26 April 2014

A Gift That Fits the Bill

For my birthday last year, a group of my friends bought me a six-month subscription to Not Another Bill and I couldn't have been happier. I had come across the company a number of times before, including at DesignJunction, and loved the concept but it had always felt that bit too indulgent to treat myself to a subscription so I was delighted that my friends decided to treat me instead.

The idea is simple: you (or your friends/family/loved ones) select at least three categories from a list that includes jewellery, homewares and crafts, and you will receive a surprise present in the post once per month. The gifts are always immaculately packaged, and include a personalised message that tells you a bit more about your present and the brand; sometimes you even get a discount to use on other products from the company. You can also provide details about your working schedule so they know when to dispatch the package to minimise the pain of trips to the post office.

So far, I've received five of my six gifts and I've really liked them all. They are all things I would have chosen for myself and, in fact, I did almost buy one of them — the Ham screen prints — at DesignJunction. Based on the presents I've been sent so far, it seems that my friends selected stationery, jewellery and art as my categories, which is, of course, what I would have chosen for myself.

My first gift was the Hay plissé accordion folder from one of my favourite Scandi brands. It was in a cute mint green colour and perfect for someone who likes Scandi style and organisation as much as I do!

Gift number two was a gold wishbone ring from Astrid & Miyu (astrid in Swedish and miyu in Japanese both mean 'beautiful'). I recently rediscovered a wishbone ring that my grandparents gave me when I was ten, but sadly lost it when I went bouldering, so I was really pleased to get a replacement. The ring is adjustable and super-stylish.

The third gift was the screen prints from Ham that I mentioned above. I love bunnies and I love the playful, minimalist style of these prints, so I framed two of the three in the set and hung them in the hallway of my flat.

Sticking with the arty theme, my fourth present was a small, quirkily shaped mirror from Haidée Drew. I've been wanting a small mirror for my hallway for those last-minute checks before leaving the house, and this fitted perfectly next to my blackboard. Unfortunately, it arrived a few days too late for the selfie competition my company was running!

My fifth and penultimate gift was another piece of jewellery, this time a cute bracelet called 'Nine Lives' from designer Susannah Fairley. The bracelet has nine tiny gold hearts —if you like, you can make a wish against each one, and when the bracelet falls off they will come true. I hope mine won't fall off for a while, though, because I like wearing it!

I still have one gift to come and I'm thinking about extending my subscription by a few months. Not Another Bill isn't cheap (prices start at £60 for a three-month sub), but the gifts are immaculately curated and really good quality and, as I said before, I've loved every one. Compared to a beauty box subscription, say, which will set you back £12 each month and will likely be filled with samples you either don't like or won't use, Not Another Bill is much better value. It's also a great way to discover new designers. The presents you receive will often be limited-edition collaborations between the designer and Not Another Bill and if you like what you see, there are plenty of other products to explore.

If you've heard about Not Another Bill before and weren't sure whether or not to take the plunge, I'd highly recommend it, both as a gift and as a 'gift to self'.

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