12 Useful Gifts You Should Buy Yourself for a Better 2018

12 Useful Gifts You Should Buy Yourself for a Better 2018

Happy post-holiday! I hope your break was lovely, and filled with family, friends, food, and fun. Hopefully Santa brought you everything you asked for, but if he didn’t, maybe at least he included gift receipts or a few gift cards. While your friends/relatives/boss/partner may have had the best intentions, it’s possible that they just don’t quite get you, or they get you so perfectly that you already have one of whatever they picked out for you. Everybody tried their best, but now it’s time to get yourself what you really want and need.

I’ve got some ideas about what to do with that extra store credit/cash burning a hole in your pocket. I know everyone (me included) says that things won’t bring you happiness, but they can certainly sometimes fix specific problems and help make your life better. In hopes of improving your 2018, I’m sharing things that might make you wish you’d had them in your life a lot sooner.

Eyeliner that stays put

Tarte Sex Kitten liquid eyeliner


While I have loved some of the other eyeliners I’ve used over the years, I have a bad habit of rubbing at my eyes and making a mess of my face. I thought that dragging eyeliner all over your face if you rubbed it was just something we all accept and deal with, but then I tried this one by Tarte. It’s more expensive than my old eyeliner, but the overwhelmingly positive reviews convinced me to give it a try. I was kind of shocked by just how well it stuck to my eyelids, plus it’s cruelty-free, and has a cute little kitten on top. Winning in every way!

Environmentally-friendly endless soda water



Whether you’re trying to drink more water, or give up sugary or diet soda, soda water is a delicious solution. I know LaCroix is the trendy soda water source these days, but a SodaStream is a cheaper (long-term), more environmentally-friendly replacement for cans and bottles of soda water. I’ve had this machine for several years now, and I love it. A couple of tips: Buy an extra bottle or two so that you have one chilling in your fridge at all times, and if you want flavor without any sugar or sugar substitutes, I really like this coconut flavor and would give their other flavorings a try.

Plastic-wrap reducers

food huggers



Combined with the avocado version, there is definitely at least one of these in use in my fridge at all times. You can use them directly on fruits and vegetables, but they also work on small jars and bowls. These are one of those genius inventions that seem super obvious in retrospect, and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them (the answer is you used a lot more plastic wrap).

A cushy, non-slip yoga mat

Gaiam yoga mat

I started doing power Vinyasa yoga regularly around this time last year, using an old, cheap yoga mat that I’ve had for like a decade. It was really thin and kind of slippery, but I used it for a few months because I didn’t know that there were better ones until I tried the new one my husband got. I immediately ordered one of my own and have been using it ever since. If you’re taking up yoga any time soon, I highly recommend this mat. When you’re jumping into any new activities, having the right equipment can make a huge difference in your comfort, which can help motivate you to keep going.

Kitchen problem-solver


I have a bunch of canning jars that I often use for storage of stuff from bulk bins. But taking off the two-piece ring and lid situation every time you open the jar is annoying, and if you put the containers someplace damp, like your fridge, the metal lid can get rusty. If you’re not doing actual canning, though, you can substitute these plastic storage lids. These delight me more than makes sense for jar lids, probably because I appreciate a good, simple solution.

The secret to keeping your bra straps from falling down

Bra strap clips

Bra Strap Clips
No matter how I adjusted them, my bra straps constantly fell off my shoulders. Maybe it’s my bad posture, but for a while I was considering only buying convertible bras that can cross in the back. The only problems with that solution are 1) I like the bras I already have that are not this style, and 2) that is a very limiting constraint because there aren’t that many bras in that style. I don’t think I ever mentioned this problem to anyone else, so I can’t blame people for not telling me about the solution, but if you have the same problem, you need these bra strap clips. I put them on all of my bras, and now I never have to mess with the straps. It’s weird how much this $7 purchase improved my daily life.

The easiest light you’ll ever install

Hiring electricians to wire new lights in your house can be expensive and not worth it if you just wish you could see what’s hidden in the dark corners of your linen closet. I ran into this problem when I was making over my bedroom closet and kitchen pantry this year. In the past I’ve used battery-operated stick-on lights from Ikea, but they’re wasteful because you have to replace the batteries all the time. So I was thrilled to discover rechargeable stick-on LED lights. I also have some that attach to a bracket you screw on, and those are great, too. I’ll probably end up putting them in every unlit closet in my house. They even work for dark armoires or wardrobes, and are perfect for renters.

A travel mug that won’t leak

Travel mug

“You had one job!” is what I want to yell at leaky or drippy travel mugs. Aside from keeping you from berating inanimate objects, this travel mug will keep your coffee or tea warm and toasty, and off of your face/clothes/hands/interior -of-your-bag. I bought my husband this mug for Christmas last year, and despite the fact that we have a bunch of other travel mugs, it’s the first one we go for. Now I wish I had bought this double pack. Its key features are that it doesn’t leak, and it’s easy to clean out the lid. With other travel mugs, I’m always suspicious about what’s going on inside the lid, but this one opens up all the way, and you can even put the lid in the dishwasher.

A kitchen gadget that lives up to the hype



There are a million great reasons to eat more vegetables, but if you want a gadget to help you actually live out that intention, get a spiralizer. It usually takes me a long time to try over-hyped kitchen gadgets, but when I finally got a spiralizer, I realized that it lived up to the hype. BRB, googling all of the vegetables in my CSA box this week + “spiralize” to figure out dinner tonight.

Bodyguards for your plants

For an indoor gardener, there are few things worse than discovering that one of your beloved plants is suffering from bugs. Last week when I realized that a plant from my porch that I was overwintering indoors had brought a load of aphids with it, I immediately dosed it and nearby plants with this systemic insect control, then ordered this giant 4-lb bottle. There’s no spraying, you just mix it into the soil, water the plant, and bugs of all sorts get eradicated.

Freedom from cords

I actually got these for Christmas for my husband this year, and he’s told me a bunch of times how much he likes them. So far he just uses them for walking around, not any sports, but they’re designed to be worn while working out, so if you have a new fitness regimen you’re starting in the new year, these might be worth the investment.

A blender that can handle anything

vitamix blender
This is another kitchen gadget that I resisted for the longest time, mainly since these things are expensive! But my old one started leaking, plus I started blending a lot more nuts when I went vegan, so it was time. I did buy a certified refurbished one, though, which looked good as new when I got it, and so far has been working perfectly. When it comes to pulverizing cashews, it leaves my old blender in the dust, and it was totally worth every penny.

Ok, so now it’s your turn: Is there a product that made your life so much better that you want to tell everyone about it? Please share!

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2 thoughts on “12 Useful Gifts You Should Buy Yourself for a Better 2018

  1. Thank you for this advice re the eyeliner that actually stays! I’m getting that right away. I use pencils all the time but they ALL smudge and looking in the mirror I see this crazy look raccoon looking back me. What’s the point in putting cover-up under your eyes when they’ll be all black with eyeliner an hr later? My latest thing that I’m in love with is a wash brush for my face – I LOVE this thing! It’s by Clarisonic and it’s the smaller travel sized one that just fits so nicely in your hand.

    1. Kathleen, that raccoon look drives me nuts, too! Maybe some people are better at not ever touching their eyes, but I can’t handle it. Ooh, the Clarisonic is a good tip, thanks for sharing!

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