Special Delivery: The Subscription Services That Will Get You Through Lockdown
At a time when all of your favourite independent retailers and purveyors of the good stuff have closed their stores and everyone’s looking for a pick me up, there’s no better time to sign up to a subscription service. Routine is key under lockdown conditions and the distant promise of a subscription box, whether for yourself or as a gift for others, is the sort of joyful experience everyone could do with. Corona or no Corona.
So here’s a list of Ape’s favourite subscription services – from socks to fine cheese, booze to book clubs, and everything in between.
There’s a lot of personal stylist services out there, but Stitch Fix is the global leader for a reason. The premise is simple: you share your budget along with fit and style preferences and a personal stylist will curate a selection of items tailored specifically to you. These are then sent out for you to try on in the comfort of your own home and you pay for what you keep; the rest can be returned free of charge.
If you’re happy with the service then you can sign up for regular boxes (every month, say) or only use them on demand (at the start of each new season, for example). It makes maintaining a stylish wardrobe easier than ever, saves you precious time and doesn’t tie up your funds in advance. Style has never been so simple.
London Sock Company
Life’s true joys: fresh sheets and new socks. The London Sock Company has you covered for the latter. Honestly, if there’s one thing on this list that we hope our significant others might accidentally stumble upon and buy us for our birthday (nudge nudge, wink wink), it’s this.
Choose between one, two or three pairs of socks for £10, £18 or £25 per month respectively, and your subscription can be paused or cancelled at any time. Each pair is made using the highest quality yarns and most advanced knitting methods, creating truly special socks that are a pleasure to pull on each morning.
The Personal Barber
Don’t let yourself go during lockdown – there’s something to be said for maintaining a morning routine and continuing to take pride in your appearance (it will make coming out the other side all the more easier). The Personal Barber is a step in the right direction, delivering traditional shaving to your letterbox.
A six-weekly delivery brings 10 blades, a shaving cream or soap and two extra products, be it a cologne or pre-shave oil. The all-important safety razor, brush and step-by-step instructions come in the first week, setting you up for your closest, most comfortable shave ever.
Rare Birds Book Club
So many books, and despite no commute anymore (does walking to the home office count?), so little time. That’s what’s so great about Rare Birds Book Club: the lucky dip element. Each month the team cherry-picks the best of recently published fiction, then you select a book using only two secret blurbs to guide you.
Your mystery novel is then wrapped and posted through your letterbox on the first week of each month and at the end of the month you meet back to discuss it online, giving you all the joys of a book club environment without having to leave the house.
Keep yourself sane during lockdown with a spot of houseplant gardening. Bloombox Club will send you a new houseplant (and pot) in peak condition every month with a dapper little introduction and easy-to-follow care guides. All you need to do is read up on the basics, locate a sunny ledge and feel the green-fingered bliss of keeping something alive by watering it occasionally and not letting it dry out.
The Grape Reserve
Wine to your door, who’d have thought it? Of all the wine subscriptions out there, we’ve got a soft spot for The Grape Reserve. Like many subscriptions, a qualified in-house sommelier selects only the best bottles and each month you can choose two bottles of red, white, or one of each.
However, the real value comes via the additional materials; you get the impression that The Grape Reserve really want to educate you. Not only will you learn about the terroir and winemaking processes going into each bottle but you’ll get food pairings and recipe cards too.
A good way to get through the lockdown evenings: treat yourself to a quarterly Flaviar subscription (£75, paid in three monthly instalments) and enjoy rare and mysterious spirits slowly over the course of the next few months whilst expanding your knowledge and tasting profile.
Each delivery includes a themed tasting box with three 50ml samples that showcase the flavor range of each category. You’re also able to pick a full-sized bottle from a wide variety of categories and brands, so if you fancy rum one quarter and whisky the next, you can.
Those giving Flaviar as a gift can also look forward to their own sample box. Kindness always pays off.
Flavourly is the ideal replacement for those slow walks around your local craft beer store. Light, dark and mixed boxes of 10 offer a wide variety of tasty beers from small batch breweries across the country. The free magazine included will give you enough information to blag surface-level knowledge and once you’ve got a taste for the ones you like you can always order directly from the brewery and support small businesses.
Last but not least on the beverage front: coffee. Everywhere’s closed. You’ve not had a flat white for two weeks and your posh instant is running low. Fear not, Perky Blenders is here to provide you with your morning, mid-morning, lunch and post-lunch cup at a good price, with only the finest beans making the grade.
The subscriptions are fully flexible – allowing you to adjust the frequency, quantity and type of coffee to your exact requirements – and start from just £6.50.
The Cheese Geek
Your spirits need lifting and what better way to complement your wine subscription than with a cheese subscription too? The ultimate double threat through your letterbox.
The Cheese Geek does what you’d expect, sending you a variety of cheeses in a quaint little box with explainers, pairings and notes. They won’t send you the same cheese twice (unless you ask), and you have the option to make it specific to your requirements by excluding blue cheese or goat’s cheese, as well as asking for vegetarian cheese only. A box costs £30 and delivery is every one-to-three months, depending on your preference.
Craving your local Italian? Not Bob’s Pizza Palace, we’re thinking more along the lines of Padella. Fresh pasta, delicious sauce and a bit of artisanal beauty? Pasta Evangelists has got you covered. The perfect pasta pick-me-up during lockdown.
Each pack provides enough delicious fresh pasta, sauce and garnishes to feed up to eight people, depending on pack sizes. It’s even backed by notable Twitter-baiting food critics. What’s not to love?
You’ve got a lot of time on your hands, you’re thinking of all of the new skills you want to learn but you’re overlooking something crucial: your cooking still needs improving. Enter Hello Fresh: the supermarket-conquering meal subscription service that will have you rustling up impressive healthy meals in no time, with the help of detailed recipe cards and fine-quality produce.
Expect dishes like halloumi and mango chutney with green beans and fluffy rice or honey-glazed cod and harissa chickpea stew with couscous.