The 2021 (First-Ever!) GNI Softie Award Winners Are...

We voted for our favorites across categories from best bedding to softest clothes, most comforting books, favorite pantry staples, games, and more.

This week, we're hosting the first-ever Softies Awards (right here! right now! buckle up!). The truth is staying in looks a lot different these days because going out is more exciting, nerve-wracking, intentional, and complex than it ever was before. This week, we're tipping our hats to the little things — all the soft home items that feel like a hug after a long day of learning to be outside again.

In naming these all-in-good-fun winners, we hope you'll be able to find some joy in home this season... even if you're happily spending less time there lately. A special shoutout and big thanks to everyone who voted in this week's readers' choice bracket on the @girlsnightinclub Instagram Stories. It's good to know that even after all this time, a night spent reading, scrolling Instagram (whoops), and eating a pint of Ben & Jerry's in our softest loungewear is still sometimes just what the doctor ordered.

source: Wow, No Thank You, Outdoor Voices, Parachute, Unsplash.

🏆 Best bedding item (and most hotly debated category) goes to...

After much Slack ado about bedding (seriously, this was one hot topic amongst the team this week), one item came out on top: Parachute's buttery soft linen bedding, which really is as good as the internet says it is.

Honorable mentions include: These Brooklinen sheets, a beloved Gravity weighted blanket, and Buffy comforters (though some like their Buffy cloud-like and cozy and others prefer it cool to the touch). 

🏆 Most comforting read of the year... 

You didn't think we could host a mini awards ceremony without shouting out some of our favorite reads, did you? The Softie for the book that felt like a hug when we needed it most goes to... Big Friendship by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman. 

Honorable mention books that were there for us through it all: Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby, Home Body by Rupi Kaur, and The Power of Ritual by Casper ter Kuile. 

🏆 Go-to snack to eat while wedged between two couch cushions...

The GNI team and readers' bracket were on two different wavelengths when it came to snacks — while ice cream took the reader bracket, the GNI team split between cheese and popcorn (buttery, white cheddar, all of it).

Honorable mentions included: Dark chocolate peanut butter cups (any, but especially the ones from Trader Joe's), Annie's Cheddar Bunnies, and Flamin' Hot Cheetos.

🏆 Most beloved piece of soft clothing that can transition to the great outdoors...

Let the winner in this category show that we might be going outside now, but that doesn't mean we're ready for pants: Yep, it's the Outdoor Voices exercise dress

Honorable mentions: Girlfriend Collective high-rise leggings (size up!), the Brother Vellies cloud socks, and these pants that are an exception to the rule.

source: Richer Poorer, Lotta Blobs, Netflix, Topicals.

🏆 Favorite piece of indoor leisurewear...

To be honest, we spent most of the year in sweatsuits (some of them even matched!), so it was no surprise when the Richer Poorer classic sweatpants topped the list of nominees in this category.

Honorable mentions: The Parachute Cloud cotton robe, the Underbares cotton boxer brief, and the Eberjey short PJs (a GNI favorite for three years running).

🏆 The comfort watch you're most likely to revisit (a lot)...

Was this the year we sought out the most comfort TV of all time? Yes. Did we name a winner that we've rewatched a million times in that time frame? Also yes. Our Softie for comfort watch goes to Always Be My Maybe (Netflix). 

Honorable mentions go to: Ted Lasso (Apple TV), Never Have I Ever (Netflix), and Gilmore Girls (Netflix).

🏆 Best new business...

Here's to the just-getting-started makers and brands that are already making our lives at home a little more enjoyable. This year's Softie for favorite new business goes to... Omsom for meal starters that changed the way we cook in the best way possible.

Honorable mentions include: Topicals for soft skincare, Kinfield for products that make the outdoors more manageable, Abcrete & Co. for minimalist home decor, and Lotta Blobs for mirrors that reminded us that your walls can be as fun and experimental as you make them.

🏆 Home decor trend that had the biggest impact on your style...

There was something about the return of wallpaper that had our team seeing new possibilities at every turn (okay, most of us live in one-bedrooms so there are only so many turns to make, but STILL, we loved lusting after fun wallpaper patterns — this one especially.) 

Honorable mentions: Butter-beige everything, wavy mirrors, cool candles, and the English countryside cozy aesthetic (basically anything Paula Sutton does, we like).

source: @otistheyorkiepoo, Unsplash, Lex Pott, Unsplash.

🏆 Favorite candle FTS or FTA (for the scent or for the aesthetic)...

It was a wiggly, wavy, blob-filled year (this piece explains why), and honestly nowhere was that more apparent than in our candle choices. The iconic Lex Pott twist candle takes this category in a landslide victory. We think there's a reason it was in every gift guide last holiday season: it just makes people happy. That's all there is to it.

Honorable mentions include: This little gooberLe Labo Santal 26 (also iconic), the Handmade Habitat custom note candle, and Maison Louis Marie No. 4.

🏆 The pantry staple that you buy more of before you even run out...

This might be anti-climactic, but anyone who believes in the power of a well-stocked pantry will know why lemons won this category. They're versatile, they make almost everything taste better, and a bowl of citrus goes a long way for DIY cocktail-making adventures, too.

Honorable mentions include: Diaspora Co. spices and Chobani Sweet Cream coffee creamer.

🏆 The game that helps you stop scrolling TikTok...

There are two types of people in this world: board game people and non-board game people. The winner in this category will give you a peek into where the GNI team falls. The winner is... the New York Times crossword (perhaps our nerdiest pick of the day, but we're not mad about it).

Honorable mentions: Puzzles (especially from Whiled), the NYT Spelling Bee, Jackbox games, and Codenames. We're just as surprised as you are that Animal Crossing and The SIMS didn't make the list. Should we hold a recount?

🏆 And the GNI team's Softie award for favorite follow goes to... 

A lot of folks!! @browngirltherapy for carving a corner of the internet for children of immigrants, @minaa_b for her always sage mental health tips, @otistheyorkiepoo (Katrina's dog) for being cute, @thatcurlytop for sustainable lifestyle ideas, and @yoleendadong for having the funniest TikToks around. 🏆

Most of this piece was originally published in our newsletter. Subscribe here for more recommendations for your downtime, delivered to your inbox every Friday.

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