5 subscription options making Christmas shopping easier

28 Nov 2016

What will Santa bring? Image: Ivana P. Nikolic/Shutterstock

Subscription services are soaring online, with everything from beauty to entertainment all delivered with the minimum of fuss. A Christmas gift solution, perhaps?

As the weeks wind down towards Christmas, choosing gifts for friends and family gets more and more difficult.

However, given that the internet has opened up a world of new opportunities in terms of work and entertainment, shouldn’t the same be true of gifts?

Christmas gift

We looked at five subscription areas for consumers, with something, surely, for everyone:


Birchbox and Glossybox are two of the better-known variations on the beauty theme. Both deliver to the UK and Ireland.

At the moment, Birchbox costs around £13 per month, with it reducing the longer you subscribe. Glossybox comes in around around the same price, again getting cheaper if you subscribe for longer.

The companies’ offerings are pretty similar, each providing subscribers with a monthly selection of relatively random beauty products from well-known brands (Benefit, OPI, Crabtree & Evelyn) to more boutique finds, all tailored to suit a personal beauty aesthetic.

When buying for someone else, it’s not just their address you need, though. Entry questions such as hair type, skin tone and the likes provide the company with more information on how best to tailor boxes to users’ needs.


Streaming has been one of the more surprising ways that the music industry has adapted to modern technology. From vinyl to cassette, on to ‘indestructible’ CDs and then Napster’s introduction of downloading MP3 files, the industry is always changing. iTunes monetised this to great effect but, a decade down the line, ownership now seems less important.

Streaming has exploded, with companies building up monstrous back catalogues for users to dip in and out of. Spotify is the most popular, with a pretty good free offer there to be dabbled with – though its paid content is hardly extortionate. At the moment, it costs around €10 a month, with the first three months just €1 each.

Deezer is priced in the same region, though Three mobile customers have better offers still. YouTube Red is also one worth checking out but sadly, it’s currently unavailable in Ireland.


A business we featured before, Pooch Post is a monthly subscription box service based in Kildare aimed at dog-owners. The system is pretty straightforward, with Pooch Post delivering monthly packages of various “high-quality treats, toys and accessories direct to the dog lovers’ homes”.

Available in the UK and Ireland, the company is capitalising on what is becoming a booming industry. And it’s not alone, with ScoobyBox a similar company providing such a service. Both require users to choose what type of dog they have, segmented by weight, to help tailor what comes in the box.

Toys and treats are the order of the day.


For coffee fans, of which there are many, there’s always something like Badger & Dodo, a Cork-based coffee shop that found a market for delivery of its product into homes. 250g of the company’s coffee costs about €9 per month.

Another coffee option is Cloud Picker, which offers a vast array of options at prices varying from €70 a year to more than double that. Weekly deliveries are included.


Much like modern music consumption, TV and film is today largely digested through streaming. Stacks of VHS and DVD cases are gathering dust in the corners of living rooms, while companies like Netflix – a company which adapted best when the tangible became the intangible – see business booming.

Perhaps purchasing a one-year subscription to Netflix, which is lauded for original content that has helped bring in 3.2m international subscribers in recent months, is the way to go. There’s often a free month to start with on Netflix, and then month-by-month options.

Of course, Netflix isn’t everything, and one company profiting from the BBC gem Top Gear going through some tough months recently is Amazon, with its Prime service now on the cards.

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic