25 Things We Tested And Loved This Year That Make Great Gifts

25 Things We Tested And Loved This Year That Make Great Gifts

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Looking for the best products to gift — and to get — this holiday season? Check out Underscored’s Holiday Guide here.

This year, we tried and tested a plethora of products. Some were forgettable, while others left a lasting impression. Because we’re committed to spotlighting the best products out there, we’ve decided to round up our absolute, hands-down favorites we tried this year — which so happen to make great gifts.

Ahead, you’ll find life-changing products in beauty, tech, pet care, home, fashion and more.

It feels like pretty much our entire team owns one of these, and for good reason. This $21 gadget is the best thing to happen to my morning routine. I roll it on my face (and mostly my puffy under-eyes) each morning, and it wakes me up like no amount of coffee can. I love its cooling effect and the slight lymphatic drainage you get from rolling it in an upward motion. Even if you think you might not *need* this product, you’re going to want to try it — my husband was stealing mine so much that I made him get his own! I genuinely miss this tool when I go on vacation. It’s simply the BEST. — Hayley Saltzman, head of social

I wore these slippers basically every day this fall. Whether I was taking my dog on a walk, heading to the climbing gym or going just around the corner to the market, these kept my toes cozy even as the temperatures started to dip. — Kai Burkhardt, associate editor

Marlow, a new brand from the minds behind bedding go-to Brooklinen, just launched, and I’ve had the chance to spend several nights with the Pillow, the company’s signature product. Suffice to say, I’m a Marlow convert. It provides just the right amount of support for my firmer pillow tastes, but it’s truly meant to suit every kind of sleeper. Seriously, why aren’t all pillows adjustable? — Chelsea Stone, senior commerce editor

Any cat owner knows that the quest to find a stylish cat bed is a long and tiring one, so imagine my glee upon finding this cat oasis that looked straight out of West Elm. For starters, my cat loves the thing. For several hours a day you can find her nestled inside the orb (as I like to call it), with her tiny body a mere black blob on the soft fur cushion inside. Sure, it took her a day to get used to the thing, but nothing that a few sprinkles of catnip couldn’t fix. It honestly brings me so much joy looking at it. There is no going back. — Rachel Lubitz, senior lifestyle editor

Our pick for the best overall bidet seat, the Alpha JX was an outstanding bidet that provides a luxurious wash. I hadn’t used bidets much until this year, but after testing 17 for this story, I’m a firm believer. The Alpha JX is particularly nice because it can give you instant, unlimited hot water, a feature normally saved for bidets hundreds of dollars more expensive. — Kai Burkhardt, associate editor

They did it. Lovesac has solved the seemingly impossible problem of cold feet peeking out from under a throw blanket. This innovative Footsac has a built-in pocket at the bottom that you can slide your feet into to keep them toasty and wrapped up in cozy, blankety warmth. All hail Footsac. — Chelsea Stone, senior commerce editor

I’ve tried out more wireless earbuds this year than I probably have in my entire life, and I think I’ve finally settled on the ones I want to use forever. It all started when I ditched my beloved AirPods Pro for the Jabra Elite Active 75t earlier this year, due to the latter’s superior controls and noise cancellation. But I eventually found myself missing the perks — and smoother pairing — that comes with using a pair of Apple earbuds on an iPhone. So when the Beats Fit Pro showed up at my apartment late this year, I felt like I finally had the best of both worlds.

The Fit Pro have virtually all of the AirPods Pro’s key features, including reliable active noise cancellation and a Transparency mode for amplifying the outside world. They also come in a range of colors, including a gorgeous Stone Purple that’s been a refreshing change from my plain white AirPods. Oh, and they’re $50 cheaper. I’m still using the Beats Fit Pro more than a month after I first reviewed them, and I don’t see myself putting them down anytime soon. — Mike Andronico, senior tech writer

This adorable mini Dutch oven was the showstopper at a Friendsgiving I went to. I made a squash soup that perfectly complemented the mustard hue. If you’re in need of an Instagram-worthy piece of cookware, this Dutch oven is the one for you. — Kai Burkhardt, associate editor

My cat is incredibly spoiled. Not only does she have Tuft + Paw’s Stellar Cat Bed, but now she gets to comfortably lounge on this Sherpa cat cushion. After a day of getting used to it, she now curls up in this adorable pouf for at least five hours a day. She looks quite cute in it too. — Rachel Lubitz, senior lifestyle editor

Jenni Kayne’s new skin care line recently launched, and after being sent the full range of products, I can confidently say that while they’re all outstanding, the Balancing Mist and I are in the midst of a passionate love affair. Boasting ingredients like antioxidant-rich aloe leaf juice, healing rose water and hydrating glycerin, this mist is the perfect summer skin refreshment, and I can’t get enough of its hypnotic botanical scent. I’ve taken to just leaving the bottle on my desk and spritzing myself throughout the day when I need a little pick-me-up. — Chelsea Stone, senior commerce editor

I’m a sucker for a personalized necklace, especially when it comes to gifts. Made by Mary is this sweet independent jewelry shop that has tons and tons of options for personalized jewelry. This disc necklace has seriously impressed me. It’s small enough so people have to squint a little to see what’s written on it, so it feels even more personal and special. You can even customize the metal and the length, and it really does look much more expensive than it actually is. — Rachel Lubitz, senior lifestyle editor

I’ve been testing the Whoop Strap 4.0 for the last couple of months and it’s a huge improvement from the Whoop 3.0 (which I reviewed earlier in the year). The device itself is smaller and more comfortable to wear on your wrist, the battery pack is now waterproof and it even features a haptic alarm you can use to wake you up in the morning. — Kai Burkhardt, associate editor

Taking my cat, Phoebe, on a cross-country flight back home is always a recipe for stress — on my part. (Phoebe is usually fine.) My most recent trip with her was no different: We were delayed for five hours, but the Wild One Travel Carrier ended up being a major lifesaver. While we were stranded in the terminal, I was able to unzip the carrier into a covered cat bed with a comfy cushion to give her room to stretch out and get some air (the interior leash clip came in super handy; I could give her a little freedom to wander without worrying she’d run away). Plus, the plentiful pockets — including the cell phone pocket — made my life easier when it came to keeping her necessities like treats and wipes on hand, while the sleeve fit over my luggage handle to ensure she was secure as I wheeled her along during the journey. — Chelsea Stone, senior commerce editor

If you’re shopping for a pet parent who is also particularly design-forward, the Fable Crate (which also doubles as a side table) is a must-have gift. It’s handcrafted from premium bent wood and comes with the option of a clear acrylic or metal sliding door. It’s trendy yet simple enough to go with any decor style. And better yet, my pup actually prefers to sleep inside of it because of how cozy and dark it is! — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

Therabody Wave Solo ($79; therabody.com) I really enjoyed the Therabody Wave Solo, which is basically a palm-sized massaging ball that vibrates to help you loosen up those pesky knots. You can use it as a roller and massage basically anywhere you want, but I especially liked using it as a wrist or hand massager on my desk. The ball has a specific spot that dampens any vibrations, so you can have it on your desk without rattling your computer off the edge. — Kai Burkhardt, associate editor

After seven-plus years of sleeping on a regular ol’ spring mattress (which had a very apparent permanent dent in the middle), I decided during my recent move that I’d finally upgrade to Casper’s Nova Hybrid Mattress featuring cooling Snow technology. All I can say is, wow. First of all, the mattress arrived rolled up in the box — the pinnacle of convenience and certainly the easiest aspect of my move. The Nova is incredibly plush while also still managing to be supportive, and the addition of the Snow technology has been a dream (pun intended) during New York City’s latest sweltering summer heat wave. Read more about Casper’s Cooling Collection in our full review here. — Chelsea Stone, senior commerce editor

Lululemon’s reversible yoga mat is our pick for best yoga mat of 2021, so I should have known it would be a complete game changer. My old, generic yoga mat was getting a bit gross after a pandemic’s worth of at-home workouts, so I decided to splurge on the pink marbled version of Lululemon’s mat. Not only is it ultra cushiony, grippy for better balance and big enough for me to really spread out on, but I also actually love the look of it in the corner of my living room. — Chelsea Stone, senior commerce editor

I’ve tested my fair share of leggings, and I keep coming back to these. At this point, I’m not ashamed to admit that I own four pairs of the leggings and four pairs of the bike short version. I am a big fan of Lululemon, but these affordable leggings from Amazon are undoubtedly my favorite. I’ve owned several pairs for nearly a year, and after almost daily use (for running, working out, running errands and working from home), they all remain in great shape. They are buttery soft and feel as though they’re far more expensive than they actually are — plus, they have POCKETS. I like a legging that feels structured and supportive but not suffocating, and these are truly that perfect balance. If I could wear these leggings every single day, I would. In fact, I do. And I have zero regrets. — Hayley Saltzman, head of social

Did I mention my cat is incredibly spoiled? Oh yes, well, here we go again. In honor of her continuing to be the best roommate I’ve ever had, Eartha simply had to be treated to a custom portrait of herself too. All I did was send West & Willow a few pictures of her and in a matter of just about two weeks, this gorgeous framed digital portrait arrived. The frame was high quality, and it came with plastic plates rather than glass, which I appreciate since Eartha has a habit of knocking art off the walls. (She moonlights as an interior designer.) Clearly, she’s a big fan as well. — Rachel Lubitz, senior lifestyle editor

A new screen can make all the difference, as I’ve learned from my two months with the Nintendo Switch OLED. As its name suggests, the latest Switch model has a revamped display that’s both bigger and bolder, with richer colors and deeper blacks that make it easier to get immersed in some of my favorite games like Metroid Dread and Tetris Effect: Connected.

I’ve found myself revisiting older titles just to see how they look on Nintendo’s new display, and often opt to play in handheld mode even when my TV is nearby — the screen is just that good. When you couple that with a much-improved kickstand and a generally refined design, the Switch OLED is how I want to play my Switch games for the foreseeable future, and makes my launch model look dated and dull by co

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