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If you ever listen to podcasts (and don’t skip the ads), you’ve heard about the magic of subscription boxes. I’m a big fan — not only do they make life so much easier and more convenient, they also merge the excitement of getting a package in the mail with the joy of opening a gift. That’s double the fun, y’all. We’ve rounded up our favorite subscription box services because you deserve the best of the best.
Snacking winner: Graze
Snack boxes are great for busy people who are trying to stay healthy but are constantly surrounded by delicious snacks packed with sugar and fat (I’m looking at you, Doritos.) A weekly delivery of healthy snacks is a lifesaver for all of us mindless snackers. Naturebox is the snack box most people will have heard of — they advertise everywhere — but the snacks just aren’t as good as the ones at Graze.
Graze snacks are interesting, healthy, and, most importantly, they taste amazing. The flapjacks in particular are a marvel of culinary engineering — they have somehow managed to make rolled oat bars moist and chewy. If sweet treats aren’t your jam, there are also savory snack boxes with fun themes like Pizza Margherita and Sweet Memphis BBQ.
Office snacks tend to be boring and/or unhealthy. Graze snacks are neither. If you order a subscription to your office you’ll never get stranded in the office kitchen desert again. Your first sampler box is free, so you have no excuse not to try it.
Beauty winner: Play! by Sephora
Birchbox is the OG in the beauty subscription game but Play! by Sephora has it beat. Don’t get me wrong — Birchbox is great. The design is very cute and the samples are high end, but at the end of the day these boxes exist to sell you more beauty products and Sephora has the structure of an established beauty brand to back it up.
Beauty subscription boxes are great for people who like to find out about cool new makeup products but don’t have all day to wander around beauty counters or watch a million YouTube tutorials on how to contour. The brilliance of both Birchbox and Play! is the customization and convenience. You fill out a profile when you sign up with everything from skin tone and eye color to hair texture and skin issues. Beauty samples are curated to your specific needs and preferences every month and delivered right to your door with instructions on how to use them.
Where Play! has the advantage is after you’ve tried everything in the box. Both brands have loyalty programs when you purchase full size versions, but Sephora’s is more robust. Most makeup wearers are already members of Sephora’s Beauty Insider program, and the Play! box comes with a card that grants you an additional 50 points, plus a free in-store tutorial, and invites to exclusive events. These perks are enough to tip Play! over the edge.
Geeky winner: Loot Crate
A case where the original still reigns supreme is in the geeky collectibles and gear subscription box. Loot Crate is the best of the best, and has built an entire community around unboxing their loot.
The original Loot Crate set out to be “comic-con in a box,” containing at least four pop-culture related items valued at over $45 total. There’s guaranteed to be a t-shirt in every box, and they often collaborate with brands to deliver exclusive products. Each monthly box is centered around a theme – past themes have included “future,” “anti-hero,” and “origins.” There’s also a Loot Crate DX subscription for the truly dedicated nerds out there, with premium items worth at least $100. We here at Mashable have a fun time every month trying to guess what the new theme will bring. You can also pick up a one-off box in the Mashable shop for over half off.
Loot Crate has also branched out into all kinds of other nerdy areas. There’s an anime box, a Sanrio box (delivered every 3 months — Hello Kitty has a busy life,) and even an adorable box for pets. Gamers can subscribe to a specific gaming box, or even pick a bi-monthly box with exclusively Halo-, Minecraft-, or Fallout-related loot. The Loot Wear offshoot has apparel subscriptions for socks, underwear, t-shirts, wearables, and “For Her.” I haven’t even gotten to the film and TV crates or the limited edition crates, but you get it. There’s a lot of stuff here. All nerds will be able to find something they’ll love unboxing every month.
With all this the variety, the fan community, and exclusive items, there’s just no competitor even coming close to beating Loot Crate in the geeky collectible box game.
Wine winner: Winc
There are thousands of varietals of wine out there and you can’t drink them all — though we don’t blame you for trying. Wine subscription boxes are here to help. There are boxes for the casual wine drinker and boxes for a more refined palate, but whether you’re an aspiring sommelier or your go-to is Barefoot Pinot Grigio, there’s something for you to like at Winc. The quality, variety, and stellar customer service make Winc (formerly Club W) the winner in Wine subscription boxes.
Like many food and drink subscription boxes, Winc has a taste survey when you sign up. Every month, they recommend four bottles of wine that match your preferences. The default recommendation is for two white and two red, but you can change it. You can also decide that you’re not feeling one or more of the bottles, and either replace it or remove it (four are required for free shipping, but you can choose three if you prefer.) If you don’t like a wine you were recommended it’s fully refunded, but I’ve liked everything they’ve sent me. Then again, I’m not a picky drinker.
Cooking (Tie): Blue Apron & Hello Fresh
Blue Apron and Hello Fresh make it easy, inexpensive, and exciting to cook healthy meals at home. It’s especially fun if you have a significant other or kids to cook with, since ordering out every night gets boring and expensive. Each week you get a box of between two and four recipes and all of the (sustainably sourced) ingredients you need to whip them up. The ingredients are pre-proportioned, so you won’t just have a random bottle of clam sauce you’re never going to use again lying around. All of the recipes from both boxes are designed to take around 30 minutes and are simple enough for a complete beginner. Both boxes also have vegetarian and family options.
There are a few differences that set these two apart, so it’s really up to your needs which one works for you. Hello Fresh is international and Blue Apron only delivers in the U.S. If you’re a picky eater or have very specific food allergies, Hello Fresh may be the better option since allows you to pick your recipes each week, while Blue Apron sends you surprise recipes based on your preferences. However, Blue Apron is slightly less expensive and has more interesting recipes to try.
It’s purely a matter of personal preference — with either of these boxes you’re going to get a delivery of fresh ingredients and healthy recipes to try each week. You can even get both, and start a Master Chef competition with your significant other. Just make sure you take turns being Gordon Ramsay.