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The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in December

Photo: Courtesy of the retailers

If you follow our biweekly feature Your Shopping Cart, you know that we have some eerily good intel on what you all are buying. Which led us to think that, as Strategist editors, we could turn the tables and highlight all the things we’ve been buying for ourselves. As you’ll notice, it’s both a blessing and a curse to be a Strategist editor; we’re picky, but sometimes we just have to get on with it. (It’s online-shopping expertise meets IRL needs.) Below, what we all bought in December — in addition to the holiday gifts we bought for friends and family.

Rio Viera-Newton, writer

For Christmas, I bought my sister this beautiful starry jug from Ralph Lauren. She hosts a lot of our family brunches and also takes great pride in her table arrangements, so I thought it was perfect for her home. (I picture it holding a big jug of icy, lemon-wedge-heavy water.) Alternatively, I thought she might like it as a flower vase as well. The choice is hers!

My mom has extremely sensitive skin but has also been desperate to integrate a retinol into her nighttime routine. This Christmas, I took it upon myself to find her one that yielded the same skin-smoothing and brightening benefits of a traditional retinol, without triggering any severe irritation. I love the brand Biossance. Their Squalane Vitamin C Oil and Rose Lip Balm are two of my daily staples, and I’d heard particularly good things about their Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum. It uses bakuchiol, a plant-derived natural retinol that is allegedly less harsh on the skin, along with hyaluronic acid and squalane — two deeply hydrating and moisturizing ingredients I know my mom likes. She’s been using it for a few days now and hasn’t had any bad reactions.

Dominique Pariso, writer

With the holiday gift-buying bonanza that took place this month, I didn’t buy anything for myself except a couple of new houseplants. My favorite is this ginseng ficus, which reminds me of a Lisa Hanawalt illustration. The curvy trunk and explosion of leaves looks delightfully humanoid, and they’re supposedly not too tricky to take care of. I bought mine in person in the Flower District, but they are available online too.

For our annual Strategist white elephant, I picked up this Soom tahini two-pack. Since our cap is set at ten bucks, I kept the regular tahini for myself and used the (way more festive) chocolate halva spread as the gift. It ended up going home with Rio, who reports that it was very yummy.

For my family’s annual white elephant, I bought this board game, which was recommended by board-game designer Will Sorrell. He says it’s super fast-paced and frantic, which I thought was perfect since we’re a competitive bunch. Plus, I loved the fun illustrations.

David Notis, writer


I first saw this on Dominique’s list of best party board games and then I played it at a friend’s house. I loved it so much I bought it on my phone before even heading home. It’s super simple and quick, but it can also get sneakily cerebral. I’m generally not a big board-game person (although I do love the occasional round of Catan). Also, I really hate being the one to bring a new game somewhere because then you have to explain it to everyone, which I’m never good at, and then it becomes a whole thing. Well, I brought Codenames to my friends’ house for Christmas Eve dinner this year. They always host a big group, and after dinner we usually play a game. I was nervous when I pulled out Codenames, but everyone loved it. And since the game is so simple, even my subpar instructions were enough to get things rolling. Multiple people thanked me for bringing it and asked me to bring it next year.