In a few days, 2020 will be a closed chapter in the book titled Well, That Was A Weird Year. Although most of us are ready to shove that tome to the back of life’s proverbial bookshelf, there are still feel-good memories tucked within its pages that are worth revisiting — times when we lifted each other up from afar, days when we impressed ourselves with new sourdough baking skills, and countless moments in between. When we read between the lines of social distance, hand sanitizer, and our world on remote mode, we see a story of creativity and connectedness. For the purposes of this shoppable roundup, we’ll be looking back from the vantage point of your (anonymous) virtual carts; examining how the purchases of you and your crew shaped shopping trends throughout a defining year. This is the portrait of 2020, as told by the 12 top-bought products that came to define it and (by the transitive property) us in return. Face masks, inflatable pools, and all.
…And then 2020 happened. Pour one out for January’s 1,000+ planners that were purchased by R29 readers just 12 months ago, a time when we juggled bustling social lives and work schedules against an in-person backdrop. But! A new year brings a new promise for plans. And so, we’ll gladly ready ourselves to reclaim every single busy moment that never came to fruition during one long strange year — starting with the most wanted help-me-get-my-shit-together hits, from Anthropologie’s to Amazon’s and Erin Condren’s organizer favorites. Cheers to 2021, may your planners be full and your pen ink ever-flowing.
Read More: 8 Deals You Can Score On 2021’s Top Planners
2020 or not, February can be a meh month — which makes it a prime period for self-pleasure-boosting activities. But, we really had no idea that investing in our sexual wellness would continue to pay off long past the month’s 29-dreary-day window. Near its end, we found ourselves in the early aughts of the COVID-19 pandemic (aka increasingly stuck at home and increasingly horny). Fast forward to today and R29 readers have now purchased a whopping total of 10,000+ sex toys — with consistent crowd-pleasing favorites like LELO’s SONA Cruise Vibrator, Dame’s iconic Arc G-Spot Vibrator, and Maude’s sell-out status Vibe topping the cart charts. Our team tirelessly covered the onslaught of coronavirus sex-toy sales (yep, that was a thing!), important restocks, and even IRL test runs of the most wanted models. All of this goes to say: the weird year of 2020 saw a sexual-shopping renaissance we’ll gladly take with us into the new year and beyond.
By this point in time, we’ve tucked away our 2020 social planners, turned on all of our sex toys, and are frantically Googling where the heck to buy hand sanitizer…NOW. In March alone over 3,000 bottles of the stuff were virtually scooped up by R29 readers — who, along the way, discovered hidden-gem formulas offering much more than germ domination. Namely, Pipette’s affordable and aesthetically-pleasing solution infused with soothing skincare ingredients (like squalane and glycerin) plus germ-dominating 65% ethyl alcohol. The good also won a first-ever R29 MVP Awards title for its best in class sanitizing (!).
Face met non-medical mask and the rest was 2020 history. As the CDC continued to release new updated COVID-19 safety guidelines, face masks quickly went from possibly-maybe unnecessary to absolutely essential in preventing the spread of the coronavirus — and, promptly, close to 20,000 were purchased by R29 readers in the month of April alone. Our team covered every angle of face-mask shopping, from an exhaustive list of where to buy them online to all the tried-and-true top-rated options and even the most stylish iterations money could buy.
One day we will tell our grandchildren that in 2020 puzzles were SO hot, they became nearly impossible to purchase. The unlikely trend resurgence of the old-fashioned jigsaw dominated the shopping scene this year with such strength that in the span of a mere month and change, over 500 were carted up by R29 readers. Massive retailers across the World Wide Web sold out of their puzzle stock entirely, tiny indie brands devoted to puzzle-making went wildly mainstream, and the no-longer-your-grandma’s-board-game become the hottest gift of 2020.
The only item tougher to acquire this year than a bottle of hand sanitizer or a puzzle? The inflatable pool. Or, more specifically, Bed Bath & Beyond’s now-infamous Lemon Sunning Pool which was purchased nearly 700 times. The not-so-hot-girl summer of 2020 hit during peak stay-at-home season and a quick fix for sweltering families and singles alike who just wanted to cool the F off was the kiddie pool. Although it may be a bit out of season now, after seeing how quickly these things went when the weather was warm (and how quickly the prices inflated), scoring one for the next sunshine season may be THE move.
As soon as our faces were starting to adjust to being swaddled in cloth 24/7, sweat entered the equation (and maskne followed suit). To combat this sticky situation, we hunted down the absolute best breathable mask styles we could find — from Uniqlo’s coveted AIRism-fabric mask to Adidas top-bought moisture-wicking face covers — and readers proceeded to cart them all up by the thousands (10,400 to be exact).
Read More: The Most Breathable Face Masks To Run In
Just as we got our sweaty summer situations figured out, back-to-school season hit, and our lower lumbars were screaming. Readers decided they’d had enough of their sunken-in bed to couch offices and finally pulled the trigger on a proper WFH support system. Nearly 5,000 top-rated desk chairs were purchased in 2020, each marrying reviewer-approved comfort with decor-elevating style — and our once-sore butts have never looked back.
Read More: The Comfiest Chairs To WFH In
Although the year of sweatsuits technically began when the pandemic first hit, September marked a notable turning point in which the weather got cooler and our 2020 vision of the new clothing investment came into sharp focus. By this point in time, the “Stay-At Home Wadrobe” had been solidified as soft-and-easy loungewear we could don from morning through night on repeat all week and weekend long. We covered all 360 degrees of loungewear, from the most polished options to crowdsourced outfit inspiration and even every brand’s loungewear revolution that occurred during the 12-month span. In total, nearly 2,000 matching sweatsuits were purchased along with 900 knit loungewear sets. We’d call that one comfy year.
Believe it or not, 2020 was the year we finally invested in a good mattress — and, all things considered, we believe it! A year spent stuck at home shifted readers’ shopping priorities to purchases that would enhance their space and, in turn, their wellness. And, since in-store bed buying was mostly relegated to online-only, shoppers relied on roundups that provided first-person reviews of top-rated mattresses we actually slept on for 30+ days. The by-far favorite of 2020 for all-around A+ sleep support was Saatva’s Classic Mattress, which was purchased by R29 readers over 400 times. The hybrid style is handcrafted from a dual steel coil-on-coil innerspring support system that’s blended with layers of eco-friendly foam and a cushy-comfort Euro pillow top that our very own R29 reviewer describes as “as close to the future as I’ve seen…I fell asleep immediately. I woke up without the sore back I typically get from beds that are slightly softer than a wooden board.”
From sourdough starters to magical one-pot meals, 2020 transformed us from takeout to top chef real quick — and one of R29 readers’ most wanted culinary buys was the cult-favorite Always Pan, which they purchased over 1,100 times. The non-toxic, nonstick, all-in-one pan is crafted from partially recycled materials (all ethically sourced from female-owned factory partners) and replaces eight traditional pieces of cookware: 1. A fry pan 2. A sauté pan 3. A steamer 4. A skillet 5. A saucier 6. A saucepan 7. A non-stick pan 7. A spatula 8. A spoon rest. Whether they nabbed it for themselves or ordered it as a trending holiday gift, the top-bought piece of multipurpose cookware was the runaway kitchen favorite by the time November came to a close.
Read More: Here’s More Eco-Chic Cookware You Can Covet
We bridged the social distance with care packages all throughout the tumultuous year of 2020, but December was peak cheer-shipping season. Readers’ top choice for gifting fell into the food-and-beverage categories — with favorites spanning from Milk Bar’s tin of whimsical cookies (which were purchased over 1,000 times in 2020) to the hot-new Haus’ bespoke bottles of aperitif and the wildcard Omsom’s East-Asian spice sampler (which were both purchased nearly 200 times each in December alone).
Now, on the eve of 2020’s last dance, here we sit: ready to make new plans, turn on a trusty sex toy, share favorite hand sanitizers, embrace face masks, finish the last piece of that puzzle, dip a toe into an inflatable pool, sweat less, breathe better, sit straighter, feel cozier, sleep more soundly, cook like no one’s watching, and let each other know that, despite all this distance, we’re really more connected than we ever imagined we would be.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. All product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
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