First Impressions: Unboxing September Arrivals

Every week at Cratejoy, we get the chance to discover new small businesses and product experiences that make our lives better. (Want some examples? See our tried-and-true picks here.)

It’s an awesome feeling to come across a new box that inspires us, makes us feel cozy, motivates us, or generally brings more joy into our day-to-day. And we want to share that experience with you, our readers, so you have a sense of new boxes before you order. Because you’re not just purchasing something when you sign up (or gift) a box on Cratejoy -- you’re investing in an experience.

Below, you’ll find our first impressions of five brand-new boxes, from baking and self-care to reading, writing, and even pet care. Already, the curation these sellers have developed has inspired us to broaden our horizons, whether through our longtime goal of waking earlier to write (or read) in the mornings or spend more time in the kitchen, learning new skills. Ultimately, these boxes inspire us to take a little more time for ourselves. And isn’t that what we all need?

1. Plume: A Writer’s Companion

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As someone who fancies herself a writer (at least on good days), I loved this box. The sellers behind this box are writers themselves -- they met in graduate school, then settled in the artistic community of New Mexico -- so they knew exactly what I needed, from calming teas that enhance my self-care routine to new reads and writing prompts that inspire my creativity.

Each month of Plume features an emerging woman writer with a specially-made, limited-edition chapbook of her work, as well as a paperback book by a different woman writer, snacks and tea to fuel your writing practice, bath bombs to ensure you take time for self-care, a featured food local to writing haven New Mexico (the box I received included dried hatch chiles, perfect for September). There's even a handcrafted recipe written by the sellers and featuring that month’s food!

Personally, I can’t wait to make the queso recipe included in September’s box -- and have friends over to share!

2. Marshmallow of the Month Club - Edible-Opus

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Talk about delicious: every month, this subscription box sends you homemade marshmallows made by the seller herself, using all-natural ingredients to flavor (and color) the marshmallows. Even better, this box also came with a packet of gourmet cocoa, handmade graham crackers (for s’mores all year round!), Ghirardelli chocolates, and a beautiful tea spoon (I imagine to stir any cocoa you make). There’s also an inspirational quote from Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, printed on pretty vellum paper, to uplift your mood and give you something to think about.

The thoughtfulness behind this box really floored me -- the seller included absolutely everything I might need to enjoy these marshmallows, however I choose to treat myself (a warm mug of cocoa? Or a last morsel of summer?). The spoon has a nice weight to it and is made of a unique, almost iridescent metal, which looks gorgeous and, frankly, cool. Certainly, it’s made me feel fancier when stirring a warm fall drink.

3. Bake Eat Love

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One of our newest baking kits, Bake Eat Love nails its presentation and flavor profile! I received their September box, for Lemon Lavender Sandwich Tea Cookies, and boy, was it delicious. (For the record, I’m not big on lemony sweets, either!)

The husband and wife behind Bake Eat Love include all the supplies you need to bake that month’s project, from pre-portioned ingredients -- including specialty ingredients like lavender extract -- to kitchen tools. You can never have enough kitchenware, in my humble opinion, so I was surprised and thrilled to receive a zester for the lemon that’s also included in the box!

The step-by-step instructions BEL includes are detailed and easy to understand, with pictures (thank goodness), and they thoughtfully include the estimated time it will take you to complete, so I could plan out how this project would fit into my day. I can’t wait to bake these next weekend!

4. This Dog’s Life

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While this subscription box might seem less fun, at first glance, than an experience-based kit like crafts or cocktails, what this box delivers is so, so important. A lot of serious medical conditions in dogs -- even some that are fatal -- start with dental deterioration. Basically, healthy teeth means a healthy dog. So obviously, I had to check this out.

Luckily, the monthly supply of dental treats that This Dog’s Life provides are tasty as heck! My dear doggo would have gobbled them all up immediately (and overeaten, naturally) if I hadn’t been watching. There’s also a giant bag of dental powder to sprinkle onto their food dish on a daily basis, so you can double-down on making sure that your pup stays healthy and happy every day.

5. Peace & Pages

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Peace & Pages, another brand-new book box, is half reading, half relaxation. Basically, it’s the boxed-up experience of reading a truly unputdownable book in the bath. Every month, you get a new paperback, bath product, and some kind of aromatherapy product (like candles or essential oils). If you subscribe to the Deluxe box, you’ll also get a book-related accessory and gourmet snack. I had a chance to check out the Deluxe box and loved it!

In the box I received, the featured novel -- Sally Hepworth’s The Family Next Door, like an Australian Big Little Lies -- came with a fun literary tote, bath bomb, a handcrafted (and delicious-smelling!) candle scented like apples, and artisanal apple cider caramels. It felt like the perfect way to welcome fall! I can’t wait to dive into this month’s mystery -- and see what comes next.