Subscription boxes

Subscription boxes are great to order for oneself or a friend or family member.

Oftentimes, I find myself craving a trip to the nearest department store in the middle of the week. Sometimes, it’s for something cute to decorate my room with, a tasty new snack to add to my pantry or the latest eye shadow pallette that won’t leave my wallet crying at the end of my shopping spree.

But sometimes, I have too much homework, or I have a hard time deciding what to buy. I began thinking about other students who may not have a car or a relaxed schedule that allows for casual trips to the store. So, I decided to dive into the world of subscription boxes in categories like food, beauty, decor and even pets that ship right to anyone’s door. Here are some of the most convenient and practical ones for college students to try.

Ipsy: An easy-peasy, cheap, yet quality, beauty bag

For any woman who likes to keep her makeup looking simple or just enjoys trying out new products without the commitment of spending big bucks on full-size packages, Ipsy is a stellar option. The personalized “glam bag” comes with five sample-sized, brand-name skin, hair, nail and makeup items packed into a cute, patterned travel bag, all for $12 a month with free shipping. For those who want to splurge a bit more, there’s also a $25 “glam bag plus” and a $50 “glam bag ultimate” option, which both contain even more products.

When one signs up for Ipsy, they take a quiz to choose preferences, like their favorite shades of eyeshadow and scents, skin tone, hair and eye color and brands they’d like to try, including Clinique, e.l.f., NYX, Tarte and Urban Decay. In any bag, one may find mascaras, highlighters, hair serums, eye creams, nail polish, lip balms, face masks, foundations and brushes. That’s not even an exhaustive list.

Bark Box: For students who like to spoil their furry friends

Any pup owner is bound to get a kick out of this monthly box. Toys and treats can add up in one short visit to the pet store, but they don’t have to with Bark Box. In each package, dogs will receive three toys, two bags of treats and one chew toy. Each of them are a decent size, picked to fit a theme of the month and should last until the next box arrives.

Bark Box boasts on its website that it’s “committed to creating the world’s best products and experiences to satisfy each individual dog’s distinct personality and preferences.” The company demonstrates this by getting to know an owner’s pet with a few questions like their pet’s name, weight and size, breed and if they have any allergies.

The purchase options are a bit confusing, so here’s the breakdown. For a month-to-month option, each box is $35. For a six-month subscription, each box is $29. The third option is a six-month subscription with extra toys included. For this option, the first month’s box is $5, then $29 each box after. This box also features free shipping. The price ranges can be a bit steep, but it may be worth it to some for their beloved pet.

Sips by: Assorted teas for rest and relaxation during tough academic weeks

For those who aren’t a fan of coffee, tea can be the next best thing. A warm gulp of flavored tastes in all sorts of teas is a great thirst-quencher during long nights in Carrier and Rose libraries. Sips by also gives a quiz to find out what best suits one’s tea wants and needs. Customers can pick bagged, looseleaf or a mixture of both as well as caffeinated or herbal, chosen from over 150 brands. These come from international and local vendors, giving students a chance to try varieties they’ve never had before. One can choose flavors they’re interested in — like citrus, sweet and spicy, nutty or minty — and types of tea like herbal, matcha, oolong or chai.

Each monthly box comes with four different flavors or kinds of teas, and it brews about 15 cups for $15, making each tea worth $1. Shipping is free. The company also offers three-, six- and 12-month subscriptions for higher prices. Each one provides reusable and biodegradable filters, tasting notes, steeping guidelines and offers with brand partners. One of the best parts of this service is that the quiz also takes into consideration dietary preferences and restrictions.

Adults & Crafts Crate: Pleasurable pastime projects for the procrastinator who still wants to be productive

Plenty of students may procrastinate when the “Are you still watching?” message pops up in the middle of their 12th episode on Netflix. There can be other more dynamic and rewarding ways to put off doing that pesky assignment. Adults & Crafts Crate is a monthly kit with an engaging set of tools, materials and instructions to create functional and entertaining projects.

A one-month subscription costs $33, which seems reasonable for the quality of the creation options like clock-building, wood-burning, candle-making, wine caddy-crafting and string art sign-making. Shipping for this box is $6.95 a month. Other options include three-, six- and 12-month subscriptions for reduced prices — all popular for gifting. Trying out Adults & crafts is a stimulating way for any student to make something useful and decorative while keeping one’s mind off their homework.

Harry’s: A chic grooming kit for guys who dread a trip to the store in the middle of the week

Harry’s is a casual, yet excellent, shaving company that strives to give every man “a quality shave at a fair price.” For men in college, Harry’s offers them a few less nights in Walmart looking for another pack of razors or the right aftershave. 

To start, $8 gets one a weighted and rubberized handle, a five-blade razor cartridge, a travel blade cover and a foaming shave gel. Then, they’ll choose what they want refills of. These include eight new blades for $15 or blades and a gel for $2. The last step is to tell Harry’s how often one shaves so that a new shipment will come every two months, three months or five months based on their grooming schedule. Every order over $15 receives free shipping, including this subscription. For any order under $15, shipping is $3.

Harry’s seems to go the extra mile to show its customers that it cares about the quality of its products, advertising that its blades are made of steel, hair essentials are paraben and sulfate-free, and that it donates 1% of its sales to nonprofits to provide grooming items to men in need. Students can use Harry’s knowing they’re supporting others.

Love With Food: A scrumptious hodgepodge of energy-packed snacks for long study days

With so many snack options in campus marts like Mr. Chips and P.O.D. markets, it can be difficult to go for yummy, less sugary and healthier choices. Love With Food is the ultimate mom-box, like one’s mom probably sent it to their doorstep to make sure they’re not just eating ramen for every meal. 

The “Tasting” box, the cheapest at $7.99-9.99, features about seven snacks that are delicious and don’t contain artificial flavoring or coloring, hydrogenated oils, trans fat or high fructose corn syrup. They’re organic and all-natural. The “Deluxe” box is $16.50-19.95 for about 15 snacks, and a gluten-free box is $19.99-24.99 for about 10 snacks. Each box ships for free. Types of treats include cranberry trail mixes, vanilla almond keto bars, organic gummy fruits, mini pretzels, jalapeno beef sticks, lemon wafer bites and sweet and spicy pecans, only to name a few. 

With every box shipped, Food With Love donates one meal to families in need in the U.S. with a mission to do something about hunger while providing others with genuinely good snacks. Any college student may benefit from discovering appetizing goodies while giving back by way of Food With Love.

Causebox: A stylish, multi-purpose, environmentally conscious box for adventurous women

Causebox is the perfect subscription for female students looking to spice up their look, do a little decorating and give themselves a little TLC while supporting small businesses. This is the most expensive box on the list with a quarterly payment of $54.95 or an annual payment of $210, taxes and free shipping included. However, it has professional, fancier products that are a great value. And, when signing up with one’s email, they receive 20% off their first box. In each box, one can find items like jewelry, full-sized beauty, skin or hair care products, household decorative items, accessories to wear and everyday useful items, which all fit a cute aesthetic based on each season. This company sources its finds from socially conscious brands like Tribe Alive to send out ethically made products. 

It also features a new, less-known artist’s work on its boxes every month so that customers can reuse the material for a project or storage container. This subscription puts the “cause” in Causebox for its goal to bring its customers sustainable pieces centered around empowering women everywhere, creating a meaningful and practical purchase that any student may appreciate.