It’s that time again…. and what could be better than getting a present every month, or every three months? This is my idea of the perfect present and I’ll take any of the below. Below are 15 of the best ideas I have found based largely around reading, stationery, beauty and eco including both small and black-owned businesses. I have left out all the food and drink and coffee and tea versions as there are dozens and they aren’t hard to find or to think of. Nor have I included magazines but’s that’s also one of the best and simplest (and currently affordable ideas). Just add something relevant to open on Christmas Day and you’re all set. What I have found besides that? Here, in no particular order:
Pick a book (the collection includes both contemporary and classic) add some treats (anything from tea or coffee, stationery and beauty) and it’s all beautifully wrapped up for you. I mean your recipient (but it’s such a good self gifting present too). Joining also gives you access to a community of book lovers and you can discuss what you are reading each month. Pay for a full year £145 or monthly for one, three or six months.
A gift box full of presents created by black-owned businesses created by Lizzie Blake, a Ghanaian living in the UK who came up with the idea following the Black Lives Matter movement earlier this year when she realised that shopping on a single day of a month wasn’t going to change a culture. There needed to be a continuous action to help grow the black community. This is a very new business and Lizzie, who has two young children, is working as hard as she can to grow it. If you buy a box then do review and share to help her grow the idea. Current boxes include Cosy, Mother & Baby, Gentlemen, Wellness and Pamper.
3 NOT ANOTHER BILL
This one has been around since 2011 and while they no longer offer monthly subscriptions they do have gorgeous gift boxes to choose from around beauty, games, alcohol, food and new parents. So you can buy a make-up bag and fill it, or a monogrammed travel pouch or any number of personalised phone cases, airpod cases and carrying straps. For example the For Her set includes a pair of earrings that you can engrave, a notebook, a candle and a bar of chocolate. I find the site a little clunky but if you’ve got time to rummage you can find gorgeous covetable stuff.
4 WE ARE WILD (Refillable sustainable deodorant)
A durable aluminium and recycled plastic deodorant case with refillable product which is vegan, cruelty-free has no chemical nasties and has been dermatologically tested. It’s that simple. All you have to do is sign up and choose the colour and scent. A one-off purchase (case and three refills) is £25 or you can sign up for a flexible subscription for £12 and chose refills every two, three or four months from £12. I’ve just suscribed and I was given this 20 per cent off link so see if it works.
I started a monthly flower subscription a couple of years ago and I look forward to it every month. Obviously you can have weekly or fornightly but I find the flowers last a good couple of weeks (longer than many florist bouquets) and I look forward to their arrival without ever taking the joy of fresh flowers for granted. There are lots of different companies who offer this now. Find the one you like. A pixie bouquet is £23.95 a bouquet, rising to £34.95 for the deluxe.
The first book subscription club specialising in black and minority writers to help your diversify your library. Each box includes one book voted for by monthly poll of subscribers, one mystery and some mystery gifts. Fifteen per cent of each subscription goes to those in prison or living with mental health issues.
7 THE BAMANDBOO (bamboo toothbrushes)
Toothbrushes might not be the most exciting Christmas gift but on the basis that good gifting is about identifying what a person might need and making it special, this works. Combine it with the deodorant, some soap bar and stick it in a gorgeous base and I guarantee you that if your recipient loves beauty and fears for the planet that you will have a winner.
8 THE STORYGRAPH
This is so new that it appears to be in Beta still but it was recommended to me by our podcast producer Kate Taylor and she’s clever at things like this. Basically you take the survey and it suggests books you might like and is, so the reviews say, uncannily accurate.
9 THE POST HOUSE
Seasonal boxes of homewares to your door available either four times a year or as a one off treat. You can also build your own boxes. The winter 20 box includes four mini wreaths (suggested as place settings) gold ribbon (in case you want to hang them) three cheese knives, three brass tea light holders and candles, gold sprayed pine cones and a booklet of styling ideas and recipes. The autumn box included a velvet and linen cushion, a match holder, matching mug and a striped candle. For the luxe package a throw could be added. Boxes cost £95 individually or £85 if you subscribe (minimum two seasons). You can look back at past boxes to see if it’s for you. I think it’s definitely for me and I often think homewares boxes can be tricky but this is a good’un.
10 THE GADGET DISCOVERY CLUB
Does what it says on the tin. It’s tricky to see what you get but it was set up when the founder discovered a solar powered phone charger and gave it to someone who was always forgetting to charge his own battery pack and from that sentence I was in because that is me. You can also see the brands they work with which include Phillips, Samsung and Oral B and I think yes let’s give it a go. A monthly is £24.99 or if you sign up for six months it’s £19.99 falling to £17.99 for a year.
11 GREEN FUTURE BOX
Another one that doesn’t give too much away of the content but the basic idea is that it’s sourced from small businesses trying to reduce plastic use with tips and hints on living a more sustainable life and each box valued at a minimum of £25. There are more clues if you follow them on instagram where August’s box included shower steamers, cotton buds, moisturiser and soap. Others have included plastic free eco kitchen cleaners. The Eco-warrior plan is £19.99 a month.
12 SPOTLIGHT STATIONERY
Oh yes the stationery gift. Choose monthly or bi-monthly or one off boxes. Labels include castelli (I’ve bought and loved) Leichtturm (similar) and Rhoda (that too). It costs £25 a month and examples of previous boxes include Art Deco, Kids and European Cities.
Another green subscription, this one costs £14.99 a month and they plant a tree for every box they send. Here you will find three products chosen by Shorebox and you can choose the fourth yourself (from a selection). So essentially you will receive four zero waste items a month for your fee or you can buy a one off Christmas gift box for £28.
14 BEAUTY PIE
I signed up to Beauty Pie a couple of years ago and I love it. I pay £10 a month (you can also pay £20 and £30) which allows you to shop for up to £100 worth of product and there are savings of up to 80 per cent so, for example, a product that might retail at £50 is yours for £12. The products come from leading skin care labs around the world and are repackaged in the signature minimal Beauty Pie look. So you might be buying from the factory that makes Chanel but you aren’t paying for the logo. I should add that I don’t have an affiliate link (the disclaimer at the top of the post is a general one) and I’m not paid to promote. I do jus spend there and, for what it’s worth, I currently max out my monthly allowance as The Mad Husband has taken to “sharing” it all. Apparently the skincare is “our” subscription not mine.
15 LITTLE EXPLORER KIDS
For children aged between 4 and 10, you pay £12 a month (including delivery) and you can choose from three, six and 12 months for a kit to teach them about a different country each time. Each box includes a personalised letter (and siblings can share) stickers, activity booklet, passport stamp, photos, fact card and a gift from the country such as a Russian doll or an Australian boomerang. For Christmas Day start with the £25 explorer kit which comes in a suitcase with a wall map, passport and travel journal. Rather wish this had existed when my teenagers were small.
I hope these have helped, I’m definitely signing up for the deodorant, I have the flowers and beauty and am wondering if someone wants to sign me up for the homewares and the books. What about you?