Photo: Hero Images

Searching for the perfect gift can be costly, and frankly, exhausting. From that impossible-to-find grill tool set for dad to the expensive Lego collector sets for the kiddo stormtrooper in your life, gift-giving is stressful. It’s a wonder we all don’t just go the easy route and show our love with a gift card (except gift cards aren’t very personal). If you’re in need of a personalized gift to please even the most finicky people on your list, we’ve got you covered. It won’t fit in a stocking or a gift box with festive wrapping paper, but it’s sure to put a smile on their faces on Christmas morning and well after the holidays.  

Michelle Darrisaw
December 02, 2016

We all love opening presents on Christmas morning. But once you’ve unwrapped that shiny new thing or reached down into a plush stocking, the thrill is over. By dinnertime, it’s almost like the months you spent stressing over what to buy was all for naught.

Here’s a thought: What if Christmas didn’t have to end for you or your friends and family on December 25? Well, it doesn’t have to, thanks to the beauty of specialty subscriptions and food boxes. It’s a simple and affordable way to keep the holiday spirit going month after month, beyond Christmas Day and the New Year.

For the past few years, the subscription box craze has caught on among holiday gift-givers. Here, three important reasons why:

Got a friend who already has just about everything? Lucky girl, but we’re willing to bet there’s a specialty subscription box out there she doesn’t have. What about the co-workers you feel obligated to buy something for, but you don’t really know much about them, except for the fact that they spend a lot of time fueling up on office coffee? There’s a java-filled subscription box for them, too. Even the hard-to-please people who made your list wouldn’t dare turn down a monthly (or quarterly) delivered box of goodies.

  • Your loved ones have the benefit of receiving a new gift to open every month, depending on what type of subscription you purchase for them. It’s like getting a surprise delivered to your doorstep again and again. Feel-Good Bonus: Every time your friends or family members open a new box, they’ll always think of you.

  • Subscription boxes are jam-packed with carefully curated items for the special people in your life. And the best part? They make perfect last-minute gifts (shh, we won’t tell anyone you waited until the week of Christmas), since most boxes won’t ship until the next available month anyway. Compared to buying one big expensive gift for Christmas, the convenience of monthly, quarterly, or annual subscriptions allow you to spread your funds over time and cancel whenever you’d like.  Read on to discover the best subscription boxes for the foodies and home cooks you love the most. Trust us, the only difficult part is resisting the urge to buy one for yourself.

    For Bakers and Those With a Sweet Tooth

    • Got a serious sweet tooth? Treatsie is here to help you indulge in your dessert cravings with a box of artisanal sweets featuring three different vendors delivered to your front door. Each box contains up to $25 worth of gourmet treats. How Much?: Monthly subscription for $19.95; Quarterly subscription for $56.85 ($18.95/box); Annual subscription for $203 ($16.92/box).

    SoBakeable is like having Martha Stewart in your kitchen every month to show you how to bake whatever decadent dessert that suits your fancy. Each monthly delivery includes ingredients, instructions, and decorating tools to make at least two sweet treats, ranging from cakes and cookies to brownies and cupcakes. All your giftee has to do is whip out the butter, milk, eggs, and come with an empty stomach. You can also purchase individual dessert boxes in SoBakeable’s shop. How Much?: 3-month subscription for $99 (six desserts); 6-month subscription for $190 (12 desserts).

    For Health and Fitness Enthusiasts

    Offering you a healthier alternative than anything you’d find on the grocery shelves, Naturebox is packed with either five or ten resealable bags (depending on the box type) of snacks that are free of artificial coloring, flavoring, and sweeteners. You can choose from more than 100 vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free snacks, like popcorn mixes, baked treats, granola and snack bars, crackers, nut mixes, and dips. Pair this snack box with another subscription service we all love—Netflix. How Much?: Price varies per snack box, plus monthly $5 membership fee (credit towards snacks) and 50% off your first order.

  • Bestowed is the perfect gift subscription box for those who are looking to jump-start their New Year’s resolutions. Each box is full of healthy essentials, from nutritionist-approved snacks and beverages to yoga DVDs that can be delivered to their house or office. How Much?: Monthly subscriptions for $20; 3-month, 6-month, and annual are also available.   

    For Busy Parents

    Photo: Iain Bagwell

    For those parents who love to cook and are looking to shed a few pounds, let the Cooking Light Diet come to their aid. It’s a weekly meal-planning service that can be customized to accommodate dietary preferences and weight-loss goals. After spending a long, busy day at work, the last thing we want to do is figure out what cook. The Cooking Light Diet takes the guesswork out of meal planning, creates an electronic shopping list for you, and allows you to swap meals around. Better than takeout, your loved one will save money and time by cooking quick, healthy, and satisfying meals at home week after week, while dropping a few pounds in the process. How Much?: 3-month subscriptions start at $24; 6-month subscriptions start at $36.

    For Wine Connoisseurs and Aficionados

    Drinking more of the good stuff is made simpler with a Vinebox subscription, which delivers three hand-picked wines in fancy glass vials of “perfectly measured pours” to your front door. Each box comes monthly with recipes, pairings, and music suggestions for you to relax and unwind by the glassful. How Much?: 3-month subscription for $81 ($27/box); 6-month subscription for $156 ($26/box); Annual subscription for $300 ($25/box).

    For Coffee Lovers

    No more bad office coffee or pricey Starbucks runs. Give your family and friends a caffeine boost with a subscription to Bean Box, a curated service that delivers fresh, roasted-to-order coffee straight from Seattle every month. You can trust that each of the bags are a fresh batch because the beans are shipped within 48 hours of roasting, just in time to make your next pot of coffee. How Much?: Monthly Bean Box Sampler for $20; 6-month and annual subscriptions are also available.

  • Craft Coffee is a personalized monthly subscription that selects three different roasters (or you can choose your own grinds) and bean companies from around the country to send you a bag of blends picked based on your likes. How Much?: Monthly subscriptions for $25; 3-month, 6-month, and annual subscriptions are also available.  

    For Vegans

    Vegan Cuts does all the hard work for you by finding the latest vegan snacks tailored for you, from sodas and teas to protein chips and cookies. Each box contains 10 or more vegan goodies delivered each month. How Much?: One-time offer available for $18.50/box; Monthly subscriptions for $22.95; 6-month subscriptions for $120. Prices vary when shipped to Canada.

  • Wave goodbye to sugary treats and processed foods with Healthy Surprise. Each month you’ll discover a new flavor and an all natural, gluten-free, and vegan variety mix, including kale, fruits, sweets, chips, bars, and protein-filled options. Choose your own order frequency from among their three subscription boxes: Classic Box (15 snacks), Big Box (21 snacks), and Paleo Box (17 snacks). How Much?: Subscriptions start at $49.99.

    For the Constant Desk Snacker

    Photo: Graze

    After being gifted a subscription about a year ago, I can personally attest to all the nutritious and delicious benefits of a Graze subscription box. I’ve never looked back, and you won’t either! It’s a complete game changer, featuring a box of eight snacks that can be delivered to your home or office every week. What you’ll find most interesting about Graze boxes are the snack variations you can choose from (more than 100), including whole grain bars, chocolate drops, popcorn, cinnamon pretzels, peach cobbler-flavored nuts, and my personal favorite, lemon drizzle flapjack oat bars. All you have to do is tell them what your friend or family members like, and they do the rest! How Much?: Weekly subscription for $11.99, plus shipping.

    • Curb midday hunger and incite a little co-worker envy with a Blissmo BREAKbox subscription, which also offers larger boxes for office staff, too. Your loved ones will appreciate not having to rely on the vending machine when hunger strikes. The snack mixes change every month, so they don’t fall into a snack rut. Each personal box contains around 15 to 20 snacks and is delivered monthly. How Much?: Monthly subscription for personal box is $39.95; Prices vary for larger offices and teams.

    For Adventurous Foodies

    Try some authentic foods and ingredients every month from all over the world by joining the Destination Food Club at Yummy Bazaar. The Full Experience gourmet box includes six to eight food products based on a particular theme and country. How Much?: Monthly subscriptions for $35.95; 3-month, 6-month, and annual subscriptions also available.

  • Try the World sends its recipients local and authentic gourmet foods and snacks chosen by celebrity chefs from different countries. Every month a box is delivered with seven to eight foods akin to a specific country and a cultural guide to transport you around the world without ever leaving the kitchen. How Much?: Monthly subscriptions for $39; 3-month, 6-month, and annual subscriptions also available.

    For the One Who Likes to Eat and Pay it Forward

    Talk about the gift that truly keeps on giving, Love with Food allows you to sample and taste eight or more gourmet, gluten-free, and organic foods and snacks each month. For every box purchased, they donate a meal to food banks across the country. How Much?: Monthly Tasting Box starts at $7.99.

    For Home Chefs

    Help the home cook in your life sharpen their culinary skills at home with CrateChef, a bi-monthly subscription box full of cooking and food products, exclusive recipes, a personal letter, and kitchen supplies curated by world-renown chefs. How Much?: Bi-monthly subscriptions for $45, plus $6 shipping fees.

    For Southerners

    All the country Southern belles and gents will adore receiving a gift box from Batch every three months, especially since each box contains purveyor stories and three to nine handmade goodies from Southern tastemakers (both edible and non-edible). Local hotspots include Charleston, Austin, Memphis, and Nashville (hot chicken, anyone?), because there’s nothing wrong with showing a little appreciation in the form of hometown glory. How Much?: Standard box for $49; Deluxe box for $99.

    For Strict "Meatatarians"

    You get four to six artisanal cured meat (think: chorizo, pepperoni, and toscano) from all over the world delivered in a faux-wood box each month with a Carnivore Club subscription box, along with a Meat Eaters Handbook. How Much?: Monthly subscription for $55.With hardly any effort required on your part, subscription boxes can be thoughtfully tailored to fit your loved ones’ tastes and interests. And if these aren’t enough, choose from one of these 100 gift ideas to please your friends and family.