Buying things may not lead you to happiness, but having the right stuff can make each day just a little more joyful, sometimes in unexpected ways.Among this list of our favorite things, we hope you’ll find a helpful solution to a stubborn problem, or even find a great gift. Some of these are things we found after hours of research and testing, others were impulse buys in a drugstore, and a few we stumbled upon serendipitously during our travels, but they’ve all made our lives a little brighter, and a little easier, over this past year.
Order among the chaos of travel
Eagle Creek Pack-It Original Cube Set ($28 at the time of publication)
Packing for a trip used to entail hastily throwing everything into my luggage and hoping the shampoo doesn’t leak. That ended when I bought the Eagle Creek Pack-It Original Cube Set after reading our review last January and discovered the joy-inducing power of an organized suitcase. This set of three zippered pouches hold enough shirts, jeans, underwear, socks, and toiletries for seven to nine days. (I also opted for a separate garment folder for dresses, skirts, and wrinkle-prone garments.) All of this, along with three pairs of shoes, tucks into our budget pick for carry-on luggage. Now after a long day of airports and cramped seats, I arrive at my destination with a tidy bento box instead of a trash heap of wrinkled clothes peppered with makeup and lotion bottles.
—Lesley Stockton, senior staff writer
Keep drinks hot (and homey)
Bodum Pavina Double Wall Glasses (set of two) ($14 at the time of publication)
My home office is in the draftiest room in my apartment. Even though I cherish my carefully curated hodgepodge of thrift-store mugs, they can’t keep my morning coffee or afternoon tea hot during the winter months. The Bodum Pavina Double Wall Glasses are the perfect size, a delight to hold, and ensure me a warm beverage to the last sip. I know my Zojirushi travel mug would do the trick, but it lacks the comfy vibe I so desperately want at home. In my opinion, locking flip tops and house shoes don’t go together.
Yamazaki Rin Magnetic Key Rack with Tray ($22 at the time of publication)
When I stumbled upon the Yamazaki Rin Magnetic Key Rack with Tray in the aisles of the Tokyu Hands department store in Shibuya, I was immediately struck by how much it manages to accomplish using so few materials; like a haiku written in the language of industrial design. Despite its small size and minimal design, the Rin brings order to an entire household’s worth of keys and a day or two’s worth of snail mail, all without occupying any counter space. The Rin is meant to mount onto a front door, which cleverly makes it impossible to leave home without confronting one’s keys. (If you’re as forgetful as I am, sticking your wallet in the mail slot also helps.) For a fireproof front door, the Rin’s magnetic backing simply sticks onto steel with no additional installation, but it also comes with screws for mounting onto other materials.