What’s in your box?

This festive season, give the staid old gift box a miss and opt for curated ones instead, writes PRIYADARSHINI PAITANDY

Updated - December 02, 2016 10:31 am IST

Published - October 20, 2016 05:47 pm IST - Chennai

Shweta Raman and Saloni Shah of The Style Salad PHOTO: R. RAVINDRAN

Shweta Raman and Saloni Shah of The Style Salad PHOTO: R. RAVINDRAN

There sits dry fruit box number four with two packs of virulently-coloured diyas and countless trays of cloying sweets for company. That was what you sent out for Deepavali last year, the year before that, the year before that and for as long as you can remember. Really, are you still going to gift the same thing to your friends and relatives this year? Agreed, coming up with new gifting options for every occasion can be a hassle. But now, with curated gift boxes, life is a lot easier. So, if your favourite cousin loves to travel, your uncle loves baking and your grandmother loves her wine, just tell the curator that, and voila, a box with interest-specific goodies is put together for them.

At The Style Salad office in Kilpauk, cardboard boxes fill 70 per cent of the room. The founders, Saloni Shah and Shweta Raman, stand by a table, feverishly laying out boxes with theme-specific goodies.

They launched earlier this year (in June), and have since come up with a range of innovative gifting boxes. For this festive season, their box includes apple cinnamon jelly, apple cinnamon sangria green tea, chocolate and cocoa butter soap, oil burner, jalapeno peanuts and jaggery makhana. “The idea is to have unique products. As a result, whenever we come across anything different, we feel like adding it to our box, after trying it out of course,” says Shweta. The website also lists a variety of products that clients can browse through and then toss up their own curated packages. The choices are as diverse as adult colouring boxes and stroopwafels to hair vitamins and messenger bags.

“We have nine pre-packed boxes. The most popular ones are Jet Set (for travellers), Escape (that’s a mix of relaxing elements like bath salts and green tea), But First Coffee (a treat for coffee lovers with scrubs and soaps made of coffee beans and a pouch of hand-blended coffee),” says Saloni.

From gifts for golf lovers to putting together return gifts for baby showers, there is a steady request for curated gift boxes. “We’ve even got clients enquiring about bizarre presents for newly-weds and bachelorettes,” laughs Shweta. Since the two 25-year-old entrepreneurs are always on the lookout for new products, it also gives them the opportunity to discover young and upcoming brands and give them a platform. Right now, the duo procures items from all over India. They seem most thrilled about their latest find — “It’s called MoringaWhat and is cold-pressed oil from the Moringa oleifera tree,” says Saloni.

The sheer idea of surprises and opening an exquisitely-packaged box is half the excitement. After all, who doesn’t like presents. Judging by the popularity, MAALGAADi launched their bespoke gift boxes last month. These neat wooden boxes pack a mix of soy wax candles, journals, gourmet snacks, tea and coffee, artisanal chocolates, preserves, luggage tags, adult colouring books, handmade and organic soaps, that will be available till December, through Christmas and New Year. They can be further customised. For example, for people who like tea and have a sweet tooth, Shahin and her team came up with a chai glass tray with chocolate fudge and brownies. “We have always done some sort of festive gifting every year. In the past, we mostly did open crates, but this year, we decided to do boxes, as they are easier to ship to other cities,” says Shahin, who’s already received 40 orders for Deepavali.

Sugarbox, one of the earlier gift box services from Mumbai, started as a subscription box, but soon incorporated customised hand-picked gift boxes too, but for bulk orders only.

“In a world where there are too many options to choose from, curated gift boxes make things much simpler. Sugarbox, for instance, provides products with a twist across categories. It is a no-brainer gifting option to pamper oneself or pamper others,” says Niharika Jhunjhunwala, the founder.

Each box has a different theme, and so far the Holiday edition (it has a sweatshirt, furry panda slippers, layered neckpiece, passport cover, mini Nutella pack, toe separators and fake eyelashes), Jumpstart edition (cartoon earphones, muscle tee, nail paint, doughnuts, bucket bag, sunglasses and a woollen head band) and the Boho chic edition (crop top, honey twigs, Bohemian neckpiece, tassel saddle sling bag, a bottle, coffee scrub and a pair of feather earrings) have been the most popular, and are all priced at Rs. 1,899.

The products are curated by the in-house team of stylists. They are sourced from domestic and international markets. They also work on product design and development. “For example, our Desi Pop edition carried a regular tea-pot which we customised with hand-painted pop-art. Currently, we cater to women aged 16-30. We also have some limited editions for men, which are priced slightly higher than the regular subscription,” she says. Given the nature and number of requests, she plans to look at a wider age group.

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