Subscriptions – the gift idea for those who have everything
✨ FREDDIE HUTCHINS
From engraved hip flasks to silver-plated marmite lids, there are a few gift ‘ideas’ that seem to crop up time and again during internet searches, presenting themselves as reasonable gift solutions for that person who has everything. Whoopi Goldberg famously shops for her friends’ pets at Christmastime, figuring that her Hollywood Glitterati set have everything and more that they could possibly ever wish for… but their animals might not. Under such circumstances, an order of ten diamond dog collars seems a pretty reasonable gifting direction to take. But my person who has everything hasn't got a pet and I - to my eternal sadness - ain't Whoopi.
We all want to give gifts at Christmas. Blame capitalism, obligation or simply – and most wonderfully – the warmth of our hearts: Christmas shopping's just got to be done. I wonder if it’s just me though, who finds the challenge an increasingly difficult one to tackle. The preponderance of things in this world never ceases to amaze me, and at a time when were are all, finally, incontrovertibly, waking up to the challenge of finite resources and a planet in crisis, it doesn't sit well with me to go out and get more stuff we don't need for people who don't need it... the old adage is sounding increasingly well-worn and familiar as the years roll on.
There's not an obvious place at the table for such trains of thought amid the expected, nay obligatory cheer of the Christmas season, but to my mind the two need not be incompatible. Below are a list of gift ideas that can show you care on many levels – about a person, but also, on occasion, about the world you share with them. And as they’re all subscription-based, they have the added bonus of spreading the love – and the meaning – beyond Christmas and into the year to follow.
This is such a lovely idea – cheese is a proper indulgence, and good cheese is a proper pleasure. Pong understand this, and work to curate a knock-out list of local and international superstar cheeses, all of which are just a first-class stamp away from thrilling your loved ones. The other nice thing about giving a gift like this is that, by its very nature, it demands to be enjoyed on receipt – no shelf space / house space required. I bought 3 months' worth as a present for my brother a few years ago, and have never looked back. He lives out in the wilds of Scotland, and it pleases me greatly to think that I can send him his washed-rind, ripened heart's desire via the local postman.
There is a school of thought – and a reasonable one too – that maintains that giving to charity should be a separate act to giving a present. If such a conundrum chimes with you, then the extraordinary 4Ocean have the answer: join a loved one up to the latest global movement to rid our oceans of the scourge of plastic pollution, and receive a year’s worth of lovely, genuinely covetable bracelets in return. Perfect for Blue Planet-inspired children and adults, this gift really does connect the dots between gift-giving and charity. I'm a subscriber myself, and the bracelets are as fun to share as they are to wear - making it a pleasure to start a conversation about something we should all be talking - and caring - more about.
I was bought this by two thoughtful friends as a birthday present, and thoroughly enjoyed receiving my monthly delivery of coffee and literature. In my case the coffee element was certainly consumed by the time the next month’s delivery rolled around, but it was no hardship to give the array of intriguing Penguin Classics shelf space for longer. The first title I was sent was Lady Chatterley’s Lover – so I knew I was in safe hands. And that's what I found you get with this subscription: left-field surprises that are, genuinely, a surprise, but which nonetheless fulfil their brief and are a pleasure to explore. I knew a boy at school called John Thomas. Poor kid. If only his parents had been sent Lady Chatterley in time...
The DIY of home flower delivery – but in just the best way. Flowers that fit through your letterbox, to be unpacked and assembled at home. (I promise it's not stressful - it's easy-peasy and has the added pleasure of causing you to feel ownership and pride over your flowers as they bloom.) Delivered as the closest of closed of buds, these arrangements are selected for their freshness and longevity, and can last for up to two weeks. And their fitting through the letterbox really isn't a gimmick - it makes sending flowers as easy as sending a thank you card, and means there's no worry or hassle about whether someone will be at home to receive them.
(It wouldn’t be fair not to mention the equally excellent Freddie’s Flowers here too – but Bloom and Wild were the first I tried, and I love their specific flower gift subscription option.)
I think (and even Professor Dumbledore agrees) that giving socks at Christmas is a highly underrated undertaking. Clichéd for a reason – because it’s a great idea – the worry is that giving socks means you just don’t know what else to give. A gift subscription from London Sock Company can set your mind at rest. A great London start-up with an eye for detail and a social conscience to boot, this is a lovely way to elevate the giving of socks to a monthly sartorial pleasure.
You get the idea. There are obviously loads more ways to treat someone to a little bit of what they like as the months roll on, from magazine subscriptions to deliveries of scented candles, moisturizers, tea, craft beer, stationery… the list goes on. (Personally, I tend to steer clear of wine / whiskey subscriptions or similar, as people generally know what they like in that quarter, and are perhaps less likely to be open to new discoveries…)
The other way to do it, of course, is to head to one of the many good websites specialising in curating gift selections – I personally love Wicked Uncle and am having fun discovering The Fowndry this year. That being said, we're back to stuff territory again, which, when you truly do have everything, is generally somewhere you don't necessarily need - or want - to be.
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