Ways to Save Money

The Gift That (Really) Keeps on Giving: 21 Subscription Boxes to Give Anyone on Your List

December 23, 2015
by Jamie Cattanach
Staff Writer
best subscription boxes

Everyone loves getting presents — they’re a huge part of why the holidays are so exciting!

But most gifts are only given once. Even if they’ll be useful throughout the year, the anticipation of unwrapping something new is a singular event.

Want a way to keep the thrill alive? Try giving the gift of a subscription box or specialty membership.

The subscriber — your giftee — will open a new package every month or two, extending the holiday cheer well past Jan. 1.

Plus, if funds are tight, you’ll benefit from spending a little bit over the course of multiple months. It’s probably easier than plunking down the whole amount on an expensive gift right now.

The Best Subscription Box Gifts for Everyone on Your List

Sound like a cool idea, right? If you’re not sure where to start, read on.

We’ve compiled this list of 21 smart subscription boxes for any personality on your shopping list this year — even the hard-to-buy-for.

The Health Nut

Got someone on your list who’s already beat you to your New Year’s resolution? The vegan, gluten-free, organic, no-GMO type?

Your friend is probably spending tons of cash shopping every week at specialty grocery stores that sell those items.

With a Thrive Market membership, they can get all the goodies that usually line their cart delivered to their door — for just a fraction of the price.

Since Thrive Market’s organic goodies are 20-50% off retail price, they cost about the same as their conventional counterparts. And a one-year membership is just $59.95 — less than five bucks a month.

Plus, rather than receiving a monthly box of surprise goodies, the recipient does all their own shopping, so you know they’ll use everything they receive!

Talk about bang for your buck.

The “OMG, Shoes!” Friend

Tired of being yanked into the nearest shoestore every time you go shopping with that one girl on your list?

Surprise her with a VIP Membership to ShoeDazzle.

She’ll take a style quiz — then a stylist will put together a personalized showroom of shoes she can choose from to purchase each month.

The monthly fee is $39.99, which she can either use toward her next purchase or save if nothing catches her eye (unlikely).

Plus, there’s an option to skip any month as long as you log in before the 6th.

Even if a monthly subscription isn’t your thing, ShoeDazzle is a great place to find a pair of shoes to leave under your friend’s tree — or your own!

Just find the perfect pair and purchase as you would at Zappos or Amazon.

The Sommelier in Training

Mmm, wine.

I love wine so much. Robust reds, crisp whites, perfect-by-the-poolside dry rosé…

What was I talking about?

Oh, right! You probably have a wine lover on your list this year, too! Want a gift that’ll make her happier than a bottle of the good stuff would?

Try three bottles, delivered monthly, hand-picked to suit her evolving tastes.

Club W starts at $39 plus $6 shipping for a monthly box of three wines. Plus, members get access to other steeply-discounted bottles whenever they want — with free shipping on boxes of six or more.

If the savings mean bottles start stacking up, skipping a month is easy.

My favorite part? Every bottle comes with a short video complete, complete with tasting notes. Club W is a great way to become the resident wine snob of any office or circle of friends.

Psst — make sure she checks out this list of 10 surprisingly awesome wines under $15 that totally won’t blow her growing wine cred when she brings them to a ritzy holiday party.

The Girl Who Wears Yoga Pants to the Office — and Pulls It Off

No matter how much pilates I do or how in shape I think I am, I’m never going to be one of those girls who can wear leggings and a slouchy tee and look ***flawless.

Do you know one of these women? Are you able to get over your (understandable) envy enough to buy her a holiday gift?

Consider the FabFitFun subscription box. It comes filled with health, beauty and fitness products for the Instagram queen on your list.

It’s pricier at $49.99 per delivery, but only ships once per season. Since each box contains a $200 value, at four deliveries per year, you’re basically buying one box and getting three free!

The Coffee Snob

Remember when your uncle scoffed at the bag of ground Dunkin Donuts coffee you picked up at the grocery store while he was in town for Thanksgiving?

Whatever, man — you just need a way to get through the morning.

But your uncle might really enjoy a subscription to BeanBox, a gourmet coffee subscription that delivers monthly, fresh-roasted, whole bean Seattle coffee.

And when I say fresh, I mean their beans are shipped within 48 hours of roasting. You can be sure there’ll be no scoffing at this holiday gift.

Plus, it’s only $20 a month — even less if you buy a six month or one year package!

The Proud Nespresso Owner

Got a friend who keeps inviting you over for shots — from their Nespresso machine?

While making espresso at home is a great way to save cash on a latte-a-day habit, the average 65 cents per capsule price of isn’t that stellar. I know lots of coffee shops where an extra shot of real espresso is only 50 cents!

Gourmesso’s capsules start at 45 cents, and they’ll deliver monthly discounted, Fairtrade-Certified Nespresso-compatible capsules to the recipient of your choice.

There are a ton of subscription options for every budget and level of caffeine addiction, so check them out!

The Token Tea Drinker

The tea-folk among us need their fix, too.

Tea Sparrow delivers four hand-picked teas from across the globe every month — enough for 35 afternoon cups. The recipient reviews his favorites, and can be connected directly with the blenders of the teas he wants to buy in larger quantities.

It’s just $20 per month and easy to stop and start. Shipping’s also included for Canada and the continental U.S.!

The Cubicle Dweller Who Never Takes Lunch

We all know someone who lives off snacks, whether they’re too busy to leave their work desk or too footloose to get off the road for a real meal. (“But we’ll be there in five more hours… why stop?”)

Keep that person out of the Cheetos and M&Ms with Graze.

Each box is just $11.99, and comes with eight healthy snacks the recipient chooses themselves — so you know she’ll enjoy them! You can even get them sent straight to her workplace — in case she’s sleeping there, too.

The Mom with Ambition — or the Kid Who Keeps Taking Stuff Apart

Know a mom who keeps talking about how her kid’s definitely going to be an astronaut — before they even hit kindergarten?

Maybe your dear daughter keeps beating you to the breakfast table… only to show you the disassembled parts of the toaster you were planning on using.

If either of these scenarios sound familiar, check out subscription boxes from Kiwi Crate. There’s an option for every curious kid on your list ages 3-16 — or even older. They range in activities from art to engineering, and start as low as $16.95 per month.

Shopping for multiple kids? Check out our list of 20 educational holiday gifts under $35.

The Wanderluster

One of the best-loved parts of traveling is trying all the exotic foreign foods. If there’s someone on your list who’s equal part foodie and footloose, keep reading.

Try the World will deliver a box filled with seven goodies from different countries every other month. Celebrity chefs curate the boxes to help receivers discover and appreciate exotic new cuisines.

Bonus: It features free shipping and tax, and it’s easy to pause or cancel at any time.

Pay $39 every two months, or save by paying for six or 12 months at a time ($105 and $198, saving you 10% or 15%, respectively).

The Do-Gooder

Everyone likes snacks — especially all-natural, organic snacks without trans fats or high-fructose corn syrup.

But your friend who’s always busy at the soup kitchen to hang out on weekends will really love this subscription box.

Every time a snack box is delivered, Love With Food donates at least one meal to an American food bank.

Talk about a feel-good gift!

Boxes start as low as $7.99 per month. Once he discovers them, the recipient can buy any of their favorite snacks through Love With Food’s online portal.

The Busy Professional

Do you know someone who loves to make healthy, home-cooked meals — but spends too much time at the office (or freelancing, or chauffeuring the kids from school to soccer to sleepovers) to hit the store, read the recipe and get dinner on the table before 8 p.m.?

Enter meal subscription plans like Plated and Hello Fresh.

Both of these services operate on a similar model. They put together healthy, delicious recipes and deliver the ingredients in exactly the correct amounts, as well as the instructions to subscribers’ homes.

Basically, it’s a DIY restaurant meal delivery service.

While it’s more expensive than doing buying groceries, it could offer some savings if you’re having takeout most nights. And it will definitely save you time running to the store.

Plus, you get to learn a new recipe to add to your repertoire!

Pricing for either service starts at about $11 per plate. Both services offer diet-friendly menus and the ability to swap meals that aren’t to your taste. See their websites for full details.

The Outdoor Adventurer

Got a friend who always brings her hiking gear to work on Friday so she can get the earliest possible start on her weekend camping trip?

She might be an awesome candidate for a subscription to the Cairn box.

It’s $25 per month, and includes a variety of gear like compasses and cookware, portable foods, apparel like beanies and gloves and skin care/first aid products.

You’ll also get the added satisfaction of knowing you’re help her stay safe and comfortable out there.

The Bookworm

For the family member who’d bring her book to the holiday dinner table if she were allowed, check out the Book Riot subscription box.

This one’s shipped every three months, so you have time to actually read what they send you, and it’s $50 per shipment.

The box is filled with — you guessed it — books! But it also includes bookworm swag like notebooks, genre map posters and even a bookish flask.

As an ex-English major, I’ve gotta say, it looks pretty cool.

Bonus: If said bookworm is a young adult — or full-grown adult with a penchant for supernatural romances and dystopian narratives — they’ve got a YA option, too.

The Pet Parent Who Never Shuts Up About Spot or Fluffy

Guilty as charged: My dog, Odin, is in 90% of my photos. Including one of my headshots. That I use professionally.

The good thing is, animal freaks are easy to cross off your holiday shopping list.

Check out BarkBox for the dog-lover on your list — or KitNipBox for the resident cat lady (no judgments, only purrs)!

The lucky recipient (and furry friend) will receive a monthly box of treats and toys — both start under $20 a box.

The One Whose Manicure is Always On Point

Keep the beauty geek in your life well-bedecked and happy with a subscription to Julep’s Maven program. She’ll receive a monthly box of cosmetics and nail polishes — fully customizable to her sense of style.

Even better, she’ll get 20% off on any Julep product she buys outside her shipments!

Memberships start at just $19 a month.

The Geek

Your favorite nerd will love a subscription to Loot Crate — a monthly delivery of four to eight geeky goods and collectables worth over $45 for under $20 a month.

The recipient also gets first access to specialty crates like Fallout 4 and Mass Effect. Choose from a variety of themed crates — like an anime-specific crate, apparel crates and even goods for pets.

Literally Anyone

Pretty much everyone shaves some of their hair.

Help anyone on your list save a ton of pennies with a subscription to Dollar Shave Club.

That’s right — this super-simple subscription service isn’t just for guys.

Just because it isn’t pink doesn’t mean it can’t shave legs! I’ve been a subscriber for months, and I love how easy it is to upgrade or downgrade your package. You can even request shipments more slowly if you don’t use your blades in time.

Choose from three razor packages — the $1 dual-blade carries a $2 shipping fee, but the quad-blade middle option is just $6 a month. The six-blade “executive” razor is just $9.

The subscriber receives a free razor handle and four fresh blades a month — a huge discount from the replacement-blade drugstore price!

Need More Great Gift Ideas?

These subscription packages are pretty great — but keep your eye on our blog for lots of other gift ideas, no matter who’s on your list!

We even found 100 free gift ideas your friends and family will actually want.

Your Turn: Who on your list will love opening these subscription boxes? Did we miss any of your favorite monthly boxes? Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: We appreciate you letting us include affiliate links in this post. It helps keep the beer fridge stocked in the Penny Hoarder break room.

Jamie Cattanach is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder and a native Floridian. She’s passionate about learning, literature, chocolate and finding ways to live the good life as cost-effectively as possible. You can wave hi to @jamiecattanach on Twitter.

by Jamie Cattanach
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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