After having such a good experience with the December Out of the Box Sampler, I ordered myself up a subscription to the OOTB service for 2010. I thought it would be really great to get the boxes at what would feel to me like random, having not ordered them each month. The first one came yesterday, and I was right!
As was previously the case, the sample box came wrapped very nicely, as shown, with a separate paper bag for the stuff that wouldn't fit inside the box, or would get smushed. Definitely giftable. The package also contained a very handy list of all the participants in this month's box (some of which I didn't receive samples from, obviously--not all boxes are the same), along with coupon codes. This cheat sheet is so handy, I wish all sample boxes would include one.
And on to the contents!
Three companies included their paper goods in my box this month. From Rita's Creations, I got a cute mini-card and matching envelope, with a cut paper flower design on it. A Penny for Your Thoughts included a cellophane bag containing a shop advertisement magnet, a glitter and drawing gift tag, and a matching card and envelope. Finally, from Kreativ Xpressions, my box contained three greeting cards with envelopes, all tied with a ribbon--a colored floral blank card, a stamped thank you card, and a colored floral card stamped with "friend."
Verdict: I have to give props to Kreativ Xpressions for the generosity of their inclusion, even if the cards themselves aren't quite my style. The little Rita's Creations card is really cute, too. I'm not at all impressed with the quality of the card and tag from A Penny for Your Thoughts. None of these are companies I'll buy from.
Four companies included edibles in this box--more than I think I've ever gotten in a sample box before. From A Thyme to Bee Comforted put in a small bag containing a largish cinnamon-scented, rose shaped hard candy. From RhodaRose, I received a pretzel with white and dark chocolate fillings. From The Bees Knees Bakery, I was pleased to find a dark chocolate peanut butter cup. Finally, Sweet Crescendos submitted a full-size mini chocolate chip brownie lollipop.
Verdict: I liked all four of these inclusions. Some people might be a little leery about receiving food in sample boxes, but I think it's great. I particularly liked the offerings from The Bees Knees Bakery and Sweet Crescendos, which are things I can buy more of at their Etsy stores if I like them (and they were both REALLY good). One criticism I have of the hand candy from A Thyme to Bee Comforted is that it is unlabeled, so I'm not 100% sure what it is, and there doesn't seem to be anything like it in the Etsy store.
Bath & Body
My box included four bath and body offerings. The first, which surprised me, was a full size bottle of ginger lime shampoo from Pepper Bay Natural Soap Company. Next, I got a regular sized soap sample of "Mountain Sunrise" glycerin soap from The Bubble Room. Rocky Corner Soap Works included a sample as well, of their Moisturizing Skin Care Soap. From daisy B's, there was a little bag with two trial-sized heart-shaped bars of lavender & oatmeal soap.
Verdict: The daisy B. soaps are both adorable and great smelling--giftable or usable for guest soaps. I'm also curious to try the Rocky Corner Soap works soap, as it's intended for very dry skin. The Bubble Room sample I am less interested in--you've kinda seen one glycerin soap, seen them all. FInally, the shampoo. It's a generous addition, to be sure, but I find it kind of odd that I don't see it on their website--makes me wonder if it's an old product? I'm also just really kinda picky about shampoo, so I won't likely use it, and it would be an odd gift.
Candles and Tarts
The largest number of offerings in this month's box were from this category. I received candles or tarts from five different companies. From Lee's Crossroads Candles, there were two flower-shaped Blueberry Muffin wax melts. From The Ugly Duckling Designs, I received a an apple butter scented wax melt in a shape I can't identify. Camp Candles sent two melts, a larger one in frostberry scent and a smaller velvet vanilla one. Anam Cara Candles sent a tiny (like, thumbnail sized) butterfly-shaped black linen and amber soy wax melt. Finally, from T&D Candles, there was a lavender votive candle.
Verdict: As I mention in every one of these reviews, I don't have a burner and I hate wax melts. That being said, the offering from Anam Cara is just embarrassingly skimpy, It's not really even enough to test. The melt from The Ugly Duckling Designs is oddly shaped and weird smelling. The Camp Candles and Lee's Crossroads Candles melts are nice enough--I wouldn't be embarrassed including them in a gift to someone who does use melts. The lavender votive from T&D Candles is definitely usable.
The one inclusion in the box not covered by another category was a "Primitive Snow Ball" from Angies Raggedy Patch. I got one of these in my last Out of the Box Sampler too. Maybe I just don't understand "primitive," but as far as I could tell, this thing is a spray-painted foam ball. So I looked it up on the website, and yeah, that's what it is. Apparently, I am supposed to put a whole bunch of them in a bowl for winter decoration. Not really my thing.
Overall, I didn't find this box nearly so impressive as the December offering. The food additions were definitely the strong point, as were the generous offerings from Kreativ Xpressions and Pepper Bay Natural Soap Company. Unfortunately, neither of the particularly generous additions quite work for me. I hope to be more excited about next month's box.