Photo courtesy of Graham Dunn/The Licensing Project
10 Heroic Products That Brought Joy to a Bleak Year
You might have noticed some of the things you do for fun are a little out of reach right now. A big night out is off-limits, hopping on a flight to Malta is canceled, and blowing off steam casually with friends feels like a distant memory. But maybe you’ve pivoted toward a good time that can be had safely at home, and maybe it hasn’t been so bad. Over here, we’re mastering recipes we never thought we’d pull off, developing some pretty strong opinions about puzzles, and refining wellness routines that make us feel like we’ve got it all together.
Still, some days are better than others. On days when fun is a little tougher to find, these are some of the little novelties that have made us crack a smile.
“Some people just have more fun when they’re properly caffeinated. I’m one of them. That said, I am super sensitive to caffeine, so the exact right balance is hard to achieve—some days, even a single cup of coffee is a one-way ticket to a bad time. I’ve given quitting several goes, but I’m human. So when I can, I choose matcha over coffee—it still has caffeine to perk me up, but it’s also a source of L-theanine, which makes the experience a lot smoother. Plus, making matcha is more fun and requires less patience than making coffee. And I love that matcha works so well with oat milk. My mom got me an Almond Cow plant milk maker for the holidays, so I’m milking my oats fresh at home now, which is a source of absolute glee.” —Kelly Martin, associate editor
“Maybe not fun in the usual sense, but I live for a nice, leisurely, stress-melting soak. What’s funny is I never used to take baths; I was team shower all the way. Then I started working here and realized there was a total bathing culture (GP takes a bath every night, and she’s not the only one). And then I tried a sample of “The Martini” Emotional Detox Bath Soak—I think it came in my welcome-to-goop goodie bag—on a whim, and that’s when I saw the light. I’ve since tried all the goop bath soaks, but Martini’s still my number one. The bag says it ‘takes the edge off during turbulent times,’ so you can imagine how many times I’ve repurchased it this year.” —Amanda Chung, junior creative copywriter
STEAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS
“I got a vitruvi diffuser earlier this year, and I couldn’t be more obsessed. Truly, I am considering getting one in every room. Turning it on is one of my favorite rituals both for starting the day and for winding down. It’s fun to be your own chemist, mixing and matching oils to get to a scent that’s perfect for the moment. Right now, I’m loving the grapefruit (super energizing) blended with eucalyptus (invigorating).” —Brianna Peters, assistant beauty editor
“My husband’s birthday is at the end of November, and I got him a Theragun: the best gift I’ve ever given him, according to him. And it’s certainly the gift that I’ve enjoyed the most already and look forward to using—often. This massager is incredibly powerful. Calves. Hamstrings. Lower back. Shoulders. The arches of your feet—oh my, do not skip those. Of course, it’s particularly great when you get someone else to do it all for you and you can melt right into your pillow.” —Kiki Koroshetz, wellness director
“I did something I’d always wanted to do: put Swarovski crystals all along my ears. Added a little holiday sparkle. I started out trying to follow the directions and place the ear seeds according to the traditional Chinese map of the ear. I’m not sure which of my intended acupressure points—stress, digestion, immunity, shoulders—I ended up with, but I find myself wanting to press on certain of the ear seeds more than others. Acupressure plus sparkly jewels equals fun.” —Gerda Endemann, senior director, science and research
“This little pot has brought me a lot of joy. Everything about it feels luxurious, especially the texture: It’s a silky, cooling gel-mousse, which you spread in an even layer over your skin and leave on for however long you’d like. Because it doesn’t have any harsh acids—the main goal is hydration—I can reach for it whenever I’m feeling blah without having to worry whether it’s too soon after the last treatment. I always feel transformed afterward. If I’ve had a few days where I’ve lapsed on my skin-care routine, it’s the ultimate rehab, which is enough to completely reverse a mood.” —Jessie Geoffray, senior editor
“I keep this herbal tincture at my desk and put a few drops in my water or straight on my tongue throughout the day. The name Rose-Colored Glasses makes sense: It tastes like sweet and earthy rose, and it helps me cultivate good vibes and a brighter outlook when I get a little stressed. It’s also just a fun addition to my drink when water starts to get boring.” —Jenna Cady, merchandising assistant, beauty and wellness
“Early in the pandemic, strategic advisor Priya Parker shared the advice that creating transition rituals can help break up a monotonous day. Transition rituals are simple, she says, like a cup of coffee that takes you from a rest state to a tackling-your-inbox state. In that same vein, I needed something to help me transition at the end of my workday. I was closing my laptop and then immediately staring at the slightly larger screen that is my TV. Enter the Bearaby weighted blanket. Now when I close my laptop, the first thing I do is go get under it—with no screen in reach—to unplug for at least a little while. As rituals go, it’s pretty perfect: nothing too fancy and requires no effort on my part.” —Cait Moore, senior programming manager
“I met Neel van Lierop, the creator of these cards, when I was going through a rough breakup. I know that doesn’t scream fun, but what I learned from Neel was that she created her original Inner Compass deck when she was coming out of a relationship and didn’t know what her gut was telling her. Instead of ruminating and endlessly searching for answers, she created an easy-to-use deck that would help people develop and trust their own intuition. The cards aren’t meant to tell you what to do; they help you feel your feelings and listen to your inner voice. Neel’s second set of cards, the love deck, is a light-hearted exploration of both romantic love and self-love. So even if things have been tough and decidedly not fun, the cards have helped me see the good in life. And yes, I did eventually get over that ex.” —Samantha Saiyavongsa, associate editor
“With the monotony of the WFH life, I’ve learned how to turn the most mundane moments into an occasion. Lately I’ve been doing beverages: My beloved pour-over coffee is the morning ritual that I look forward to from the moment my alarm goes off. A bubbly water with mint, cucumber, and a fancy lemon twist makes lunch leftovers feel very extra. And winding down with a great album and a spritz (lately I am obsessed with bubbles and Current Cassis) in the evening makes me feel like I’m in a cool lounge despite the fact I’m in my pj’s by 6:45. The Aarke makes it super easy—I can whip up fresh bottles of bubbly water in a jiff, and it’s a lot less wasteful than stocking cans or bottles of seltzer as I used to. Having that fancy fizz at my fingertips makes special-feeling moments easier to attain in this strange new reality.” —Caitlin O’Malley, food director