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Holiday Guide 2014: Gifts that keep on giving

Subscription boxes make that mailbox moment a monthly reminder that you care

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PHOTO COLLAGE BY ADAM MCCABE
  • photo collage by Adam McCabe

I’m in love with the mailman. I hate political mailers and bills and those guilt-inducing charity appeals as much as anyone, but I adore “good mail”: magazines, little packages from Etsy, my monthly Birchbox. The moment of surprise when I spy it in the mailbox is almost as good as the thing itself. So when it comes to holiday gifts, whether giving or receiving, my recommendation is a monthly subscription – it’s like Christmas over and over. A few of my favorites (hint):

One of the newest subscription boxes on the suddenly crowded market is Skandicrush, a monthly package of Scandinavian-inspired housewares from design geniuses like Sagaform, Areaware, Ferm Living and Snug.Studio. Three or four items (tea towels, birchwood tongs, trays, small ceramics and the like) with a retail value of $65-$80 show up each month in your favorite Marimekko fan’s mailbox for a relative pittance ($50 per month; skandicrush.com).

Much as my grandparents loved the Book of the Month Club, the bestsellers it sends out just aren’t my cup of tea. Luckily, however, two of my favorite publishers have launched their own subscription series offering a monthly fix of high (or higher) quality writing. Each month, the NYRB Book Club mails members the latest trade paperback from New York Review Books, known for its thoughtfully designed reissues of out-of-print classics and lost gems, like Elaine Dundy’s The Dud Avocado (six books for $85 or 13 for $150; nybooks.com/books). Discerning mystery fans may already be familiar with Soho Crime, publisher of new and reissued global crime fiction (settings range from Copenhagen to Paris to Tokyo to Istanbul); members of their International Crime Club receive a new thrill every month until you tell them to stop ($14.99 hardback, $9.99 digital; sohopress.com/crime-subscription).

There was a point last summer where it seemed like half the Internet was posting pictures of matcha green-tea Kit Kat bars, inducing a wave of candy jealousy and hypebeast INEEDTHAT urges in the other half. Well, some of them may have actually gotten their candy in Tokyo, but plenty of them got it in their Skoshbox, the monthly subscription box of weird Japanese sweets. Perfect for anyone who has a favorite Pocky flavor – like me: Almond Crush, please ($12 per month, $66 for six months, $120 per year; skoshbox.com).

But one does not live by candy alone. For those salty and savory needs, there’s the New Indie Releases box from Mouth: a selection of pickles, popcorns, jams, jerkies, cheeses, chips and other snacky bites made by small independent food producers ($60 per month for a three-, six-, nine- or 12-month subscription, plus a complimentary subscription to Edible magazine; mouth.com). Monthly box too rich for your blood? Send a one-time box instead – there are loads of curated assortments starting at $40, but you can also custom-tailor a box with products starting at $3.50.

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