During a global pandemic, it’s all too easy to think about yourself: where you’ll get more loo roll from, how you’ll miss your favourite exercise class, and how you’ll miss going to the pub.
But you’ll also probably be thinking about the friends and family you won't see; the special occasions that have now been cancelled; and when you’ll next be able to get together. Even without meeting up, you can show your loved ones you’re thinking of them – whether they’re having a hard time or celebrating a birthday – and even without going to the shops, there are heaps of gift delivery services that'll send something special right to their door.
We’ve done the hard work for you and tracked down the best gift delivery ideas. You’re welcome… And don’t buy them all for yourself, OK?
Smooth, rich and irresistible… No, we’re not talking about your ideal lover – although this comes pretty close. We’re talking about chocolate; the kind that’s miles away from the stuff you buy from the vending machine in a sugar emergency; the kind of chocolate that makes you stop what you’re doing and really savour what’s going on in your mouth.
The problem with our favourite sweet treat is that people often don’t really understand it, or how diverse and complex it can be. Enter Cocoa Runners, a chocolate subscription service that scours the world for the world’s best single estate chocolate bars (which means all the cocoa for the bar you’re enjoying comes from one estate).
The online store currently offers a whopping 1,000 individual bars from 120 craft makers around the world, so there’s masses to choose from and explore. If you’re looking to buy a gift for a chocoholic – or yourself – try the starter hamper on for size, which comes packed with everything from Taza Chocolate Mexicano Cinnamon to a Madagascan dark chocolate stuffed with pink peppercorns. What’s more, most of Cocoa Runners’ suppliers go above and beyond Fairtrade requirements to give farmers a better price in an industry that can be rife with ethical issues.
At a time when we’re under lockdown and unable to even see a loved one on their birthday, it’s the little things that are most important. Beautiful bouquets of flowers are a particularly nice way to put a smile on someone’s face, while also brightening up their home when they’re stuck indoors.
There are heaps of flower delivery services, but now’s the time to choose someone local and help out an independent business at a time when they’ll struggle. We love Petalon, which is based in De Beauvoir, Hackney. The team has two seasonal bouquets that change each week (both £42), which then get delivered around London by bicycle – although they can also be delivered through next-day delivery if you’re based further afield.
5% of the profit from Petalon’s bicycle deliveries go towards bee conservation, the team plants a tree for every 100 deliveries by carbon-neutral courier, and all the packaging is either recyclable or biodegradable, so a purchase from these guys will do a world of good.
(Photo credit: allsubscriptionboxes.co.uk)
OK, so you can’t quite take someone out for a meal, but you can send them a restaurant-quality meal to eat at home. There’s Deliveroo, of course, but for something that feels a little bit more special – although you do have to cook the pasta, which takes all of five minutes – try grown-up food delivery service Pasta Evangelists.
Recipes span 20 different Italian regions and change weekly – mouthwatering examples include beef tortellini from Emilia-Romagna with sage butter (yum); pappardelle with beef shin and a barolo wine ragu (yum); black truffle and pecorino triangoli with truffle butter and toasted hazelnuts (yuuuum). You can order it for next-day delivery if you’ve, er, forgotten a special occasion, and if you live in London it comes in a box that slots neatly through the letterbox. Brownie points for gluten-free and vegan options. Now all you need is the wine…
(Photo credit: twistedfood.co.uk)
Scooby and Shaggy; Thelma and Louise; cheese and wine: all iconic pairings where you can’t have one without the other. Much-loved cheese and wine shop and restaurant group The Cheese Bar – which has sadly had to close its doors during the pandemic – is offering Self-Isolation Survival Kits delivered by its iconic yellow vans, with deliveries taking place the day the van is in the area. It’s a brilliant way to support a small business, not to mention being totally delicious. The boxes feature a carefully curated selection of British cheeses, crackers, wine, and charcuterie. That’s it – everything you need for a stint of self-isolation. You’re welcome.
For something that has more longevity than a bouquet of flowers, try Patch Plants for a green friend to brighten up someone’s home. Patch’s service helps you to choose a plant best suited to the conditions it’ll be in – and the level of care it’s likely to receive – so you can buy something that’s really tailored to your loved one. And unlike many plant shops, you can also get a lovely pot to go with it (something that’s actually usually pretty expensive and inconvenient to buy when you’re out and about).
What have you been doing since you’ve been self-isolating? Looking at your computer screen? Looking at your phone? Looking at your TV? While we’re a big advocate of giving yourself a break from your usual restrictions at a time like this, it’s still important to get some time away from technology. Books, of course, offer the perfect escapism – we’d suggest choosing an uplifting novel to keep the mood high. Don’t know what to choose? Consider a subscription service like Books That Matters that selects a new feminist novel a month, and delivers it to your door with at least three gifts from independent creatives. Prices start from £17 for a month, or £45 for three months – you don’t know how long we’ll be locked down for…
You don’t have to make huge gestures to let someone know you’re thinking of them. TouchNote allows you to send personalised postcards absolutely anywhere you like – you choose your own photo to upload to their system, write a personalised message and away it goes. TouchNote also offers greeting cards, gallery frames for something that can be hung on the wall, and canvases for that extra arty touch – and you can sort it all on the go from the app, too.
Tea = twee, right? Not so with Offblak, which brings slick graphics and unusual – and unusually delicious – flavours together for tea that’s a cut above your usual builder’s. While you can order packs individually, get one of the starter packs for someone who loves a brew – if we know Brits, there’ll be a lot of tea drinking going on over the next few weeks. Our favourite is the Caff Free Collection, with the unbeatable blueberry and mint; cranberry and cinnamon; and chamomile and peach combos.
Self-isolation means more time for self-care, right? If you know someone particularly frazzled or in need of a boost, a gift that helps them slow down and take care of themselves can be a nice touch. Haeckels is the Margate-based beauty brand that makes gorgeous soaps and lotions out of botanicals foraged from the shoreline. The team is heavily involved in local conservation, avoids using chemicals and tries to use as little plastic as possible in its products. For a special occasion buy one of the beautifully packaged limited-edition candles, each of which is inspired by an area of natural beauty, or go full splurge with one of the extensive gift sets. They’re spenny, but there’s no doubt it’ll make someone very happy.
A global pandemic is a time that many people – with or without anxiety – will struggle. Calm is a meditation app that has a variety of offerings, like daily programmes that aim to tackle anxiety, stress, self care, focus and more. Basically, whatever you want to work on, Calm has something that will help you do it. It’s ideal for both beginners and experts, and is particularly good for insomniacs, thanks to sleep-focused meditations, and its much-loved Sleep Stories. These are read by people like Stephen Fry and Matthew McConaughey, and follow a gently paced travel story that will help you drift off and encourage deeper, more restful sleep.
For a gift that can be anything from a candle-making workshop to a cruise along London’s canals, Indytute’s gift cards are ideal for planning for a celebration when we’re (finally) allowed out again. They suit a variety of budgets and taste, they fit through a letterbox or can arrive by email – and, perhaps most importantly, are valid for up to two years…
Further reading: How to Have Everything Without Buying Anything