This article contains additional reporting from Lesley Jones and Katrina Conaglen.
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Subscription boxes are growing in popularity, and its simple to deduce why. Stuck at home, the notion of a monthly delivery of carefully curated goodies, purpose-built to bring you joy, is immediately appealing.
Best yet, the range of subscription boxes currently available covers almost every interest imaginable. Wine, baking, chocolate, clothes, gadgetry: there’s something for everyone. You can either enrol for yourself (highly recommended) or gift a subscription to anyone you know who could benefit from a regular delivery of fun.
What are the benefits of a subscription box?
Beside the primary appeal – who doesn’t love receiving a package? – subscription boxes provide a convenient method of saving money on certain products you use regularly. They’re also brilliant for discovering new things – a lipstick you might not buy for yourself, a new variety of wine – if you sign up to a good subscription service, the people in charge of curating them will be savvy in their choices.
In our experience, as well, most good subscription services will ensure the contents of their boxes are worth more than your outlay, so you will come out better off than paying for individual items.
Here are the subscription services our experts have tried that provide great products, and great service.
There are a few fair beauty subscription boxes on the UK market, but Glossybox is the most popular, and it’s easy to see why.
Offering both an accessible price point – a little over a tenner a month – and a fun selection of products from high end brands, like La Mer, Nars, pedigree French brands like La Roche Posay, and impressive budget make-up from the likes of Rimmel.
Each box has five products in it and works around a fun theme – this month it is ‘sing, dance, love, repeat.’
If you find the vegetable selection at your local supermarket a little lacking, you’ll be delighted with an Abel & Cole veg and fruit box subscription.
Every week, organic, high-quality produce is delivered straight to your door, to ensure you have plenty of fresh fruit and veg to cook with. Choose between the likes of a standard “Fruit And Veg” to the “Very Veggie Veg Box”, a “Seasonal Salad Box”, or, if you want to make life truly simple, you can also purchase a meat and fish box, as well as a host of brilliant organic produce, including cheese, sourdough, eggs, pasta, and milk. A winner for anyone wanting to eat fresh food.
Whether a confirmed oenophile or just fond of the occasional tipple, this wine subscription box will be a joy for the recipient. We adore ours.
The boxes are tailorable in terms of number of wines, frequency of delivery, and wine selections. They arrive complete with tasting notes, a map of where they hail from, and a link to a podcast describing them.
You can tailor your taste preferences, and the kind folks at Savage Vines will pick wines to match.
Currently, we receive two reds and a white a month, and as per our request, the reds are smooth, well rounded, and lightly fruited, the white crisp and flinty. None of them are wines we’ve tried before.
All the more excellent: all the wines come from independent vineyards. A real winner. (KC)
We’re all keen to cook better, but the problem remains it can be difficult to find inspiration for healthy, yet delicious food. The solution? Mindful Chef will send meal kits to your door for one, two, or four people, depending on your requirements.
Meals are gluten free, and don’t contain refined carbs. If you think that skips flavour, don’t worry – with meals like Mexican cod with black beans and guacamole, and chipotle salsa beef burgers with sweet potato fries, you’ll be absolutely satisfied with these nourishing meals.
For those of your tracking your diet carefully, each recipe comes with a breakdown of the calories contained in each dish, as well as protein, carbs, fats, and other key macronutrients.
Please note it is £6 per portion. (KC)
Swoon at new tech releases? The Gadget Discovery Club will have your heart aflutter.
Each month a new, state of the art bit of kit will arrive, from smart home devices, to music smart tech, wearables, and more. Reliable brands like Google, Philips and Samsung provide the gear.
You don’t have to be super savvy, though – on sign-up, you’ll be asked for your level of interest, from ‘not that tech savvy,’ up to ‘gadget geek’, by way of ‘frequent gadget user.’ This way your goodies will be tailored to match your interest. Chose from a monthly subscription, or a full-year plan.
This letterbox baking subscription contains all the necessary dry ingredients for making each month’s surprise baked goody from scratch, plus handy extras like butter measures and baking paper.
The quantities have been weighed out before packing, reducing food waste, and the instructions are easy to follow.
It’s a fun way to learn new baking methods and is sure to be a hit with fans of The Great British Bake Off. Choose between sweet bakes or breads, with recent recipes including chocolate cheesecake brownies, soft pretzels and raspberry ripple cake.
For every delivery, this ethical, carbon neutral florist gives £1 to Women’s Aid and plants a tree in a country suffering from deforestation. You won’t find any plastic in its packaging, either.
But onto the flowers – they’re fabulous. Each box features one or two varieties, always in season and backed up by fresh foliage. These beautiful blooms are picked mere hours before subscribers receive them, meaning they last longer in the vase and offer fantastic value for money.
The included coloured, species-specific guide helps you arrange a show-stopping bouquet weekly, fortnightly or monthly. From £15 per month, plus £5 delivery. (JD)
Lovers of popular culture – from films, to gaming, comics, or anime – will get a kick out of Lootcrate. At the moment we’re firmly in favour of anything that will bring a smile to your face, so if your interests tend to the geeky (guilty!) – this is for you.
Every month you’ll receive collectibles, clothing, figurines and toys. Each ‘crate’ is tailored to the participant – both in terms of their clothing size, and the franchises they love the most. Contents can sometimes be limited edition and items you won’t be able to find anywhere else. (KC)
With almost four million customers in the States, Stitch Fix launched last year in the UK, using algorithms and real-life fashion experts to recommend a choice of five pieces (clothes, shoes and accessories) for you try at home.
With 140 brands including the likes of Boden, Mint Velvet, Hobbs, and Whistles, they work hard to get it exactly right.
First up, use the site or app to log your likes, sharing everything from the colours you love to the bits of your body you don’t like showing off. You’re shown a series of outfits and accessories, your swipes to the left or right will give the stylist choosing your items more steer on what suits.
The combination of tech and our brief notes resulted in a spot-on selection being delivered just a few days later. We asked for classics with a twist, bright colours for a drab-feeling forty-something and dresses to be worn with chunky ankle boots.
After a fabulous trying-on session, we wanted everything, once we’d seen how it could work with our own wardrobe staples. The following ‘fix’ built on our feedback on that success, with more items we may not have pulled from the rails for ourselves but looked fantastic on. (LJ)
We’ve been trying Wild deodorant for a fortnight now and can’t see going back to supermarket varieties.
The ethos is admirable: rather than buying disposable deodorant, you receive a refillable case (ours is embossed with our name, lovely) and then receive the refill every two, three, or four months, depending on your requirements. The balm deodorant itself is delightful – we’re trying the peach bellini scented, and it’s brightly sweet (available February 8). It rolls on smoothly, leaves no chalky residue, and has kept us fresh feeling.
With no parabens, artificial fragrances, or aluminium, there’s nothing nasty for you in it, either. The company advises it may take a fortnight for your body to adjust to a natural deodorant– we didn’t have a problem, though.
Much like beauty boxes, there are many ready-made cocktail boxes out there to chose from, but Kocktail, hands down, takes our pick.
It’s difficult to create a well balanced bottle cocktail – often they end up cloyingly sweet or heavy as they seek to compensate for the fresh ingredients that degrade over time. Not so with Kocktail. You can chose from light and refreshing, or dark and sophisticated, or a mixture of both, and each month four letterbox-sized original cocktails arrive at your door.
Generous pours, these delicious concoctions come with card explaining their derivation and the recipe, so you can recreate them at your leisure. Stuck at home? This is fun way of introducing a party element to your weekend. Highly recommended.
This sweet box will provide multiple thrills. Firstly, we don’t know any child that doesn’t adore receiving a parcel in the mail – this is a monthly guarantee.
Then, of course, the contents. Each recyclable box contains all necessary dry ingredients for a delectable baked good, from carrot cake to chocolate chip cookies, to pizza muffins.
The recipes are easy to follow, fun, and collectible, so your wee one can start to develop their baking skills at an early stage.
We’ve been trialling Skin + Me’s personalised skincare service for five months now and the results are worth crowing about.
Following a short online test about our skin type and goals – more even texture? Diminished pigmentation? Reduced wrinkles? All of the above? – we submitted some severely unflattering shots of our face via our phone.
Next, a registered dermatologist put together the dosage for a skin serum (including tretinoin, a powerful retinol only available via prescription) for the following month.
Apart from sunscreen, cleanser and moisturiser, it’s all you need in your regime.
Every month a new serum, with increased dosage of active ingredients (as your skin acclimates) is sent direct to our door. It’s been helping our wintry skin look fresher, and less papery. Recommended.
Our top pick is a subscription to The Inventing Room. Members of this new, limited edition club will be the first to taste and review the latest chocolatey creations, before the best are launched in shops. We’re talking chocolates, brownies, biscuits, macarons and more. In short: a chocoholic’s dream. (KC)
A gorgeous for any man who shaves regularly (or irregularly, come to that).
Your first delivery will come with a safety razor, brush, and tips on a close, clean shave. After that, each 4-6 weeks you’ll receive ten blades, shaving cream or calm, and two extra shaving related products.
A perfect means of introducing traditional shaving into your life – and a little luxury to something that can seem like an obligation.