There's a knock at the door. You rush down the stairs, fling open the front door and find a package waiting on the welcome mat. No, it's not Christmas again; it's your monthly subscription box.
They may not be the products of elves, but every month thousands of boxes filled with personalized goodies are assembled and mailed out. Whether primarily beauty products, fashion pieces or tasty treats, these services offer indecisive shoppers an affordable way to try new products. For most companies, interested buyers will fill out a quiz about their skin type, hair habits and style when they sign up to avoid the awkward "thanks for the socks" conversation.
But if you're already feeling indecisive about shopping in general, we figured a breakdown of some popular subscription boxes might help you out.
For the beauty guru:
If you've ever walked into a Sephora, then you know if there's one thing makeup and beauty-product lovers can't live without, it's samples. For some reason they just go bananas for teeny, tiny 33-ounce tubes of moisturizer.
Consider beauty subscription boxes sample heaven. From high end to drugstore, these particular boxes usually contain makeup, hair products and other beauty essentials such as perfume.
Birchbox and Ipsy are probably some of the most well-known subscription boxes, both costing $10 per month for women. Birchbox also sells a men's box, which contains mostly grooming products with fashion bits and tech accessories snuck in from time to time. If you decide you want to upgrade your sample size for the real deal, subscribers can also purchase the full-size items from the site.
Founded by YouTuber Michelle Phan, Ipsy prides itself on teaching its customers how to use its products through online tutorials.
Although she's subscribed to both, senior health sciences major Zara Elsherbeny said she would pick Ipsy if she had to.
"Ipsy is more geared toward makeup things as well as hair and body, whereas [with] Birchbox you get makeup here and there, but it's more of lotions, hair products, balms, etc.," she said.
If you don't mind paying a little more, BOXYCHARM and Glossy Box feature deluxe- and full-sized products for $21 per month.
For the foodie:
Coincidentally, if there's one thing foodies also can't live without, it's samples. For them, the best part of a trip to the mall isn't scoring a killer deal on a new wardrobe; it's using their new wardrobes to trick employees at the food court into giving them unlimited Teriyaki chicken samples.
In lieu of eating your way around a mall's food court, Try the World allows subscribers to eat their way around different parts of the globe. For example, this month's box features treats that will have you saying "pardon my French." Along with seven to 10 authentic products, each box comes with a culture guide and recipes. Curated by a local expert, each box costs $45 and is delivered every two months.
If healthy eating is your game, swap Trader Joe's and Fresh Market for all-natural snacks delivered right to your home. Nature Box, which goes for $19.95 per month, works a little differently than other boxes. With more than 100 snacks to choose from, the staff will choose five of the most popular for your first box. For every month after, you can choose five full-size snack bags, and switch it up every month.
All of the foods included in the box contain no hydrogenated oils, no artificial colors, sweeteners or flavors, and no added sulfites. And the best part — for every meal delivered, Nature Box delivers one meal through Feeding America.
But maybe receiving healthy food at your front door doesn't excite you as much as, let's say, candy would. Yep, there's a subscription box out there that will deliver about 3 pounds of candy to your home every month.
The last box contained gummy bears, sour wild cherry belts, jellybeans, Butterfields peach buds and salt-water taffy, and for $24.99, the next one can be yours.
For the fashionista:
For some, there's nothing worse than staring at yourself in a full-length mirror in a 5-by-5 room with hot lights beating down on your head. To escape the dressing room drama, there's clothing subscription boxes.
For men, there's Fashion Stork, which costs $65 per month. After setting up a profile to reflect your style, the Stork will send out two to six items.
"We take your sizes, styles and preferences and create packages consisting of men's branded goods," the website states. "Dapper and classic looks are our specialty."
Although $65 is a little more than the average subscription box, your dollars will do more than revamp your closet. Every time the Fashion Stork sends out a package, it allocates $1 to put toward the adoption of a child. Once the total is reached, the Stork pays the adoption fees of a child.
Although women usually get some sort of high looking at themselves in the mirror, some of us would rather shopping from our couches. Her Fashion Box allows us to do just that. For $39.95 per month, women can choose between three style profiles — classic, feminine or trendy. If that's a little steep for your wallet, the same three profiles exist in mini boxes for only $24.95 per month. Each box comes with two to three "on-trend" fashion accessories, four beauty and lifestyle deluxe samples and a copy of Her Fashion magazine.
Caroline Glenn is the News Editor at the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @byCarolineGlennor email her at CarolineG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.