When the third lockdown was announced, many of us envisioned using all the extra free time it would grant us to become our most productive, best selves.
But that’s not quite been the case – this lockdown has proved a bit of a slog.
If your productivity levels are flatlining, perhaps it’s time to schedule yourself a monthly treat in the form of a stationery subscription box.
It’s a gift to yourself that also serves a practical purpose, as the satisfying contents will help you keep organised, plan ahead and stay positive.
Inspired by the bullet trend that went viral a few years ago, we have brought together the best boxes that will help keep your enthusiasm up during these times.
In addition to quality and looks, we looked at the value of the stationery you receive for your money – such as if you would pay more if you bought the items separately – as well as if the packing was environmentally friendly, and if opening the box made us smile.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Papergang letterbox stationery
The Papergang subscription box is run by Ohh Deer and is a favourite of stationery influencers everywhere. In fact, they’re so popular the company have recently launched two new subscription boxes – one for socks, and another where you can collect charms for a necklace.
Each month a particular artist will create exclusive stationery for subscribers – and it will often have a “cause” as to what inspired the design. The contents are a randomised surprise each month. Items range from fish-themed washi tape to planetary pens – it’s a real eclectic mix.
For the price you pay, you get a lot – and the packaging is also gorgeous. There’s always an element of fun when it comes to upping your productivity with Papergang – and the planner with this box was no exception. It’s either £14 on a monthly rolling basis, or a year’s subscription is £144.
Buy now £14.00, Papergang.com
Under The Rowan Trees rowan berry box
A brainchild of a teacher from Northumberland, Under The Rowan Trees launched a stationery box in the summer of 2017. It has since been rebranded as the rowan berry box, and the £20 cost includes postage and packaging. Each month features a different theme and artist, who takes a lead in terms of the design and what’s inside.
The “rose garden” box that we received was aesthetically pleasing, with beautiful colour coordination, and is perfect for writing letters to all the relatives you’re missing during lockdown. The to-do list notepad is very useful for productivity, especially if you work on the go. And we had the biggest smile on our face on seeing the cute bookmark. A year’s subscription is £220.
Buy now £20.00, Undertherowantrees.co.uk
Ink Drops stationery subscription
Are you after stationery that’s not just run of the mill? Well, this is the box for you. Ink Drops professes to be all about happiness as well as being organised – which, for us, go hand in hand.
Each box contains three stationery-related items and two greetings cards, with the contents being a surprise each month. This box was a little bit more niche than the others, as the cards reflected a particular sort of humour.
While the box was a bit expensive, the greetings cards are a nice touch as they can be sent to people you have not seen in a while. This could potentially benefit the mental health of both sender and recipient during another long lockdown. The packaging was recyclable and good-looking enough that it would make for a nice care package, too. It’s £15 a box for 12 months, or £18 for one month.
Buy now £18.00, Inkdrops.co.uk
The Stationery Box Company subscription
Would you consider yourself to be a person who means business? Then this recently launched box is the stationery subscription box for you. The items are handpicked and of a luxurious standard – it’s a high-end-feeling treat.
While the packaging is very elaborate – it was the biggest of all the boxes we reviewed by a long way – we think it’s worth it, especially if you need to get down to business. Many stationery addicts will love the highlighters, especially the yellow, with its “editor in chief” personalisation.
The pencil case is practical, allowing you to keep colour-coded fine liners close to you. The “master plan” set will also boost productivity, as you can keep track of the smallest of details to make your business successful. A bi-monthly subscription is £85, or a year’s subscriptions is £420.
Buy now £85.00, Thestationeryboxcompany.com
Spotlight Stationery subscription
If you are one for a bullet journal, then this is the box for you. We tried the company’s “New Year, new plans” box, which was a perfect starter kit for 2021. The postcards are designed by a different artist for each box, too.
The bullet journal method is known for being great for organisation – for the past, present, and future – and this particular box had all the necessary pieces of equipment to set you up. It may take a little bit of work, but the bullet journal can have an amazing impact on your productivity levels. It also does not hurt that there is a midi-liner highlighter from stationery brand Zebra, too. A monthly subscription is £25, or a pre-paid three-month subscription is £70.
Buy now £25.00, Spotlightstationery.co.uk
Does stationery inspire you to feel excited? Then this is the box for you – after all, it’s in the name! We loved the set of magnets for your fridge to manage your various housekeeping lists. The box contains a mix of stationery, accessories, jewellery and more – we would say that the content skews to a slightly younger audience, though. A monthly subscription is £19.45, or you can get 12 months for £197.
Buy now £19.45, Boxcitement.co.uk
The verdict: Stationery subscription boxes
There is a huge range of stationery subscriptions on the market – and all have a lot to offer for different demographics and audiences. For the value of the stationery as well as giving artists the chance to create a bespoke stationery product with full credit and a little booklet all about them, the Papergang subscription box is our best buy. The company has environmental values at its core, too.
While Papergang manages to tick all the boxes – we found the Under The Rowan Trees subscription very aesthetically pleasing, but maybe a little bit too niche for some.
Stay in touch with loved ones during lockdown with the best letter writing sets for adults