By Tara Roberts
I discovered the Harry and David’s Fruit of the Month Club when I was about 10. It seemed so strange and wonderful to receive boxes of flawless, foil-wrapped fruit straight to your doorstep. I put it on my Christmas list for years.
When I was in my 20s, my family finally indulged my wish. For several magical months, the world’s most perfect peaches, pears and cherries arrived like clockwork in the mail.
The excitement eventually wore thin — especially when Winco has pretty good apples for 90 cents a pound. But with the recent craze for subscription boxes, I felt the old thrill again.
We made 2018 a subscription-box Christmas in the Roberts house. Six months later, we’ve found which were the best boxes for our buck, and which have lost their luster.
BrickLoot: This has been the perfect gift for my Lego-loving 6-year-old — not to mention his brother and dad. Each box is stuffed with minifigures, swag and quick-and-fun kits that fit a broad theme like dinosaurs, race cars or food. Some pieces aren’t available elsewhere, and they all integrate easily into his existing collection, so he keeps playing with them. Don’t think you really need a dozen tiny plastic croissants and a minifig in a T-rex costume? If you love Lego, you do. Grade: A+ $25.48/month for six months; brickloot.com.
Book of the Month: I devour books like candy but have a bad habit of assuming I’ll read cool new releases later, then forgetting about them. Book of the Month keeps my reading list fresh. Each month offers a limited but carefully curated selection of new (and often exclusive early release) hardbacks for way less than the retail price. You can choose one, or pay extra to stock your shelves. I haven’t gotten a bad book yet. Grade: A $13.33/month for six months; bookofthemonth.com.
Universal Yums: A ton of global snack boxes have sprung up in the past year, but Universal Yums caught my eye with its chipper marketing. Each box features sweet and savory treats from a different country, along with a booklet packed with fun facts about the culture and culinary delights. Some were delicious (my kids now want to go to Greece just for the candy bars) and a few were charmingly gag-worthy to American palates, but it wound up being more junk food than we really wanted in the house. Grade: B $25/month for the mid-sized box; universalyums.com.
DoodleCrate: My artsy 9-year-old loved the idea of getting craft supplies in the mail. The projects DoodleCrate (from subscription box masters KiwiCo) sends are beautiful, high-quality and interesting — and they take a lot of time. His boxes ended up sitting in a pile to wait for rainy summer days. Worth it if your kiddo normally spends hours on crafting and loves to learn new skills. Otherwise, stick with paper, tape and markers. Grade: C $18.50/month for six months; kiwico.com/doodle.
Which subscription boxes should we try next? Share reviews of your favorites in the comments section for this story at inland360.com or on the Inland 360 Facebook page.
Roberts is a writer who lives in Moscow and really wishes there were a subscription box that included gummy candy, comfortable socks and Sasquatch swag.