Finding the perfect birthday or holiday gift for a child is always a challenge. Of course, you can walk down the toy aisle at any big-box store and see shelves full of shiny, mass-produced toys, neatly stacked in their boxes. But somehow, having so many toys to choose from just seems to make it harder to find the best fit for that one special kid. Picking just the right gift feels like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Here’s a better solution: subscription boxes. Many companies offer monthly subscription services for the under-18 set, featuring assortments of child-friendly clothing, books, toys, or activities. These are truly gifts that keep on giving, with new items arriving each month just as the novelty of last month’s selections is beginning to wear off. For the kids in your life, it’s like getting a birthday present every month of the year.
There are all kinds of kids’ subscription boxes to choose from, with items for children of all ages and interests. Most services offer a choice of gift subscription terms, such as 3, 6, or 12 months. And best of all, you can order them right from your home computer or phone, instead of having to fight your way through a crowded mall.
Best Clothing Subscriptions
As any parent knows, buying clothes for kids is a never-ending chore. Children outgrow their old clothes at an incredible rate. It seems like you’ve no sooner brought home one pair of jeans than you have to head back to the mall to shop for a new one.
Clothing subscription boxes for kids, like those for adults, take the hassle out of shopping. New clothes, selected especially for the youngsters in your life, arrive every month for them to try on and choose what they want to keep. That makes this type of subscription box a great gift not just for children, but for their mall-weary parents as well.
1. Stitch Fix Kids
The popular adult clothing service Stitch Fix now has a version that’s just for kids. Monthly boxes from Stitch Fix Kids come with 8 to 12 items for either a boy or a girl in any size from 2T to 14. When you sign up, you create a profile with the kid’s size, personality, and style. You can also set a budget preference that determines the average price of the items in each box.
When the box arrives, the kid has three days to try on the items and decide what to keep and what to return via postage-paid envelope. There’s a flat monthly styling fee for each box, which is credited toward any items the recipient chooses to buy. If they keep everything in the box, they get 25% off on all of it.
You can’t give an actual Stitch Fix subscription as a gift, but you can give a gift card for your favorite kid to apply toward the cost of a subscription. You can send your card electronically, print it out and send it with a handwritten note, or have a physical gift card mailed to the recipient.
The clothing subscription service from kidpik is for girls ages 4 to 16. To get this service for a girl in your life, you fill out a brief survey about her size and tastes and say whether you’d like to have a box delivered every one, two, or three months. Each box contains seven versatile, high-quality clothing pieces, including shoes, plus a small gift item. All the garments can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfits.
The recipient gets to try the items for seven days and then decide which ones to purchase. The rest can go back in the enclosed prepaid envelope. If she chooses to keep the entire box, she or her parents can save 30% on the cost of all the items. And if she outgrows her clothes faster than her deliveries can replace them, she can shop for more items of the same type at basics by kidpik.
Users at My Subscription Addiction name kidpik one of their favorite boxes for kids. Reviews praise its style, quality, and customer service. To give kidpik as a gift, you can either choose one of the various “birthday boxes” available on the site or buy a gift card in a specific amount to put toward any clothes purchased through the service.
Best Book Subscriptions
One of the best gifts you can give a child is a lifelong love of reading. Not only will it help them build the literacy skills they need to succeed in school, but it also will open up whole new worlds they’d never get a chance to experience otherwise. For the rest of their lives, they’ll never be bored as long as they have books for company. Book subscription boxes can get kids hooked on reading early in life and give them access to reading’s many benefits for years to come.
At GiftLit, you can choose from a wide range of monthly book boxes for kids of any age group, from infants through young adults. The service employs literary experts – such as authors, librarians, booksellers, buyers, and reviewers – to select the best books for different ages and interests. GiftLit works closely with publishers to find books well in advance of publication, so your favorite kid can receive them hot off the presses.
Each month, GiftLit recipients get one new book from a collection you choose for them. GiftLit’s most popular book collections for kids include:
- The Cuddle Collection. This monthly box for babies includes a sturdy board book and a cuddly stuffed toy representing one of the characters in the book. Examples include the bunny from Goodnight Moon and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
- Trains, Planes, and Things That Go. Preschoolers ages 2 to 5 love cars, trucks, planes, and pretty much anything that “goes.” This collection includes both classic selections and new award-winners about every mode of transportation from sailboats to space shuttles.
- Young Adult Fantasy. This collection for teens offers up thrilling tales set in magical worlds. Recent selections include novels by Margaret Rogerson, Adam Silvera, and Emily Lloyd Jones.
You can choose to give a 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month subscription to any collection on the site. When you sign up, you can preview the upcoming selections and swap out any individual book the recipient already owns or wouldn’t like. Or you can build your own collection, selecting a specific book of your choice for each month.
If you guess wrong and the recipient doesn’t like one of the books they receive, that’s OK. They can send it back, unread, within two weeks and receive a different selection. If you’re not sure what books to pick, you can give the child a custom gift certificate to apply to any collection they choose.
Teens and tweens who like to immerse themselves in the world of a book will love OwlCrate. Each monthly OwlCrate box contains a newly released young adult novel, along with a letter from the author and three to five book-related goodies on a common theme. For example, the “Myths and Legends” OwlCrate included a copy of the fantasy novel “Soundless,” a packet of “Red Riding Hood” tea, a “Camp Half-Blood” wristband, a castle pendant, and a seashell-patterned pocket mirror.
In addition to its standard service for teens, OwlCrate offers OwlCrate Jr. for kids ages 8 to 12. Themes have included “Robots,” “Legends of the Deep,” “Thieves in the Night,” and “Zodiac Adventure.” New boxes for both OwlCrate and OwlCrate Jr. ship out between the 15th and 20th of each month.
To give OwlCrate as a gift, you must first create an account on the website. Then click “subscribe” and select either a one-month, three-month, or six-month subscription. Enter the recipient’s address and click “this is a gift” at checkout. There’s also a box you can check if you want to auto-renew the subscription when it expires.
Best Playtime Subscriptions
Kids love to play, and they often have favorite toys they’ll play with for hours. However, that doesn’t mean more toys add up to more hours of happy play. A 2017 study in Infant Behavior and Development found that when toddlers have a wide assortment of toys to choose from, they have trouble focusing. They spend less time with each toy and are less creative in their play.
Based on this study, a subscription box that simply gives kids a shiny new toy every month doesn’t sound like a great idea. However, there are subscription services that get around this problem. Some swap toys in and out of the child’s playroom, so they never accumulate too many. Others encourage specific types of play that are healthy for the child’s development.
5. Sensory TheraPLAY
The monthly Sensory TheraPLAY Box is designed with special-needs children in mind. A licensed occupational therapist carefully selects the items in each box to stimulate children’s senses, help them develop sensory motor skills, and soothe anxiety. While children of all abilities can enjoy these toys, they’re especially appropriate for kids who are:
- Under-sensitive, needing more stimulation than others
- Hypersensitive, easily overwhelmed by stimulation
- On the autism spectrum
- Prone to temper tantrums
Each box contains five to seven toys and other items to engage the senses. Examples include play putty, textured balls, “hand fidgets” such as spinners and squeeze balls, toys that light up, scented dough, and craft items. The toys in the Sensory TheraPLAY Box are most appropriate for children ages 5 to 9, but kids of all ages – and even adults – can have fun with them. The box also contains a card with a motivational quotation and a pamphlet explaining what all the items are, what kids can do with them, and how they’re helpful for development.
To give the Sensory TheraPLAY Box as a gift, sign up for a subscription and click “this is a gift” on the checkout page. You’ll have the option to renew your subscription automatically or let it expire. You can give a single box by selecting a month-to-month subscription without choosing auto-renewal, or you can give three boxes with a three-month subscription.
One way to give kids access to a variety of toys without overstuffing their rooms is to borrow them from a toy lending library. If you don’t happen to have one in your neighborhood, a ToyLibrary subscription can do much the same thing.
The service has a collection of about 500 toys, with choices for all ages from infants to 11-year-olds. Each month, you get to select two of these toys to have sent to your child. At the end of the month, you send them back and choose new ones to give. The service cleans and sanitizes toys between uses, so your kid won’t pick up germs from another youngster.
ToyLibrary can recommend toys based on your child’s age and play preferences. If your child falls in love with one of their Toy Library selections and wants to keep it, you can buy it at a discounted price – and pat yourself on the back for helping the environment by shopping secondhand.
ToyLibrary is available only as an ongoing subscription. To give it as a gift, you must sign up for either a 1-month, 3-month, or 12-month subscription. The longer the subscription, the lower the cost per month. Then, when you reach the last month of your subscription, log into your account and cancel it to avoid being billed for automatic renewal.
7. We Craft Box
For kids who love to create, the We Craft Box is a great choice. Each monthly box contains all the materials and instructions for a set of craft projects suitable for two children ages 3 to 9. We Craft projects are great for play dates between kids or for a family night activity.
Each box is built around a particular theme and comes with a story to help spark kids’ imagination. For instance, the “Forest Feast” box includes a story about forest animals and materials for making a fall diorama, including a pastel tree drawing, wood slice ornaments, owls, mice, and pumpkin pie plates.
The We Craft Box is available as a month-to-month, 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month subscription. Longer subscriptions have a lower monthly cost. You can choose to make your gift subscription auto-renew or keep it a one-time gift.
When you sign up, the service asks you for the recipient’s name and email address to send them a notification. You can also download a printable gift note to send to the recipient or leave under your Christmas tree.
Best Educational Subscriptions
Many subscription boxes for older kids feature toys and activities designed to help them learn and have fun at the same time. Several popular services feature activities centered on STEM skills – science, technology, engineering, and math. Many of the highest-paying careers are in STEM fields, so giving kids a solid foundation in these skills early in life can get them off to a good start.
Other educational gift boxes have a broader focus. They combine some science activities with other activities related to art, culture, or geography. These services can help children explore a wide variety of subjects and discover where their interests lie.
8. Amazon STEM Club
Kids who belong to the Amazon STEM Club receive regular shipments of toys that demonstrate STEM concepts in a hands-on way. Amazon’s toy experts carefully select appropriate toys for kids of different age groups. The service provides simple counting and building toys for ages 3 to 4, simple hands-on experiments for ages 5 to 7, and more complex projects and experiments for ages 8 to 13. The cost per box is the same for all age groups.
The Amazon STEM Club is a top pick among parents at My Subscription Addiction. It also earns a recommendation as one of the best subscription boxes for kids from Verywell Family. When you sign up for the club, you can arrange to have boxes delivered to the child of your choice every one, two, or three months. All subscriptions renew automatically until you cancel.
Experts recommend Bitsbox as the best subscription service for teaching computer coding skills to kids. This monthly box gives kids ages 6 to 12 a new app-building project each month, which they can complete on any device with a Web browser. The creators of Bitsbox say the point of their service isn’t just to prepare kids for a career in software engineering; it’s to make them “literate 21st-century citizens who can make the things that they can imagine.”
Bitsbox projects require no previous coding experience. Kids can do them on their own, in a group, or with a parent. When they’ve completed their apps, they can play them on their devices and share them with others. It’s easy for two siblings in a household to share a single subscription because each of them can set up their own free online account to create their apps.
There are three Bitsbox subscriptions to choose from. The basic Bitsbox contains a dozen app projects and a binder to keep them organized. With the pricier Deluxe Bitsbox, your budding programmer receives everything in the basic box, plus extra projects and goodies like toys, stickers, and temporary tattoos. The least expensive option is the stripped-down Digital Bitsbox, which provides only a PDF of the coding projects.
You can give any of these services as a month-to-month, 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month subscription. The longer the subscription, the lower the price per month. All subscriptions renew automatically until you cancel. You can also give a one-time gift that includes 12 months of Bitsbox activities in a single crate.
10. Girls Can! Crate
The Girls Can! Crate inspires 5- to- 10-year-old girls with the stories of women who have made history. Each box contains a booklet featuring the story of a notable woman – such as artist Frida Kahlo, scientist Marie Curie, or activist Malala Yousafzai – followed by one or more hands-on STEAM activities (STEM plus A for art) related to her story. For instance, the crate featuring Navy admiral and computer programmer Grace Hopper contains an ocean adventure game and a necklace with two colors of beads to demonstrate binary coding.
The Girls Can! Crate comes in several forms. The least expensive is the mini-mailer, a padded envelope containing a 16-page booklet with the female role model’s story and the materials needed for a single activity. The full crate has an expanded 20-page booklet and materials for additional activities, such as games and experiments. You can also buy a multi-child crate, which contains additional copies of the materials for a second child.
To give the Girls Can! Crate as a gift, select one of these formats, then click “this is a gift” at checkout. You’ll have the option of making your subscription a one-time gift or allowing it to renew automatically.
11. Green Kid Crafts
Although the name makes it sound like a craft activity box, Green Kid Crafts features hands-on science and art activities for kids between 2 and 10 years old. The most popular Green Kids Crafts subscription is the Discovery Box for 5- to 10-year-olds. Each box focuses on a particular theme – such as Space, Volcanoes, or Music – and contains:
- A 12-page magazine featuring hands-on STEAM activities, puzzles, and resources for parents
- Four to eight STEAM project kits
- Materials for all projects, which are eco-friendly and made in the USA
You can also select the Junior Discovery box with simpler activities for kids between the ages of 2 and 4. Both subscriptions are available in a Sibling Box form for two kids to share, with two copies of each project kit.
To give any of these as a gift, select the subscription you want on the site and click “gift it.” You can choose to give a single box or a 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month subscription. Your subscription is a one-time gift and does not automatically renew. The site also offers gift cards in various denominations.
Parents and experts alike love crates from KiwiCo. This company offers a wide variety of science- and art-themed crates to appeal to kids of all ages, from infants through high schoolers. All its crates are designed by experts – educators, engineers, artisans, and honest-to-goodness rocket scientists – and tested by kids. KiwiCo spends over 1,000 hours designing and testing each crate before it’s ready to ship out to subscribers.
KiwiCo’s offerings include:
- Panda Crate. This crate contains toys and activities for babies and toddlers up to 2 years old. It includes activity cards that explain how these items promote learning and development, a parenting magazine called “Wonder,” and a set of “beyond the crate” cards listing other easy activities parents can do at home with their tots.
- Koala Crate. Each crate includes two to three creative activities for 2- to 4-year-olds, complete with all materials. There’s also a magazine with stories and games for youngsters, an activity guide for parents, and a set of online tutorials for other DIY projects.
- Kiwi Crate. Children between 5 and 8 will enjoy these science and art activities. Each crate contains a Maker Project related to art, engineering, or science, plus materials, instructions, a kid-friendly magazine, and online DIY ideas.
- Atlas Crate. This crate for kids ages 6 to 11 focuses on culture and geography. There are projects and activities related to cultures around the world, materials, instructions, and a keepsake book containing collectible cards and stickers.
- Doodle Crate. For tweens and teens, KiwiCo offers crates that cater to specific interests. This one features art and craft activities for kids ages 9 to 16, each with an “inspiration sheet,” materials, instructions, and an online tutorial.
- Tinker Crate. Kids ages 9 to 16 who prefer science and engineering activities will love the Tinker Crate. Each crate includes a blueprint, materials, and an online tutorial for one creative STEM project, plus a short magazine featuring more activities and experiments.
- Eureka Crate. KiwiCo’s most advanced crate is for enterprising scientists ages 14 and up. It includes one advanced engineering or design project, with materials, instructions, and a maker’s guide explaining the science behind the design. Examples include building a ukulele, a lamp, and an electric pencil sharpener.
To give a KiwiCo subscription as a gift, choose one of these crates and a subscription length – 1, 3, 6, or 12 months. Select “this is a gift” to avoid having your subscription renew automatically. Then personalize it with the child’s name and the start date. With some crates, you can upgrade to the deluxe edition, adding a specially selected book to each crate that fits its theme.
13. Little Passports
The Little Passports subscription sparks kids’ curiosity about the world around them. Little Passports boxes focus on the exploits of two children, Sam and Sofia – or, for younger subscribers, Mia and Max— as they travel the world and learn about geography, culture, and science. The boxes include photos and souvenirs from their adventures, as well as activities for kids to try at home.
The service offers several subscriptions for children of different ages and interests, including:
- Early Explorers. Little Passports’ subscription for 3- to 5-year-olds follows Max, Mia, and their dog Toby on their worldwide travels. Each box explores a particular theme, such as Music, Oceans, or Dinosaurs. Contents include stickers, trading cards, and an activity booklet, plus a picture postcard, letter, and souvenirs from Mia and Max. The first box also comes with an orange lunchbox “suitcase,” a wall-size world map, a luggage tag, and a welcome letter.
- Science Junior. The newest addition to the Little Passports line, Science Junior is for kids ages 5 to 8. Each month, Sofia and Sam teach kids about STEM concepts with hands-on experiments and projects, adventure comics, games, and trading cards relating to fun facts about science. The first box comes with a green adventurers’ backpack, and each box after that includes a backpack patch pertaining to that month’s theme.
- World Edition. In this subscription, 6- to 10-year-olds travel the world with Sam and Sofia, learning about new countries and cultures. Each month’s box explores a different country through postcards, letters, souvenirs, stickers, activity sheets, bonus recipes and crafts, and online games and activities. The first box comes with a blue “suitcase,” world map, passport, collectible coin board, and three mini foam animals.
- USA Edition. This subscription for ages 7 to 12 follows Sofia and Sam as they explore the USA, visiting famous landmarks and buildings and learning about each state’s history. In their first box, kids get a USA field guide and scratch book, a wall-size USA map, a welcome letter, and a photo scavenger hunt project. Each box after that includes a 32-page journal with stories and activities for two U.S. states, stickers, postcards, and links to more activities and info online.
- Science Expeditions. In this box for ages 9 and up, subscribers get to unravel a real-life scientific mystery each month with Sam and Sofia. The first box contains a tote bag, lab notebook, forensic science experiment kit, fingerprint analysis card, and ink pad. Each subsequent box includes a hands-on science experiment, a 16-page comic book with a glossary and bonus activities, links to bonus online science content and videos, and an achievement badge related to the month’s theme.
To give a Little Passports subscription to a young explorer you know, select one of these services and sign up for a monthly, 6-month, or 12-month subscription. All subscription plans are auto-renewing, but you can cancel at any time. When you place your order, you can send a gift email to the recipient and provide a personalized gift message to include in the first monthly box. Or you can download and print a gift announcement to mail or present to the lucky child.
Too often, when you give presents to the kids in your life, they’re forgotten within a few days or weeks. Clothes disappear into the wardrobe or become outgrown within a few months. Books are read and then discarded, and toys lose their interest as their novelty fades.
But when you give a subscription, you know the child’s pleasure in it will last. Each month, as each new shipment arrives, they’ll experience the delight of the gift all over again.
Which of these subscription services would the kids in your life love the most? Do you have any other favorites that didn’t make the list?