The last twelve months brought so many hard things into our lives—relationships were lost, our country became more broken and divided than ever, and oh yeah, we walked through a pandemic too.
No biggie, right? Ha!
And while it’s easy to look back and wish we could skip 2020 altogether (or at least insist on a do-over), I don’t want this year to be the one where the hard overcame the good.
Just as hard days don’t mean ruined days, hard years don’t mean ruined years.
2020 can still be good.
I don’t want to focus on all the frustration, pain, and hardships we endured. (Although I believe trying times can grow us in ways we never thought possible.)
Instead, I want to remember the fun and exciting things we did. The adventures we had. The new shows we watched, and the books we read (I found some new favorites!) . The new life hacks and favorite products I discovered that made my life easier or just brought me joy.
In fact, I want to share those things with you and hear all about your favorite things too! Let’s chat all about it in the comments.
My Favorite Products of 2020
FYI: Everything on this list are items I’ve purchased myself. None are sponsored, although I will share affiliate links when appropriate at no extra cost to you. That just means I earn a small commission if you purchase the item I recommend.
Some of these favorite products would make great gifts!
Like most of the world, I spent more time in front of the screen than ever before this year. But I also picked up a couple new hobbies outside of screen time! Here were my favorite shows and activities throughout the year.
1. Hamilton – If you haven’t seen this magical musical performance, nab a Disney+ trial so you can stream all three glorious hours of Lin-Manual Miranda’s storytelling talent. I can’t stop listening to the soundtrack through Spotify!
2. The Queen’s Gambit – This short Netflix series was recommended to me a few weeks ago, but I shrugged it off. A TV show about chess players? Boooring. Then I found myself in a show-hole and decided to give it a shot. Now I know why everyone is raving about this show! You won’t regret this one, I promise.
3. Skyjo – Friends taught us this game last year, but we played it multiple nights a week in 2020. Strategy games are not my thing, but card games ARE! I even taught my 9-year-old niece and 6-year-old nephew this one and they loved it too.
4. Crochet – The year of COVID-19 and quarantine seemed like the perfect time to teach myself to crochet. I followed the Yarnspirations YouTube channel, bought this encyclopedia book of stitches, and went to work! So far, I’ve competed an iPad cover, a dish cloth, potholder, and a Christmas stocking. I hope to pair my lonely stocking with another before Christmas. We’ll see!
5. Diamond Painting – What was once an international sensation has now become an American one. Diamond painting is similar to cross-stitch, but you use round “diamonds” instead of thread. It’s actually quite fun and relaxing! I enjoy this activity while watching a show or listening to a podcast. This is the one I’m doing right now!
Related: My Top 10 Favorite Podcasts
6. Kindle Unlimited – I read a lot of books this year, and Kindle Unlimited kept me supplied! I’ll share my favorite books in a separate blog post soon, but until then, let’s just say that this subscription service is totally worth it. You can “rent” up to 10 ebooks at a time!
Beauty & Style
I tried to step up my beauty and style game this year even though I didn’t have anyplace special to go! But looking good always has magical effects on my approach to work and home life. These products definitely helped me practice the motto: dress for the day you want to have.
1. Tom’s Avalon Shoes – I bought my first pair of Tom’s shoes through Poshmark for more than half off. I was so in love with them that I had to buy a second pair! My all-time favorite are the metallic gold shoes. My more recent pair is a grey stripe. (The grey ones need to be broken in FYI.)
2. imPRESS Nails – Move over Essie nail polish, because fake nails are in! Unlike most fake nails ,though, there’s no glue. Just pull the sticky tab off the nail and press on to your own! I then trimmed and filed down the nail until I liked the length. These nails stayed on for two weeks and I only had to replace a couple of them during that time. They are so easy to apply! Definitely one of my favorite products of all time.
3. LC Ivory Sweater – I needed more sweaters for our winter visit to NY, and this one checked all the boxes! Feminine with classic detailing but still lightweight. I love wearing this with these dark skinny jeans (also from the LC line).
4. Olay Complete Daily Moisturizer – The biggest skincare secret I’ve learned in my 30’s is this: wear sunscreen! It’s the best anti-aging ingredient out there. I’m outdoors a lot (hiking and running) and never burn when I wear this SPF-infused moisturizer. Bonus: It doesn’t smell like sunscreen, which is my #1 pet peeve with other lotions!
5. Garnier Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller – It doesn’t matter how many high-end concealers I try, I always come back to this one. It’s not high-coverage, but it’s certainly the most blend-able. I hate it when concealers make me look older than I am because they settle into fine lines. This one does not!
Never Let Beauty Products Go Bad Ever Again!
We all spent a lot of time at home this year and need products that make staying home not just easier, but more enjoyable too.
I’m constantly reevaluating what works, what doesn’t, how can I organize this better, etc. which means I’m always looking for new things to try! Here are my top picks for that at-home life.
1. Instant Pot Duo – I’m super careful (a.k.a. minimalistic) about what appliances we invite into the RV. We have an Instant Pot, Ninja Blender, and a Food Processor. But I really wanted an air-fryer! With no place to put it, I discovered that Instant Pot made a dual instant pot/air-fryer product. So I gave my instant pot away, and my mom bought me this one for Christmas. I’ve only used it a couple of times but I’m already in love.
2. Y-Weave baskets – Anytime I need another basket, I reach for the Y-Weave ones from Target. They come in all different sizes, are incredibly sturdy, and easy to clean. Stop by my RV and you’d find them in almost every cabinet!
3. Cord Organizers – I picked up these goodies at The Container Store a few months ago after I frustratingly combed through a junk drawer full of tangled cords, watching the battery life drain out of my Kindle. These organizers keep each cord separate and you can label them too! (Here’s my favorite label maker.)
4. Insulated Cooler – This stylish cooler is the perfect size for you to tote along for family picnics! Joseph bought it for me as a Christmas gift (yes, I asked for a cooler for Christmas!) and we’ve carted many a meal in it to enjoy outside. You’ll find this bag is easy-to-clean, leak proof, and did I mention how cute it looks?!
5. Customizable Pet Mugs – Joseph surprised me with this special gift and it’s my new favorite mug! He added all three of our bunnies to the design (Twix was the first rabbit we ever had). This would make such a fun gift for any pet lover in your life!
2020 was the year Joseph and I began exploring a plant-based diet. We cut out meat in May, dairy in August, and were completely egg-free by October. I’ve never felt better! We did this mainly for health reasons, but also for our consciences. Don’t worry, I’m not going to start proselytizing about it on this blog. 😉
But with so many vegan food options, I can honestly say I don’t feel deprived. It’s amazing how much more you enjoy cooking when you’re not sick all the time!
1. The Minimalist Baker Cookbook – I follow a handful of vegan blogs, but refer to this cookbook over and over again. I’m a huge fan of cookbooks because I don’t have to look at a screen while I’m making food! The BBQ jackfruit sandwiches and pizza burgers are a fave with vegans and non-vegans alike.
2. Good & Gather Products – This Target brand offers my all-time favorite dark chocolate-covered almonds. I eat a few every day and it gives me that much-needed chocolate kick! I also love their Fruit Strips, especially on hiking days. They’re super easy to pack and much healthier than traditional fruit snacks. Top of my list of favorite products!
3. Everything But the Bagel Seasoning – You might not live near a Trader Joe’s, but the next time you see one, pick up this small bottle of goodness! The garlic, onion, poppyseed, and whatever else magical ingredients they put in there tastes scrumptious on a toasted bagel with (vegan) butter.
4. Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Ice Cream – This ice cream satisfies my EVERY craving. It’s so creamy and yummy! You would never guess there’s no real milk product inside. My favorite flavors are Netflix & Chill’d and Fudge Brownie.
5. Blaze Pizza – With a plant-based diet, normal pizza is a no-go. But Blaze Pizza is one of the only places I’ve found with a build-your-own option and vegan cheese and meats! Plus, the crust is so thin and crispy. Every slice is divine.
6. Back to Nature “Oreos” – What? Creme-filled sandwich cookies that have better ingredients and taste like the real thing? I could scarcely believe it too. Especially since I ranted about knockoffs in this generic vs. non-generic post! But it’s true. Anytime I’m at Whole Foods or another health food store, I quickly snatch a box. (Paying for it, of course.)
There’s always a few items that don’t fit within any category, but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed them any less! Here are my final four favorite products of 2020.
1. Healthy Human Water Bottles – These are pricey but worth it. They keep drinks ice cold for more than a day. And when we swapped water with hot chocolate for a cold morning hike, the cocoa stayed tongue-scalding hot for hours. I only have one so far but want to get another!
2. America the Beautiful Pass – Joseph and I ask for this Christmas gift every year. We visited 11 parks in 2020 (you only need to visit three for the cost to be worth it) and plan to ask for it this Christmas as well. It’s such a good deal if you want a more experience-type gift!
3. FlipBelt – These “belts” are stretchy (and way cooler) fanny packs (I know, I know, stick with me!). They feature little pockets that fit your phone, keys, credit cards, etc, so they don’t fall out. Best of all, they minimize bulk! I love to use mine while running or hiking.
4. Fetch Rewards – My friend, Rachelle, told me about this money saving app, and I’m hooked! It’s so much easier to use than Ibotta and I love watching the points quickly add up with every receipt. That’s right, you only have to take photos of receipts! Takes two seconds and you’re done. I still use Ibotta every now and then, but not as much as I used to. Use the code QHT18 to earn 2,000 free points when you sign up!
Over to You
What favorite products did you discover in 2020? This would be a great exercise to practice if you’ve been feeling down about this year in general. Remind yourself that good things can come out of hard things.
And when you look at it that way, maybe 2020 wasn’t so bad. Ahem. Notice I said, maybe. 😉
Let’s chat about all the things you found!
Whether it’s a new show, item you purchased (or were gifted), or a hobby you picked up, I want to know all about it!
Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.