Gifts that keep giving: Postal subscriptions

Postal present subscriptions - the gift that keeps on giving

Subscribe to, or film memberships at the GFT, Cameo or LOVEFiLM

Fluffy slippers that can be heated in the microwave. Mobile phone holders in the shape of endangered species. Socks bearing the legend ‘world’s best grandad’. Ned Corbett-Winder promises that his gift-a-month website will most certainly not deliver any of the above. Instead, subscribers or their lucky friends will find, on their doormats, a quirky item lovingly sourced by Ned himself. The unique service costs £15 a month and recent goodies include a printed tote bag by Edinburgh-based illustrator Lesley Barnes, bamboo toothbrushes and a travel-themed bundle including a vintage canvas map and charming old toy cars.

Corbett-Winder studied at Central St Martins and the items he sends out are definitely curated rather than chosen at random. ‘It’s a simple idea based on the fact that people love post that isn’t bills,’ he says. (To underline the point, he dispatches the goodies in a beautiful letterbox-sized package emblazoned with ‘smile – I am not another bill’ on them.) ‘And most people like surprises.’

Working with designers, illustrators, galleries and shops he admires are a big part of the appeal for Corbett-Winder, who also works as an art director with ad agency M&C Saatchi. ‘I source my presents from far and wide with the aim of introducing my subscribers to great artists and brands and also finding rare treats from markets and fairs. It’s personal, it’s thoughtful, it’s fun and it comes in beautiful packaging. There’s a lot of soulless, mass produced products out there.’

This Christmas, there is no use for anyone with half a brain to wrap up gifts, put them under the Christmas tree, then take the huff when they see them in the Oxfam shop come January. You don’t need to be Corbett-Windsor to come up with a thoughtful gift that delights after December. An annual membership for the Glasgow Film Theatre (£30) or the Cameo in Edinburgh (£32) brings a handful of free tickets and a range of movie-going discounts that any filmaholic would appreciate. The homebody – or parent of young children – might prefer a subscription to, where £9.99 a month buys TV and movies to stream and watch on DVDs posted to your house. All sure to be appreciated long after the foot spa has been relegated to the back of the cupboard.

Festive hampers have a a dodgy reputation – tinned ham, why? – but offers a longer term, healthy option that would make a great gift. For just £3.49 they post a tailored box of (mostly) virtuous snacks once a week. There are olives, flapjacks, nuts, seeds, dinky little oatcakes and itsy bitsy breadsticks. It is a deal that kicks the backside of the fast food conglomerates in every single way. And you don’t get a much more Christmassy feeling than that.

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