Photo: Nike Adventure Club
When you don’t know someone that well, or are just fresh out of ideas, it can be hard to find a gift that still feels thoughtful but doesn’t require much effort on your part. And though gift certificates are great, they can feel a little impersonal. Subscription boxes, however, fall right into that good-gift sweet spot. With so many different-themed boxes out there, choosing the right one shows that you at least put some thought into it — but because someone else is curating the box, putting it together, and doing the packaging and delivery, it’s just as simple as getting an e-gift card. To make it even easier, we curated a list of some of the best giftable subscription services out there — many of which our writers and editors have tried themselves, so they’re actually good, not just boxes of junk.
Below, our picks for the best subscription boxes to gift to every person on your list. For the wine drinker, the beauty blogger, the avid reader, and even the new parents, there is a subscription for just about everyone on your list, and it keeps giving and giving. And for ease of navigation, we’ve categorized these subscriptions into five sections: Food and Drink, Beauty and Grooming, Books, Kids, and Home.
This entry-level subscription will let them try three to four cheeses a month, though at the highest level you can get a full cheese board — perfect for people who entertain regularly (or, at least, used to).
Keep their sweet tooth satisfied with a monthly rotation of six six-ounce candy cups.
Send this to your favorite co-worker who misses the office snack program. SnackNation will send you a box of healthy-ish snacks — options range between 15 and 50 snacks per box — to make working from home a little easier.
Those who are looking to actually learn about wine, rather than just drink it, will appreciate that SommSelect’s monthly send is curated by master sommelier Ian Cauble, and that for $99 a month, they’ll get a selection of four wines curated around a theme, be it a specific region or grape variety. (But that also means they don’t get much of a say in what they get, so it’s good if they’re a bit adventurous.)
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a subscription service for someone with particular taste, Winc is a nice option, because each month’s shipment is tailored to their preferences, thanks to a quiz they take at sign-up. Plus, every month, your recipient can rate the wines they receive, so their subscription can be even more dialed in.
Even though it’s often described as “funky,” natural wine has its fans — and for those people, Primal Wine Club is a nice option. The subscription starts at $85 for three bottles of wine, and they can be all-red, all-white, or a mix.
Sure, at $199 a month, this is a bit of a splurge. But for the couple who got married in quarantine — or had to cancel a wedding — this quarterly shipment of Champagne is a fun way to keep the celebration going (even if they’re doing it alone in their house).
If you know multiple bottles of wine would go to waste on someone, Vine Box sends nine wines by the glass, rather than a full bottle, perfect for both the occasional drinker and those who like to try before they buy.
Trade uses a quiz to match recipients with one of more than 400 coffees in their collection, curated from 54 local roasters spread across 38 states, so even the most picky coffee snobs should find something to suit their taste.
If they’re graduating to a proper coffee-brewing setup for the first time, Driftaway might be a better option than Trade. That’s because their first subscription box will be a tasting kit of four two-ounce bags of coffee, and after you review those, you’ll be able to tailor your future shipments.
Make sure the person making beauty videos on TikTok always has a new product to tell their followers about with Birchbox, one of the original beauty subscription boxes. Each month Birchbox will send a curated selection of five deluxe beauty samples —skin care, makeup or hair care — based on their preferences. And if they really like something, they can buy the full-size version directly from Birchbox too.
Ipsy offers cheaper subscriptions than this $50-per-month option, but with this level you are actually getting eight full-size products, four deluxe samples, and a themed makeup bag.
If they’ve been complaining about maskne, get them Dermstore’s Beautyfix box which delivers at least six skin-care products valued at over $100 — including lots of Strategist favorites. (For example, September’s box included samples from Skinceuticals, Dermologica, and Nouri.)
Dollar Shave Club will not only get your eight months of scruff (and counting) under control, but they also offer skin care, hair care, and body care for the guy who needs a whole new routine.
Perfume is expensive — and exceptionally hard to gift — but with ScentBird, they can try a new (trial-size) fragrance, including cologne, every month for just $15.
This picture-book subscription, curated by YiLing Chen-Josephson, is perfect for even the youngest of readers. She reads hundreds of picture books each month and handpicks the best one for each subscriber, a service writer Stephen Haskell told us makes a great baby gift.You can choose between three-, six-, and 12-month subscriptions, and choose between all-hardcover books, all-paperback, or a mix of both.
Help your bookish friend stay up to date with a Book of the Month subscription. The service curates five new reads monthly, and for $15 a month, your friend or loved one will get one new book, on you.
This quarterly subscription service lets them explore without leaving home. Each box is themed to a different region, and with their entry-level box — the Backpacker — they will get a curated book, an art print, and tea from the destination.
With a Just Like Me Box subscription, they’ll receive a themed box of African American children’s books and educational tools.
If you are looking for toys that kids will actually find fun, writer Lauren Ro and her son Augie found this to be the most fun-to-play-with toy-subscription box of the four Montessori toy boxes they tested. “As a parent, I appreciated Lovevery’s focus on play, and I think Augie did too,” Lauren said. “While everything was in service of encouraging skills like grasping at objects and eye-tracking, it was all in the name of fun.”
KiwiCo will occupy your kid with a hands-on project to complete — like a stained-glass kit that teaches you how rainbows are formed, or a felt succulent garden — that focuses on their creativity and curiosity. They have crates, the term the company uses for boxes, for all ages. Crates for kids up to 2 years old ship every other month, and for all other age groups, you can receive them monthly.
This subscription box was designed with parents of kids with fast-growing feet in mind. You can sign up with a frequency of four, six, or 12 pairs per year to keep your kid in fresh Nikes or Converses year-round.
This is a little different than a traditional subscription, but still a gift that keeps on giving. New mom Gena Kaufman recommended this fancy bassinet, which retails for $1,400, as a great gift for new moms. It’s supposed to be a “miracle worker when it comes to baby sleep,” she says, and that’s proven true for her daughter. This rental comes with a sheet and swaddles and automatically charges you monthly until you cancel.
Help them decorate it. Starting at just $20 a month (for an eight-by-ten print or smaller), they’ll work with a curator to find one piece of art, and each month they can build until they’re satisfied with their gallery wall. Art Crate also offers framing, which bumps the starting price for prints up to $59 a month.
For the camper, hiker, or backpacker, Cairn curates subscription boxes of outdoor essentials. Each box contains up to $50 worth of products. The actual items will be a surprise every month, but it can range from apparel to gear to on-the-go snacks and skin care.
In many ways, plants are already the gift that keeps on giving, and that’s even more true when you get one every month. With Horti you can choose between new to planting, pet-friendly, and a Horti’s Pick subscription so there is something for everyone, and each month you’ll get a new plant to add to your collection.
Brighten their day with a rotating shipment of blooms from Fresh Sends. It’s different than other flower-delivery services, because they take the guesswork out of deciding what arrangement to get. They focus on whatever is in season and create unique arrangements around that.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.