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11 Life-Changing Things To Try In December

Because we tried them for you in November!

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We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.The BuzzFeed staff is always trying new products, apps, hacks, and DIY projects, and we decided it was time to start sharing the best of them with you. Each month, we post our recommendations for what’s actually worth it. This post features a mix of items that we purchased with out own money and those that were provided to us at no cost for the sake of review. (But! We’re under no obligation to write a review of those things, let alone a positive review.)Let us know in the comments what sorts of things you’d like us to review next month!
Zoe Burnett / Via BuzzFeed

We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

The BuzzFeed staff is always trying new products, apps, hacks, and DIY projects, and we decided it was time to start sharing the best of them with you. Each month, we post our recommendations for what’s actually worth it. This post features a mix of items that we purchased with out own money and those that were provided to us at no cost for the sake of review. (But! We’re under no obligation to write a review of those things, let alone a positive review.)

Let us know in the comments what sorts of things you’d like us to review next month!

1. Goo Gone, an adhesive remover that will banish pesky label gunk from your life forever.

Yi Yang / Via BuzzFeed

Goo Gone is one of those things that I somehow had never heard of until this year (though others have apparently had it in their households for years). When I saw it in this BuzzFeed post, my life was changed forever. I couldn’t believe I had lived for so many years without this stuff. So many presents were ruined by price stickers that wouldn’t peel off properly and so many reusable glass containers thrown away/recycled because I couldn’t get the sticky label off of them.

When I got my hands on a bottle, I immediately put it to test. A couple of days ago, I bought a really cool glass milk saucer from the MoMA store, but the product label left an ugly and sticky residue on it (why do shops allow stickers like this?!). I applied the Goo Gone, washed with soap and water, and voilà — the adhesive came right off, leaving my saucer crystal clear. Then, I cleaned off an old soy sauce container and turned it into a flower vase. And it can do so much more than just removing price stickers; the product description says it’ll work on candle wax, permanent marker, crayon, glue, gum, tape residue, adhesive, paint, tree sap, tar, etc. It’s also surface-safe and can be used on carpet and upholstery, clothing, and any hard surfaces — including glass, laminate, metal, wood, plastic, vinyl, windows, ceramic, granite, flooring, countertops, tile, and wood. And bonus: It smells nice and citrusy!

Since purchasing Goo Gone, I’ve cleaned off several candle tins, a Trader Joe's growler, and a kimchi jar previously marred by sticky labels — they can now be reused as pen holders and food containers! In fact, now I'm constantly looking around my apartment to see what I can Goo Gone (yes, I'm using it as a verb) and reuse. Definitely one of my best household purchases EVER. —Yi Yang

Get it from Amazon for $7.48 or from Jet for $5.99.

2. Play-Doh Kitchen Magical Creations Oven and Shape and Learn Letters and Language sets, to keep little (and not so little) ones entertained for hours.

Elena Garcia / Via BuzzFeed

I remember very fondly my time playing with (and sometimes eating) Play-Doh as a child. I loved the colors, the way it felt between my fingers, the smell, and the kinda salty taste (FYI don’t let your kids eat Play-Doh, just saying). I would spend hours molding and mixing colors, and I wanted to make sure my gorgeous genius of a nephew had the same experiences. So I called in the cavalry and ordered two very cool new Play-Doh toys — the Kitchen Creations Magical Oven and Shape and Learn Letters and Language. My nephew is just shy of 3 so I figured we would have a good time with these. And OH BOY did we! When I say we raged, I am not playin'…or actually, I was.

The Shape and Learn was great because he got to practice his letters and then create them in the dough with the included stamps. It wasn’t just about playing, it was about learning... Sneaky! As an adult who is obsessed with her nephew and knows that his future career as a brain surgeon/model/firefighter/chef/world leader/saint isn’t going to happen unless he knows his letters, I loved the educational component.

The Magical Oven was probably his favorite because he loves playing with kitchen toys. He had a blast cutting out and making cookies for me to eat (apparently he knew my affection for the taste of the ‘Doh). He’d put all the little pans in the oven, let them “cook,” and then serve them like a feast. I mean, it made for a pretty wild Saturday night. —Elena Garcia

Get the Kitchen Creations Magical Oven from Walmart for $18.72 or Target for $17.89. Get the Shape and Learn set from Amazon for $12.74 or from Walmart for $14.

3. To Go Ware Repeat Utensil Set, reusable bamboo utensils perfect for eco-friendly dining on the go.

Lillian Zhou

As an adult in the working world, I find myself spending a good chunk of my day in the office. That includes having lunches in my building's cafeteria. The cafeteria doesn't offer silverware, and so pretty much everyone uses the plastic utensils that they have. When you stop to think about how many people are using and throwing out all these plastic forks and knives every single day, the amount of unnecessary waste that accumulates is pretty ridiculous/sad.

Since one of my goals this year was to create less waste and to seriously limit my use of plastic, I decided to get myself a set of To Go Ware utensils. I didn't want to just stick some silverware in my bag because a) I know I'd end up losing it, and b) my bag is a wasteland and sticking a spoon in there just sounds super gross. The To Go Ware utensils come in a pouch made from recycled plastic (you can choose from a variety of colors), and the set is made up of a bamboo spoon, a fork, a knife, and chopsticks. They're lightweight and easy to carry — there's a carabiner attached to the back of the pouch so you can easily attach it to the strap of a purse/backpack), and the bamboo utensils are also heat- and stain-resistant (they're coated with food-safe wood oil to ensure durability).

Honestly, I cannot recommend this product enough and I really, really wish more people knew about it! I keep these in my bag all the time. They've served me well, and helped me reduce my plastic waste. Win-win! —Lillian Zhou

Get the set from Amazon for $12.83+ (available in six colors).

4. Plated, an ingredient-and-recipe kit that will turn even the most dedicated frozen food aficionados into legit home chefs.

Sarah Han / Via BuzzFeed

To say I'm lazy when it comes to making food is probably an insult to only somewhat lazy people who actually make food once in a while. I grew up super lucky to have an amazing cook of a mom who spent hours prepping and making scrumptious dinners for us after coming home from a tiring day of work (#icon), but as she made the food, I'd be busy doing homework and never really learned how to cook myself. And once I got to college it was either dining hall food, food delivered by my mom, or my one true love, frozen food. But I'm trying to be better about cooking (and spending habits, general health, and personal discipline). So when Plated floated across my radar and the meals actually looked too good to pass up, I caved and gave the convenient all-ingredients-shipped-to-my-door arrangement a try.

My first box was sent to me for free (thanks to my job), but I loved my meals so much and was so impressed that I was capable of cooking meat without setting my kitchen on fire that I signed up for an account and bought additional boxes. My favorite recipe so far has been the Crispy Flounder With Herb-Roasted Potatoes and Horseradish-Lemon Sauce (aka what's photographed). I'd never made fish myself (and I loooove seafood) and now that I know I can, you can bet this will be in my regular rotation — the flounder was warm and flaky, the potatoes crisp and well-seasoned, and the spinach wonderfully sautéed. YUM. All the ingredients come super fresh and neatly packaged (it's very pleasing to unpack and just look at, tbh) in a cold pack–filled box, and you can choose the day of the week you'd like it delivered. The instructions are printed out for you with very useful step-by-step photos (and key tips!) and are super easy to follow. You'll typically need to provide only a few very basic ingredients, like olive oil, salt, pepper, and baking pans. I'm super meticulous when it comes to recipes so the whole thing took longer than the listed 25–35 minutes, but when I'm blasting my favorite music while I cook, I don't mind at all; it's pretty therapeutic, if anything.

Other logistical things: In terms of how much food you actually get, you can choose from two to four servings per night and two to four nights per week. You can also easily skip any weeks you prefer, but remember to actually choose your meals in advance!! Otherwise you'll be stuck with whatever default meals they choose for you...and yes, I'm speaking from experience. If you're lazy AF when it comes to food and want to eat less junk and takeout, give this a shot! —Sarah Han

Subscribe to Plated for $23.50 and up (first-time customers get 50% off their first box!).

5. A Ban.do phone case to keep your phone looking cute and — more importantly — protected from the menace that is you.

bando.com, amazon.com

Back in November 2015 while I was reluctantly standing in perhaps the worst bar on Bourbon Street, I was pickpocketed and lost my beloved Disney Haunted Mansion case. I was nearly as upset about the case as I was about two strangers stealing the tiny computer that I depend upon with my damn life! I thought I’d never recover, and I settled for a boring, standard shock-resistant case you get at the Apple Store. That was, until a little over a year ago when the folks at Ban.do (you know, the place with the spunky planner and cutest pink accessories), sent me this Chill Pills phone case to try, and the impossible happened: I found a way to love a phone case again.

Until I had a 3D silicone case, I had my doubts about the effectiveness of protecting my phone during my butter-finger drops. Let me tell you — I drop my phone at least three times a day and the overlapping lip at the edge of the phone screen keeps my screen cover in fighting condition. When this case hits the ground from my bed, falls from my hands while walking, or lands on the ledge of an elliptical, whatever, it’s safe and sound. It even bounces sometimes! Plus, the buttons on the case’s exterior for the volume, etc., work well, which is not always the case for 3D cases. I just had to switch to another case a week ago because my iPhone 6 stopped taking voice calls, BUT I *really* considered getting another one of these for my new iPhone 8. Even though I swapped cases, I can’t find it in myself to get rid of Chill Pills, so it’s resting in peace in my nightstand drawer. For now. —Elizabeth Lilly

Get an iPhone 6/6s case from Amazon for $19.20 or from Ban.do for $25. Get a 7/8 case from Ban.do for $32.

6. Sipwell stainless steel straws, for all the sippin' with none of the crushing environmental guilt.

Jessie Gaynor / Via BuzzFeed, amazon.com

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about products that help you use less waste — and really sent myself into a shame spiral about how careless I am when it comes to the trash I create. I resolved to take some of my own advice and invest in reusable products whenever possible. The cheapest and easiest way to start was these Sipwell stainless steel straws.

Plastic straws are really, really bad for the environment. They're not recyclable, and they're really damaging to marine life (there's a horrifying YouTube video of a plastic straw lodged in a sea turtle's nostril, which... click at your own risk). Not to be glib, but I once got a plastic straw caught in my hair and can attest to the fact that they are easily ensnared. Luckily, these stainless steel straws are a cheap, easy, and ~fancy~ way to do your part to reduce the number of plastic straws clogging the seas. They come in a set of four (I keep two at home, one at work, and one in my purse) with a little cleaning brush.

Honestly, even aside from the smugness that comes from knowing you're helping turtles, I much prefer these straws to plastic ones. The cool metal makes cold drinks that much more refreshing, and they kind of make me feel like I'm at a trendy cocktail bar when I am, in fact, drinking seltzer at my desk while writing about straws. —Jessie Gaynor

Get a pack of four straws from Amazon for $6.95.

7. Hail Merry tarts, for an indulgent sweet treat that's safe for gluten-free (and vegan) folks.

Francine Hendrikson / Via BuzzFeed

As a gluten-free human, indulging in decadent, rich desserts can be difficult. One day as I was perusing through the health food store aisles, I saw a chocolate mint Hail Merry tart, and realized it was gluten-free. I gave it a whirl — it was very delish. Since then, when I get a really really intense chocolate craving, I go for one of these tarts.

Recently I tried the chocolate almond butter tart, which was basically a smoother, richer, darker version of a peanut butter cup. I definitely prefer this tart over the mint, mostly because it packs 11 grams of protein per serving. It'd made with a lot of coconut oil, so the decadence was almost too much. The crust of the tart is made of almond flour, which gives it a really unique texture that I love. Even though this tart is pretty small, I could not finish it because it was so rich — so be prepared to share! If you are crazy for dark chocolate and almond butter and hate overly sweet desserts, I recommend treating yourself to this lil' tart. It'll definitely satisfy your craving. —Francine Hendrickson

Get a dark chocolate tart for $6.09 or a pack of six chocolate almond butter mini-tarts for $8.09 from Jet.

8. The Luxe Bidet Neo 120, an inexpensive bidet attachment that'll make your butt say bid-yay! (Sorry.)

Emmy Favilla / Via BuzzFeed

A bidet, to be blunt, is a device that cleans your butt. It can take the form of a separate sink-like fixture in one's bathroom (fancy!) or a simple attachment affixed to one's toilet bowl (cheap!). The rest of the world has been riding the bidet train for quite some time, but for some reason the US has yet to catch up to their enthusiasm for this must-have bathroom accessory, and I honestly can't understand why — because a $35 bidet attachment has, simply and truly, changed my life.

It's easy to set this up yourself (and you can read all about the installation process here). Sparing you the gory details, let's just say that it *works*. A quick spray gets the job that wads of toilet paper would normally take to get done — hooray for saving trees! — and never in my life have I felt so clean after doing my biz. To use it, you just turn a knob that adjusts the water pressure, finding a setting that's comfortable for you. You might have to adjust your position on the seat to make sure the bidet sprays you in just the right area, but man. What a sensation. So fresh! So clean! There's also second knob to control the self-cleaning nozzle.

Just in case you needed a little more convincing, may I add that this particular product has over 5,700 reviews on Amazon and a 4.6-star rating? Note that most bidet attachments are designed to fit on the right side of your toilet (sorry, lefties😟), so if you have a small and cramped bathroom, you'll want to make sure you have enough room for one before you order. Look, I'm calling it now: 2018 is going to be the Year of the Bidet. Get on it and give your booty the hygiene it deserves. —Emmy Favilla

Get the Luxe Neo 120 bidet from Amazon for $34.99 (available in allover white and blue and white).

9. The One Fast Cat Exercise Wheel, which will keep your kittos entertained from the comfort of your couch (or wherever!).

Mallory Mower / Via BuzzFeed

I have two short-legged, hairless Bambino cats that (because I never got out of my junior high Gossip Girl phase) are named Chuck and Blair. I love them too much and try to give them everything their little kitty hearts desire. Usually that means Fancy Feast, but last month it meant the One Fast Cat Exercise Wheel, which is essentially a giant hamster wheel for cats.

I bought this wheel because 1) I had just killed my giant Ikea plant, leaving an empty space in my apartment, and 2) I have pet-parent guilt and worry that my indoor critters don’t get enough entertainment. I mean, they’re happy with getting stoned out of their minds on catnip, but I wanted to give them an activity slightly more engaging. Enter: the One Fast Cat Wheel. Blair (the skinny cat) took to it the second I finished putting it together, exercising just like her teeny-tiny Upper East Side heiress namesake. Chuck (or Chunky Chuck, as his rude internet cat friends call him) took about a week of hand-holding and treat-giving to embrace it. Because I am a dedicated parent (and because I was not about to let a $200 cat wheel go unused by half my cats) I trained Chuck with catnip and string to encourage him to run. And it worked! They love it, and it has also made lazy playtime a breeze for me. I just aim a laser pointer on the wheel any time I want to play with them without having to get off the couch. I love not getting off the couch. I love this wheel.

In summation: The One Fast Cat Wheel was a breeze to assemble (and one time it took me three minutes to figure out how to get the lid back onto my lipstick), it safely entertains my kittos when I’m not home, and the videos of them running on it totally shot up my cats’ Instagram following (which is WHAT MATTERS MOST). If you don’t have a cat, get one so you can get this wheel. —Mal Mower

Get it from Amazon or One Fast Cat for $199 (available in four colors).

10. Flicker, an album that will have you dancing in public and scream-singing along in the car.

Before I start, I should probably mention that I am a huge One Direction fan. So when I found out that they would be going on a break, I wasn't happy. After all, the guys never went on tour for their album Made in the A.M., and I'm still pretty salty about it. Last year, when Niall was the first of the four remaining 1D boys to release a single ("This Town"), I wasn't a huge fan — it was a little too slow and cheesy for me. But in the months following, all three of the other boys released music that I loved (I can honestly say I'd enter a burning building to save Harry's self-titled album if I had to), so when Niall released Flicker, I was mildly optimistic. As a 1D stan and someone who will always be here for their solo ventures (despite the fact that it's more fucking expensive), I listened to it with open ears — and was very, very pleasantly surprised.The first track on the album, "On the Loose," pulls you right in. It's a fun song that just makes you want to dance (or aggressively tap your feet if you're like me and first listen to the album in a public setting). "Seeing Blind" is an incredible duet with country singer Maren Morris that you'll definitely find yourself singing along to in the car. I'm not a huge fan of slow songs, but "Paper Houses" is among the best songs on the album. My number one, though, is "On My Own." It will get stuck in your head, but it's the kind of song you'll want to have in your head all day.Overall, I'd give this album a solid 8.5/10. I can't really compare it to Harry's debut, but it's the perfect Niall album (without being too predictable). —Samantha WiederGet it from Amazon for $7.59+.
amazon.com

Before I start, I should probably mention that I am a huge One Direction fan. So when I found out that they would be going on a break, I wasn't happy. After all, the guys never went on tour for their album Made in the A.M., and I'm still pretty salty about it. Last year, when Niall was the first of the four remaining 1D boys to release a single ("This Town"), I wasn't a huge fan — it was a little too slow and cheesy for me. But in the months following, all three of the other boys released music that I loved (I can honestly say I'd enter a burning building to save Harry's self-titled album if I had to), so when Niall released Flicker, I was mildly optimistic. As a 1D stan and someone who will always be here for their solo ventures (despite the fact that it's more fucking expensive), I listened to it with open ears — and was very, very pleasantly surprised.

The first track on the album, "On the Loose," pulls you right in. It's a fun song that just makes you want to dance (or aggressively tap your feet if you're like me and first listen to the album in a public setting). "Seeing Blind" is an incredible duet with country singer Maren Morris that you'll definitely find yourself singing along to in the car. I'm not a huge fan of slow songs, but "Paper Houses" is among the best songs on the album. My number one, though, is "On My Own." It will get stuck in your head, but it's the kind of song you'll want to have in your head all day.

Overall, I'd give this album a solid 8.5/10. I can't really compare it to Harry's debut, but it's the perfect Niall album (without being too predictable). —Samantha Wieder

Get it from Amazon for $7.59+.

11. The Alaska Bear silk sleep mask, an under-$10 miracle product for photosensitive sleepers.

Yi Yang / Via BuzzFeed

There’s a building under construction across the street from my apartment, and it’s lit up 24/7. Every night, rows of bright orange lights shine through my semi-transparent curtains like an alien spaceship. I knew the easiest (and cheapest) solution would be getting a sleep mask, but I had several ones before that didn’t fit well — they either had gaps in the nose area, were too tight, felt too rough, made me sweat, or stained my skin (yup, this actually happened). I figured that a bad sleep mask was even worse than not having one at all, so I just put up with the lights.

Finally, after several weeks of insomnia, I caved and went on Amazon in search of a quality but reasonably priced sleep mask. One of the first options that popped up was the Alaska Bear silk sleep mask. The pretty blue pattern is what drew me to it initially, and when I saw that it was lined with silk in both the front AND back, I was sold. I had seen similar silk sleep masks being sold online for $30 or $40 (or more), but this one was only $12.99! With over 9,000 customer reviews and 4.6 stars, I figured it couldn't be that bad, even if the price seemed too good to be true.

When it arrived, it far exceeded my expectations. It is SO SOFT and luxurious. I couldn’t stop rubbing it against my face — and silk is apparently very good for your skin and hair. It’s not just a piece of silk; there’s actually a bit of padding, which allows the mask to contour my face perfectly. The band is adjustable and stretchy, which is great because I like mine to be quite loose, so it doesn’t feel like I’m being suffocated. When I have it on, I quickly forget I’m wearing it because it’s so light and breathable, but at the same time, it blocks out 100% of the light. It used to take me half an hour to an hour to fall asleep, and now I conk out in five to ten minutes. When I wake up, my eyes and skin look and feel great — no sweating, imprints, or stains. This little beauty has drastically improved my quality of life, and I’m definitely getting five more as Christmas presents. —Yi Yang

Get it from Amazon for $9.99+ (available in eight patterns).

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