Gift Guide: 13 last-minute subscription gifts for the people you totally didn’t forget
Welcome to TechCrunch’s 2019 Holiday Gift Guide! Need help with gift ideas? We’re here to help! We’ll be rolling out gift guides from now through the end of December. You can find our other guides right here.
WHOOPS. You forgot to buy a gift for someone on your list.
Maybe you’ve been too busy at work. Maybe you just found out that the cousins are coming to Christmas this year after all. It happens.
It’s December 23rd. It’s too late to order things online, and brick-and-mortar stores are either closed for the week or absolutely slammed. So what can you do?
Subscriptions and subscription boxes are super-solid last-minute options: you can order them from your phone, it’s okay (expected, even) if they start arriving after Christmas and there’s a subscription service for… pretty much everything at this point.
Need some ideas? Here are some of our favorites services right now:
YesPlz is a coffee subscription with a fun twist: each weekly delivery comes paired with a magazine put together by the YesPlz team, featuring everything from comics to deep dives on music, art and, of course, coffee. “Beans and Zines,” as they put it.
Stickers! A semi-random but always wonderful allotment of stickers, delivered regularly.
It’s a great one for kids — but it’s also an awesome one for teachers, bullet journalists or stationary geeks.
Got a friend who loves plants but can’t keep ’em alive? First of all, that’s me. Second, succulents!
Succulent Studios drops off two fledgling succulents each month, with all sorts of fun varieties in the mix. I subscribed to this one for quite a while, stopping only when we… pretty much ran out of room for more succulents. The few times I had a succulent arrived damaged, they helped me nurse it back to health or replaced it.
Price: Around $17 per delivery
Lootcrate sends out a constant stream of geeky goods, many of them exclusive to the service.
They’ve got hyper-themed boxes for fandoms from Harry Potter to Hello Kitty, broader boxes for anime/horror/sci-fi fans or their namesake all-encompassing “Loot Crates” that bring in goodies from any and all walks of geek fandom.
Price: Around $20-$25 per delivery
Ever bought a spice for a single recipe only to have the vast majority of the jar sit in a cabinet getting crusty for a thousand years?
Piquant Post brings the fun of playing with new spices without taking over your spice cabinet. They send out 3-4 spices per month, along with a handful of recipes specially tuned to use up pretty much all of what they send. Each delivery focuses on a specific region or country, so you’ll get a pinch of culture with each box.
“Netflix for independent movies” sort of explains Mubi, but not quite. Mubi is a super-carefully curated but always rotating collection of 30 indie flicks, all streaming on demand. They introduce one new indie film to the service each day, but it leaves after a month.
Price: $11 a month
Try the World
For the adventurous eater in the family. Try the World searches the world for local gourmet favorites, packaging seven or eight items into each box. The only downside? If you fall in love with something, getting more of it can be kind of a pain in the butt.
Disney finally launched its own streaming service this year… and despite some issues at launch, it’s really good. It’s got the vast majority of Disney/Pixar (and Marvel! and Star Wars!) movies that have shipped over the years, plus a growing catalog of original content — including The Mandalorian, which is just fantastic and is one episode away from the end of its first season.
Price: $70 per year
Book of the Month
The name says it all. They pick five books per month, and you pick the one you want to read. If your backlog starts to get a bit intimidating, just hit the pause button.
Price: Starts at $16 per month
Rent the Runway
Keeping up with the latest fashion trends can get wildly expensive — especially if you’re into high-end brands and like to change things up often. Rent the Runway, while not cheap, definitely makes it a bit more affordable. Users can rent four items at a time, picking from more than 15,000 items from top designers. The base plan lets you swap out items once a month, while the pricier plan lets you swap things as often as you’d like.
Nintendo Switch Online
For anyone who might be getting a Nintendo Switch this Christmas, Nintendo’s Switch Online service is an absolute must have. It enables online play for games that have it, but also comes with a fantastic catalog of NES/SNES classics and lets you backup game saves to the cloud in case the Switch goes missing, gets stolen or gets busted. Given the grab-and-go portability of the Switch, it happens.
Launched just this year, Apple Arcade is the company’s take on a Netflix-for-games style service. One subscription gets you access to over 100 games, each playable across iPhones, iPads, Macs and AppleTVs. There are no ads, no in-app purchases to worry about and one subscription works for up to six family members.
Xbox Game Pass
Similar to Apple Arcade above, but just for Xbox and/or PC games. All-you-can-eat access to a rotating set of around 100 games, including all of Microsoft’s new first-party titles like Gears of War 5, Psychonauts 2 and Halo Infinite. The Ultimate plan also includes Xbox Live (enabling online play in games that offer it), which most Xbox One owners will want anyway.