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__________-of-the-Month Clubs: 16 Offbeat Subscription Services

If you forgot about someone this holiday season and you're scrambling for a belated present, there are always gift-of-the-month clubs. While wine and cheese clubs tend to be the norm, there's guaranteed to be a subscription service out there for anyone on your holiday list.

Homemade Goodies

From eye shadow to jams to earrings, Etsy is a great place to get one-of-a-kind subscription services for those you love. Of course, since anyone can list any thing they want on the site, that also means there are a lot of bizarre gift clubs as well.


Does someone you know have a hard time finding enough vintage button rings to suit her interest? Then perhaps she needs a subscription to the Vintage Button Ring of the Month Club.



Or maybe you know someone who is strangely obsessed with jewelry featuring pendants in the shape of mustaches. If so, the Mustache of the Month Club is just what the mustachioed doctor ordered.



Sometimes it’s hard to find enough plush squids, which is why the Squid a Month Club is simply a must-have for anyone lacking enough stuffed cephalopods in their lives.



Know someone who needs a little help spicing up their life in the bedroom? Look no further than a 12 Months Subscription to Dirty Finger Puppets.



Perhaps the most unique subscription service on Etsy, though, is the Moss of the Month Club, which provides subscribers with a monthly delivery of “a new sandwich bag full of assorted moss and lichens.” Occasionally the delivery will include a terrarium or rock to decorate with the moss, but most often, the delivery is simply a bag of moss.

Food & Drink

There are so many gift clubs based around foods that it would be preposterous to list all of the slightly offbeat ones. That being said, here are a few truly notable subscription services offering edible treats.



Image courtesy of Flickr user kveton.

Sure it might not be a great help to those with high cholesterol levels, but if you know someone obsessed with America’s favorite pork product, then The Bacon of the Month Club could be the perfect gift choice.



Most people may believe a lobster is just a lobster, but that’s just because they don’t have the money to enjoy the treat on a regular basis. For those that appreciate the subtle variety of lobster tails, for only $1115 you can ensure someone receives four fresh lobster tails at their doorstep every month. Hopefully they aren’t the jet setting type or else they might return from their vacation to find four very stinky rotten carcasses on their doorstep.



For those that prefer cowboy snacks, the Jerky of the Month Club offers two flavors of jerky every month that total at least a half a pound of dried meat goodness.



Know someone who can’t decide between chunky or smooth? The Peanut Butter of the Month Club is a great way to let them make up their own mind on their own time. Of course, this would also be a good way to passive-aggressively threaten someone who happens to have a severe peanut allergy.



Pickles may be delicious, but it takes some real dedication to enjoy a whole jar of pickles every month. For those pickle fanatics though, there’s always the Pickle of the Month Club, which includes a variety of dill, sweet, bread and butter, spicy, and more.



Of course, sometimes the best gifts are those that accompany gifts from someone else. After all, what’s a cheese of the month subscription without a Cracker of the Month Club membership to go along with it? You can’t just eat cheese without crackers can you?

Fashion

We all know someone who could use a little wardrobe enhancement, but usually it’s better to buy a few sweaters yourself or give them a gift card to a clothing store so they can pick out their own ensembles. But if you want to allow a faceless company to select clothing for someone you care about, there’s always fashion subscription services.

Perhaps the strangest fashion subscription service of all is the Black Socks Sockscription. If you couldn’t tell by the name, this subscription service allows the recipient to receive black socks on a regular basis because apparently going to the store and buying black socks is far too stressful for some people.



If you know someone simply obsessed with T-shirts, two of the internet’s biggest shirt stores offer T-shirt subscription services. The Threadless 12 Club offers special limited edition tees designed exclusively for club members. The Busted Tees Shirt of the Month Club allows the recipient to select one shirt from the company catalog each month, which makes them one of the most flexible subscription services around.

Etc.

There are also those other gift clubs that don’t quite belong to any other category. While some, like the golf ball or candle are at least practical, others are a little stranger.



You know those people who would prefer receiving a treat for their dog than something for themselves? Well, The Dog Treat of the Month Club is a perfect gift for those who only care about Fido; it includes a pound worth of treats with every delivery.



Depending on your gift recipient’s occupation, the Mineral of the Month Club might actually be quite practical. After all, a gemologist, a holistic practitioner, a jewelry maker, or a geologist might just be thrilled to receive a new mineral every month. For the average public, though, you may as well just send a box of pretty rocks.
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There are plenty more weird subscription services out there (including a few too X-rated to include here), so if you know of any other weird ones, feel free to add them in the comments. That being said, have any of you ever received a gift of the month club subscription? Did you like it or did it end up becoming too much of a good thing?

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Animals
Want to Recycle Your Christmas Tree? Feed It to an Elephant
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Sean Gallup/Getty Images

When the holiday season finally comes to a close, people get creative with the surplus of dead Christmas trees. One San Francisco-based artist transformed brittle shrubs into hanging installation pieces. Others use pine needles for mulch, or repurpose trees into bird sanctuaries. For the average person, sticking it into a wood chipper or "treecycling" it as part of a community program are all eco-friendly ways to say goodbye to this year's Douglas fir. None of these solutions, however, are as cute as the waste-cutting strategy employed by some zoos around the world: giving them to elephants.

Each year, zookeepers at Tierpark Berlin—a facility that bills itself as “Europe’s largest adventure animal park”—feed the elephants unsold pine trees. The plants are reportedly pesticide-free, and they serve as a good (albeit prickly) supplement to the pachyderms' usual winter diets.

A bit closer to home, the residents of The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee rely on local residents to take part in their annual Christmas Tree Drive. In addition to being nutrient-rich, the tree's needles are said to help aid in an elephant's digestion. But beyond all that, it's pretty adorable to watch.

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Live Smarter
5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Dispose of Your Christmas Tree
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iStock

What’s the environmentally safest way to dispose of your Christmas tree? It’s hard to say. Grown, managed, transported, and recycled efficiently, a real Christmas tree’s environmental impact should be near neutral. Unfortunately, not all Christmas tree plantations are equal in their environmental impact.

The most eco-friendly way is to leave the tree in the ground, where it belongs, so you never have to dispose of it. But then you don't have a Christmas tree in your house to bring festive cheer. One thing you can do is be environmentally smart when it comes to the tree's disposal. After this festive season, why not try one of these eco-friendly methods.

1. CHIP IT.

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a big wood-chipper, you may be able to chip the entire tree. Wood-chip is great as a decorative landscaping material. But if you really want to do great things for the environment (and if you have access to a lot of Christmas trees), you could make a bioreactor to denitrify water. Nitrates are put on farms across the world to help increase crop output, but a considerable amount is washed away into lakes and rivers where it’s disastrous for fish and potentially toxic for people. A wood chip bioreactor encourages the growth of bacteria that break down the nitrates in the drainage water, reducing the amount that gets into the water supply. It's not a simple project, however. To make one, you have to dig a big trench, get the water to flow through said trench, and fill it with wood chips. More info can be found here [PDF].

2. CRAFT IT.


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If your tree hasn’t yet let go of its needles—and you haven’t yet let go of Christmas, get crafty with it. Cut off small branches and bind them around a circle of wire to make an attractive wreath. This looks even better if some of the cones are still attached. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could set up an essential oil extractor to get a supercharged Christmas scent. If you are already distilling alcohol, you have everything you need (here's how to do it). With a little less effort and equipment, you can make a weaker liquid called hydrosol, which is a fragrant condensate water containing water-soluble parts of the needles.

3. STICK IT.

Many legumes, such as garden peas, are thigmotropic, meaning that they respond to objects they touch, growing in coils along or up them. Needle-free Christmas tree branches have lots of twigs, texture, and knobby protrusions for peas and beans to get a grip on. This allows them to grow upwards strongly toward light. Simply stick a small tree branch in the soil next to each new shoot for a free, effective legume-climbing frame. Another advantage of this technique is that it makes grazing animals less likely to munch those tender green shoots, as they tend to avoid getting Christmas tree twigs spiked up their noses.

4. TREECYCLE IT.


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Come January, it’s cold, the festivities are over, work looms, and you’ve got too much on your mind to be thinking about dead Christmas tree horticulture or crafts. Fortunately, a simple solution is at hand: Most counties and municipalities now provide Christmas tree recycling points where you can take your tree for chipping. Some “TreeCycle” points will even exchange your tree for a bag of wood-chip or chip mulch. OK, this probably means that you’ll have to jam that Christmas tree into your car once more, but as long as you don’t have to drive too many miles out of your way, Christmas tree recycling is a quick and easy environmentally-friendly option.

5. DONATE IT.

After you’ve had your Christmas cheer, why shouldn’t fish have some fun? Several communities have programs in place where they’ll take your old Christmas tree, drill a hole in the base, tie a brick to it, and throw it in a lake. When humans create artificial lakes, they tend to be relatively featureless on the bottom for easy dredging. That’s great for us, but it means baby fish have nowhere to escape predators. Christmas trees provide a nice, temporary place for the fish to hide out and explore.

If, on the other hand, you’d like to see your Christmas tree mauled by a pride of lions, that’s OK too! Some zoos around the world take Christmas tree donations (but please remove all the tinsel first) and allow the animals to play with them.

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