Christmas might feel a little different this year. For the most part, I’m ready to embrace what I’m irritatingly referring to as a ‘bijoux’ Christmas (just me, my husband, and my small dog), grimacing my way through festive-themed zoom quizzes, and watching every single naff Christmas film on Netflix. The only thing that I hadn’t quite been able to square with this year’s celebrations is how I get gifts to my loved ones.
My family, like many others, are scattered across the country and the logistics of physically getting beautiful presents to them is exhausting. But I’ve found a solution: this year, I’m embracing subscription gifts. Not only are they the gift that literally keeps on giving as the year goes on (most are available on 3, 6 or 12 month bases), but they’ll be delivered directly to the door of your loved one, and there are so many out there that you can’t fail to find something even for the trickiest gift recipient – plus, they’re usually supporting small and independent businesses, giving them a sustained and predictable income for the coming months. Everyone’s a winner! Besides we all need something to look forward to:
The Wine List isn’t your usual wine subscription: founded by Josh Lachkovic, what started out as a newsletter intended to educate and entertain turned into a wine subscription focused on learning. You don’t need to be an oenophile to get the best from the subscription, just a desire to try new and surprising wines – because the wine you receive will be unusual. Each bottle is worth between £15-20 and won’t be available in your supermarket, with wine imported specifically for the list.
The Wine List, from £39 a month for two bottles of wine
Former Bake Off finalist, Holly Bell, wowed us with her baking skills on our screens in 2011, and now has turned her hand to a postal brownie business – and those brownies are off the charts. Each month, the recipient will receive 6 brownies in 3 different flavours (all surprises) in a beautiful tin. You can also go for a Christmas gift subscription where your loved one will receive a festive tin of 6 brownies sent out on 18 December, plus a 3 month subscription voucher.
Mrs Bell’s Brownie Club, £39.99 for a 3 month subscription
Neal’s Yard is a cheesy institution. They have set up a subscription service designed to be a continuation of their Buy British Cheese campaign, and are currently offering three and six month subscriptions. The dairy will deliver three varied British cheeses to you – and don’t worry, these are big old chunks of really excellent cheese that will make a handsome cheese board, or sustain you for several delightful meals.
Neal’s Yard Dairy Subscription, from £28.50 a month
Rare Birds Book Club originated with a goal of making reading fun: as well as being a subscription service, they also have an online community with whom you can share your thoughts when you’ve read the book. The subscription features recently published fiction by women, across a wide range of genres and styles, designed to get you reading things you wouldn’t ordinarily pick for yourself. Available in three, six and twelve month subscriptions, each month, the recipient chooses their book from two blurbs which hide the identity of the books – the title stays a surprise until you open tem – and the beautifully wrapped book will arrive in the post.
Rare Birds Book Club, from £42 for three months
If your home isn’t groaning with dozens of sprawling house plants in varying states of life, then you’re less susceptible to Instagram interior trends than I am. Bloombox offer three, six, nine or twelve month subscriptions (the twelve month subscription comes with a £50 voucher to spend on plants); you’ll get a mix of medium and large plants (12-17 cm), one per month, each fitting in a ceramic pot or basket – plus every other month, you’ll get a surprise extra gift.
Bloombox house plant subscription, from £115 for 3 months
Bloom & Wild have grown a reputation for their letterbox-friendly flowers, which makes them perfect for a gift subscription. They offer everything from 3 months of flowers to a year of seasonal blooms; these flowers arrive every 28 days, but if you want to go full Elton John, you can also go for 7 or 14 day repeat subscriptions.
Bloom & Wild flower subscription, from £60 for three months
The Cocoa Runners subscription box seeks to showcase the best of small batch, single estate chocolate. Available in three, six or nine month subscriptions, each box contains four bars which have been chosen around a theme. Each box compares and contrasts particular characteristics of the chocolate and comes with tasting cards and notes about the chocolate itself, and its makers and growers. The makers of the bars work directly with the cocoa farmers, making them a more sustainable choice. You can choose from a mixed selection, or just dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or 100% cocoa.
Cocoa Runners chocolate bar box from £19.95 per month
Birchbox is a beauty subscription box spanning make-up, skincare, body and haircare, with three, six and nine month subscriptions available. Each box includes 5 deluxe sample and travel size beauty products (including the occasional full-size!), as well as offering exclusive deals on the brands and items enclosed.
Birchbox beauty box, from £12.95 a month
Socks might be something of a clichéd Christmas present, but the offerings from the London Sock Exchange might just change that. Available in six or twelve month instalments, you get three hand-finished pairs of socks per delivery (one every three months), each designed by their independent British design studio and then manufactured sustainably. You can also send your old socks to them for recycling as part of the subscription service: just over half of the received socks will be sent to UK charities; the other half will be deconstructed and reused as an industrial textile.
The London Sock Exchange, from £40 for 6 months
Formed in 2015 and based in East London, family-founded Perky Blenders make really great coffee. You can choose from five different coffees from decaf, to single origin, or just plump for their changing coffee of the month if you’d like to choose something new; all choices are available in 8 different grinds to best suit your preferred way of making coffee. They have their own roastery (two, in fact), and have won a bunch of awards.
Coffee Subscription Club, from £7.50 a month