Surprise yourself

Photo: Liz Von Hoene

14 of 20
Be Surprised
An unexpected delight is the best kind of all. Here are three ways to spring something great on yourself. Ta-da!

Join the club.
Subscription clubs let you give a gift to yourself each month: Nicely Noted offers an assortment of letterpress cards and cool stamps to send them with ($18 per month; After asking about your musical tastes, Merchbox ships a curated array of CDs by up-and-coming acts, plus other goodies ($10 per month; The Indiespensable program from Powell's Books of Portland, Oregon, sends signed editions of new novels and treats that echo the book's theme ($39.95 every six weeks; Ready for dessert? Standard Cocoa has you covered with bars by artisanal chocolatiers (From $20 per month;

Place yourself in the hands of a good chef.
A tasting menu is a multicourse meal prepared (and chosen) by the kitchen. The three at Chicago's Topolobampo explore Mexican cuisine, and—spoiler alert—the "classics" menu features stellar mole negro (From $95; Orchids at Palm Court, in Cincinnati, is a boon for lovers of inventive fare—a past menu included a balloon made of mozzarella ($65; New York's Brushstroke, a collaboration between chef David Bouley and Japan's Tsuji Culinary Institute, serves exquisite sashimi ($85; And The Restaurant at Meadowood, in St. Helena, California, earned three Michelin stars by making each dish—pastry pillows speckled with flowers, côte de bœuf daubed with escargots—as stunning to behold as it is to eat ($225;

Book a trip to who knows where.
Hit up Magical Mystery Tours for a surprise vacation: After inquiring about your budget, dates and preferences, an agent will craft a custom trip, giving you the itinerary within a week of your departure. Sure, you can scope the schedule in advance, but the company recommends waiting until you're at the airport or train station. Bon voyage!

—Katie Arnold-Ratliff