Desperate is a strong word, but a bride-to-be used it in reference to her search for "good (and reasonably priced) bridesmaid gifts that are not earrings, candles, or spa treatments." I've got an idea: monthly subscriptions.
They might be too informal for some brides, but I've found a few that can suit a range of tastes and budgets.
Gourmet subscriptions tend to cost more but, oh, how your maids will eat them up. The Sqirl jam club ($180) guarantees a year of delicious spreads made from in-season fruits. Or you can sign them up for the Murray's Cheese Pair of the Month program ($175 for 4 months): A delicious cheese and its ideal accompaniment (pickles, chocolate, etc.) will be delivered to their door.
For Beauty Junkies
Birch Box sends out a customized kit of luxe beauty samples for just $10 per month. She'll be delighted by the monthly surprises in her mailbox and earn points toward buying full-size products.
For Lit Lovers
Book Swim is like Netflix for novels. To give, choose the membership length or just select a flat fee that you're willing to pay. For less than $50, your giftee can order an unlimited number of books for two months, with only three allowed out at time. It's definitely for the more voracious readers out there.
For Paper Pushers
Stationery aficionados might like Parchment Post, a club started by Jaime Ambabo after being wowed while looking for her own wedding invitations. Sign your bridesmaids up for six months ($55) or one year ($100), and they'll receive six hand-selected, handmade cards every three months.
For Pen Pals
Office-supply fetishists (don't even pretend you don't know any) will appreciate a subscription to Rad and Hungry. The site sources interesting supplies—notebooks, pencils, stickers, etc.—from around the world and for $16 per month mails out a small kit that focuses on items from one country at a time.