptions, sending three pints of new and limited edition ice creams every month. While Clarkson reveals its calendar of flavors, McConnell’s is set to surprise… and delight. But, for a peek at the type of creative combos your recipient might expect, I love the Honey & Cornbread Cookies flavor and Eureka Lemon & Marionberries. Some of its holiday flavors include Reindeer Tracks with cream-filled, chewy chocolate cookies and peppermint candy, Pumpkin Caramel & Candied Pecans with pralines, and Eggnog & Snickerdoodle Swirl, complete with bourbon, nutmeg, and actual snickerdoodle cookies.

For traditionalists, Insomnia Cookies’ Cookie Magic is a fabulous way to share the joy of a fresh-baked cookie daily — and free delivery if one just isn’t enough. It’s just $9.99 a month and comes with other perks and discounts, but the caveat is that your sweetie must be located near a location to make use of it. They’re nationwide though, so search locations before you spring for this gift.

3Healthy Snacks

Sugary guilty pleasures aren’t for everyone — we get it. The new year is right here, and a lot of people like to use this time as a starting point for a healthier lifestyle. But, that doesn’t mean monthly deliveries of goodies aren’t off the (kitchen) table. The Fruit Company’s HarvestClub™ subscriptions are a delicious and beautiful way to support those goals, with top-of-the-season gourmet varieties like Honeybell™ Sweets oranges, Champagne mangoes, Italian Golden Bosc pears, Rainier cherries, strawberry papayas, Imperial Asian pears, and more. They’re offered in four different-sized boxes and for periods of 3, 6, and 12 months.

For something a bit more snacky, Love With Food is very reasonably priced and offers accessible, nationally distributed brands and products for easy re-ups if your recipient should fall in *ahem* love with them. They deliver sample packages of popular snacks in two sizes and a gluten-friendly (but not gluten-free) plan. Shipping is free in the U.S. and nominal internationally, and for each purchase, one meal is donated via Feeding America.

Like Love with Food, Urthbox’s smallest box comes with seven snacks a month and ships free in the U.S., but it offers small, medium, and large boxes as well. There’s a promo right now that scores the gifter their own box to enjoy when they sign on to send a subscription as a gift.

There are also diet-specific curators: Macrodieting Box, My Keto Snack Box, KetoKrate, Paleo by Maileo, The Keto Monthly Box, Elevate Snack Box, Zestbox, and CLEAN.FIT. Many of these brands have vegan and gluten-free packages. For those with diabetes or who are just watching their sugar, there’s a whole niche for that too. Check out Sugar Smart Box and Sleek Treat.

4Warming Up Winter

The months ahead bring on the chill, but a subscription to hot drinks and eats packages will brighten up any dark morning. Many of us rely on coffee to warm us up for the day, and brands like Bean Box, Bottomless, and Steeped Coffee can keep anyone covered. We’re especially enthused about the ease, portability, and eco-friendliness of Steeped Coffee’s tea-style brew — after all, it’s definitely time to move away from those single-serve plastic cups that are clogging up landfills.

For steeped-drink aficionados, the Tea Runners Subscription Box might be just the thing, with monthly deliveries of four loose leaf teas, plus tasting notes and brewing instructions to make sure you get the most out of each sip.

As for warming eats, there’s nothing like oatmeal in the morning, and Yishi Foods is giving this traditional breakfast an Asian twist. The subscription term is for three months and includes enough for one serving a day. Flavors include: Toasted Black Sesame, Taro Bubble Tea, Matcha Latte, Red Bean Berry, and Sweet Osmanthus — and none of them have dairy, gluten, or added sugar. It’s a minority woman-owned business too.

Don’t mind your oats cold? Oats Overnight is offering subscriptions too, which is the only way to get its exciting exclusive limited-edition flavors anyway. These rotate every month and include creative takes like Key Lime Pie, Orange Creamsicle, Gingerbread, Pumpkin Spice, and Snickerdoodle. You can even choose caffeinated oats for an extra jolt, in flavors like Peppermint Mocha, Caramel Cold Brew, Mocha Dream, and more. Or, stick with breakfast flavors — maple pancakes, anyone?

5Home Chefs

Adventurous eaters will love a Goldbelly subscription. It costs a pretty penny, ranging from $49 to $99 a month depending on theme (BBQ, pizza, cookie, pie, and city-specific), but there’s no denying that it’s a lot cheaper than traveling to the bucket-list eating destinations whose foods are now available delivered to your door. It also offers Best of Goldbelly curated collections, where you’ll get a mystery box of several bestsellers. That starts at $249 for 3 months.

If true DIY is more their style, let’s remember that bread is comforting even when we’re not in quarantine. Wild Grain lets your recipient enjoy fresh-baked artisanal quality carbs every month with bake-from-frozen selections that include sourdough, pastries, and even hand-cut fresh pasta like tonnarelli and fettuccine. Its breads are slow-fermented and come in varieties like seeded loaves and sweet cranberry pecan, and pastries can include such labor-intensive decadence as chocolate croissants. Plus, six meals are donated to the Greater Boston Food Bank with every membership.

On the other hand, any meat lover would be overjoyed to receive a gift subscription to Porter Road, a purveyor of pasture-raised, high-quality meat dry-aged and hand-cut at its own facilities, now delivering nationwide. Curated box themes include Butcher’s Choice of 8 to 10 pounds of classic favorites: Weeknight Heroes of easy-to use cuts, a “best of” collection, and strictly beef or just basics. It starts at $100 a month.

Prefer seafood? The famous New York City-based Fulton Fish Market recently launched a subscription service of its own, with curated boxes available so neither you nor your recipient need to deal with picking out your favorite fish each month. Choose Finfish, Shellfish, a combo of both, Mostly Shellfish, a whole fish, or smaller portions for smaller households. Delivery is included, which is a great value when you consider the cost of packaging and shipping cold items like these. And, to make things even easier, digital recipes and instructions as well as cooking tips are also sent with each box.

For an even more elevated pairing, consider adding a wine subscription. Laithwaites professionals handpick 12 special wines to be delivered straight to your recipient’s door every 3 months, and averages 20 percent per bottle savings on the case each time. It’s $159.99 plus shipping, so it’s definitely a splurge, but you can cancel any time. It’s a wonderful way to learn about high-quality, unusual wines and where they come from.

6Wearable Subscriptions

Although the market is saturated with different types of food subscriptions, they’re not the only game in town. There are plenty of wearable subscriptions too, whether it’s athletic wear a la Kate Hudson’s Fabletics, Rent the Runway memberships, or uber-comfy underwear via Bootay Bag, which donates a pair of panties to a woman in need at a shelter with every purchase.

For the face, there’s Ipsy, of course, with makeup and beauty products galore, and for hair, Prose has been making waves in both senses of the word with its custom shampoo and conditioning packs, formulated specifically for customers’ climates, hair types, and lifestyles.

Tags: Christmas, Desserts, gifts, Healthy Eating, holiday season

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Su-Jit Lin

Su-Jit Lin is a food, travel, wellness, shopping, and lifestyle writer who is passionate about writing stories that help. See Full Bio

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