Coming up with creative ideas for dates and thoughtful gifts can be difficult, especially factoring in busy work schedules, tight budgets and years of romantic repetition. That’s why everything changed in 2006, when Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg revolutionized the dating landscape with one small (or, ideally not so small) suggestion:
Simple, elegant, inexpensive and way healthier than trying that new French restaurant that just opened up down the street – though dessert wouldn’t necessarily look all that different.
Since then, however, things have evolved even further. Several startups have jumped on the scene to feed our inspiration and not only encourage but facilitate monthly relationship-building events with our significant others, expanding our repertoires far beyond our historically narrow prospects of “packages” and “things that start with the letter ‘D’”.
What these startups are putting in a box is a full-blown date night. Pun obviously intended…
Date box is the newest player in the space, kicking of their monthly shipments in November 2015. Signing up for Datebox gets you a monthly delivery of a “curated box containing everything needed for a fun, creative and original date”, including discounts, products and relationship-building activities.
For example, over the holiday they shipped out a couples kit for making a gingerbread house. The service takes pride in its element of surprise, but some hypotheticals listed on the site are dance lessons, a cooking class and an “in home evening of art, cheese and wine tasting.” Based on all of this, my guess / hope is that March’s box will contain a pair of handcuffs, one leather glove, 2 disposable cameras, a 40 of Marker’s Mark and a snorkel.
Month to month, the service is $34.95 plus $5 for shipping, or you can decrease the price tag to $31.45 or $27.96 by signing up for the 3 month of 6 month plans respectively. Deliveries ship out on the 10th of every month and arrive within 2-3 days.
This one appears to be the most “involved” from a support and curation perspective. First, couples select their date night frequency between one, two or three date nights a quarter.
Then they fill out a profile describing their activity preferences. Once all that is set up, the folks at Date Nite Box plan out the evening (s) and when the time comes, send along an accompanying box.
The Date Nite Box experience is composed of three key elements, based on Gary Chapman’s framework of The Five Love Languages:
- Concierge Services (Quality Time) – Your own personal concierge with direct phone line
- Vouchers (Receiving Gifts) – Tickets, gift cards, etc. to show upon arrival at selected date event
- Goodies Pack (Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service) – Playful things to encourage further interaction and add some “spice” (e.g., “Foot Massage” couples coupon cards)
Dates range anywhere from cooking classes, to six-course meals at high end restaurants, all the way to live comedy acts. There is also a Platinum option for dates valued at over $300 for the evening.
This service may or may not be targeting people with cobwebs on their genitals. I don’t really know – the feature image on the website is a couple in their 80s and the announcement atop the page reads, “Hot dang, February’s box is sold out!” Either way, it’s an option, and it seems like a rather unique one.
The Unbox Love service seems to be more focused on substantial interactions and a refinement of communication skills and team-building exercises. They’re a little deeper than the rest of the options, constantly referencing the concept of “value” on their Instagram feed. As described on the website, their plans include:
New ways to get to know each other. New ways to create together. And new ways to play together. We include some more serious anecdotes in our subscription boxes from time to time – like homework that improves your relationship – but we definitely don’t take ourselves too seriously! And neither should you! If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.
An example of one past date from May 2015 was “Risky Business”, which included the game Tummple (that paradoxically appears to be for small children), a cookie mix kit, love coupons (e.g., Complimentary threesome) and conversation starters (e.g., “So, how about that threesome I keep bringing up?”).
Plans are $39, $36 and $34 a month for monthly, 3 month and 6 month plans respectively.
“We focus on planning a creative date. You focus on each other.”
Similar to Unboxed Love, the folks at Date to Door are all about quality relationships and, as one of their blog posts succinctly puts it, “Keep Dating While You’re Married”. While their box contents are kept quite secret, the offer some box examples and the “ingredients” they included:
- Time Machine (e.g., massage lotion, tea lite candles, candle sticks, photo book, towel, trivial pursuit card game, 6 dice, etc.)
- Five Love Languages (e.g., red candle, eight tube socks, acrylic paint, brushes, canvases, couple coupons, etc.)
- Momentum Night (e.g., 25 jumbo popsicle sticks, seeds, ping pong balls, water balloons, ceramic jar, planting soil, water-based paint , etc.)
There definitely seems to be some overlap, but more importantly, can we talk about the four pairs of tube socks for a second???
Puppets? Holiday Stockings? Robbery masks? Restraints? They ran out of oven mitts???
I NEED TO KNOW.
Ok, I’m over it. Sort of.
Boxes are $40, $110 or $220 per month for one, three and six month subscription terms respectively. Shipment are made by the second week of each month.
Ben is a Toronto-based writer and public speaker with more than a soft spot for 90s hip hop. He has spent over 10 years in business & tech, more than 20 in the arts, and an entire lifetime in a state of perpetual judgment (highly recommended). He is the author of the blogs This Is Your Brain on Dating and Love Gone Cray and can be found pontificating on Thought Catalog, Notable.ca, The Toronto Standard, Offline Magazine, Gasm.org and Huffington Post.
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