Give a year of valentines

Posted Monday, Feb. 03, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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As Valentine’s Day approaches, it’s time to consider the question posed by those great philosophers of the 1970s, the Bee Gees. To wit: How deep is your love?

And if the answer should be that your love is so deep that giving just one gift on this one day to the one person who tenderly holds the strings of your heart is just not enough, well, you’re in luck. Thanks to a proliferation of online retailers, you can sign up your loved one for a gift-of-the-month club, showering him or her yearlong with reminders of your devotion.

Gift-of-the-month clubs offer everything from bacon to boxers, from cigars to shoes. We focused on those that had a sweet valentine essence to them. Note: Prices do not necessarily reflect taxes and shipping charges (or the depth of your love). Read the details as you fill up your shopping cart.

Texas Wine and Cattle Company’s Wine of the Month Club

What it is: This Houston-based company offers a couple options: Either monthly shipments of two bottles of wine from Texas wineries (Truly Texas) or a shipment that includes one Texas wine and one wine from around the world, both of the same varietal so you can compare them (Texas vs. the World). For both clubs, you can choose to focus on reds or whites. Or get red and white with Truly Texas.

Cost: $599.99 holiday sale, Truly Texas; $719.88, Texas vs. the World. 12 shipments.

Other options: Both clubs offer shorter subscriptions; minimum of three months.

Good to know: First shipment of Truly Texas includes a Texas wine stopper, chocolates and pralines. The wines ship the fourth week of every month, so order now but let your valentine know the gift means a little delayed gratification.

Where to get it: www.texaswineandcattlecompany.com

The Cake Ball Company’s Cake Ball Club

What it is: This Dallas-based company, founded in 2006, sends out a dozen delicious cake balls nine months of the year for club members (due to the summer heat, the club does not ship in June, July or August). The shipment always includes some of the bestselling flavors but will have seasonal varieties and perhaps even some experimental flavors, such as Snickers or banana nut.

Cost: $350 for nine shipments.

Other options: If you can’t wait for FedEx, the company recently started offering courier delivery in Dallas-Fort Worth, Tuesday through Friday, so you can immediately have your cake ball and eat it, too. See the website for pricing.

Good to know: Shipments are made on the second Monday of the month, and it can take a couple days to get your order into the system, so get in your Valentine’s Day order in early February. Also, you can send these anywhere in the continental U.S.

Where to get it: Cakeballs.com

Jacques Torres’ Chocolate All Year

What it is: French-born pastry chef Jacques Torres has a factory in New York as well as a handful of chocolate shops there. My late brother-in-law, a man with very refined tastes (i.e. a picky eater), used to take chocolate-making classes from this master, and I assure you the results were always delicious. Torres picks out the shipment for each month.

Cost: $540 for 12 shipments.

Other options: Three- and six-month subscriptions also available.

Good to know: Chocolates are shipped the first week of every month, so your valentine will get his or her first shipment in March. The website gives a month-by-month list of what’s coming, so you could put it in a box and wrap it up so your valentine will know what sweet treats lie ahead.

Where to get it: mrchocolate.com

Clubs Galore’s Gardeners Club

What it is: The Internet abounds with bulb and plant of the month clubs, but Clubs Galore’s Gardener of the Month Club is unique with its product blend of decorative pots, seed kits, tools, outdoor ornaments and even things for bird lovers.

Cost: $414 for 12 shipments.

Other options: Three-, six- and nine-month subscriptions also available.

Good to know: The gifts will start with March if ordered now, but you can print out a certificate on the website in the Customer Service area, wrap it up and give the announcement of your gift on Valentine’s Day. Also, this is just one of many clubs offered by this New York-based company, including cheese, cigar, flower and brownie options. Many of these offerings are packaged together as special Valentine’s Day clubs, designed to mix things up with samplings from all the different clubs.

Where to get it: ClubsGalore.com

Craft Coffee’s Artisan Coffee

What it is: Each shipment from this artisan coffee club includes 4-ounce bags of three different coffees (about 42 cups of coffee total), as well as tasting notes from experts and brew tips. Mike Horn, founder and CEO of the 2 1/2-year-old company, says, “Every month, we have a panel of some of New York’s top coffee experts who spend about 60 hours blindly taste-testing 60-plus coffees to select the three our customers will receive.”

Cost: $239.88 for 12 shipments.

Other options: Six-month subscriptions and single-month purchases also available.

Good to know: Horn notes, “We’ve begun customizing boxes based on people’s brewing preferences and coffee ratings. Every customer (or gift recipient, in the case of gifts) can optionally complete a four-question survey about how they brew their coffee (machine type, black/milk/sugar, etc.) and they can rate their coffees each month. Based on their responses, we will customize future boxes to their preferences.” Also, the next ship date for the club is Feb. 18, and orders must be in by 4 p.m. CST on Friday, Feb. 7, to make that deadline.

Where to get it: CraftCoffee.com

Zingerman’s Food Explorer’s Club

What it is: Perhaps best known for its popular Bacon Club, this Michigan-based company offers a Food Explorer’s Club, which launched in June 2012. Brad Hedeman, who works on marketing and product selection, said that the idea was an offshoot of the Culinary Adventure Society, a quarterly club with eight to 10 products per installment. This club is every month, and features one to two products each time. Hedeman said he is “constantly finding new products in all different categories” and tries to “keep it relatively varied from installment to installment … cheese, meat, dry goods, olive oil, spices. … Next month [February], I’ll be sending a juniper smoked bacon from Nodine’s in Connecticut.”

Cost: $475 for 12 shipments.

Other options: Three- and six-month subscriptions available.

Good to know: Download a card that announces your gift when you are ordering. Zingerman’s is a go-to online source for gourmet food, and it has a whole Valentine’s Day-themed e-catalog stuffed with tasty ideas. My foodie sister has ordered individual items from Zingerman’s and loves the company’s products.

Where to get it: zingermans.com

Kitchen & Company’s Kitchen Gadget of the Month

What it is: This Delaware-based establishment has operated retail stores with gadgets, appliances and all things kitchen for more than 10 years. The Kitchen Gadget of the Month has been going for a little more than three years. The website has a list of typical seasonal gadgets included in the past, such as a marinade injector, a mini chopper, a pancake pen and herb scissors.

Cost: $199.99 for 12 shipments.

Other options: Individual items also available, from cutlery to barbecue tools to bakeware.

Good to know: You should get the first gadget within two to four weeks after ordering. For a rush order, call customer service at 1-800-458-2616. They also have a selection of special Valentine’s Day gifts on the website, including Sweethearts and pink Peeps.

Where to get it: kitchenandcompany.com

Birchbox’s Valentine’s Day in the Box

What it is: This one is for loved ones — women or men — who love personal products. Every month they’ll get an edited box with four or five deluxe, luxury-brand samples. Items range from lipsticks, hair spray and clutches (women) to dopp kits, body wash and shaving cream (men). You will find a list of brands on the New York company’s website.

Cost: $195 for 12 shipments of a man’s subscription; $110 for 12 shipments of a woman’s.

Other options: Also available in three- and six-month subscriptions.

Good to know: Order for Valentine’s Day, and your giftee will get a free Chuao chocolate bar. Valentine’s Day order must be received by Friday. If you miss the deadline, you receive via email a printable PDF to announce your gift to your recipient.

Where to get it: birchbox.com/valentines day

Kiwi Crate’s Craft Crates

What it is: This one is aimed at parents of children ages 3 to 8. Each month’s box is themed (gardening, dinosaurs, etc.) and contains materials and ideas for creative play and games, mixing art and science. Past sample crates include “Busy with Bugs” (create a firefly that glows as it moves along a zipline; paint a bug scene; learn about bugs with exploration cards) and Shadow & Light (make shadow puppets; design a kaleidoscope; try ideas on experiment cards).

Cost: $205 for 12 shipments.

Other options: Three- and six-month subscriptions and single-month crates are also available.

Good to know: For $9.95 a month more, get additional materials in a “sibling add-on.” If you sign up by the fourth day of the month, your shipment will go out around the 10th from the California offices, and you’ll get it one to two weeks later. Ongoing subscriptions are shipped around the 15th of each month.

Where to get it: Kiwicrate.com

Monthly Clubs’ Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club

What it is: I once stood in line at an event at a Fort Worth microbrewery behind a guy who said that he went to a local microbrewery every single weekend. If your valentine is equally dedicated to craft beers, he or she will love the options from this club. Give the “The U.S. Microbrewed Beer Club,” “The U.S. and International Variety Beer Club,” or “The International Beer Club.” For each, the monthly package includes a dozen 12-ounce bottles.

Cost: $467.50 (U.S.); $539.40 (U.S. and International); $587.40 (International). 12 shipments.

Other options: Subscriptions available from two to 12 months.

Good to know: Click on the website’s link to send a gift announcement. Shipments are sent between the 15th and 25th of the month and take about seven to 10 business days to deliver. An adult signature will be required for delivery. If your valentine lives in Alaska, Hawaii, Utah or outside the U.S., you’ll have to find them a different club. Many others are offered by this California company, monthlyclubs.com.

Where to get it: beermonthclub.com

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