Paper Source Subscription Box Review – Spring 2021
Paper Source has a quarterly lifestyle box that includes some of their favorite items from popular brands like Rifle Paper Co., ban.do, Paddywax, and Lilly Pulitzer and runs $49.95 per season (with free shipping). Expect candles, stationery, and items for your home or office that coincide with each season.
By the way, our readers voted this box as one of the Best Stationery Subscriptions of 2021!
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
About this Colorful Home and Lifestyle Box
The Subscription Box: Paper Source Subscription Box
The Cost: $49.95/quarter (a minimum one-year commitment paid in quarterly installments)
The Products: A mix of 10+ stationery and lifestyle items from Paper Source as well as popular home and lifestyle brands.
Ships to: Contiguous U.S. addresses only, for free.
Paper Source Spring 2021 Review
Paper Source introduces you to each seasonal box with a welcome note and a list of every item that was sent. For Spring 2021 they are featuring 14 lifestyle items that help subscribers welcome the new year with a fresh start, and just like with last quarter’s box they’ve broken the contents down into three categories. This time the categories are Reflect, Live, and Self-Care.
In other news, is anyone else out there a little sad that this quarter didn’t feature a new box design? I realize how ridiculous this is—the smallest of potatoes—but in the world of subscription boxes and from a standpoint of life’s small joys I’m missing the freshness of a new pattern.
I’ll show you everything that came in my box in the order that it’s listed on the info card. Ready?
Self-Care for the Real World by Nadia Narain & Katia Narain Phillips — Retail Value $29.37
This book, written by two sisters, is filled with ideas and gentle encouragement for incorporating self-love into your regular rhythm. At the very beginning they share that they like list-making, and indeed much of the book is represented in this easy-to-digest way. It offers advice on the topics of love, hope, peace, joy, and light, incorporating photos and recipes and personal anecdotes throughout. I can’t see myself reading this book front-to-back, but it makes for a beautiful addition to any coffee table or bathroom reading basket, and would also make a nice gift. It’s overall very pleasant book to have on hand; the type that someone might open out of curiosity and walk away with a simple tip for bettering their life.
Flying Wish Paper Mini Kit in Cactus Garden — Retail Value $11.00
This Wish Paper kit invites you to write down a wish, roll it up, and light it on fire for the wish to “rise to the heavens.” It initially struck me as the type of thing that you really don’t need a special kit for, but then again I’m always up for a lighthearted woo-woo ritual. Especially when it comes to setting intentions in any way, because it reminds me to take a moment and check in with what it is I even want or need to focus attention on at any given time. It comes with squares of succulent-printed paper, thinner, tissue-paper-like purple sheets, and a mini pencil.
The kit comes with instructions that I recommend following, because the steps aren’t intuitive at all! They guide you to jot your intention down on the purple paper—your words won’t be very visible, but you’re about to burn them anyway so that’s okay. Then you crumple the purple paper up into a ball, gently smooth it back out, and curl it around your finger to create a tube or “chimney.” You’ll place your chimney in the faint circle that’s printed on the succulent-patterned paper. Next you’ll light the top edge of the paper and watch as your wish burns, then, at the last moment it will lift off and fly away. I was totally taken by surprise by the process—a little ashen piece of the purple paper really does lift off and fly away (you can see it up near my ceiling in the third photo), and the whole thing happened so fast I nearly missed it. When the soot fairy floated back down it was easy to catch and throw away, and didn’t make a mess. The printed paper “platform” was unaffected by the fire, so it could be reused over and over, and eventually it’d make a nice addition to any scrapbooker’s supplies. You are sent 5 sheets of patterned paper and 15 sheets of purple paper, so you could do this activity with up to 5 people present at once.
Éccolo Notes & Observations Journal — Estimated Retail Value $14.00
I’ll never begrudge a pretty notebook! This lined notebook’s cover is light blue faux leather with “Notes & Observations” printed on the front in metallic gold. I like its sweet scalloped edges and that it has a satin bookmark attached to it. The small note tucked inside offers a sweet little story of a woman who chose an Éccolo journal for an important moment in life, and it also shares that this journal was handmade with acid-free, heavy stock paper. This is a fun, dramatic touch: “It is not known how long ink will last on this paper because no sheet of it has ever been known to fade.” Mic drop!
Seltzer Seven Year Pen in Yin Yang — Retail Value $8.95
This pink ballpoint pen is undeniably fun with its yin yangs and “Bliss Out” message written in wavy block lettering. But it’s also sustainable! It was made in a precision factory in Switzerland from quality parts, it contains a large ink supply, and it’s refillable.
About the name “Seven Year Pen,” from Seltzer:
Knowing our pens contained enough ink to write a continuous line 4 to 5 kilometers long, we did a little math and came up with the title: The Seven Year Pen. (Writing 1 to 2 meters of ink a day, times 365 days, times seven years.)
This is actually my second Seven Year Pen, my first having shown up in a Christmas stocking…wow, actually, probably about 7 years ago. I wonder where it went? Ha! I love the concept and think the pen writes nicely, but, let’s be honest, it takes a superhero to hang onto a pen without losing it for that long. I’m not saying it can’t be done, and certainly there are folks who walk this earth with a $50 pen kept in their shirt pocket, but I am not that person. Maybe I’ll write a wish on my wish paper to become that person.
Paper Source Spring Leaves Stationery, set of 10 — Estimated Value $12.95 (similar set found here)
I know I’m not alone in always looking forward to seeing what stationery will be sent in this box (and also in sometimes wishing that there were more). This set of 10 blank notecards has a print of blue, rust-brown, mauvey-pink, and beige illustrative sprigs all over the front and back. They’re from the Paper Source shop, although I don’t see them listed online right now.* They cards are made from recycled paper and come with simple off-white envelopes. The pattern is serene—I wouldn’t hesitate to use them for “just because” occasions, thank yous, or even condolences.
Lapcos Peony & Red Apple Diffuser — Retail Value $20.00
Once upon a time I thought diffusers felt kind of forced and even a little “extra” with their sticky-outy reeds. But thanks to subscription boxes sending me things I might never try for myself, I am a changed woman. They take the glories of a candle and remove the fire hazard! I also think now that my tastes have matured, that their appearance is peaceful. This diffuser comes with enough liquid to fill it to the top, though the instructions suggested only to fill it halfway, so you get a bonus refill. It also comes with 10 reeds, which you could insert all of as shown above, or just start with a few for a less intense scent. I added three and find that you can smell the aroma clearly when you walk by it but it doesn’t fill the entire room. I first placed it on a shelf near our dining room table, but the scent is very perfumey (floral and fruity indeed), so I relocated it to our mantle. I’m still not certain the Peony & Red Apple is my vibe, but am giving it a try and am going to see if my husband comments on it. Will it be in a few days? Weeks? Months? Now accepting bets!
Frey Nomad Fresheners, 2 fl oz each — Retail Value $16.00 ($8.00 per bottle)
I recognized the brand of these sprays with my nose before reading their label—anyone who’s ever tried Frey laundry detergent will probably have had the same experience. Here, Paper Source has sent two small bottles of spray freshener that you can use for anything you want: “bags, cars, bathrooms, closets, lockers, under-bed storage, shoe racks, workspaces, forgotten corners and anything else that smells uninspiring,” as Frey puts it. The blue bottle is Sandalwood, Bergamot, and Clove (“softer, warmer fragrance”), and the green one is Cedarwood, Oakmoss, and Amber (“bolder, warmer fragrance”). I think their descriptions are pretty accurate, and despite their scents being sort of similar, my preference is far and away the blue one.
Quick tangent: It looks like Frey has recently undergone a branding update, moving away from a “for dudes” vibe making them a little more inviting to everyone else. They are a subscription, offering free samples to start so you can decide which scent you like best. They also have a shop for one-time purchases. I tried the sample sizes of the detergent awhile back, and determined they weren’t my thing. Don’t get me wrong, they smell really good, but they’re distinctly cologne-like. My family washes all our laundry together, and it was just odd dressing my two-year-old daughter in clean clothes that smelled to me like an adult man. I hesitate to gender scents, but the association was strong there for me. I room spray form, I am more open to it. Cologne smells good! I just don’t personally want to wear it.
Well-Kept Tech Wipes in Montauk — Retail Value $6.00
Much like the wish paper, being sent these tech wipes serves as a good reminder to clean off some of my most-used items: my phone and Kindle! It comes with 15 anti-static, anti-fog wipes that were made in an environmentally friendly facility in the USA. The ingredients are water, Isopropyl Alcohol, and 2-Butoxyethanol. They smell very much like alcohol wipes, and are moist without being too wet. One textured wipe felt like it could be used for a few different devices (I shined up the handheld part of our baby monitor while I was at it), and it left each thing feeling clean and looking shiny!
Paper Source Free Virtual Workshop Pass — Retail Value $25.00
For some this free virtual workshop pass might feel more like a perk than a proper subscription box item, and I can see that. I’m excited about it, but then again I was excited 6 months ago when I was first sent a free workshop pass and didn’t end up using it before it expired. The retail value listed on this pass says $25, but each of the workshops on Paper Source’s site are listed as $30. Right now the offerings include creative hand lettering, Valentine making, creative journaling, and a Galentine’s Day celebration. None of those are as compelling to me as the offerings last time I checked (namely paper quilling!), and I’m not sure how often they rotate the offerings, but I still hope I can make time to take part in one before my code expires at the end of April.
Lapcos AQUA Hydrating Sheet Mask — Retail Value $3.00
This season’s box includes three masks, and this is the first of two that are classic face sheet masks. I’m pretty disappointed. We were sent 3 masks in last quarter’s box, and I hung my hat on the fact that the Winter box had such a clear gifting theme for the holidays; that they made sense as stocking stuffers. I understand that sheet masks are popular and am not shocked when they occasionally appear in boxes, but I would rather not receive them so regularly in this particular box.
Here’s some info about the mask itself, from Lapcos:
What it is: Our cupra rayon Aqua sheet mask contains Seawater and Plankton extract to provide much needed hydration and vitality.
What it does: The natural powerhouse that is Seawater provides a wave of nourishment, so that rough, tired skin regains health and energy. Plankton extract, which holds vitamins, amino acids and minerals, supplies skin with deep moisture.
Lapcos MILK Moisturizing Sheet Mask — Retail Value $3.00
This above mask is meant for hydration, and this one for moisturization. For those (like me) who think these two functions sound similar, I just did a quick Google search and found that hydrated skin makes for better absorption of moisturizer. Moisturizing it is about trapping the good stuff in and protecting your skin.
What it is: Our moisturizing microfiber Milk sheet mask is formulated with milk protein essence to replenish, condition, and hydrate dry skin.
What it does: This multitasking beauty essential both exfoliates skin to remove dead and dry skin, and moisturizes for a radiant, supple appearance.
Lapcos Camellia Steam Hair Mask — Retail Value $6.00
The third mask is for hair. I’ve used hair masks in balm form before, but never in sheet mask form. This is a steaming mask, which is a concept I was introduced to by one of the masks sent in in last season’s box. When it’s pulled from the packaging, it begins to generate heat—magic! But also, a chemistry experiment on my head? That concern aside, it sounds like a bit of an ordeal. You’re meant to wash and towel dry your hair, then wrap the mask around your head, lightly massage to encourage the nutrients into your hair, wait 10-15 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water. I’m sure I have a friend who thinks this sounds luxurious rather than cumbersome, I just need to ask around and figure out which one!
What it is: The mask is one of the hardest working multitaskers in the hair care category. Whether hydrating dry strands, reviving dullness or soothing the scalp, a hair mask can cover all of the bases.
What it does: Our Hair Mask restores serious shine, thanks to its hero ingredient of Camellia oil, rich in omega 9 fatty acids and powerful in its ability to seal in moisture. The result is salon quality, glossy locks, all from the comfort and convenience of home.
MAD Beauty Splash Of Gold Perfume Wand, 10 mL — Retail Value $13.72
This small eau de toilette spray smells absolutely heavenly! Its citrus-rose fragrance is familiar, and I’m sure someone who’s on the up and up with perfume brands would be able to identify what it’s similar to. Or perhaps it’s just that rose scents are lovely across the board. It’s a great size for tossing into a purse, or in my case since I’m not going anywhere that would require a re-spritz of perfume, I like that it doesn’t take up much space on my bathroom counter.
MAD Beauty Hand Care Set in Pomegranate & Lime, lotion is 1 fl oz — Estimated Value $6.85 (similar found here)
This hand care duo includes a wide emory board and a small hand cream. The cream has a pomegranate-lime scent, which is a fragrance MAD Beauty also offers in the eau de toilette spray above. I’m not as taken by it—it’s a bit fruity for my taste, reminding me of something I would’ve liked in my teenage years (cucumber melon, anyone?)—but it’s also not very strong, and the cream itself softens my hands nicely, so I’ll add it to the collection of hand creams I have stashed around my house to help me through this ridiculously dry season.
Verdict: I went into my Spring Paper Source box with much anticipation! After feeling as though many of the Winter box‘s offerings were meant for gifting, I was excited to return to more of a “normal” curation. Overall I’m happy! Looking back through the three categories into which this box was broken down, my favorite was Reflect, which includes all the stationery items, but I also enjoyed the lifestyle items in the Live curation. The Self-Care section didn’t impress me as much with its three masks, however much I do love the scent of the eau de toilette. I received 14 items total, adding up to a value for $180.84. This was calculated using estimated retail values for the journal, stationery set, and hand care set. This is a great value for a $49.95 box.
If you’re interested in more great lifestyle subscriptions, check out our list of the 19 best subscription boxes for women in 2021!
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? Unfortunately the Spring box is no longer available. If you sign up now your subscription will start with the Summer 2021 box, which begins shipping in April.
Value Breakdown: At $49.95 for this box, you are paying approximately $3.57 for each of the 14 items.
Check out our other Paper Source subscription box reviews right here.
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Do you like what came in the Spring Paper Source subscription box? What was your favorite category?