Working remotely all year, BuzzFeed News staff had plenty of time to try out different ways to make time at home a little more bearable. From hummingbird feeders to pet fish, fancy linens or a small real alarm clock, these are all things we highly recommend.
These items have been independently selected by the staff and have spent their own money on it, except as noted. As you know, BuzzFeed may receive a sales share or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI – prices are correct and items in stock at the time of publication.
Tervis insulated cups – $34.99 for a pack of four Amazon
2021 was the year I realized I needed kid-friendly plastic cups for adults. They keep cold drinks cold for an impressively long time—I’ll drop in with an iced coffee and find the ice cubes still intact two hours later. Best of all, insulation means no condensation sweat to leave loops on wooden tables. They’re not the most stylish looking drink set, but they’re perfect for everyday use. —Katie Notopoulos
Casio travel alarm clock — $13.95 Amazon
I recently fell asleep to my phone’s alarm, which was… about. While he totally screwed me that day, it was a wake-up call that my iPhone couldn’t be relied upon as the only thing that would get me out of bed in time (lol). I bought a small real alarm clock and you should too. It did the job of waking me up on time without incident, with the added benefit of not being a blast first experience of the day in the face of my phone’s inevitable nasty vibrations. Also, it’s so cute! —Addy Baird
A daily NYT puzzle calendar – 14 dollars Amazon
I refuse to look at my phone’s Screen Time, but I’m pretty sure I spent at least 80% of my waking hours in 2020 staring at my phone or laptop. I knew it hurt my eyes and brain, but during quarantine I struggled to find a hobby I enjoyed that took me completely offline. Later that year, I bought a puzzle calendar for 2021 to give myself a daily task (I’m bad at hobbies, so hobbies must be a task) that can take anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours to complete. I make rules to make it feel like a success (again, I’m not saying this is the right way): I never Google tips, but I can call a friend. I can’t take a day off until I’m done (except when I’m a week behind… it’s too much pressure to catch it, so I’m throwing the seven days in a heap as if it never happened). The compact one-page-a-day calendar was easy to go on jungle excursions where my friends would offer help with the puzzle and then quickly become frustrated because they didn’t know what seven-time Emmy-winner a clue might be. (Ed Asner). Patience is the key to puzzles, and the joy of it is not fun for the whole family, but rather a peaceful, solitary task and that doesn’t involve looking at my goddamn phone. —Sarah Schweppe
LoveSac — $1,062-1317.50 (on sale) love sac
A defining image of the pandemic for me, the 60-pound “puppy” arrogantly tosses my unsuspecting daughter as she relaxes. mountainous LoveSac he now sits in our family room like a lovely white Jabba the Hutt. (LoveSac lent this item to BuzzFeed for review.) It’s hard to describe how convenient and how fun this thing is. Imagine sitting in a fur tub or a large kangaroo pouch. Now imagine doing this with someone else. And now add a dog. The big caveat here is that in order to live with one of the larger LoveSacs, you have to really appreciate the nonsense. Lost Arc raiders rock sized, but wow, what a great thing to watch movies. —John Paczkowski
Citizenry sheet set — $230 citizenship
Years ago, when the direct-to-consumer bedding marker first came out, I bought a set of Parachute linen sheets. I remember getting excited about them at the time but within a year they lost their color and soon ripped off. Earlier this year we bought new linen sheets from The. citizenship. I don’t use the word beautiful much, but these sheets demand it. They’re beautiful, deliciously comfortable, and have withstood repeated washings inspired by a strong desire to ALWAYS have them in our bed, I’m writing this here because why not? —John Paczkowski
Nugget gaming chair – $259 fried chicken
Back in fall 2020, I wrote about how hard-to-buy Nugget gaming sofas are like Supreme drops for moms. The foam sofa had become a cult following through Facebook parent groups as a fun, castle-buildable sofa that kids can climb on while doubling as playroom furniture that comes in an Instagram-worthy array of colors. The pandemic has created a surge in demand and a slowdown in production, resulting in a “fall-out” system where stocks run out within minutes. After publishing my article, I decided to get one myself.
My verdict: Definitely worth the hype. My child loves to climb and jump, and the best support I can offer any parent is having the Nugget game out after an early evening session, right before bed.
There are now numerous competitors for the Nugget sofa, but many of them are much more expensive. While colors are still limited, it’s possible to order one now. –Katie Notopoulos
Betta aquarium and supplies — tank$27.99; filters, $8.49; and water conditioner, $2.49 at Amazon; better fish,~$5 at your local store
I definitely didn’t want fish. My son has been begging for a fish for months (at least one dog has been graded down) for months, and I was relieved in a moment of guilt caused by the pandemic last January. He couldn’t play with real kids, but maybe he could be a fish friend. I was afraid of cleaning the disgusting bowl, remembering to feed it, and having to explain its inevitable death to a small child.
Turns out I was wrong. I love the blue betta fish Swimmy. After a short period of time my son was fed a single pellet morning and evening, I took over feeding him and I am enjoying it. I talk to Swimmy, greet him morning and evening. I find the light in your tank to be a useful nightlight in the kitchen – the only light that’s on and even its tank is attractive.
Best of all, cleaning your tank is easier than I thought. Instead of draining all the water weekly, you change about a third of the tank every three to five days while the fish remain in the tank (I just remove it with a measuring cup). —Katie Notopoulos
Hummingbird feeder — $25 Amazon
Hummingbirds are scumbags. (Okay, just a little hummingbirds are scumbags. But they’re all so cute!) I learned this after I hung it for the first time. hummingbird feederdares to hope that it will attract anonymous visitors. (After staying in a dreary one-bedroom apartment for a year and a half during the pandemic, we finally moved to a sunny spot with a garden this summer.)
It didn’t take long – within a few hours, the colorful little sweet nectar started slurping (1 part sugar, 4 parts water, easy peas) and it was buzzing on the porch. The news quickly spread, and several of his friends arrived—only to be chased by the aforementioned scumbag who perched near the feeder and spent the entire day scaring the competition (with a clicking sound that we initially thought to indicate an electrical problem). I decided I needed another feeder placed far enough away to please other customers.
Two feeders became four, four became six. Bought a pair for premium window viewing from long shepherd’s hooks. Now we (and our cats) can see hummingbirds (most immortality scumbags) from nearly every room in the house. Usually when I change a manger outside (every four to five days), a hummingbird buzz around my head like I’m Snow White. Because of these tiny, extraordinary creatures, I feel joy every day, no matter how brief. Even in 2021!
I opened Amazon in another tab and I’m about to hit “buy now” on my seventh feeder. can you blame me —Dru Moorehouse
Outward Hound Invincibles hollow squeaky dog toy – $14 Amazon
When the new “puppy” was 7 months old, he weighed 80 pounds and had probably lost his own weight in the dog toys. We quickly lost count of the “indestructible” plush toys that had been gutted, scratched, and quartered in the one-dog Battle of Helm’s Deep that has been going on in our living room for months. Only one toy survived: the Outward Hound Invincibles snake. He endures it as we call him Severus Snake, squeaking, brutally beaten, and dragging me across an office chair. It could be immortal. —John Paczkowski
Just fill a sock with catnip, folks.
This is Sir Jiggery Pokery, the love of my life and the best decision I’ve ever made. It is named after Antonin Scalia. colorful opposition inside King – Burwell. (Scalia was a hilarious writer as long as she was dissident.) But Jiggers, forbid her, doesn’t like cat toys. If it’s made for cats, he doesn’t care because that’s what it’s like to be a cat.
But it is not vulnerable to the chemical weaknesses of its kind. At one point during the pandemic, I bought a large tub of catnip, bought a unique sock, put a cup of catnip in it, and tied the top. Jigs immediately took the sock and wrapped it around his head, dangling over the very tops of the cats.
Later that evening, she was hopping into empty Whole Foods bags like she was running around the kitchen and managed to wrap one’s handle around her neck. Alarmed, she jumped into the air and split the bag in two. He then ran to the other side of the house, up the stairs and under the bed, with half the paper bag flying behind him like a superhero cape.
Anyway: get a cat; they are one of life’s greatest pleasures. Then take a big catnip and hold it well in the air. —Emily Baker-White
Husky bench as a standing desk – $299 Home Depot
16 months after the pandemic, I thought it would be a good idea to get a desk in my apartment that wouldn’t come with physical therapy for my body. I wanted an adjustable standing desk, but not something that costs over $800 or looks really dumb. I was lucky enough to learn a secret: benches Sold by Home Depot, I don’t know, countertop materials actually make excellent and inexpensive standing desks. It’s great – looks good, comes on wheels if I need to make room, has a cool easy-to-use hand crank. And best of all, it has “Husky” in capital letters on it and a wolf head sticker that makes me feel so empowered looking at Tweetdeck. —Matt Berman
Keynote illustration by Raymond Biesinger for BuzzFeed News