photo by scorpions and centaurs
This is part of a series of posts on surviving Christmas when you’re in your twenties.
See Part One: Thrifty Decor.
Society doesn’t use the postal service to its full potential. We have the infrastructure in place so that every day, you can pay someone to come to your front door and bring you stuff. And that stuff could be, instead of bills and/or court summons, something pretty, a different present every few weeks. If you fancy it, some companies will send you (or someone you really like) gifts in the mail all through the year, so it can feel as if you have a mini birthday every month.
As far as Christmas is concerned, subscription gifts can be good ways of getting a long-term return on Christmas spirit, but they’re also an option if you’ve missed the final order dates from online shops (holla, fellow disorganised masses…). Here are a few of my favourite postal gift options this year, from books and cheese to beauty and stationery and beyond, which could all lead to something delightful on the doormat for the whole of 2013.
If you haven’t heard of Persephone, please go and check them out immediately. They’re a chic publisher of books mostly by lesser-known female writers. The covers are glam and refined and uniform, like a Parisian ladies’ dinner in the 1960s, or so I imagine. Each revelatory edition carries the trademark understated grey Persephone cover (except for the classics range, which looks slightly jazzier), with cream title label. Open them up to reveal vibrant and unusual patterned endpapers, carefully chosen to reflect the feel of each book.
Though you can buy individually, they’ll also send a book a month (at £10 per month for either six or 12 months) to you or a friend. For a few extra pounds you can have each one gift-wrapped with satin ribbon, and slip in a card explaining why you think your pal will love each novel you’ve chosen.
You can choose in advance which book will be sent when — authors to pick from include Dorothy Whipple, Frances Hodgson Burnett and Noel Streatfeild, as well as some more obscure names. Potentially, you could map out your giftee’s entire reading habits for the year ahead, and introduce them to some new writers along the way.
My suggestion is to pick five treasures to send for the first five months, and then for the last month, choose a special blank Persephone notebook to be delivered instead. That way your gift recipient can, inspired by their recent reading, have a go at writing their own classic.
For those who prefer to devour food rather than fiction (or who, like me, are pretty fond of both), a monthly cheese delivery service, unapologetically named Pong, should please fromage-loving gourmandes. A regular foray into the cheesy unknown, with a different selection in every consignment, the arrangement is similar to the ‘veg box’ model.
It’s quite pricey at £28 per month (though Pong points out that is less than the average mobile phone contract), but for real foodies a luxurious cheese-on-tap scenario might just make it worth it. I’m a big fan of blue cheese, like my Grandpa used to be. In fact he loved cheese so stinky that my Granny made him keep it in the potting shed. Cheeseboards: not just for Christmas day.
3. Wrap Magazine
Illustration by Antti Uotila, currently featured in Wrap magazine
If the Christmas rush has made you think there’d be no greater gift than freedom from panic buying wrapping paper, the answer might be a subscription to Wrap magazine (£25 plus p&p for three issues). Each edition is an insight into current goings-on in the world of illustration, presented as five unique sheets of gorgeously designed pull-out wrapping paper.
The current issue has a focus on Nordic design, very apt for the post-Forbrydelsen Christmas.
I’m rubbish at buying new beauty products, lazily reaching for the same gummed-up bottle of Boots moisturiser every morning. Shameful. It would be lovely to be sent a box of new beauty treats to try every month, a kind of postal pampering.
The GlossyBox selection seems to give you a decent amount of each product so you can try it properly, not like the free sample-type things you find stuck to pages of Vogue and Tatler, which always seem to give you only about three molecules worth of perfume or day cream or whatever. It’s also beautifully wrapped in a different style each time, so it really is like getting a proper present full of nicely-scented luxuries.
I actually found out about GlossyBox from Beauty and the Book, a new Edinburgh blog that combines writing about books with snippets from the beauty world. Given that I usually enjoy my books upside-down under a duvet in my pyjamas, I bet she looks a lot more glamorous when she reads than I do…
5. Green Gables Eco Stationery Club
Stationery! Freaking yes. The thing I miss most about school and university is probably the excuse to buy lots of stationery. I still hoard notebooks and gaze longingly at expensive fountain pens in glass cabinets in shops, though. The Green Gables Stationery Club gift subscription is a regular fix of stationery goodness, all apparently eco-friendly and wrapped in tissue paper and a gift box tied with ribbon.
In the first box you get a calendar, notebook, greeting cards, postcards and envelopes, and a different selection each month after that, for £18.98 per month.
A version of this article first appeared in The List magazine on 11/12/12. This version is edited for T&F and extended with more fun ideas that I couldn’t quite fit into the feature…