Every item we feature is objectively selected by our editorial team. If you purchase an item through our links, we may earn commission. Departures and American Express do not provide, endorse, or guarantee any of the items, and the sale of such items is governed by the third-party seller’s policies, terms, and conditions.
Decor

Gifts That Keep on Giving

Subscription gifts for kids provide an imagination-boosting experience that lasts all year long.

MOST READ STYLE

Stays

What We’re Loving Right Now

The perfect autumnal candle, an upgraded weekender, NYC’s loveliest new wine bar —...

Fashion

Perfectly Packed

Troubadour’s Embark Duffle is the unintentional diaper bag of your dreams.

Fashion

The World’s Warmest Jacket

This deliciously pillowy puffer — made from 87% recycled materials — will keep you...

AS A PARENT, the holidays bring many things. Joy, for one. It’s delightful to watch children experience it all: the lights, the decorations, the music, and the family traditions. Stress, too. Making all that magic appear for the little ones, seemingly out of the ether, takes energy for us bigger people. (Yes, seeing their faces light up makes it all worthwhile.)

Another thing the holidays have the tendency to bring is more stuff. In my family, where we celebrate both Christmas and Chanukah, the holidays unleash a particular torrent of material objects right into my home. And I’m not the only one who can find it a bit overwhelming. One Christmas morning when my eldest was still very small, I watched as his face changed in the midst of unwrapping presents. There were a lot of them — too many, it turns out. The sheer quantity turned an exciting process into a chore he was just trying to get through.

It’s a moment that my husband and I return to when we feel inclined to buy just one more gift. (Okay, so it’s really a moment I bring up. I have never met anyone more entranced by the magic of Christmas than my Jewish husband, and he often has to be gently reminded that more doesn’t always equal better.)

There’s plenty of research to remind us that accumulating stuff doesn’t actually make us happy. Experiences, on the other hand, are where it’s at. Just thinking about how much we will enjoy something, or how much we have enjoyed it, provides true, lasting happiness. Even a bad experience can leave us with a good story to tell.

Children love — love — getting mail. It’s an experience of anticipation. And who wouldn’t love getting mail when the contents are only positive? Even my smallest asks if there is anything for her when the mail arrives. She is four, so the answer is generally no, but she still looks hopefully toward every catalog that arrives, remembering the one that was sent to us from Amazon in triplicate, filled with pages and pages of toys. She sat for hours, circling the things she wanted (every single item in the catalog), a fun experience unto itself even if I didn’t fulfill any of her wishes.

So if you are looking for gifts for the littler ones in your life that will bring them (and their grownups) happiness, the clinically proven kind, read on. And as a bonus for the procrastinators among us, it is worth noting that subscriptions make great last-minute gifts. I say that with authority because guess whose kids are getting subscriptions this year because their mom dragged her feet? (But don't worry, their dad has the extra presents covered.)

MOST READ STYLE

Design

Flying High

Chopard’s Alpine Eagle gives sport watches an unexpected jolt of elegance.

Design

Peter Marino, the Architect King of Fifth Avenue

Saving humanity’s live retail experience from the cold metaverse — one dazzling...

Fashion

Behind the Wheel

How to put your best foot forward (and give your best “California Chic”) while...

Shop at Little Passports

Little Passports

This was the first gift subscription my daughter ever received and it was a hit. The inaugural box arrived containing a small suitcase, with a map of the world and a passport book inside. It also included a packet for a country (which is what is sent each following month): a stamp for the passport, a pin sticker for the map, a book with trivia and facts, and a craft or item. Fun and educational (I can hear my mom’s approving voice as I write that). There are several travel-focused options, and they offer STEM sets as well for ages 3–12. SHOP NOW

Shop at Universal Yums

Universal Yums

Universal Yums served me up so many Instagram ads that I finally bought this for my eldest child last year. Each month, they send a package with a selection of snacks, both salty and sweet, from a different country. Also included is a scorecard to record impressions, so tasting becomes an event. This one was a win with every member of my household. SHOP NOW

Shop Mail Order Mystery

Mail Order Mystery

Since I purchased a gift subscription through those ads, they now appear constantly. I haven’t tried this one yet but it looks great. Each subscription is a personalized mystery, and the recipient needs to solve it. Clues, letters, and objects come in the mail — all that is needed to unravel the answer. There are several themes, including spy, pirate, and fairy, and several levels of difficulty. Appropriate for age 6 and up. SHOP NOW


Advertisement
Shop at Nat Geo

National Geographic Kids

Nothing new here, except … have you opened National Geographic recently? It’s still great. Their kids’ edition is too, with photography, trivia, and games that are engaging. The magazines include posters, which my daughter has all over her walls. Bonus: they make for great collaging material when they’re done being read. SHOP NOW

Shop at Books Are Magic

Books Are Magic

Okay, so books are technically things, but receiving them in the mail is an experience too. Books Are Magic, a beloved Brooklyn bookstore owned by author Emma Straub, offers a subscription service of handpicked, age-appropriate books delivered each month. The fun of a subscription coupled with the joy of books. I’m hearing my mother’s voice again here because — let’s be honest — don’t we all turn into our parents? SHOP NOW

Shop at Heifer

Heifer

This isn’t a subscription exactly, but it feels adjacent. Heifer is a nonprofit focused on ending poverty and hunger. Their catalog of offerings allows the giver to choose and donate animals — a flock of chickens, a sheep, a water buffalo, and a hive of bees are just some of the options — that provide families with living income and sustenance. We’ve donated before and so they send a catalog that my children absolutely love. Each year they ask me if they can pick out animals to give. I’ve found it to be a very engaging way to help children think about giving. And ultimately, isn’t that what the holidays should really be all about? SHOP NOW

Gift Subscriptions for Kids

  • Little Passports

    The inaugural box contains a small suitcase, with a map of the world and a passport book inside. It also included a packet for a country (which is what is sent each following month): a stamp for the passport, a pin sticker for the map, a book with trivia and facts, and a craft or item.

  • Mail Order Mystery

    Each subscription is a personalized mystery, and the recipient needs to solve it. Clues, letters, and objects come in the mail — all that is needed to unravel the answer.

  • Books Are Magic

    Books Are Magic, a beloved Brooklyn bookstore owned by author Emma Straub, offers a subscription service of handpicked, age-appropriate books delivered each month. The fun of a subscription coupled with the joy of books.

  • Universal Yums

    Each month, they send a package with a selection of snacks, both salty and sweet, from a different country. Also included is a scorecard to record impressions, so tasting becomes an event.

  • National Geographic Kids

    The amazing kids’ edition of National Geographic includes photography, trivia, and games that are engaging. The magazines include posters that make for great collaging material when they’re done being read.

  • Heifer

    Heifer is a nonprofit focused on ending poverty and hunger. Their catalog of offerings allows the giver to choose and donate animals — a flock of chickens, a sheep, a water buffalo, and a hive of bees are just some of the options — that provide families with living income and sustenance.

  • Little Passports

    The inaugural box contains a small suitcase, with a map of the world and a passport book inside. It also included a packet for a country (which is what is sent each following month): a stamp for the passport, a pin sticker for the map, a book with trivia and facts, and a craft or item.

  • Universal Yums

    Each month, they send a package with a selection of snacks, both salty and sweet, from a different country. Also included is a scorecard to record impressions, so tasting becomes an event.

  • Mail Order Mystery

    Each subscription is a personalized mystery, and the recipient needs to solve it. Clues, letters, and objects come in the mail — all that is needed to unravel the answer.

  • National Geographic Kids

    The amazing kids’ edition of National Geographic includes photography, trivia, and games that are engaging. The magazines include posters that make for great collaging material when they’re done being read.

  • Books Are Magic

    Books Are Magic, a beloved Brooklyn bookstore owned by author Emma Straub, offers a subscription service of handpicked, age-appropriate books delivered each month. The fun of a subscription coupled with the joy of books.

  • Heifer

    Heifer is a nonprofit focused on ending poverty and hunger. Their catalog of offerings allows the giver to choose and donate animals — a flock of chickens, a sheep, a water buffalo, and a hive of bees are just some of the options — that provide families with living income and sustenance.

Our Contributors

Skye Parrott

Skye Parrott is the executive editor of Departures. A magazine editor, photographer, writer, and creative consultant, she was previously a founder of the arts and culture journal Dossier, and editor in chief for the relaunch of Playgirl as a modern, feminist publication.

Ahonen & Lamberg Illustrator

Ahonen & Lamberg is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Paris. Founded in 2006 by Finnish designers Anna Ahonen and Katariina Lamberg, the studio concentrates on art direction, creative consultancy, and graphic design.

Departures and American Express do not provide, endorse, or guarantee any of the items, and the sale of such items is governed by the third-party seller’s policies, terms, and conditions.
',
Newsletter

Let’s Keep in Touch

Subscribe to our newsletter

You’re no longer on our newsletter list, but you can resubscribe anytime.