GUEST POST by Reston Resident Katie Vizenor
I hate shopping. I try to avoid stores as much as possible. But, I love buying things and receiving interesting gifts. My solution to this problem has been to try subscription boxes. I’ve tried food, clothing, snack, smoothie, beauty and makeup supplies, crafts, men’s gifts, educational products, and even record services. During this holiday season, you might find that some of these subscriptions make great gifts for hard to purchase relatives. Or, you might want to give the children in your life something other than toys.
For my guest post, I’ll review some of the best subscriptions services for kids. Trust me, I have tried them all (and so has my daughter!).
Kiwi Crate is a monthly craft subscription service for kids aged 5-8 (there are options for younger kids and up to age 16). Each month, your child receives a themed box with materials and instruction for 2-3 projects. It also includes a magazine with additional content and activities to explore. The company is a fervent supporter of STEAM learning: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. I really appreciate the inclusion of Arts in any learning experience because it encourages creative problem solving. Everything always arrived beautifully packaged and extremely well thought out.
We subscribed for about 6 months but, sadly, my precocious 5 year old was uninterested in following the directions. We used many of the supplies but in different ways, our end product never came close to looking like their final projects. I also found myself doing too much of the grunt work. I would still recommend the box, but for older kids or for those that enjoy working as a team to complete a pre-designed project.
Kiwi Crate also makes Koala Crate for kids 3-4, Doodle Crate for burgeoning makers aged 9-16+ and Tinker Crate which includes monthly engineering and science projects, also for ages 9-16+.
Extra kudos to the company for making a concerted effort amazing to feature both girls and boys enjoying arts and science based activities in their marketing/advertising.
Benko Box is the brain-child of a mother-daughter team. They combined their understanding of early education and graphic design to provide monthly art supplies and “a few open-ended suggestions” for projects. I have only received one box thus far, but am already over the moon with this subscription service. The first month’s theme was texture. The box included wood blocks in various shapes and sizes (including animal shapes), pine cones, buttons, Elmer’s glue, puffy colored glue, an apron, a set of acrylic paints and a nice paint brush.
Within seconds of opening this box, my daughter was deep in artistic work. She designed an amazing apron and a three dimensional wood sculpture that now sits proudly on our book shelf. I was very minimally involved with this project. Having no art experience whatsoever, it never would have occurred to me to combine any of these materials.
Additionally, this set provided just enough for this project–no waste and no need to store extra supplies. I highly recommend. Other themes include color, land and sea, and story. 1 month, 6 month and 12 month subscriptions are available.
Little Passports promises to provide your child with a monthly “global adventure”. As an Anthropologist and the daughter of a social studies teacher, I really love the idea of this box. There are three age specific boxes to choose from: The Early Explorers Box is made for kids 3-5 and covers themes like landmarks, art, transportation, oceans, etc. The World Edition Box for ages 6-10 delivers activities on a new country each month, and The USA Edition for ages 7-12 features two states each month.
We tried the The Early Explorers Box. When you start your subscription you get a cute little suitcase that includes an activity book, a world map, some travel stickers to decorate your suitcase, and a few other starter items. Our first theme was global landmarks and came with figurines of the Eiffel Tower, a Sphinx, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Great Wall of China.
Just like with Kiwi Crate, my unruly child was unwilling to follow the instructions and was much more interested in decorating her box with the stickers and playing with the figurines. But, she has gotten a lot out of that single box. She loves those landmarks and can identify their countries of origin. That happened naturally, without prodding. We will definitely try the box again when she is a older. These boxes would make for a great summer activity, too, to keep kids involved in some educational activities during the break.
Fabkids is an online kids clothing store that is comparable in cost to Target but higher in quality. As a VIP member, you pay $29.95 per month which covers the cost of most 2- (and sometimes 3-) piece outfits. You also have the option to skip a month and bank the credit for later. Great deals like ‘buy one get one free’ or ‘3 pair of leggings for $20’ are also included.
I really love this service and have subscribed for 3 years. I hate shopping and always put it off. This way, I always keep up with my daughter’s sizing needs. The clothes fit true-to-size and I have never had to return anything. I order girls apparel, but the selection for boys is also adorable. FabKids carries sizes 2-12 and is a perfect gift for a grandchild.
Kidstir is a monthly cooking subscription box for kids of all ages. Your child receives a cookbook binder to add to during their cooking journey. Each month, a themed kit arrives with binder inserts. For October, my daughter received cookbook pages for mummy zucchini cupcakes, witches brew spiced apple cider, and monster pierogies. The kit also came with a neat little pierogi maker.
For November, we received recipes for a thanksgiving dinner (including a delicious popcorn bread we are hoping to make soon), a spatula, a lovely apron, and place cards for the guests. My daughter loves cooking with me in the kitchen! I really like this kit because it has wonderful ideas about how she can be more involved in kid-friendly food prep.
Subscriptions vary from 15.95 for a monthly subscription to 12.95 for the yearly.
FOODSTIRS (similar name as Kidstir, but the companies are not related.)
My daughter really loves to bake, too. I enjoy baking but I don’t like keeping tons of baking supplies around the house. There is just too much temptation to continually make small batches of sweets all the time. Instead, I want baking to be an extra special treat that we savor and share with special friends.
Foodstirs provides a monthly themed baking kit that is carefully pre measured to eliminate food waste. Each month, you’ll receive their own proprietary organic cake, cookie or bread mixes along with frosting and other baking supplies. You may have to contribute a few staples to the recipe such as milk, butter, etc. The supplies arrive beautifully packaged like a gift, which adds to the excitement of opening the box.
In November, we received the Autumn Loaf Kit that included Foodstirs vanilla cake mix, organic vanilla frosting mix, loaf pan, leaf shaped stencils, organic orange food coloring and a paint brush for decorating. My husband and daughter tackled this recipe and the results were delicious. Plus, it made for good quality Dad Time.
Membership in the Baker’s Club is $19.95 per month, but you can also purchase 3, 6, and 12 month memberships for more reduced pricing. You may also purchase single themed kits. Surprisingly, one of the owners of the company is Sarah Michelle Geller (I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer!).
This year, forget elbowing people out of the way for The It Toy. Give subscription boxes, the gift that keeps on giving!