By Lorna Garey, executive editor at Brainyard(opens in new tab)
No one has time to trudge around the megamall or troll Amazon looking for the perfect gift for your employees, coworkers and clients. ‘Tis the season to maximize your time and minimize those awkward moments when you hand your assistants Wegmans cheese balls.
This collection of subscriptions and services has something for everyone, from the tech team to board members. No wrapping required, and best of all, these gifts can keep on delivering long after the last champagne cork flies. A three- or six-month subscription keeps you top of mind with recipients well into 2020.
1. wiseHer Call Credits
The Pitch: Do you know a woman who wants to “go farther, faster in her business or career(opens in new tab)”? wiseHer offers 1:1 access to thousands of world-class experts who are available to talk through her most burning business or career challenges. Marketing, funding, social media, technology and industry verticals are among wiseHER’s specialty areas.
GW’s Take: Women receive only about 3% of investment capital(opens in new tab). This relatively new platform aims to change that by pairing female owners, aspiring entrepreneurs and women in corporate careers with mentors. Plus, they give back a portion of each call in the form of grants to female business owners or corporate education for women. Given that there are are more than 12 million woman-owned businesses in the U.S.(opens in new tab), with 90% solopreneurs and 88% under $100,000 in revenue, we see a lot of runway.
Fine Print: $149 gets the recipient three, 30-minute calls with the expert(s) of her choice; $199 buys five 30-minute calls. An enterprise plan is also available for use by multiple employees. Get it at wiseHER.(opens in new tab)
2. Masterclass: Howard Schultz on Business Leadership
The Pitch: "Inspire the person who inspires you(opens in new tab). Give a gift that helps them grow with online classes taught by the world's best.”
Masterclass produces courses directly with instructors. Each consists of two to five hours of video content, split into individual lesson videos, as well as a downloadable PDF workbook and a group where students may exchange feedback and discuss the lessons.
GW’s Take: The Schultz track(opens in new tab) includes lessons on finding the right investors, managing crisis and staying ahead of the competition by cannibalizing your core business. If the recipient isn’t into all that, she can select from more than 65 other instructors, including Anna Wintour, Carlos Santana and Gordon Ramsey. New to the service is pitmaster Aaron Franklin of Franklin’s Barbeque. Mmm, brisket.
Fine Print: An all-access pass is $15 per month, billed annually; the clock starts ticking when the recipient activates the gift. An all-access pass that has been gifted will not automatically renew. The company also offers an enterprise license.(opens in new tab) Get it at Masterclass.(opens in new tab)
3. Sparkle Hustle Grow Box
The Pitch: Sparkle Hustle Grow is an online community(opens in new tab) and monthly subscription box for busy entrepreneurs. Boxes contain a personal development or business-focused book, access to a business training session by a variety of experts and four to six items, from snacks to office supplies, tech gadgets or stationery.
GW’s Take: Loud, pink and proud, these boxes are aimed squarely at young female entrepreneurs(opens in new tab). While there is a lot of packaging, the company pledges to plant 20x more trees than it uses. No word on how they’ll replenish the glitter mines.
Fine Print: Subscriptions start at $44.95 + $6 shipping. Select “this is a gift” at checkout, enter the recipient’s address, choose the subscription length and whether you want to automatically renew, pen a gift message, and you’re golden. Get it at Sparkle Hustle Grow.(opens in new tab)
Same idea but unisex: Everyday Manifest(opens in new tab)
4. Priority Pass Airport Lounge Access
The Pitch: “In this on-the-go world, we all crave(opens in new tab) the time and space to think, relax or work in peace. That's why offering the opportunity to escape the chaos of the departure lounge simply makes good business sense.”
GW’s Take: Got employees who travel a lot but maybe not quite enough, or enough with one carrier, for lounge access? Priority Pass is the granddaddy of access services, with 1,300+ lounges in more than 600 airports worldwide. No more hanging out at the gate with weak, insecure Wi-Fi and sticky kids heading to see Mickey.
Fine Print: $299 gets the recipient 10 visits; thereafter, they pay $32. $429 buys unlimited access. The company also sells a corporate membership, if you have at least 10 employees.(opens in new tab) Get it at Priority Pass.(opens in new tab)
5. Akita Home Network Watchdog + Monitoring
The Pitch: If attackers find their way into smart devices, they have an open window to connect to every other IoT system on the network. The Akita watchdog device connects(opens in new tab) to a LAN port on any home router and blocks unwanted activity or break-in attempts. Akita uses military-grade security protection that’s been retrofitted for residential use. It sends alerts through an app, and there are experts on call.
GW’s Take: Most of us have no idea how many network-connected devices are in our lives — security cameras, TVs, refrigerators, baby monitors, doorbell cameras, light bulbs. Any of them can turn on you in an instant. Who’s going to swoop in and clean up a hacked smart home? Buy it for the wonder geek whose house is smarter than his password strategy.
Fine Print: The device is $139, plus $7.99 per month for advanced monitoring and access to experts. Get it at Akita.Cloud.(opens in new tab)
6. Tresta Virtual Business Phone
The Pitch: "Tresta’s call and text management features(opens in new tab) always present your business with its best foot forward. Offer an exceptional customer experience with smart call routing, call scheduling and more.”
With Tresta, you can turn any smartphone into a business phone. The service includes a local or toll-free number, or you can port in a line.
GW’s Take: OK, so it’s not the sexiest gift going. But for those launching a business, presenting a professional face to customers is important. The Tresta system is 100% cloud-based and has a lot of pro features, like custom extensions and greetings, an auto attendant and call analytics and recording. A one- or two-person shop operating on iPhones? Same CX as peeps paying for a big, fat PBX.
Fine Print: Unlimited calling and texting and the full suite of call management features is $15 per month per user on one line; additional lines start at $3. No hardware or contract required. Includes a web-based management app and 24/7 support but no option to auto-switch to the recipient’s dime. Get it at Tresta.com.(opens in new tab)
7. Somewear Global Satellite Hotspot
The Pitch: "The Somewear Global Hotspot is the world's smallest(opens in new tab) satellite messaging device. It makes sharing information easy, even in the most remote locations. When paired with the Somewear App, the Somewear Global Hotspot allows you to send and receive text messages, pull in weather reports, share your location and in the case of an emergency, trigger an SOS call.”
GW’s Take: This is for the business pro who’s not afraid to venture way, way off the beaten path but still wants to keep tabs on deal closes. The Somewear Hotspot is guaranteed to connect a smartphone even in the most remote locations using the Iridium satellite network.
8. Next Big Idea Club
The Pitch: “Get the two most groundbreaking books(opens in new tab) every season — handpicked by Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, Susan Cain and Daniel Pink.”
There’s also a community aspect: By joining the private online discussion group, you can build connections with other club members, who may also connect IRL in local meetups.
GW’s Take: Every quarter, the quartet of curators picks two newly released nonfiction titles. If nothing else, the hardcover versions will class up the recipient’s coffee table. Past picks include “You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why It’s Making the World a Weirder Place” and “The Meritocracy Trap.”
Fine Print: Books can be delivered in hard cover or ebook format via the Express option. Gift subscriptions start at $69 and include membership in the community; the company also donates to kids in under-resourced communities. Get it at Big Idea Book Club.(opens in new tab)
9. Wohven Graphic Tee of the Month
The Pitch: Wohven delivers quality men’s T-shirts(opens in new tab), plain and graphic, as well as socks at a lower cost than retail. The graphic tees are designed by a roster of artists. The brand aims for quality materials and construction and strives to produce products ethically and responsibly.
GW’s Take: The graphic tees are understated and classic, with no text. They’re also a top pick of fashion icon Art Wittmann, editor of our sister site The Brainyard(opens in new tab). What more do we need to say?
Fine Print: Subscriptions are available for three or six months, priced at $39 and $78. Get it at Wohven.com.(opens in new tab)
More unisex, way more rock & roll: Dive Bar Shirt Club(opens in new tab)
10. Society Socks
The Pitch: For every pair of Society Socks sold(opens in new tab), a pair is donated to charity. Most socks are a 70% combed-cotton blend, with designs ranging from argyle and bees to Tetris-inspired. The exclusive Yammie Noob socks will appeal motorcyclists.
GW’s Take: The trend of men in graphic socks shows no signs of dying. For each pair purchased, Society Socks donates a pair to a homeless shelter.
Fine Print: Starts at $57 for two pairs over three months with no auto-renewal. Shipping is free. Get it at MySocietySox.com.(opens in new tab)
Same idea, more unisex: Why should men get all the colorful ankles? Women and kids need sox too. Get them at Sock Panda.(opens in new tab)
11. Murray’s Cheese of the Month Club
The Pitch: “When it comes to gourmet subscription boxes(opens in new tab), Murray’s stands out from the crowd. Our items are chosen from the highest quality selections from the best international and domestic producers and hand-picked at peak ripeness. From the most delectable cheddars and triple creams to the brightest goat cheeses and most savory washed rind wheels, we’re at the top of the cheese delivery game.”
GW’s Take: What, you thought we had something against cheese? Founded in 1940, Murray’s is a New York institution(opens in new tab) with its own cheese caves. Its signature Parmigiano Reggiano is the stuff of legend.
Fine Print: Gift subscriptions start at $63; previous selections have included Murray’s High Plains Cheddar and Stepladder Creamery Ragged Point. Includes suggested beer and wine pairing.Get it at Murray’s Classic Cheese of the Month Club.(opens in new tab)
12. Candy Club
The Pitch: “We partner with small artisans(opens in new tab) and famed candy producers to fill your box with a thoughtfully curated selection of delectable candies every month. And Candy Club isn't just about discovering sweets. It's about being sweet. Our mission is to deliver an extraordinary candy experience while giving back to the community that supports us. We donate 2% of the proceeds of every box we sell to help The Birthday Party Project host monthly birthday parties for children at homeless and transitional living facilities across the country.”
GW’s Take: It’s candy. And birthday parties for kids. #nobrainer
Fine Print: The Fun Box (six, 6-ounce candy cups) and Party Box (six, 13-ounce candy cups) come in gift memberships for terms of one, three or six months. Starts at $49.99 per month plus shipping. Get it at CandyClub.com.(opens in new tab)
13. Driftaway Coffee Club
The Pitch: Driftaway Coffee is a Brooklyn-based roaster(opens in new tab) offering personalized coffee subscriptions that connect customers to their coffee farmers and contribute to sustainable livelihoods. It’s the only program of its kind where farmers hear directly from the end consumer. After signing up for a subscription plan or receiving a gift subscription, Driftaway Coffee customers receive a tasting kit that contains several coffee samples. Each sample represents one of the four Driftaway profiles (Fruity, Classic, Balanced, Bold). After brewing and drinking each type of coffee, customers can personalize future shipments via the Driftaway iPhone app or website.
GW’s Take: There are a lot of coffee clubs. We like Driftaway for its commitment to fair trade, feedback loop with farmers and the fact that the gifter doesn’t need to know upfront whether the giftee prefers Huila Efrén Echeverry over Chiapas Las Cotorras.
Fine Print: Plans start at $44. You can have the first box sent to you for gifting, and the company ships to more than 40 countries. Get it at Driftaway.coffee.(opens in new tab)
14. Carnivore Club
The Pitch: “We get it. You love meat.(opens in new tab) It’s why we created Carnivore Club, the world’s first subscription service featuring premium cured meats delivered to your door. Every month we feature a new artisan, each of them blending passion and craftsmanship to create some of the finest cured meats in the world. Every box is unique. Whether it’s French Charcuterie, Italian Salumi or South African Biltong, the premium meat from Carnivore Club is a flavor experience your mouth won’t soon forget.”
GW’s Take: It’s not subtle, but it is keto-approved. Buy it for the person who always orders the charcuterie board.
Fine Print: Starts at $29.99, but you might want to spring for the $44.99 exotic jerky bouquet. Get it at us.carnivoreclub.co.(opens in new tab)
15. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Membership + Tasting Kit
The Pitch: “Join our vibrant community of whisky lovers(opens in new tab) and unlock access to our monthly releases of award-winning whisky from over 100 distilleries in Scotland and beyond (Ireland, Japan, America, etc.). Develop your whisky knowledge at our tasting events across America, with our quarterly members-exclusive magazine Unfiltered and through our daily social media communication. Receive a personal ID card in the mail to visit our Members' Private Rooms in Edinburgh and London.”
GW’s Take: The $99 membership alone is a nice gift for single-malt aficionados. For aficionado wannabes, add the tasting kit, which includes three exclusive release 100ml bottles so they can find their groove, a SMWS lapel pin and a whisky discovery journal.
Fine Print: Membership plus tasting kit combo is $175. Get it at SMWSA.com.(opens in new tab)
Friends prefer wine? We like Vinebox because the samples come in wee, glass-size vials, so recipients can try a wide variety of varietals. Starts at $158; get it at Getvinebox.com.(opens in new tab)
Can’t send alcohol to the giftee’s state?(opens in new tab) Try a cocktail of the month club, which delivers specialty ingredients, like infused syrups and tinctures. The recipient adds the booze. Starts at $50; get it at Shaker & Spoon.(opens in new tab)
16. Swinger Box
The Pitch: “We are a full-service subscription box(opens in new tab) that is perfect for golfers in search of unique monthly items throughout the year. We offer both on-course and off-course products that are designed for our members only. Founded in 2015, Swinger Box is the perfect gift for golfers any time of year.”
GW’s Take: You don’t have to guestimate sizes. Just leave the player profile blank, and the company will send a gift notification with a survey link to collect the recipient’s preferences.
Fine Print: Gift subscriptions start as low as $10 for the glove of the month. The essentials box is $40 per month with free shipping. Get it at Swinger Box.(opens in new tab)
Want something that nongolfer spouses can dig? For those in range of a Topgolf(opens in new tab) sports bar and entertainment venue, a gift card can be used for food or gear or in the bay. Any denomination; corporate bulk purchases available. Get it at Topgolf.(opens in new tab)
Not a golfer? No matter the giftee’s sport of choice, there’s a box for them.
Fly fishing: At Postfly, monthly flies are tailored to the recipient’s region. Starts at $24.95.(opens in new tab)
Tennis: Tennis Trunk delivers six to eight products, including two cans of balls in the initial order. Starts at $34.95 plus shipping,(opens in new tab) and you will need to guestimate shirt size.
Baseball: The Baseball Card of the Month club delivers 20 cards — refractors, parallels, inserts, rookies, vintage, at least two autograph or relic cards and a pack of unopened cards — for the recipient’s favorite team. Starts at $20 per month.(opens in new tab)
17. Robb Vices
Pitch: The good stuff, delivered. Storied treasures in the way of fine wines, foods, toys, tools, spirits, accessories and tech items(opens in new tab) delivered to your door along with a book published to tell their story. Products are curated for the sophisticated consumer and connoisseur: fine spirits, handmade leather goods, high quality foods and other rare finds.
GW’s Take: Want to impress? Robb Vices boxes include brands like Lalique, Equinox and Glenmorangie. Want to really impress? Check out the Vices Reserve line.(opens in new tab)
Fine Print: A month-to-month subscription is $159.99, but where’s the wow factor in that? A year of boxes for $1,190 really says “I appreciate you.” Get it at Robb Vices.(opens in new tab)
♀️ Nothing here that fills the bill?
Cratejoy(opens in new tab) collects hundreds of subscription box options in one location, while foodies flock to Goldbelly.(opens in new tab) For the techies in your life, watch for the definitive annual ZDNet roundup, which usually drops in early December. For now, you can check out what not to buy in the site’s Top 10 Tech Turkeys 2019 —(opens in new tab) sorry, MoviePass lovers — and find some cool tools for the IT team.(opens in new tab)
Finally, there’s the always-welcome gift of time back: By dropping a TaskRabbit gift card(opens in new tab) on busy people in the cities(opens in new tab) the app serves, you free them from jobs like cleaning up after a holiday party or returning unwanted gifts.