Subscription boxes for children are big business at the moment. We’ve got the low down on five of the best for you including Kiwi Co, Raddish, Mail Order Mystery, BitsBox, and the Nights In range.
With Halloween over and the weather starting to get decidedly cool here some of us are starting to think about ways to keep everyone busy all winter and even a little bit of Christmas shopping. Over the last few years there seems to have been a big rise in subscription boxes. I love the idea of these; the way they spread the fun out over a period of time and move away from the traditional birthday and Christmas gift over load.
However, some can be pricey and it often feels like a risk when you don’t know what you might receive. We’ve researched and tried a few of the big names and thought we’d share our findings with you guys.
Kiwi Crates Hours of Engagement
Starting with the best, our clear favorite anyway. Kiwi Co make project boxes for children of all ages. They now have six lines: Tadpole for 0-2 years, Koala for 3-4 years, Kiwi for 5-8 years, Atlas for 6-11 is the newly launched geography focused box, Doodle provides art projects for ages 9 – 16+ and Tinker which are hands on STEM projects for 9-16+ years. You can buy single boxes or subscribe for a set period of time.
(Edit: I see they’ve added Eureka for 14+ years very recently. The projects build objects for real life use. Super cool! There’s also a $10 discount on your first purchase on any line in my link for you. Claire)
Little brother has had several Koala Crates which I have picked based on the themes I think he’d enjoy. In our experience each box has a couple of art or building type projects which he can do with minimal input from me and they generally produce a game or toy he can happily play with for a long time afterwards. There is a fabulous magazine with stories and puzzles supporting the theme and my book suggestions to expand learning (which I love!). The biggest hits were Camping, Knights and Castles and Ocean Life. We have had many a happy wet weekend working from our crates and I always keep one in my rainy day box for emergencies!
Big Brother was lucky enough to receive a six month Tinker subscription last winter which was a big success. He’s had Kiwi Crates before and they are fun for him to do on his own but he’s very STEM minded and the projects and reading in the Tinker boxes are perfect to keep him busy with just a little help from me. The instructions are always clear, absolutely everything that you need is included and they always make something fun to watch or use. The educational and entertainment benefits are a perfect combination. He particularly enjoyed the automaton, water fountain and glowing pendulum. Sssh, don’t tell, but I’ve also got the hydraulic claw hidden away which I know will turn around any slow day!
Honestly, it was by far the best gift we got last year. Take a look here. The prices vary, there’s aways a special offer to be had and they even ship to the UK now!
Get Them to Cook You Up a Storm With Raddish Kids
Raddish Kids is a cookery subscription service for children and tweens to help grow and indulge a love of all things culinary. Each month’s kit is based around a theme and incorporates math, geography and culture. They include three step by step recipes, an easy to use shopping list, a piece of kitchen equipment or tool and clear culinary skills lessons. A six month subscription works out at $22 a month and includes your apron in the first box.
The recipes we’ve tried have mostly been popular here and not too tricky for big brother to complete with a little help and supervision. There’s been a taco theme, pasta and gnocchi, and holiday-centric menu sets. The boxes do feel a little light but they provide everything you need for a fun afternoon cooking (except the food!). I’ll be honest, Little Brother is too young still and Big Brother isn’t overly fond of cooking so this isn’t one we’ll renew – I tend to use our favorite kids’ cook books to train him up instead – but I think it would have a lot of appeal for many children aged 4-14.
Mail Order Mystery, Intrigue and Capers
Mail Order Mystery is a story that evolves via a series of letters received in the mail. They could be from anyone, time and place and include newspaper cuttings, secret files, keys, codes, or any number of mysterious clues to be solved. There are four mysteries to choose from each with six weekly mailings (check the age recommendations for each). The grand conclusion promises to arrive in the final mailing with a memento of the experience. There’s a range of stories to choose from and is the top of our list this Christmas.
You’ll have to wait until we’re done for a full review. I am really excited; I truly wish I’d thought of it myself! If you’re interested in knowing more for this season take a look at the FAQs and detail of the three storyline examples. The company promises that it is all totally fictional and should not be too scary. They are super flexible in helping you cater for siblings and different timing needs – just send them an email. I feel like it should appeal to readers aged 8 and upwards. The orders ship from Canada worldwide.
Crack Coding with BitsBox
My boys caught me researching BitsBox and were instantly drawn in; I’m under some serious pressure to give this one a try. The monthly package provides them with everything they need to code their own apps. It teaches a pared down version of html and java, taking our next generation of cyber geniuses not just step by step thorough the instructions but gently down the path to altering and personalizing their work. The boxes include binder, colorful and exciting looking project cards, a guide for adults and a few novelty extras but from what I understand you really do need at home a computer (or tablet) with a real keyboard and then a tablet to play the finished app on.
Interestingly they offer two levels of subscription box to receive in the mail – starting at $24.99 – and a printable pdf version at a considerable discount and siblings can be added to the account a no extra cost making it very tempting. They promise full email support with all price levels for those of us who fear getting technologically stumped! In fact you can try coding your first app for free by following the instructions in this video.
Reading this back it could make the package a little dry for children but it really does look anything but. Just a few minutes on the website showed us exploding pies, comical animals, robots and space crafts – perfect kid humor. It was certainly enough to hook Big Brother.
Staying In is the New Going Out…
In the best possible way! Ok, so this started off as an indulgence for me. As with many parents I’ve found it very difficult to get out with the husband but without spending a fortune on babysitters – and that’s before the cost of wherever you end up going. And that’s when we can find a babysitter – living in a new place with no extended family it can be very difficult to set up that support network in a hurry. Datnightinbox.com offered an interesting alternative to heading out for quality time.
Their monthly boxes are always based on a theme, come with delicious dinner menu suggestions, musical playlist via Spotify, a number of activities, a snack and everything you need for a fun night in. We’ve tried 4 now I think. Last year’s winter theme included a gingerbread competition just for us grown ups, the With Love box nearly had us stumped with its cryptic puzzles and twist on dinner party mystery solving and the Adventure night was the most fun I’ve had building a fort ever!
A three month subscription including shipping comes in at $120 which does feel a little steep at first but when you think it through and value the quality time you get together it is worth it. A baby sitter and meal out would cost us more than triple that. And while I might put that kind of creative themed effort into a special night for the children I’d be super unlikely to ever put that time in for myself.
Speaking of which, the same company also make kidsnightinbox.com for anyone who wants to indulge the kiddies but doesn’t have time to pull it all together themselves. Sample boxes on the website show story, games, crafts, a snack, food suggestions and colorful instructions on a range of fun themes. I feel like at three and nine both my children are just a little outside the perfect target audience range but the boxes look delightful and thought provoking fun.
Have you tried any of the subscription boxes? What did you think? Kid Stir, Literati, Lillypost and a whole bunch of other all look worthy of more research… there’s just so many to chose from!
Disclosure: All purchases and opinions were /are my own. Post contains a referal link for Kiwi.