So, you want to give a gift that’s a subscription versus a tangible item. It’s not uncommon nowadays along with “experience” gifts that range from concert tickets to sporting events. When it comes to tech, the options are endless. Subscription gifts offer access to music or TV streaming services, gaming portals, cellular service, food delivery, and more. What are some good ones to consider? Here are options to suit different people on your list.
Xbox Game Pass
A gamer with a Microsoft Xbox will appreciate an Xbox Game Pass, which includes tons of benefits including being able to play new games on the day they are released. It also includes access to tons of games and allows for connecting to play games online with friends and other players. An EA Play membership is included with the pass. Along with playing using the console, they can also play on PCs, phones, tablets, and even compatible TVs. They can also download console and PC games for offline play. The membership also affords special deals, discounts, and perks. The Ultimate subscription is on promotion (at the time of this writing) for $1 for the first 14 days then it’s $18.99/mo. each month thereafter. It would be about $228 for the year. Keep in mind that the subscription automatically renews, so you’ll continue to get billed unless you cancel. But this would make a great ongoing gift for the gamer on your list. You can also buy passes for single months and find Xbox Pass gift cards.
If you think they might appreciate having more TV content to enjoy, a Disney+ subscription is a good one to consider. It’s not only great for kids thanks to tons of animated content and kids’ shows but also for adults with original series like Loki, The Mandalorian, and Ahsoka, as well as Hulu originals like Only Murders in the Building, A Murder at the End of the World, and The Bear. There’s also a wide selection of content from Disney vault from Pixar, Star Wars, National Geographic, Marvel, and more. Note that pricing has increased to $14.99/mo. for the highest tier 4K option, which is now called Disney+ Premium. But you can save by pre-paying for a year at $149.99. Just note that it auto-renews if you don’t cancel.
Arguably the most under-rated streaming service is Apple TV+, though the provider has been getting more attention over the last few years thanks to high profile and award-winning shows like Ted Lasso and movies like CODA. A large percentage of the best shows I have seen this year are on Apple TV+, and there’s something for everyone. From Silo to Severence, Lessons in Chemistry, The Morning Show, and Shrinking, you’ll also find hidden gems like Loot and The Afterparty. Plus, Apple TV+ has tons of original movies, including the Christmas film Spirited starring Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell. After a seven-day free trial, Apple TV+ is $12.99/mo. so you can gift them with a full year for $155.88. Surprise your family and add it to your own account, or upgrade to an Apple One subscription that includes it, then queue up the UI on the big screen and watch everyone’s faces light up. Note that if you buy an eligible new Apple device, it also comes with a three-month free trial.
How much TV can you realistically have? With more families cutting the cord (does the cord even really exist anymore?) and cancelling linear TV, you sort of need multiple streaming services to get all the shows you want. (The legitimate way, at least!) Crave is not only uniquely Canadian, it also includes the full HBO library and Starz content (with a Starz add-on). Popular HBO shows that a subscription will give them access to, meanwhile, includes Succession (they can binge the entire series!), Our Flag Means Death, The Last of Us, The Righteous Gemstones, The White Lotus, and even library titles like Treme and The Sopranos. There are Crave originals, too, like The Handmaid’s Tale and Letterkenny. Crave offers gift cards in $25, $50, and $100 denominations they can redeem as a credit towards a subscription. If it’s for your own family, you can subscribe to the Premium tier for $19.99/mo., Standard with Ads for $14.99/mo., or Basic with Ads for $9.99/mo.. The cheapest option is tempting, but keep in mind that it only affords up to 720p video quality so it’s best for those who will strictly be watching from mobile devices. The Starz add-on is an additional $5.99/mo.
Who doesn’t have an Amazon Prime subscription nowadays? If you have managed to find the last person on Earth who doesn’t, you can add them to the growing list. Even if they don’t shop online and will only take occasional advantage of the fast and free shipping on many items, a subscription affords automatic access to Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, and a host of other services. Pricing is $9.99/mo. or $99/yr. If you’re getting it for a student, however, all you need is valid ID and can sign up for $4.99/mo. or $49/yr. The subscription, unless pre-paid for the year, can be cancelled at any time. You’re best to sign them up for the full year and renew or cancel. Chances are they’ll want to keep it going. You can also opt for an Amazon gift card they can use towards the membership.
BODi Fitness App
I have been using the BODi fitness app for several years and recently combined it with Apple Fitness+ workouts. The subscription-based service, formerly known as BeachBody, combines both access to live and on-demand workouts as well as eating plans. If you order the various protein shakes and other goodies, you can get access to certain workouts and programs with it. The classes are engaging and run the gamut from strength training to HIIT, cardio to yoga, barre to boxing. My favourites include 10 Rounds, Liift More, 645, and MBFA with trainers like Joel Freeman, Amoila Cesar, and Megan Davies. There’s something for everyone and every workout includes modifications so you can work at your own pace and fitness level. Programs range from a single week to several months, from 4 to 7 days a week. Some require equipment, like a bench, resistance loops, cordless jump ropes, and dumbbells. Others require nothing more than your body weight and a mat. If you know someone who is ready to commit to a fitness journey, the 36-month plan, which comes out to $430 billed annually at a rate of $12/mo., will be put to good use, and they’ll forever thank you for helping push them along in their journey. Pay $18/mo. or $215 to commit to just one year. There’s also a three-month plan for $36/mo., billed at $107 every three months. Membership automatically renews.
Kobo Plus Read
For someone who has an intense love of reading, get them an eReader along with a subscription that lets them make the most out of it. The Kobo Plus Read & Listen subscription, which works with any Kobo eReader, is $12.99/mo. and will give them access to more than 1.5 million eBooks. They can access the content both on a Kobo eReader as well as through the Kobo app. With the app and select eReaders that have built-in speakers, they can also listen to a selection of more than 150,000 audiobooks. There’s a 30-day free trial and no limit to how many Kobo Plus titles they can add every month. Some of the books trending now in Kobo Plus include Cloak of Embers by Jonathan Moeller, Bad Blood by Angela Marsons, and The Night Before by Lisa Jackson. For the voracious reader with an eclectic mix of reading tastes, this is a solid gift to consider.
Who still listens to satellite radio in the age of streaming? It turns out, many do. I often listen to SiriusXM in the car, especially for long drives, at home, or even while on my weekly walks. Many love it for the specific genre or artist stations, sports commentary, talk shows, and other themed channels. SiriusXM has a diverse mix of content through its hundreds of channels. There are several tiers of service from which to choose, starting with the Music & Entertainment plan, which is $18.99/mo., or pay $10.99/mo. to be able to listen in the car via CarPlay or through the SiriusXM app. (Pricing varies based on current promotions). The SiriusXM app-only subscription is a good option for your spouse or child who is often on the road and could use a break from traditional FM radio, but note that you will be using your cellular data. If you want the popular Howard Stern channels, you’ll need the Platinum level subscription, which is $23.99/mo..
A wireless plan is difficult to buy for someone else, but this is a wonderful gift as a first plan for your teen or tween. My son turns 12 in January and one of the gift ideas we have been considering for him is a wireless plan. He already has a phone (my old iPhone XR) which he uses when on Wi-Fi or with a personal hotspot. A plan would give him more autonomy and independence. The question is: what’s a good one? You may or may not be surprised to find out that most carriers don’t offer special pricing for kids’ plans, especially if you want data. You’ll be paying more than you think if you want more than talk and text (and let’s face it, which teen/tween in this day and age doesn’t use data?) Some options to consider: Koodo has a $15/mo. plan that includes 100 Canada-wide calling minutes and 250MB of data (likely not nearly enough for anything but emergencies), but only runs at 3G speeds. Freedom Mobile has a 4G LTE plan for from $19/mo. for 500MB data that includes nationwide data, talk, and text. There’s also, at the time of this writing, a $34/mo. plan with 30GB 5G data. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, Rogers has parent-friendly plans, but the angle is more so with the features than it is with the pricing. The plans start at $25/mo. for unlimited Canada-wide calling and texting as well as Spam Call Detect to prevent your kids from getting bombarded with spam calls during school hours. But there’s no data. (News flash, Rogers, no one makes phone calls anymore. And even when Gen-Zers do, they make audio or video calls over FaceTime or some other social app!) The next level up plan is $45/mo. which includes 15GB data at speeds up to 250Mbps and unlimited data at reduced speeds thereafter. This plan might be ideal for an older teen but likely not worthwhile for a 12 or 13-year-old. Your best bet is to visit shops or kiosks in person to negotiate the best deal since plans change all the time. You may be able to get a good deal on a second line with your existing carrier as well.
Subscription boxes are good gift because they’re a gift that keeps on giving. They also combine subscriptions with tangible goods. Who doesn’t love getting a surprise in the mail every month to unwrap? There are so many options to consider, but a good one for the hot sauce lover is the Monthly Hot Ones Box from Heatonist. If they watch the smash hit series Hot Ones where host Sean Evans sits down with a different celebrity in each episode and interviews them while they chow down on wings and hot sauces with different levels of spice, they’ll love being able to try the same ones. It’s 30/mo. and each box includes a set of three hot sauces that were featured on the show. They range in heat levels from a nice, spicy flavour to please-rinse-my-mouth-out-with-a-glass-of-milk caliente. The sets also include limited edition Hot Ones stickers and rewards points. Keep in mind that shipping to Canada is another $25, so you’re paying $55, or $18 a bottle. But you’ll find all the best hot sauces range from $9-$14 a bottle anyway. And nothing beats having tasty new flavours delivered right to the door in time for dinner. If they’re not into hot sauce, there are so many other options to consider, including subscription boxes for both kids and adults. Run a search or pay attention to the inevitable ads that will pop up in your social feeds from time to time. Do your research and find a subscription box you know they’ll love, whether it’s make-up, designer socks, or sweet treats.
Meal Kit Delivery Service
I tried HelloFresh for a week years ago and it was useful for those times when you’re busy and don’t have time to pop over to the grocery store. The kits aren’t necessarily a time-saver: you still need to prep many ingredients and follow the recipe so it’s not much quicker than cooking from scratch. But it’s great for inspiration when you just don’t know what to cook. You get fresh ingredients and recipes you can keep in your arsenal to repeat on your own. (I learned a few tips from some of the recipes that I continue to use to this day). Choose from more than 40 recipes each week, ranging from lemongrass pork coconut curry to saucy beef ragu and even vegetarian options. As a gift, choose the kind of meal (mostly meat or carb smart, for example), dietary preferences, goals (e.g. eat healthy or spice up my cooking routine), and how many people you are feeding (2-4) and how many meals you want per week (3, 4, or 5). HelloFresh has pricing promotions all the time but meals start at about $9.69 per serving. You can pause, skip a week, change the delivery day (by a specific date and time prior to the next delivery), or cancel the subscription at any time. Consider setting them up for one month with three deliveries a week. But take advantage of deals and coupon codes to make the most out of it. As with many other subscriptions on this list, you will need to cancel to avoid being charge beyond the month (and the person receiving more meals!) It’s a great way to help a busy couple or family that doesn’t have a lot of time to shop and cook, for someone looking to learn more about cooking (the step-by-step directions are easy to follow, complete with recipe cards), and for helping reduce food waste. Go all out by signing up as a gift for your partner who always does the cooking, then handle the meal prep and cooking for the month to give them a break.
For kids aged 9-13 who love to read and learn, an OWL Magazine subscription is a good gift. They will love having something arrive in the mail for them every month, complete with their name on the label. For about $35.95 (it often goes on sale), you can get a one-year subscription to the magazine that has been around since 1976, not to mention feel good about your support of Canadian print media. The monthly magazine is filled with educational and fun content, including articles, puzzles, quizzes, infographics, interviews, and more, all related to STEM fields. The latest edition, for example, highlights the world of virtual reality and lays out the top 10 tech trends. When signing up, there’s even an option to select that you’re giving this as a gift and input their mailing address (if not your own). My best friend signed my son up as a birthday gift years ago and has kept it going ever since. He absolutely loves getting his magazine every month, reading it from cover-to-cover as soon as he arrives home from school and finds it in the mailbox. Want something for kids who are a bit younger? There’s also Chickadee Magazine for ages 6-9 (my son received this one for years before he aged out of it) and StoryBox magazine for kids aged 3-6.
For someone who lives in the city, who orders take-out often, or both, an Uber One subscription would be a thoughtful gift they’ll get a lot of use and benefit from. With Uber One, which is $9.99/mo., they get $0 delivery fees and $5 off eligible food and grocery orders from Uber Eats. When taking a ride with Uber, no matter where they are, they get 5% off eligible rides and top-rated drivers. An Uber One subscription also includes access to exclusive perks and promotions, premium member support, and invite-only experiences. If they’re an Aeroplan member, they can also link their Aeroplan account with Uber and get additional points for rides and food deliveries. With the first month free, a one-year subscription will cost $109.89. Just don’t forget to cancel manually once the year is up or opt for an Uber gift card they can use towards an Uber One subscription.