First came veg boxes, then Graze and Glossybox – now a whole new wave of subscription services are vying to be the next through your letterbox…
There was a time we thought exciting post was dead. Nobody wrote letters anymore, fewer sent postcards, the only surprise the postman would bring was whether or not those ASOS jeans would fit.
But then, in much the same way that fear and nostalgia has revived the fortunes of paper books and vinyl records, we decided to embrace post again. We’re using it rather than losing it. And one of the newest ways that we’re using it is subscription boxes.
Quietly, quickly, subscription boxes have become massive. It all started with organic veg companies like Riverford and Abel & Cole, then companies like Graze and Glossybox got in on the act, and now there’s barely any life luxury or necessity that you can’t get nattily packaged and delivered to your door for a monthly sum. Cosmetics, homewares, books, clothes, tampons, cheese. Hell, there are even sites like All Subscription Boxes which have been launched just to help you keep abreast of all the options.
Astute cynics might point out that you can, obviously, buy things you’ve actually chosen and have them delivered to your door – it’s called ‘shopping’. But in an era where dredging through the internet feels as much of a chore as stomping up the high street ever did, subscription boxes are so popular because they take away our burden of choice.
It’s the same reason my Mum has always fantasised about being sent a Christmas hamper. ‘How lovely it must be,’ she says every year, ‘to have lots of things you haven’t had to shop for! All those things you would never think to choose yourself.’ Whether you’d never choose them yourself because you don’t actually want them is by the by, and it’s how subscription services get away with the element of risk (that, and making sure that whatever they send you has been trussed up to the nines in tissue and ribbon).
Even if they send you something you hate, it’s fine because you didn’t have to waste time shopping for it. And hey, at least you got some exciting post.
12 great subscription boxes to surprise yourself with…
Style by Portobello
Ideal for vintage lovers who can’t face a regular market stall trawl, Style By Portobello ships beautiful secondhand accessories to your door every month. The service was founded by vintage collector and Notting Hill resident Nzinga Russell, who wanted to take the hassle out of the hunt for decent pieces and give vintage virgins a way to ease themselves in gently.
Sign up and you’ll receive one big piece, like a handbag, or up to three smaller items of jewellery or accessories every month, tailored to your tastes and preferences. Because the only reply better than “Oh this? It’s vintage…” is “Oh this? It just turned up on my doorstep.”
£35 a month[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next”]
A Year of Pants
We’ve long been fans of Who Made Your Pants? (read our interview with founder Becky), the all-female co-operative that sells gorgeous, ethical knickers made by disadvantaged and refugee women. Their Year of Pants package delivers high-quality knicks to your door every month, keeping you perpetually in a cycle of new favourites and allowing you to throw out a greying, ripped pair from the back of your drawer every month too. Luxury.
£21.50 a month[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next”]
Not Another Bill
Excuse me, do you love things? Yeah, us too. Fans of ‘things’ will appreciate Not Another Bill, the surprise subscription service that sends you a lovely, mystery gift in the post every month for the princely sum of £24. It might be luxury soaps, it might be a necklace, it might be a fancy notebook or a print for your wall. You’ll love it, everybody else will think it’s ridiculous.
£24 a month[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next”]
One of the best and most reliable beauty delivery services, Birchbox team up with partners to curate each box of make-up, skincare samples and other goodies around a monthly theme as well as your own preferences. There are one or two full-sized products alongside the trial sizes each month, and everything you love is available to buy online afterwards, often with discounts, bonus gifts and special offers. It’s like having a rich pal who insists on giving you stuff every time you go round their house, but much less awkward.
£12.95 a month, or £50 for six months[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next”]
Hotel Chocolat Tasting Club
For anyone who has ever wailed, ‘whyyy can’t somebody just bring me some chocolate?’, Hotel Chocolat’s Tasting Club takes away all the effort of putting your shoes on and walking to the corner shop. Sign up for £9.95 and claim a free body butter with your first box, then it’s £22.95 each month hereafter for a big selection box plus discounts,special offers and a chance to influence future decisions at Hotel Chocolat HQ. If we all keep emailing ‘PEANUT BUTTER FLAVOUR’, it’ll happen sooner or later.
£9.95 for the first month, £22.95 a month after that[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next”]
Curating the latest and greatest in natural and organic products, Souk Souk is the ideal choice if you’re curious about green skincare and worried about chemicals, but don’t have the time to sort the saviours from the snake oil. Their Little Green Beauty Box includes a surprise selection of five products (from brands with amazing names like ‘Yes To Carrots’) for £14.95 a month, or there are bespoke and one-off options if you’re not ready to commit completely. The packaging is all recyclable, natch.
£14.95 a month[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next”]
The Willoughby Book Club
One of the loveliest gift ideas imaginable for an avid reader, especially for someone without the time or mobility to get out and buy their own books, The Willoughby Book Club‘s subscriptions are also a great treat to give yourself. There are loads of different packages, from classic or contemporary books to kids’ books, cookbooks and even a couples subscription with two of each book (aw, and ew), and each is available as 3-month, 6-month or 12-month subscriptions. Cancel all your plans and put the kettle on.
From £34.99 for 3 months[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next”]
Opinion is divided on Pink Parcel, the period delivery service that wants to make our time of the month ‘a little bit lovelier’. The idea is that a ‘discreet’ parcel arrives 3-5 days before you’re due on (you give them this information, they’re not monitoring your uterus or anything), containing the tampons or towels or your choice along with other periody treats like chocolate, herbal tea and lip balm.
Twee it may be, but if you’re continually caught on the hop by Aunt Irma every month, Pink Parcel might actually prove useful. There’s also Teen Parcel for the menstruating youth in your life, or if you’d rather sweets than anti-aging serum.
£5.95 for the first month, £9.99 a month after that[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next”]
The London Sock Company Sock Club
In a statistic we just made up but which sounds about right, the average person loses one pair of socks a month – either to wear and tear or the mysterious vortex where all your kirby grips and tights end up too. So what could be better than a lovely fresh new pair (or three), delivered to your door every month? The London Sock Company might be a) a bit extravagant and b) aimed at men, but if your feet and pocket are big enough, you’ll have the best-dressed ankles in town.
From £10 a month for one pair[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next”]
New Year was a long time ago now, so if your enthusiasm for your supercharged squeaky-clean eating regime is flagging, The Vegankind‘s monthly lifestyle boxes might be the encouragement you need. A tenner a month + P&P (it’s annoying the way P&P is additional with some of these boxes, as if you might stroll over to pick yours up in person from the depot) gets you 5-8 new vegan products to try. As well as snacks and drinks, you might receive toiletries, household bits and bobs or even cleaning products. Make sure you definitely know which is which before tucking in.
£10 a month or £15 quarterly[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next”]
Great for coffee connoisseurs or those of us who’d just like to hone our preferences beyond ‘um, not Starbucks?’, Kopi deliver a different single-origin coffee from around the world to you every month. It’s cheap(ish), reliably delicious, and you can pause or cancel your orders at any time if the caffeine buzz gets too much.
£7.95 a month[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next”]
The Gin Crowd
With distinctly more hipster value than becoming a wine snob, this gin delivery service sources the best new craft gins from across the world and sends you three 50ml bottles every month – for about the same as much a round of house G&Ts down the pub. There are also tasting notes, distillation info and serving suggestions, so you can really feel like you’re in with the gin crowd.
£15 a month[/nextpage]