Freedom in pleasure is about sex and so much more than that. It’s a mindset, a lifestyle, a revolution. In 2020, finding it looked somewhat different than in past years.
Despite all that happened, time moved on and we once again find ourselves at the end of the Gregorian calendar year in the hustle and bustle of a pretty different holiday season. A lot has changed and some things haven’t. Most of us are still making plans to celebrate the season, even if those celebrations have changed. Many of us are still shopping, although the focus has started to meaningfully shift to small and New Majority-owned businesses.
In a year that was, well, hellish, it was important to take pleasure and joy and connection in sips and gulps, wherever we could find it. We asked the PbK family for their 2020 favorites—the things that made the year a little more manageable, even, at times, fun.
No matter who you’re shopping for or your budget (including a zero budget), there are plenty of ideas for you below! Did your bestie start her own company in response to the pandemic? We’ve got biz tools. Did you survive? Treat yourself to some edible treats. Looking for new ways to move your body and release stress? We’ve got that too.
We hope these gifts offer the same respite, nourishment, and pleasure to you and your loved ones.
The PbK Team
PS–We made it super easy to check each suggestion: just click on the product name and it’ll open in a new window for you to browse.
Sex Toys and Tools
We’re going to let Kait tell you about this one in her own words:
“When the world closed in March, I realized I’d have to manage my various health conditions on my own, with no hands-on support for the first time in over 2 years. I also knew that stress aggravated my pelvic floor dysfunction. This wand was a lifesaver. The angle + the vibration allowed me to support my pelvic floor and core. Plus when I was panicking about doing this all my own, the directions reminded me that I did, indeed, know how—and are super clear, even if you’ve never used a wand before.
I loved Intimate Rose before this year, but now?! I’m a fan for life. It kept me up and walking and relatively pain free this year and that’s a gift that’s priceless.
Two years after being introduced to Shine, it remains our absolute favorite water-based lube. Well, aloe-based. It’s not sticky or tacky, it doesn’t dry up quickly, and the pump top makes it so much easier to get (or give) a little in the heat of the moment. Who knew a bottle top would make such a difference?! We think lube is a great gift for anyone in your life (especially you!) but its a great stocking stuffer or small gift for besties, partners, friends getting hitched, a parent who just gave birth, your recently single friend, and anyone’s birthday. This lube is compatible with all condoms and sex toys.
Read more: What’s the Best Lube for Me?
Our go-to toys
For us, 2020 was not about trying a ton of new stuff. The year gave us enough novelty to deal with—when it came to sexy times, we wanted our standbys.
Our Favorite Edible Treats
Kait’s obsession with Lagusta’s began when a friend sent her a box of Furious Vulvas—vulva-shaped dark chocolate with pink peppercorns. Anyone rad enough to make those had to be amazing. We love Lagusta’s commitment to building a sustainable and ethical business at every.single.level. Plus their chocolates are vegan for the animal lovers and dairy- and/or egg-averse folx in your life.
While Kait was turning into chocolate, Angela was eating Aussie sweet baked goods from this bakery:
For a taste of home, I love these bite sized treats from Boomerang Bites, a NJ-based artisanal bakery founded by the amazing Andrea Rizvi.
We might never shop at a farmers’ market again. The produce from here is incredible, the farm boxes are a STEAL, and the farmers make, on average, more per $1 than at a market. Plus it gets delivered right to your door. And they’ve done a ton to support community-led efforts to fight food insecurity, including stocking communal fridges. Sadly, its only available in the greater NYC-area right now but similar farm shares are often available.
Biz and WFH Assists
We went through an embarrassing number of bottles of this year. Like…we might never use it again because it will always remind us of the year we spent at home. But during that (well, this) year? It was a fucking lifesaver. A gift. The best hack for helping us dive deep, focus, and be really present.
Without knowing it, you, too, fell in love with this rad business tool: it’s responsible for all the awesome and impactful social media infographics, captions, and photos that you’ve been enjoying across PbK’s social media accounts. Perfect for the biz owner in your life.
Just before the world closed, Kait completed her training as a Caveday facilitator. Funny enough, she had asked to only do in-person sessions! Whether leading or attending, these deep work, coworking sessions allowed for deep focus, new community, an opportunity to be creative, and a chance to test out the new “weird body stuff” (aka functional movement) that Kait has been training in all year.
Pro-tip: Use code MemberPal for a free Cave on us.
Shake Your Groove Thing
This 41-mile trail follows the the aqueduct that brought water from upstate NY to a reservoir in the middle of Manhattan (no, not the one in Central Park). Kait and her beau began hiking it over the summer and fell in love with dozens of restaurants, coffeeshops, and other eateries along the way. Fully accessible via MetroNorth, it offered a “No Stakes Goal” along with some movement, nature, and connection.
Pro-tip: side-by-side activities like hiking or driving are great times to talk to your beau about sex, money, or other vulnerable topics.
New-to-us movement practices
Everything going digital meant that you could try out classes and modalities from anywhere. For us that looked like:
- Afrosoca with Arielle
- Fighting Monkey with Elke
- Dance Yourself Together with Jess
- Kinstretch with The Fitness Alchemists
- Parkour in Central Park
Try not to cry when Arielle has you hug yourself at the end. Or laugh when Jess tells you to Be. The. Ladle. Or sigh in relief when you finish a round of Kinstetch movements. Or groan when you discover mouse poop from “swimming” on the floor with Elke…ok that example might be Kait-specific!
Our point is, these new-to-us modalities, led by teachers who not only know their shit but also teach in an inclusive, accessible, trauma-informed way, kept our minds, bodies, and hearts open and strong.
For the Readers + Booklovers
You knew this was coming, right? Listen we will stand by our love of romances till the end of time. Nevermind that Romancelandia (aka the community of authors and readers) came together time and again—to phone bank, to write postcards, and to raise nearly half a million dollars for the Georgia runoff elections—but in a year when little was known and nothing was guaranteed, the certainly of a happily ever after (HEA) became even more precious and priceless. Here were our faves:
- 40-Love by Olivia Dade
- Would I Lie To the Duke by Eva Leigh (who also wrote one of our fave holiday romcoms)
- The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
- A Delicate Deception by Cat Sebastian
- You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
- The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz
- Finding Joy by Adriana Herrera
Romance-inspired gear from one of Kait’s favorite authors? From a womxn-owned small biz? Modeled on diverse bodies? With sizes up to 3x? Yes please and thank you. Get it for the romance reader or feminist in your life.
Indie News + Bookstores
From the Amazon of indie bookstores to a new Black woman-led media empire to our favorite local stores, we found joy in supporting those places and people who most needed our support.
Taunt: we heard about Taunt from Kait’s business coach, Kaitlyn (no, that’s a not a typo). This local, indie outlet is the brain child of Minda Honey. In addition to not being filtered through the white male gaze, its also committed to 20% LGBTQ+ representation across writers, creatives, and service providers. This is the news we want to read.
Wordup Community Bookstore: a multilingual, general-interest, nonprofit community bookshop and arts space in Washington Heights NYC. From supporting the Census to hosting a community fridge, Wordup is SO much more than a place to buy books.
The BookMark Shoppe: Angela, PbK’s all-star executive assistant, relied on BookMarke during the NYC lockdown to supply her and her family with books, jigsaw puzzles, and crafty stuff. She says, “If you’re anywhere near Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, you can stop by their store for Covid-safe browsing, curbside pickup, and they ship too.”
Things to Watch
Did you know there’s over 100 new holiday movies that came out this year? And that Kait created a database and a rating system? She did. Like hiking the OCA, it was a “no stake” goal. Nothing bad would happen if we didn’t watch every movie or walk every mile. But it was FUN to try. To feel accomplished. And no less pressure = more pleasure.
Our Favorite Series
We watched…a lot of TV this year. Who didn’t?! Here were our favorites:
- Doctor Who
- His Dark Materials
- Great British Bakeoff
All we can say about this is that we didn’t do nearly enough of these. And, the limit does not exist.
What brought you #freedominpleasure in 2020?
Tell us in the comments below.