There’s something magical about a subscription box. Call me a sucker for consumerism, but opening up that fresh new package every month, delivered straight to my door, makes me feel giddy as a child at Christmas. It’s clearly not just me, as according to recent statistics, Brits are spending £2 billion every year on subscriptions services. Parcels may well be dropping through countless letterboxes, but it doesn’t take away the joy of finding one wrapped just for you, with your name on it.
Granted, the labels are printed – don’t expect painstakingly crafted calligraphy or a fancy ribbon. But there’s something about the fact that it’s a gift from me to me that makes it special enough. And while treating myself to something I want rather than need is usually a rare, one-off indulgence, this is a recurring pleasure which I don’t have to feel guilty about. By ordering my coffee beans from Union, I’m supporting a sustainable business, joining a virtual club that will help growers and roasters stay afloat during a pandemic. What’s more, high-quality products can be shipped straight to me from local suppliers, bypassing huge supermarket corporations.
It’s also about that feeling of excitement. When I go to the shops and buy myself something nice, I know exactly what I’m looking for; the contents of each subscription box, on the other hand, carry the same element of surprise as a Christmas stocking. They offer something new every month, or quarter, something unexpected that can liven up a routine or brighten up a dull day. Indeed, plant delivery service Bloom & Wild are a perfect example of how that personal touch can lift the spirits. While we often think to order flowers for birthdays and anniversaries, it’s easy to forget that we ourselves could also benefit from receiving something special every once in a while. Surrounding ourselves with a little vibrancy whilst working from home could be instrumental in providing a much-needed boost to our mental wellbeing.
On top of this, it’s also cheaper and easier to maintain a healthy routine: for instance, nutritionist-approved snack service Graze have become the country’s second most popular service thanks to their money-saving model, which offers an affordable alternative to raiding the cupboards for crisps. Whether it’s what you put in your body or how you elevate your mood, it all comes down to looking after yourself. After all, with or without the fancy bow, there’s nothing more beautiful than the gift of self-love.
Subscription boxes can also be great for unlocking creativity and consequently building our self-esteem. For example, my quarterly subscription to Artful gives me access to a whole community of fellow artists and a new platform for expression. On top of the materials and tutorials, thanks to social media there is a way to share and compare responses to the themes and activities in each box. It’s a way to connect and celebrate across countries and continents. Small startups like this also have the added benefit of supporting independent creatives. Take Papergang, which offers a range of stationery designed by artists, allowing you to grow your own skills whilst helping freelancers affected by lockdown.
In a world where both gratification and communication are largely virtual, subscription boxes are a way to get your hands on something real and fulfilling. We may not need to send letters by post any more – even cards can be sent in electronic form – but that makes giving yourself a physical gift (whilst strictly maintaining social distancing rules) even more rewarding.