Subscription Boxes: Gifts That Keep Giving All Year Long
Monthly subscription boxes aren't limited to beauty box subscriptions or box-of-the-month clubs anymore. We tested an array of monthly box subscriptions, and we're sure you'll find one to suit anyone on your list.
Everything In This Slideshow
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What's inside: Specially curated products for men ranging from toiletries to outdoor equipment, depending on which featured box you choose.
Price: $45 per month (with $70 retail value or higher) with free shipping.
Our experience: Bespoke Post offers 17 different themed boxes to fit any guy's personality, such as Aged or Cheers for drink-lovers, Jet Set or Weekender for travelers, Seared or Sizzle for cooks, and Retreat or Canteen for outdoorsmen. We tried the Refresh package, which included a dopp kit filled with Heavy Hitter Shampoo, Matterial Styling Clay, natural handmade soap, facewash, lotion, Drinker's Detox Multivitamin, and toothpaste. We were impressed by the high-quality bag and products, and we look forward to trying a different box next time, which is one of the bonuses of Bespoke Post. If you want to switch your preferences, just do it before the fifth of the month because the package ships out on the 15th.
Ideal gift for: Any type of guy in your life.
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Price: Items vary in price, but you set a range based on your spending comfort level. A $20 styling fee per box is credited toward anything you purchase in your shipment.
Our experience: Although Stitch Fix is an on-demand styling service that doesn't require a subscription, we're including it in our list because we love staying up on the latest trends but hate spending hours walking around a crowded mall to find them. Stitch Fix takes the guesswork out of finding an outfit by matching you with a personal stylist who does the work for you -- and helps you break out of your boring clothing streak. First, you to take a style quiz, where you describe your body type, share your likes and dislikes, and select your preferences for price range, colors, patterns, etc. Then, you schedule when you want to receive your box. Once you receive your box, you have three days to return the items you don't like (in a handy little return envelope they provide). We definitely plan to get a "fix" again.
Ideal gift for: Style mavens and online shoppers.
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What's inside: Materials for kids ages 5-8 to create hands-on projects and an explore! magazine.
Price: $16.95-$19.95 per month, depending on which plan you select.
Our experience: Each box contains arts and crafts, science activities, engineering projects, and imaginative play items based on a theme, such as science of color or treasure hunt. When kids finish the main projects, they can continue the fun with explore! magazine, which includes stories and mini experiments. We love that kids not only use their creativity while assembling the projects, but also continue using their imagination when they play with the objects they create. The kits offer a nice balance of required parental help and kids being able to fly solo; make sure you follow the age guidelines because the tiny pieces included are a choking hazard for kids younger than 5.
Ideal gift for: Creative, inquisitive kids.
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What's inside: Cookbook and pre-measured ingredients for recipes you pick each week under the Classic, Veggie, or Family Plans.
Price: Starts at $8.75 per meal and you can order 3, 4, or 5 meals per week with servings for 2 or 4 people; free shipping.
Our experience: They don't call it Hello "Fresh" for nothing. The cookbook and farm fresh ingredients arrive tucked between ice packs in a large cardboard box, grouped by each meal. None of our veggies were wilted, and the meats retained their high-quality goodness through shipping. Besides providing extensive, step-by-step cooking instructions that any novice cook can follow, the cookbook also suggests the order to prepare meals throughout the week (always start with the fish!). We love how the meals encourage you to try new tastes without being stuck with an expensive mountain of leftover ingredients. The meal price is comparable to eating out, but you're given appropriate portions, and you know what's in every healthy bite.
Ideal gift for: Foodies, busy families, empty nesters, healthy eaters, or people trying to lose weight.
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What's inside: Fresh ingredients for each meal, step-by-step instructions, and meals for the two-person or family plans.
Price: The two-person plan is $59.94 for the 6-serving weekly delivery, and the family plan is $69.92 for 8 servings. No matter which you pick, the shipping is free.
Our experience: Blue Apron includes everything you need for a family dinner, making it almost as easy as ordering takeout -- without the guilt. Each week, Blue Apron lets you choose different meals from their meat or vegetarian recipe options. If you're looking for convenience or to try something new, Blue Apron fills the bill, and signing up is easy. Simply go online, pick your meals, select your delivery date, and voila -- everything arrives at your front door ready to be prepped, cooked, and eaten. The farm-fresh ingredients are delivered in a refrigerated box, which includes highly descriptive cooking instructions, perfectly ripe vegetables, and delectable cuts of quality meats. One of our favorite aspects of Blue Apron is that it allows you to get away from your regular meal rotation and try something new. If you enjoy cooking or love staying in, the price per meal outweighs the cost of going to a restaurant, since the two-person plan is $9.99 per serving and the family plan equals $8.74 per serving. Plus, you'll know exactly what you're putting into every meal.
Ideal gift for: Foodies, busy families, empty nesters, healthy eaters, or people trying to lose weight.
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Steve Spangler Science Club
What's inside: Tools and instructions to conduct hands-on science experiments with children in grades kindergarten through sixth grade.
Price: $29.99 per month and free shipping.
Our experience: Ellen DeGeneres has featured Steve on her show, and she has said, "Steve Spangler is the science teacher you always wanted to have in school." Your kids may not be able to have him teach in their school, but they can learn from his hands-on science lessons right in your own home. Each box explores a different theme and contains step-by-step instructions, most of the equipment you'll need to conduct the main experiment, science fair project ideas, and extra challenges. We love that the separate kid and adult instruction manuals were written with Steve's lighthearted voice to make the science seem entertaining, but we noticed that the experiments require parents to be very involved in the process. They aren't meant to just hand-off to children to conduct on their own, but they're a way to spend a lot of quality time together at about the same cost as going to a science museum.
Ideal gift for: Curious kids with involved parents.
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What's inside: Two pairs of socks for kids ages 3-8 and fun things to do, such as brain teasers, games, crafts, and stickers.
Price: $15 per month.
Our experience: Panda Pals is Sock Panda's line for kids ages 3-8. The company's goal is to design socks that make people say "wow," and they do -- because of the bright, unique patterns and because each pair snaps together to avoid losing socks. The other "wow" factor in our book is with every subscription purchased, Panda Pals donates a pair of socks to a homeless shelter, low income senior center, or under-privileged classroom throughout the United States.
Ideal gift for: Kids who love colorful clothes.
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What's inside: 30-day supply of any designer fragrance of your choice.
Price: $14.95 per month with free shipping.
Our experience: Let's face it, perfumes can be pricey, and you never seem to know until you wear them whether they're right for you. That's what makes Scent Bird a genius concept: You can date a perfume before you marry it. You start by creating your own queue from more than 450 designer fragrances, so you can receive a new brand-name scent each month. You'll receive your first generous supply (equal to four sprays per day for a month) in a reusable white case that lifts the sprayer up and down similar to a lipstick tube. When you receive the next perfume, you simply remove the last bottle from the case and insert the new one. If you find a scent that was made for you, you can cancel at any time and buy a full size bottle in Scent Bird's shop. Women don't get all the fun. Men can try colognes from 150 fragrances in a black reusable case.
Ideal gift for: Adventurous women and men.
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What's inside: Five deluxe samples and full-sized products.
Price: $12 per month with free shipping.
Our experience: Beautybox Five's goal is to introduce subscribers to new brands and products, while sharing tips on the best ways to use them. So, every month they send a mix of five beauty products that range from luxury, niche items to eco-conscious, drugstore finds. They pride themselves on offering splurge-worthy and budget-friendly items to suit anyone's needs. Our box definitely delivered. We received a Nika Skin exfoliating brush, didhair.com hair ties, Retinol spa treatment mask, Alberto VO5 Hot Oil Therapy, and Olive Natural Beauty Elixir. We liked having the option of buying more of each product we enjoyed through Beautybox Five's online shop. They even offered the entire month's sample box again at a reduced price in its sale section.
Ideal gift for: Beauty guru or savvy spender.
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What's inside: Curated full-size beauty, lifestyle, and wellness products.
Price: $29.95 every other month with free shipping.
Our experience: Love Goodly's motto is "eco-friendly, nontoxic, vegan, curated with love," but it should also say "incredible value." Our box contained an eclectic mix of cruelty-free deluxe samples and a heart necklace that were valued at $85. When you factor in the 5 percent of each purchase that is given to support a cause, it's really money well spent. The company says it will soon offer the option to personalize preferences, but for now, each box is carefully curated and contains a different mix of brands and products, ranging from beauty, skincare, and wellness products to healthy snacks and home accessories. If you find a brand you like, you can go back to Love Goodly's website to order a full-size option. We love that they're packaged in recyclable materials, so we're not hurting the environment while nurturing our bodies.
Ideal gift for: Beauty buffs, eco-conscious friends, and people who love surprises.
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Birchbox Beauty Box
What's inside: Five samples tailored to your skin, hair, and style.
Price: $10 per month.
Our experience: Many beauty subscription boxes are out there, but what makes Birchbox stand out is its personalized touch. When you sign up for the monthly program, you complete a beauty profile so the products you receive can be tailored to your specific beauty needs. If you have straight or wavy hair or struggle with dark spots or fine lines, you can request products to fit you. We liked that all of the products were made by brands we'd never tried before, so when we opened the box, we started on a beauty adventure.
Ideal gift for: Trend-seeker or beauty buff.
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Shaker & Spoon
What's inside: All the makings for some serious cocktails -- syrups, bitters, garnishes, and recipes -- minus the booze.
Price: $50 month to month, $135 for 3 months, $250 for 6 months, and $480 for 12 months.
Our experience: Each subscription box from Shaker & Spoon includes all the non-boozy ingredients you need to create 12 craft cocktails at home. You just add alcohol. Small-batch bitters, funky-flavor homemade simple syrups, and inventive garnishes make DIY mixology easy. Shaking up bar-worthy cocktails is a breeze with Shaker & Spoon's clever recipes, illustrated instruction cards, and a bonus glossary of necessary barware and glassware. We liked that the box can be used by people who love to drink and those who don't.
Ideal gift for: Cocktail lovers or mocktail makers.
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What's inside: Three 3-ounce packets of unique spices and accompanying recipes.
Price: $8 per month.
Our experience: If you're getting tired of preparing the same meals week in and week out, Raw Spice Bar can add some pizzazz to your menu. Each month, you'll explore spices from a new region of the world without having to worry about cluttering your pantry with unused containers. The spice blends are created by top chefs and can be customized to your diet. The packet portions match the provided recipes, so you don't have to worry about making your dishes too bold or too bland. What we love most is RawSpiceBar grinds the spices right before they send them to you, so you are getting the freshest flavors without added salts, sugars, chemical fillers, or additives. We received the Anguillian Spice Box, which featured Caribbean flavors in the Scotch Bonnet Jerk, Pimento Bloody Mary, and Poivre Melange spice packets. They were matched with the Jerk Chicken Wings, Bloody Mary Mango Salad, and Black Pepper Ice Cream recipes -- perfect for spicing up any regular Tuesday night.
Ideal gift for: Adventurous foodies, empty nesters.
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What's inside: An assortment of more than 20 snacking favorites from around the world.
Price: Per delivery: $9.95 for the MunchPak Mini, which contains 5-6 full-size snacks; $19.95 for the Original MunchPak, which contains 10 or more full-size snacks; $39.95 for the MunchPak FamilyPak, which contains 20 or more full-size snacks. Packages are delivered as often as you like -- every week, every two weeks, or once a month -- and there's always free shipping within the United States.
Our experience: MunchPak is all about choice. First you choose whether you want a MunchPak Mini, Original or FamilyPak delivered to your home or office. Next, you can let MunchPak fill your order with a completely random assortment of snacks from around the world or pick your own. You can narrow your selections by international or American brands, favorite flavors or cravings, and allergy-safe options. You can even add drinks to your box. If you want to learn more about the products in your box, you can download the MunchPak app. We enjoyed tasting international versions of American staples, like Cheetos and Doritos, and found the difference in packing among cultures especially fascinating.
Ideal gift for: Foodies, families, and college kids.
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What's inside: A mix of fashion, gourmet food, fitness, art, home decor, and beauty items curated by a guest blogger.
Price: $36.95 for one box; $33.95 per month for a subscription of three months or more.
Our experience: Moms are usually the ones creating care packages, but they deserve to receive them, too. Because, as Mommy Mailbox says, "When mom's happy, everyone's happy." And if you check out their Instagram account, they're making moms happy. We weren't surprised when the contents of our shipment featured unique products that were specially curated with spoiling mom in mind. The box felt like we opened a gift from a friend. The tea towels, salt water taffy, strawberry huller, and lip gloss were welcome treats after a busy day of wrangling kids. And if you use the coupon code BHG10 when you click the Subscribe Now button below, you'll receive 10 percent off any subscription, which is sure to make you happy, too.
Ideal gift for: Any mothers, but especially new moms.
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What's inside: Number of bottles of wine depends on the subscription.
Price: New members save $20 on their first order with complementary shipping on 4 or more bottles (around $36 per month for 3 bottles).
Our experience: Winc founded the world's first personalized wine club, Club W, in 2012, and it prides itself in connecting subscribers to a world of exclusive wines tailored to their tastes and delivered directly to their door. Now they've expanded their goals to creating a platform for artisanal winemaking and building "a grape-to-glass supply chain that's sustainable for the planet." When you sign up for Winc, you first create a Palate Profile, where you answer six questions to share your unique tastes. Then Winc sends you wines specifically matched to your palate. Our favorite parts are that you rate the wines in order to receive better recommendations in the future -- think Pandora for wine -- and you never pay for a bottle you don't like. Membership is also flexible. You can skip a month any time, free of charge, and you can cancel whenever you want.
Ideal gift for: Wine lovers at any experience level.
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What's inside: Full-size vegan, gluten free, and diet snacks up to $100 in value.
Price: $12.99 for 3 months; $19.99 for 6 months; free shipping in the United States.
Our experience: Urthbox is strict about the products it includes in its boxes. They must be 100 percent GMO free, organic, and natural, plus pass ingredient, sourcing, calorie, nutrition, and manufacturing standards in order to be selected for inclusion. When you subscribe, you select a box size (Mini, Small, Medium, or Large); choose a 1-, 3-, or 6-month subscription; and pick from four box options: Classic, Vegan, Gluten Free, and Diet. The favorite snacks in our box were all things Kettle -- Kettle Chips and Kettle Corn. They passed not only Urthbox's strict guidelines, but also our taste test with flying colors.
Ideal gift for: Vegans and gluten free or healthy eaters.
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What's inside: Organic baking mixes and kits with a featured theme each month.
Price: $74 for a 3-month subscription or buy individual mixes, sets, and kits starting at $5.99 each.
Two things make Foodstirs stand out from other baking kit subscription boxes: 1) They use all clean, green, organic, and GMO-free ingredients; 2) They feature Pinterest-worthy treats that can be made with six ingredients or less. We received the Movie Night Kit that provided instructions and ingredients to make vanilla cupcakes that look like mini bags of popcorn. Besides including icons that represent each step and piece of equipment needed, making it even easier for kids to follow along, the instructions also include extra tips to tweak the cupcakes to your liking, such as melting caramel on top to make caramel corn or adding a little yellow food dye to the cake batter to give the cupcakes a true popcorn look.
Ideal gift for: Parents and creative bakers with limited time.
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What's inside: More than $50 worth of collectibles, games, and an exclusive T-shirt.
Price: $17.90 per month, plus $6 shipping and handling; 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year plans also available.
Our experience: Geek Fuel's slogan is "Monthly Mystery Box of Geeky Goodness," and it's no joke. Every month, 5-8 items, including toys, comics, collectibles, a T-shirt, and a downloadable game are sent to subscribers. The gear features characters from Star Wars, Avengers, Doctor Who, Super Mario Bros, Marvel, DC, and more. Some items in the past have been Star Trek coasters, Doctor Who ice trays, and Pac Man shakers. And besides the geek treasure that's in the box, members also receive a chance to enter monthly contests to win prizes worth thousands of dollars, including bundles from PS4 and Xbox One.
Ideal gift for: Geeks and gamers.
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What's inside: A featured recipe and all the ingredients and specialized equipment you'll need to create it, except butter, milk, and eggs.
Price: $99 for 3 months with free shipping in the United States.
Our experience: SoBakeable says it provides a "baking lesson in a box," and it delivers on that promise. Whether a novice or seasoned, bakers can easily create the delicious desserts featured each month. We received the kit for the Cookies 'N Creme Donuts, which included all the nonperishable ingredients, decorating tools, and a silicone donut pan to make perfectly sized donuts every time. The instructions were very clear and easy to follow, and we loved that they included an option to download the Snap-Watch-Learn app in order to take pictures of the images with the app's icon to link to video tutorials that further illustrated the slightly trickier steps. This added feature makes SoBakeable a great activity for parents and kids to do together.
Ideal gift for: Beginner to seasoned bakers and parents.
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What's inside: Three to five artisan, organic, local, healthy goods.
Price: Starting at $26.95 per month an average of $40 worth of products; $49.95 for an average of $80 worth of products; free shipping.
Our experience: Prospurly allows you to "go local" but on a national scale. You receive artisan-crafted, natural products from small local crafters around the United States. The full-size products include a range of bath and body essentials, gourmet treats, and sustainable home goods. We especially enjoyed relaxing with the Sleep Time Salt Soak Nature Nectar and creating delicious nibbles with the vanilla sugar that came in our box.
Ideal gift for: Farmers market lovers or anyone who prefers to buy local.
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What's inside: Five travel-size samples of beauty products.
Price: $21 per month with free shipping in the United States.
Our experience: GLOSSYBOX is located in 10 countries and has beauty trend scouts in Paris, Milan, Tokyo, New York, and other corners of the world. Their monthly box allows you to try new makeup products easily. Besides providing five travel-size samples of hair and skin care products from well-known luxury brands and up-and-coming niche brands that are chosen to fit your beauty profile, each box contains expert tips on how to use the cosmetics for the best results. The package we received was placed in a box designed by illustrator Antonio Soares, and it contained dry shampoo, perfume, a brow pencil, twist pencil eye shadow, and eye serum from unique brands. We liked being able to read more about the brands on GLOSSYBOX's blog, Glossy Report, which also featured DIY ideas, beauty hacks, expert tips, and trending product lists.
Ideal gift for: Beauty mavens and trendsetters.
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What's inside: Kits to make artisan sweets designed by confectioners from all over the United States.
Price: $19.95 for a monthly subscription, or $5 more to buy each individual box.
Our experience: If you love artisan sweets and want to learn how to make them, Treatsie's At Home Baking Kits can bring the experience right to your kitchen. Each kit includes a step-by-step instruction card and all the premeasured necessities, minus eggs and dairy ingredients, you'll need to make one dazzling dessert. We received the Birthday Cake French Macarons box. Along with all the dry ingredients, it provided the piping bag, parchment paper, and paper guide to ensure we'd yield 48 one-inch-wide macarons. We liked having the option to buy more macaron kits, or any other kit we enjoyed, from Treatsie's online store. And, if you just love eating artisan sweets and not making them, Treatsie also offers the option of subscribing to a monthly box of premade treats delivered to your door that are curated by confectioners from all over the United States.
Ideal gift for: Bakers and non-bakers who have a sophisticated sweet tooth.
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What's inside: Five to eight beauty and lifestyle samples for women of color.
Price: $20 per month; $112 for a 6-month subscription; $220 for a 12-month subscription.
Our experience: Women of color no longer have to hunt for new beauty and lifestyle products made just for them; COCOTIQUE delivers 5-8 expertly curated samples right to their door. Each box includes a variety of samples from skin care, hair care, fragrance, nail, and lifestyle companies. If you don't find enough detailed information on the product cards about the samples, you can check out the COCOTIQUE Blog. We received an eclectic mix of products from shave oil to a medical-strength skin healing aid. All of the products were from brands we weren't familiar with, so we were pleased to be able to easily purchase full-size versions of them in COCOTIQUE's online shop. Two things make COCOTIQUE stand out from other beauty box subscriptions: 1) Every month, one random subscriber gets a bonus box that includes a gift certificate for a special gift, like a collection of full-size beauty products, clothing, shoes, jewelry, and beauty appliances; 2) Its unique COCOHearts Rewards Program allows you to earn rewards by referring a friend or leaving product or box reviews.
Ideal gift for: Women of color who love trying new beauty products.
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What's inside: Full-size products based on one of 16 themes.
Price: $37.50 - $105 per month; shipping is included.
Our experience: Mouth says its goal is to help people discover delicious and interesting American-made indie food products and to help indie makers grow their business. It offers 16 monthly box themes: Cocktail Hour, Coffee, Cookies, Jerky, Pickles, Snacks, Indie-gredients, Cravings, Bacon, Popcorn, Bourbon, Whiskey, Gin, Vodka, Wine, and Best of Mouth. We enjoyed the unique flavors in our snack box of black truffle popcorn and maple bourbon bread and butter pickles, and we like that we can snag more of them in Mouth's shop online any time we have a craving.
Ideal gift for: Foodies, snackers, and experimental drinkers.
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What's inside: Organic seeds and gifts.
Price: $45 per quarter with free shipping.
Our experience: Every three months, PlowBox sends subscribers 100 percent certified organic, non-GMO garden seeds in their subscription boxes. When you sign up, you indicate which climate you live in, and PlowBox will send the appropriate seeds and supplies to suit your season. They also provide a planting schedule and expert advice, which is especially helpful for newbies, plus unique gifts. PlowBox prides itself on collaborating with local gardeners and chefs to help subscribers understand when, where, and how to grow their seeds, not only so they grow correctly but so they fit into their diet and lifestyle. We received the Autumn box, and we can't wait to harvest our oregano and make homemade spaghetti sauce.
Ideal gift for: Seasoned gardeners and gardening newbies
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Craft Beer Club
What's inside: Twelve 12-ounce beers (three beers of each of the four varieties), a monthly newsletter, four coasters, and a bottle opener.
Price: $39 for 12 beers each month, with options for shipments six times per year or quarterly; free shipping available everywhere in the United States, except Hawaii and Alaska
Our experience: What a fun tasting experience! Each of the 12 bottles came carefully nestled in their own cubby to keep them safe during transport. The included newsletter offered all the details on each beer to further enhance the tasting experience. Cleverly designed coasters and a small, but mighty, bottle opener (seriously, we're so impressed by the bottle opener!) were added highlights of the package. We enjoyed the mix of beers, which included IPA, Porter (the crowd favorite of this box), sour ale, and a traditional ale. There was something for every type of beer drinker, and the beers were from breweries that we would not otherwise get the opportunity to try.
Ideal gift for: Beer lovers and hipsters.
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Gold Medal Wine Club
What's inside: Two or four bottles of wine.
Price: Starting at $37 for two bottles per month.
Our experience: Gold Medal Wine Club features several levels of subscription box experiences that cater to anyone -- from newbies to experienced wine drinkers. Their most popular series is the Gold Wine Club, which sends two or four bottles of wine per month from small family-owned and operated wineries in California. The boxes usually contain half white and half red selections, but they also offer clubs that feature all one varietal options, such as their Pinot Noir Wine Club (which was our favorite), or feature a box of all independent, artisan winemakers in their Garagiste Wine Club. If you have a more sophisticated palate, the Diamond Wine Club curates luxury-premium collectible wines. Or, if you're really adventurous, you can try rare wines with the Platinum Wine Club or a selection of wines from around the world in their International Wine Club.
Ideal gift for: Wine lovers at any experience level.
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What's inside: Crystals, aromatherapy, superfoods, beauty, and spiritual tools.
Price: $33 per month; ships worldwide; free shipping in the United States.
Our experience: Goddess Provisions says its box is curated to nurture its users' inner goddesses and help grow their spiritual practice. Each monthly kit includes 4-6 full-size items, including crystals, aromatherapy, apothecary beauty products, superfood snacks, teas, crystals, books and other tools for spiritual growth. All items are 100 percent vegan and animal cruelty-free. We're not sure if we found our inner goddess, but the ebb & flow candle and aromatherapy spray definitely helped us find deep relaxation.
Ideal gift for: Eco-enthusiasts or friends who need to relax.
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Cat Lady Box
What's inside: Cat-themed jewelry, shirts, accessories, decor, and more.
Price: $34.99 per month.
Our experience: The Cat Lady Box isn't just for cat ladies; it's for their cats, too. Each month cat lovers can select items just for them or for them and their felines to be delivered to their doorstep -- in a box the cats will love sleeping in as well. Products range from cat-themed jewelry and shirts to accessories and decor, and they're all exclusive, limited-edition pieces only found in the Cat Lady Box. We wore our "Absolutely Meowvelous" T-shirt with pride while letting our kitten bat around the soft cat toy, but our favorite aspect of this subscription box is that the company donates to cat rescues every month.
Ideal gift for: Cat lovers.
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What's inside: One young adult novel and goodies.
Price: $29.99 per month.
Our experience: OwlCrate is a monthly book subscription box that sends newly published Young Adult novels and book-themed goodies to subscribers. Each box contains a newly published hardcover book, 3-5 bookish goodies, such as jewelry, collectible toys, handmade items, and stationery, as well as exclusive items from publishers and authors. Every month features a fun theme; past themes have included Diversity and Wonderland. We received P.S. I Like You by Kasie West, buttons with book themes, a composition book, and an adult coloring book, which we're still enjoying.
Ideal gift for: Bibliophiles, teens, and kids at heart.
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What's inside: 4-6 handcrafted cured meats from selected artisans and a leaflet that provides descriptions of the meats and their suggested food pairings.
Price: $55 for a one-month trial or $50 per month for a recurring subscription that can be delivered as frequently as you like -- monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly.
Our experience: Each month's selection is themed around one producer and arrives in a hardy faux-wood box. We opened ours to find Venison Steak Jerky, Venison Cheddar Sticks, Elk and Pork Summer Sausage, Smoky Venison Meat Sticks, and Wild Boar Summer Sausage. The portions were generous, and the prices were comparable to grocery stores, but most stores don't carry such niche products --especially ones that are created by artisans who purchase ethically treated animals, employ humane slaughtering practices, and use locally sourced ingredients. We decided to go whole hog and take the accompanying leaflet's advice and paired the Wild Boar Summer Sausage with the suggested beer, and we made pigs of ourselves on the bold flavors.
Ideal gift for: Self-proclaimed carnivores, of course!
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What's inside: One watch and one bracelet if you're an Elite Member.
Price: $29 per month for the Noble membership or $39 for the Elite membership.
Our experience: If you like wearing a different watch to match every outfit but you don't want to break the bank to do it, then maybe it's time to join Wrist Society. For $29 a month, Wrist Society sends subscribers a new random watch that they get to show off -- and keep. Speaking of flaunting what you receive, Wrist Society members and others have even created a hashtag on Instagram, #wotd, which stands for "watch of the day," to show off their watches. We wouldn't mind showing off the watch we received. It looks heavy duty but is deceptively lightweight, and it was accompanied by a bonus beaded bracelet because we received the Elite Member box for $10 more.
Ideal gift for: Fashion lovers.
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American Gluten Free
What's inside: Seven to nine gluten- and dairy-free foods.
Price: $24.95 per month.
Our experience: If you've been diagnosed with celiac disease or are just trying to cut back on your gluten and dairy intake, you'll want to check out the variety of foods and products American Gluten Free offers. They provide two subscription options that feature allergen-friendly, non-GMO products: the Foodie Box and the Discovery Box. The Foodie Box focuses on different themes with its 7-9 mostly full-size products, recipe cards, and culinary gadgets. The Discovery Box contains 7-9 on-the-go snacks. Every box is full of goodies from small business brands and bakeries that are 100 percent free of dairy and are celiac safe and approved. American Gluten Free also tries to avoid using soy, corn, nuts, and oats, but they are not 100 percent free of them. We enjoyed spreading the organic hazelnut spread on the almond biscotti and the crepes we made with the provided mix. You'd never know it was all gluten free by the taste!
Ideal gift for: Gluten free or healthy eaters.
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What's inside: Four organic, handcrafted soaps and bathing gifts.
Price: $25 per month with free shipping.
Our experience: Lathered Organics takes pride in what they use to make their handcrafted soaps: 100 percent premium USDA certified organic saponified oils and butters; sustainable eco-friendly ingredients, and essential oils and herbs that are all vegan and animal cruelty free, gluten free, and GMO free and that contain no parabens or SLS. But it's what their soaps did that impressed us. Our skin felt refreshed, hydrated, and healthy, and all the soaps produced pleasurable, mild scents that weren't overwhelming. They all paired and performed well with the handcrafted loofah included in the box.
Ideal gift for: Eco-enthusiasts and lovers of artisan soaps.
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The Desert Box
What's inside: One to three succulents or cacti, soil and moss, a pouch of white granite pebbles, repurposed planter, and plant care card.
Price: Starting at $19.95 per month up to $28.95 quarterly with free shipping.
Our experience: If you have a black thumb when it comes to growing plants, the succulent and cacti subscription box service, The Desert Box, may give you hope of developing a green thumb after all. Each box contains one to three succulents or cacti and a plant care card to tell you how to make your plants flourish. Our favorite part is all the products are made from recycled goods, from the packaging to the planters. If you want to do a test run, The Desert Box is also now available for one-time purchases.
Ideal gift for: Gardener wannabes or desert lovers.
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What's inside: Mini boxes of handpicked, curated snacks.
Price: $11.99 per month with free shipping, but your first box is free if you click here.
Our experience: If you want to trade in chips and candy for healthier snacks that contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives; no genetically modified ingredients; no high fructose corn syrup; and zero grams of trans fat, you'll love Grave's portion-controlled snack packs that are 150 calories or less. When you sign up for a subscription box, you set your snack preferences from more than 100 choices. Then they are curated into perfectly portioned snack containers that fit easily in your purse, gym bag, or office drawer. You can designate delivery frequency and pause your subscription online at any time. We love that the Graze service is designed to fit around subscribers so every snack bin is unique and isn't something that can be found in the grocery store. And if you don't like an ingredient, you can use the site's rating system to make sure you don't receive it again.
Ideal gift for: Coworkers and busy people who like to eat healthfully on-the-go.
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Spiced Pantry Box
What's inside: Ingredients and recipes for the featured monthly world region's cuisine.
Price: $19 per month.
Our experience: Spiced Pantry Box deems itself as a global cooking. Each box contains pantry ingredients and recipes for a different world region's cuisine. Boxes include four sample-sized ingredients, like custom spice blends, grains, and legumes, and four recipes that come in standard and meat/seafood free options for vegetarians. One-month, 3-month, and 6-month subscriptions are available. If you see Spiced Pantry Box's announcement of the next featured region at the beginning of the month on their website, Facebook, or Instagram pages and you're not too excited to try that cuisine, you can easily skip a month or cancel at any time. We liked reading about the culture and having the hard-to-find ingredients delivered right to us to make the very unique meals. We also liked that everything was sent at a size that allowed us to make the recipes more than once.
Ideal gift for: Cooks and foodies.
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Lick My Dip
What's inside: One hot sauce and a selection of spicy items.
Price: About $16 per month; based in the United Kingdom but it ships to the United States.
Our experience: Lick My Dip sends its subscribers a small batch of British and European hot sauces, spicy snacks, chili confectionaries, fiery cooking ingredients, and other chili-based goodies that are usually only available on a limited run or not available for purchase online. Our box contained very unique items. We enjoyed the tasty heat the Sriracha Sea Salt and Habanero Chili Oil added to our favorite dishes, but we have to admit that the milk chocolate bar filled with Texas spice, chili, and beef stock would be better saved for those with a more adventurous palate.
Ideal gift for: Spicy food lovers.
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Say It with a Sock
What's inside: One or two pairs of brand name socks.
Price: $11.99 per month with free shipping.
Our experience: If you like expressing yourself, you definitely can make a statement with Say It with a Sock, which is a brand-name sock-of-the-month club. Each month Say It with a Sock sends you a package with either one or two pairs of lively socks from well-known brands after you customize your sock style. As one reviewer on their website said: "Consistently wearing a new pair of funky socks means people just look at me and know I'm fun without even having to talk to me." If that's your goal, then Say It with a Sock.
Ideal gift for: Creative dressers.
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What's inside: Two to four seed packets, garden tools, plants, and extra projects, if indicated.
Price: $4 - $25 per month, depending on type of bin selected; only ships within the United States.
Our experience: Bloomin' Bin offers container or regular garden subscription boxes for gardeners of all skill levels. Each box includes seeds, gardening items, and gardening tips to get started, and premium boxes offer extra projects to take you further. Each box features seeds based on the month's theme, such as November bulbs and December herbs. We received September's Radish Bin, which contained Easter Egg radish seeds, watermelon radish seeds, French Breakfast radish seeds, Vigoro 12-10-5 and calcium plant food, grow bags, orange Tic Tacs, a mosquito repellant band, and a crystallite make-your-own wind chime. In other words, it came with everything we needed except water and sun, which takes the work out of gardening prep and leaves time to enjoy the process of planting.
Ideal gift for: Seasoned gardeners and gardening newbies.
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Fairy Garden Chest
What's inside: A single miniature fairy garden piece.
Price: $7.95 per month.
Our experience: Fairy Garden Chest is a monthly subscription box that sends a new miniature fairy garden piece each month to subscribers, so their fairy gardens can continue to grow and change right along with their vegetable gardens. Decorative pieces include fairies, fairy and gnome houses, decorations for fairy dwellings, and assorted accessories. Some of the fairy garden collections include Merriment by Mary Engelbreit, Fiddlehead Fairy Village, and The Gypsy Garden by Genevieve Gail. If you don't receive everything you need or just want to make a one-time purchase, Fairy Garden Chest also has an online shop. We love the look of the colorful pieces among our already colorful flower garden.
Ideal gift for: Children or kids at heart.
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What's inside: Up to $100 worth of mostly full and deluxe travel-size beauty products.
Price: $24.95 per month; free shipping with a subscription; BeautyFIX boxes are available while supplies last. If the current month's box is sold out, please check back for next month's BeautyFIX box.
Our experience: There are many beauty subscription boxes out there, but what separates BeautyFIX from the rest of the pack is it features a curated collection of professional makeup, skin, and hair care products handpicked by experts. And even though they do include makeup, it's much more of a skin and hair box, and it features A LOT of professional-grade and hard-to-find spa exclusives at full and deluxe travel sizes. Our box was packed with the following products, which really made the monthly subscription price look unbelievably reasonable: Eau de Parfum by Tocca Beauty, Professional Whitening Floss by Supersmile, BioREWIND PM by Dermarche Labs, Facial Cream - Moroccan Argan with Willow and Rosemary by Pangea Organics, Soothing Moisture Mask by Avéne, Silky Clean Facial Brush in Black by Danielle Creations, Pionniere XMF White - Skin Translucency Cream by Phytomer, Botanical Boost Curl Energizing and Refreshing Spray by Ouidad, Sleep Plus Pillow Spray by This Works, and Prep-N-Glow Cloth by NuFACE. Needless to say, it took quite a while to test all the products, but we were especially impressed by the quick results from most of the skin products.
Ideal gift for: Beauty buffs and those seeking skin solutions.
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