Signs that a Subscription Scrapbooking Kit or Cardmaking Kit is a Waste of Money

Tempted to subscribe to a monthly scrapbooking or cardmaking kit club? Subscription kits are an amazing way to build your stash when you are just starting out. They also, however, are amazing ways for some companies to suck you into their endless lure of accumulating craft supplies you do not need, will not use and cannot afford.

Signs that the subscription kit MIGHT be a waste of money:

1. It may be a waste of money if the kit contains the word “mystery”. If you have money to burn and love the element of surprise, that is one thing. But, for the rest of us, the “mystery kit” is a gamble we simply can’t afford. These kits are more like novelties. These kits make great gifts to give. But, these kits definitely are not “stash builders.” You have absolutely no way of knowing if the items in that particular kit are already in your stash! So, depending on your motivation for ordering this specialty kit, you may want to wait and put it on your birthday wish list, instead.
Gina K. Designs Adhesive Dot Runner
2. It may be a waste of money if the kit contains random, cheap supplies. Now, crafters, you know that there is a huge difference between cheap supplies and quality supplies. Even something as simple as a foam ink blender has its “knockoffs”. There is no need to ever include foam makeup wedges or cheap, sponge-y foamy blenders on dowel rods inside a kit. Those items cost practically nothing as it is, so why would you pay for that to be included in your kit? These inclusions are often attempts to “fill the box” and make it seem like you are getting more than you are actually getting.
iCraft Purple Tape
3. It may be a waste of money if the kit contains portioned-out supplies. Whenever the items in the kit “vary” between each customer, that is a sign that the customer is getting a portioned-out product. High-quality, single sheets of patterned paper are fine, but there are times you can physically see that you are getting a torn-apart section of a large paper stack, or a half-section of a larger pack of stickers, or a few pieces of a larger collection of ephemera. Why would you ever pay for someone else’s partial stash? You have enough of that in your own stash. Instead, maybe opt out of the monthly subscription and instead purchase these kits individually AS NEEDED for specific projects.

4. It may be a waste of money if the kit seems incomplete without purchasing the “add-ons”. This is the MOST important point, and is relevant for all crafters, ESPECIALLY beginners! If the subscription kit offers a series of add-on options, look carefully at the BASE KIT itself. In your mind, pretend there are no add-ons. Is that kit BY ITSELF (AT THE BASE LEVEL) adequate to create the project you have in mind? Do you have items in your stash that would complement the BASE KIT? If so, then purchasing the add-on might not be necessary. If NOT, then you will have to think about your budget carefully. What is the total cost of everything you are buying in one month (PLUS shipping)?

  • A kit with a total price (plus shipping) of $30/month = $360 PER YEAR (USD)
  • A kit with a total price (plus shipping) of $50/month = $600 PER YEAR (USD)

This is exactly how scrapbookers and cardmakers get ahead of themselves and end up with piles and piles of supplies they never use. If you don’t mind to spend $600 or more per year on supplies, you at least should be able to look at your purchases and see 2 things: FINISHED PROJECTS and A VARIETY OF LEFTOVER SUPPLIES that build your potential for future projects. If all you have left of the kit at the end of your project is a bunch of unused paper and letter stickers, this kit may not be worth your $600.

5. It may be a waste of money if the kit contains cut files CONTRARY TO THE CUTTING MACHINE YOU OWN. A cut file is an image or pattern accessible to use with a cutting machine like a Cricut or a Silhouette America – Cameo Version 3 – Electronic Cutting System (or other cutting machine with access to online designs). If you have a “vintage” edition cutting machine, the inclusion of the cut file in this kit may do you no good at all, so you will have to check the details of the kit to determine compatibility. If you get excited about building up cut files, there are many places you can purchase cut files individually. Just literally start by Googling “cut files for scrapbooking” or “cut files for cardmaking” and see what comes up. Finally, make sure to examine the OTHER contents of the kit (besides the cut file). If it’s just paper and stickers, you most likely can get everything at a better value on your own.
Deco Foil Transfer Sheets

To “kit” or NOT to “kit”?

In short, a good rule of thumb for scrabooking and cardmaking is to think of buying supplies like buying groceries. You need utensils and appliances to help you cook, non-perishable goods that last a long time on the shelf, perishable items that need to be used within a few days or weeks, and herbs and spices to enhance the food’s flavor. Can you imagine spending big money on fancy ingredients to make cookies and then realizing you still need to buy a rolling pin? Think of scrapbooking and cardmaking kits the same way. To create a project, you need to own:

  • Tools & utensils to help you create
  • Items that last a long time on the shelf
  • Items you need to use soon
  • Enhancements

In each of these categories, look at what you already have and consider what you truly still NEED to complete a project. Also, make sure to stay as organized as possible, so you always KNOW what you already have. Then, you can make wise decisions for purchasing supplies.

TIPS for choosing a VALUE-QUALITY scrapbooking or cardmaking kit:

1. Value-quality kits contain at least ONE supply or tool that is NOT consumable, like a die set or stamp set. The most versatile option I have found for subscription kits is from Spellbinders. No matter WHAT type of papercrafting tool you most love, Spellbinders has a kit club for it. Small die of the month, large die of the month, clear stamp of the month, better-press of the month, stamp & die of the month, glimmer of the month, even wax seal of the month… literally a TON of choices to meet your heart’s desire.

Plus, with the subscription, members receive even more on top of the monthly card kit (dies, sentiments, paper, envelopes & embellishments), including project inspiration (each kit features project ideas with at least one detailed how-to instruction tutorial each month), PLUS additional member benefits and savings (exclusive members-only pricing in the Spellbinders/FSJ store plus access to deals, savings, and gifts).

2. Value-quality kits contain UNOPENED items. The Tonic Craft Kit, for example, is outstanding both in quality and contents. Subscribers receive a combination of all new full-sized and mini-sized products, and the products are on-trend. Plus, Tonic offers customers the choice to buy kits one time, on a monthly basis, or on a quarterly basis.

3. Value-quality kits truly build your stash. Two such kits are from Altenew – a stamping kit and a coloring kit, both geared for beginners who have little-to-no-supplies. When the paper is used up, you are still left with ink cubes, stamps, and/or markers. This truly builds your craft stash, and is good for your value overall.


Stamping Starter Kit


Coloring Starter Kit A


Another high-quality cardmaking kit is from Pink & Main and costs around $35 each. Each kit includes stash-building tools like stamps, dies or embossing folders, so that when the cardstock or embellishments are gone, you still have something timeless to keep for other projects.

4. Value-quality kits contain EXCLUSIVE PRODUCT combinations. One of the best benefits of being a monthly kit subscriber is that you (exclusively!) can receive the latest and greatest products EARLIER than the non-subscriber, and often EARLIER than superstore websites or retail stores receive them. Another benefit of being a subscriber is that you (exclusively!) can receive that specific combination of products that you couldn’t put together elsewhere.

Hopefully, these tips will help you not only learn more about your own crafting style and crafting budget, but also will help you decide for yourself if the subscription craft kit you are considering will be worth your money. Happy crafting!

Sandpaper Road is an affiliate partner with some of the companies linked above. When you make a purchase through one of these links, Sandpaper Road may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support!

Header Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

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