I’m typing right now with the window open, and the weather is lovely. It’s sunny and warm outside, but the calendar doesn’t lie. Fall is here.
Every year, when August gives way to September, I can’t help but start to think about the holidays that lie ahead. Even though it still feels like beach weather where I live, I know the air will soon turn cool and then, before I know it, the holiday trifecta of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas will sneak up on me.
In order to minimize stress, it’s good to start preparing for the entertaining whirlwind well in advance, and today I’m going to share one of the subscriptions that helped me sail through last year’s holiday season: Firstleaf. But before I hit rewind and replay on last year’s holiday season, let’s take a quick peek at what Firstlleaf’s all about.
All About Firstleaf
If you’re new to Firstleaf, let’s start with the basics. Firstleaf is a wine of the month club that helps pair subscribers with personalized wine picks. When you sign up for a subscription, you’ll answer some questions about your wine preferences that help Firstleaf match you with wines you’ll love. You don’t need to be a wine expert or have an advanced vino vocabulary; the intro questions are simple and straightforward. You’ll share your favorite varietals, whether you like sweet wine or dry, and how adventurous you are when it comes to trying new things. You’ll get matched with bottles picked just for you, and you can swap any that that you don’t think you’ll like. After you’d had a chance to try the bottles, you'll rate them with a simple thumbs or or thumbs down, and your feedback helps Firstleaf make better and more accurate matches.
Firstleaf features wines from all over the world, and all of the bottles on the site are hand-selected by a team of experts. Over 10,000 wines are sampled every year, and only 2% make the cut. The wines have won over 2,000 awards, and over 300 of the bottles that have been featured have nabbed a score of 90+. (That’s the equivalent of a gold star in the wine world.)
The introductory box costs $39 with FREE shipping. After that, future orders include six bottles of wine for $79.98 + $9.95 shipping and taxes.
My Halloween with Firstleaf
Halloween is hands-down my favorite holiday, and it’s a big deal where I live. There are lots of trick or treaters, and even adults go all-out with their costumes. Since the pandemic put a damper on the usual neighborhood celebrations, my husband and I wanted to come up with a way to keep up the good vibes rolling in a socially-distanced kinda way. Many of the neighbors built treat slides or tossed bags of candy from their front porches, but we took things a step further. We wanted to make sure we had treats for the young and the young-at-heart, so we dressed up as Bacchus and Medusa and set up two stations, one for the kids and one for the adults. Medusa’s station was stocked with packets of gummy worms (because, snakes!), and Bacchus’ had a selection of wines and an invitation for those of age to (responsibly) join the bacchanalia.
I usually prefer white wines, and my wine rack often lacks diversity, but since I knew I’d need wines for a crowd, I was a little adventurous with my October Firstleaf wine picks. I opted for reds from Italy, California, and South America, and I even added a bottle of Chardonnay (a wine I don’t usually go for myself) because I know it’s a crowd pleaser. And you know what? Even though I'm still not going to go out of my way for Chardonnay, I liked them all! (Firstleaf's algorithm impressed me here.) My Roman Halloween fantasy was a big hit with the neighbors, and a few passersby even asked where I’d picked up the wine.
November + Thanksgiving with Firstleaf
After Halloween, it always feels like the holiday season starts to kick into gear. I didn’t attend as many events last year as I normally do, but there were still a few invitations to share a backyard drink with the neighbors. Wine is always my go-to host(ess) gift, and I like keeping a few extra bottles on hand to bring as gifts when someone invites me over. In November, I went along with Firstleaf's recommendations, and I received a good mix of reds and whites. It was great to have some variety on my wine rack so I could cherry pick bottles tailored to my hosts.
Again, last Thanksgiving wasn’t a typical one in my house. It was a smaller affair than usual, but I still wanted to treat the occasion with the pomp it deserves. Even though I’m a big fan of wine and know my way around a wine aisle, I tend to fall short on the fourth Thursday in November. I always struggle when it comes to pairing wine with Thanksgiving dinner. (I think because poultry usually gets paired with white, I tend not to give reds the space on the menu they deserve, and then I usually panic that I’m not looking after the red wine drinkers at my table and then I start to question the entire menu and then before I know it I’m looking for a paper bag to breathe into.) Last year was stressful enough on its own, so I tried something new. Instead of coming up with a wine progression to serve with dinner, I left it all to Firstleaf. I opened the four bottles remaining from my November shipment and put them out for guests to enjoy however they wished. And you know what? In addition to being an easy Thanksgiving wine solution, it was a lot of fun! Personally, I treated it like a wine tasting, trying each of the different bottles, while others found a bottle they enjoyed and were happy to be able to stick with it. It was actually such a hit that I think the “wine table” might be a new Thanksgiving tradition for me.
Christmas with Firstleaf
As soon as the last slice of turkey’s gone, it feels like the holidays are in full swing. I’m a total planner, so I always write out my gifting lists as soon as possible, and I try to do a little something special for most of the people in my life. I’m kind of a minimalist when it comes to stuff, and this carries over into my gifting mentality. I like to gift edible items that can be enjoyed with friends and loved ones. December brought a new Firstleaf shipment, and I ended up giving a lot of the bottles away as gifts to some of the wine lovers in my life. Every bottle from Firstleaf comes with an information card that shares a bit about where it’s from along with tasting notes. Tucking a bottle inside a fancy gift bag along with the accompanying info card made the gift seem a bit more special than the typical wine-from-the-grocery-store present.
As for the remaining wines in my December shipment, they went here and there. I did a baking class over Zoom with some friends (bottle down), I had neighbors over for cheese, charcuterie, and chatter (another bottle down), and my husband and I poured some wine into paper cups one evening while we walked around the neighborhood taking in the holiday decorations. By the end of the month, my wine rack was looking a little barren, but Firstleaf served me well through the holiday season. I saved time I would have spent at the wine store humming and hawing over which bottles I should bring home with me, and the convenience of having regular shipments of wine sent to my door was wonderful. The wine itself was great, too, and I enjoyed being matched with wines that were picked just for me. In a year full of big changes and unprecedented holiday stresses, I didn’t need to worry about wine. My 2020 holiday season was made much easier thanks to Firstleaf, and you know what? I’ll be doing it all over again in 2021.
Do you like the idea of using a meal kit to supplement your holiday planning? Have you tried Firstleaf? Head to the comments section and let us know!