This is such a fun list as it’s not what people Think they’d like — it’s what they Know they liked. Moreover, since this is (after all) my blog, I love that several of these are items, or variations of items that I use regularly myself. But I can’t help wondering how much these staffers are paid to afford some of these items, even if bought on eBay.
| YOUR GUIDEWirecutter Staff|
As we wrap up another year in an ongoing pandemic, it feels like we’ve all developed an even closer relationship with the things we choose to bring into our homes and lives—maybe because we’re (still) spending more time at home or continuing to rethink our daily routines.
In a way, this best-of list has become an annual temperature check of where our brains are at. From potting benches to bulk-wine subscriptions, these are the things that kept us (sort of) sane this year. When you buy through our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more ›
| A supersize vessel Le CreusetLe Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 9½-Quart Oval Dutch Oven ($460) One of the first truly grown-up kitchen items I ever owned was a 5½-quart round Dutch oven from Le Creuset (the upgrade pick in our Dutch oven guide). When I first bought it, as a 20-something, it seemed impossibly huge and heavy. (Especially since I lived in a small New York City apartment, where devoting an entire shelf of precious cupboard space to a single French braising vessel felt like an act of lunacy.) But over the years, life expanded. My family got bigger, my storage options got better, and my appetite to feed large crowds grew. Though it’s still a wonderful workhorse, my OG Le Creuset—shockingly—just didn’t have enough capacity. With a thud, I realized that I needed the larger, 9½-quart oval model.|
I’ll freely admit that both the supersize dimensions—it could house a small dog—and hefty price tag can be a lot to handle. (Psst: I ended up finding a used one on eBay for around $200. The Marseille-blue exterior is worn, but the enamel on the inside is still perfectly smooth, because these things are built to last.) These days, I can happily cook two chickens at once or a big-ass batch of bone-in short ribs. It’s the largest Dutch oven that Le Creuset currently makes, but I’m so pleased with my new addition that … who can say what the future holds? If the company ever decides to level up to a cauldron, they know where to find me.
—Ingela Ratledge Amundson, lead editor
Cute mugs Crow Canyon Crow Canyon Splatter Mug ($10)I’ve been trying to reduce plastic at home with my kids, who have long used IKEA plastic cups in the apartment. I snagged a set of four of these pretty Crow Canyon Splatter enamelware mugs for them to use at home, to take out camping, or to go to the park for picnics. The colors are great, and the vessels are durable. And they look just a bit nicer than the standard enamelware cups you’d pick up at a camping store. If you want to go all-out, the company also has bowls, dishes, and storage containers.
—Christine Cyr Clisset, deputy editor
Weighted bliss Sarah Kobos Baloo Weighted Blanket ($220 for a 15-pound full/queen)Like many during the pandemic, I was doing poorly with every aspect of sleep—falling into it, staying in it, not getting kicked in the face by my bed-invading toddler while doing it. I was intrigued by the promise of weighted blankets, but I was worried they’d make me sweat even more than I already did. So when I saw the Baloo Weighted Blanket recommendation in our weighted blanket guide, it seemed almost too good to be true. The price threw me a bit, but I was desperate, so I ordered it and tried to manage my expectations as I awaited its arrival. The first time I pulled it over my tired, sleep-deprived body, I nearly wept with relief. Turns out it is the perfect gentle hug I need to fall and stay asleep, and it’s cool and soothing to boot. Now to figure out what to do about that toddler foot.
—Marilyn Ong, supervising editor
Light my fire Ooni Ooni Fyra 12 Wood Pellet Pizza Oven ($350) Somehow, my partner and I missed the whole 2020-bread-baking memo. In its place, though, we have pizza. In the past, I’ve envied friends who own backyard pizza ovens. But our backyard isn’t big enough to fit one (nor are our construction skills polished enough to build one). However, when he started lobbying for an Ooni Fyre, I checked with our kitchen team staffers (who happened to be testing a few Oonis for a guide), and they gave it the thumbs-up. The wood pellets are easy to manage; the oven really does top 900 degrees Fahrenheit; the whole thing is small enough to bring with us on road trips; and it’s given us a project. Practice, after all, makes perfect.
—Christine Ryan, senior editor A sling for your water bottle (and more)
Corkcicle Corkcicle Sling ($45)After making too many impulsive purchases, I often joke about how social media ads work too well on me. But in the case of Corkcicle’s Sling, I have no regrets. Being able to carry my water bottle and have room to bring my phone, wallet, hand sanitizer, and more with me has been a game changer on long walks and hikes. Friends who see it keep asking me for the link to purchase their own. Plus, it can fit up to a 40-ounce bottle. I’ve recommended this sling to everyone so much that it even appears on another Wirecutter gift guide list this year. I just love it.
—Rozette Rago, photo editor
A pizza cutter that “wheel” go on and on OXO OXO Steel Pizza Wheel and Cutter ($14)I had been casually shopping for a new pizza cutter for over two years, putting up with a subpar one that was frustratingly dull and prone to bending. The OXO Steel Pizza Wheel and Cutter is sharp and rock solid, and it makes pizza night more enjoyable. This pizza cutter will never bend because it has two support arms that hold the wheel on either side! It has changed my life.
—Gustave Gerhardt, principal engineer
Clogs that make chores less of a slog Crocs Crocs Classic Clog ($40)I used to slap around my apartment barefoot or in a pair of flat slippers that left my arches aching—especially while cleaning on the weekends. Ever since I got a pair of Crocs, they’ve become my go-to indoor “doing chores” shoes. I love the supportive cush they provide as I stand and wash dishes, sweep, vacuum, and pretend to fold laundry while watching Veep. I can wear them for hours at a time, and my feet are completely comfortable. They’re light and breathable, so they’re also great for the summer. And there’s plenty of space to layer on socks as the temps drop.
—Jessie Mohkami, editorial assistant
Clearly organized Michael Murtaugh Pyrex Simply Store 18-Piece Set ($30)I’m sure it’s at least 50% my own perception, but these storage containers (the glass pick in our food-storage-container guide) make me feel more organized. I also love that I can clearly see what’s inside them. Again, this is probably my mind tricking me, but I even feel like I’m more likely to eat leftovers or reuse them in some way. Plus, it’s so nice to be able to reheat food in them and eat out of them. Before I purchased these, I was relying solely on takeout containers—which I’d inevitably fill with leftovers and give away to friends. Now I know exactly what I have in the cupboard at all times! And I will not be lending them to anyone (sorry!).
—Andrew Kalinchuk, deputy managing editor
| An analog storytelling playerYotoYoto Player ($100)I bought my niece a Yoto Player with a matching Adventure Jacket for her 5th birthday this year, after asking around for something that met her parents’ criteria: They wanted a durable music player she could control by herself, one that lacked the screen and microphone of a tablet. The Yoto more than delivered on this task, and our entire family is smitten. She has a library of physical cards that slot into the Yoto, many of which are customized and all of which withstand the usual wear and tear of boisterous kiddos. Every single track can have a unique, simple pixelated image on the display (I added a whale for “Baby Beluga” and a top hat for “Chim Chim Cher-ee”). Yoto has a big library of music and story cards available for purchase. And you can also buy blank cards and put your own playlists, voice recordings, and albums on them. Parents can use a connected app to set volume and time limits, play other sounds with Bluetooth, or access any card virtually. The Yoto has a wireless charger, and the built-in clock and night-light are helping my niece learn to tell and keep time. The company recently announced a Mini version, right around the time I announced my candidacy for Long-Distance Aunt of the Year.|
—Annam Swanson, managing editor The real slim shadingShop PBSBob Ross Car Sun Shade ($25)Bob Ross has long been my own personal Buddha. And, to my delight, my kids have also found comfort in his benevolent example. Bob’s smiling mug on this car sun shade has provided us with protection from the scorching sun, as well as a much-needed daily dose of levity during a summer that was abruptly cooled off by yet another COVID-19 wave. One side of the shield we originally bought (now discontinued) has Saint Bob’s beaming face, the other reflective foil. Note that the newer, nicer model has replaced ours, and it’s made of a flexible fabric with two built-in hoops, so it can fold down easily and stow in a tote bag.
—Jon Chase, lead editor