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The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in December

Photo: Retailers

If you follow our monthly feature “Your Shopping Cart,” you know 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.

Casey Lewis, senior editor

Panicked it’ll disappear forever, I stocked up on Everlane’s lantern-sleeve sweater during their “good-bye” sale. Of all of the brand’s cashmere sweaters, this one is my favorite. The fit is a tiny bit cropped, hitting right above my hip, and the sleeve is dramatic enough to be interesting but not too floofy. And it’s so, so soft. I desperately hope Everlane will not discontinue the style, but if they do, at least I have a whole stack of them.


After reading Kelly Conaboy’s charming ode to this wacky snuffle mat, I bought one for my dog. He, predictably, loves it, and I do, too. When he uses it, he sounds like a pig maniacally hunting for truffles, so it’s amusing for both of us.

Karen Adelson, senior writer

I spent the first nine months of the pandemic at my in-laws’ house on Long Island where I couldn’t easily walk around the corner for my daily iced tea. I got into the habit of making my own, and I loved always having a batch in the fridge. Now that I’m home, I want to keep it up, especially since it’s so easy and ultimately saves me a not-insignificant amount of money. I needed a pitcher, though, so I ordered this cheap one that holds almost two gallons.

New York book critic Molly Young recently called this book, a memoir of a winter in the author’s life tinged by illness and other misfortune, “the most accidentally fortuitous publishing event in recent history,” as we enter a dark season of isolation and gloominess, amplified by COVID. Wintering is also a meditation on the restorative power of winter and the cyclical nature of the seasons (and life), and while that’s not very comforting in the face of a mismanaged global pandemic, I can see this being a book I revisit in future winters — both literal ones and periods of personal sadness.

Anthony Rotunno, senior editor

Come December, when my husband and I start reaching for our sweaters to bundle up in, we are always reminded of the one flaw of the open shelving we installed to create a walk-in “closet”: It exposes those sweaters to bugs that, without fail, manage to destroy at least one in the months we don’t wear them. This year, after discovering a gaping hole in the heart of a favorite turtleneck, we decided to do something about it. That something was buying a set of these storage boxes from the Laundress, which promise to keep critters out of whatever you put inside them. We bought four; each box fits about five to seven sweaters, though the more you put in, the more force may be required to get the lid on securely.

Speaking of bugs, the Black Friday one bit me this year, resulting in the (very impulsive) purchase of this leather sofa from Article. It was actually not on sale for Black Friday, but its full price was still a lot cheaper than that of its West Elm counterpart that my husband and I long coveted, and it shipped for free (which anyone who has paid hundreds of dollars for a couch to be shipped might consider a discount in itself). It arrived about two weeks into December and, when it did, the (masked) Article delivery people brought it right to our apartment door. Set up was as simple as screwing the legs in and positioning it in place. It’s deep enough for the two of us to fully recline on it and long enough to fit four average-size folks sitting upright. One nice surprise was that the leather is not as pre-worn as it appears in pictures; our biggest fear was that the thing might look too intentionally distressed from the jump, but instead it just looks like a new leather couch that will take on its own unique patina in time.

Lauren Ro, writer

From $30 for 4

I got two sets of cloth napkins from Food52’s in-house line during its Black Friday sale after realizing that my Thanksgiving dinner tablescape would have benefited from non-paper ones. I looked at a bunch of linen options online, but they were either too expensive or, if on sale, out of stock. I decided to go with these because they looked durable and came in a bunch of different colors. I got the “cool set,” which includes gray and navy napkins, and the “warm set,” which includes tan, pink, and burnt clay napkins, for a total of 12 napkins. With the sale, each one came out to $6, which seemed like a pretty good deal. As I predicted, they’re really nice and thick, and actually quite large, too, almost the size of kitchen towels, which means I can also use them to clean up my counters in a pinch. They looked quite lovely at my Christmas Eve dinner table, too.

This was a Christmas gift to myself. Ever since reading Rachel Cusk’s 2019 New York Times Magazine story about the painters Celia Paul and Cecily Brown and the question of whether a woman artist can ever just be an artist, without any qualifiers, I’ve been obsessed with, in particular, Paul’s life and career. Self-Portrait is just that — a self-portrait of Paul written in her own words, an autobiography that, she writes, hopes will speak to women who sometimes feel like the subjects of art in their own lives, rather than the ones in power. (She famously became lovers with the much older Lucian Freud at a very young age and writes about the experience.) I only just started reading it, but the book is engrossing, and Paul’s writing style is clear, forceful, and honest. Reproductions of her paintings are peppered throughout, too, which make it an even more compelling read.

Maxine Builder, deputy editor

I don’t know why I waited so long to buy a milk frother, but here I am, nearly ten months into this pandemic, telling you to buy a milk frother. It was just $8, and it’s incredibly easy to use (and near impossible to mess up). I zap some oat milk in the microwave for 30-ish seconds, dip the wand in, and blitz it up into a lovely foam. For better or worse, I’m now drinking more espresso than ever before and running through Nespresso pods at an unprecedented rate.

My boyfriend and I went backcountry skiing for the first time, during that massive snowstorm we had right before Christmas, and I was absolutely humbled by how out of shape I am. So I’m really doubling down on the backcountry gear, because it’s the only way I have any chance to improve my cardio. And this month’s backcountry-related purchase was an insulated bladder, which fits perfectly in my truly excellent ski touring pack from Gregory and will let me drink water while I’m huffing and puffing up the side of a mountain.

[Editor’s note: Although you can purchase this now, it’s in stock on January 11, 2021.]

Alexis Swerdloff, editor

As first reported here, I did indeed buy a pair of shearling-lined Hunter slip-ons as a cozy everyday Ugg alternative. While they are not ideal obviously for deep snow or a rain storm, with a thick sock, they’re great for freezing days when there’s leftover wet, cold goop on the ground. I basically lived in my black slip-on Vans this summer (I’m basically avoiding wearing anything that involves tying a shoelace), and these are my cold-weather counterparts. Also, they have a handy pull tie in the back so they can be adjusted to your exact foot size. As of press time, they are 3 percent (!) off.

While buying gifts for various folks on my list at Uniqlo, I threw in a few treats for myself, including this fleece cardigan in this rich dark brown. It feels like wearing a work Zoom-appropriate bathrobe. I feel like a chump paying $40 a few weeks ago, since it’s only $20 right now, but such is life! I am considering getting another in off-white.

Jessica Silvester, Contributing Editor

I ordered these socks for a couple of my aunts, thinking they would be a cute and cozy gift, but they turned out to be much more substantial than that. They’re as thick as … boots. But so much prettier! And with faux-shearling lining and grippy soles. I want to gift them to myself now and wear them around the house every day.

Obviously I learned about Bearaby weighted blankets from the Strategist. I recently bought an eight-pound one for my hyper toddler, who unfortunately hasn’t yet become any less hyper, but my husband, on the other hand, tried it and was hooked. “All this time, I never knew I had sensory issues,” he declared. So I sprung for the 25-pound kahuna for Christmas. It relaxes him so much that he can barely get out from under it.

Chloe Anello, writer

I’m decisive when it comes to a lot of things, but what to stream is not one of them. I could easily spend an hour picking out a movie or show to watch. So for my “vacation,” I will be at home with my parents’ old DVD player and a bunch of preselected movies — including this box set of seven movies. And honestly? I couldn’t imagine a better way to close out this truly bizarre year.

I’m ashamed to say that I bought this off an influencer’s sponsored ad on Instagram. But she was really convincing, and it seemed like she used it before she was paid to talk about it, too. I had never tried CBD before, but I had been thinking about testing it out as a remedy for sleepless nights. I liked that this brand offered a consultation with an expert to make sure you use the drops properly, and that they’re specifically formulated for women. The first three days I used this, it didn’t work, and I was very disappointed. But somehow on the fourth night, after deciding I should give it one more shot, I zonked out and got the best sleep I’ve had in literal weeks. I’m not sure if my body needed time to adjust to it, or if I was so exhausted at that point, I finally fell asleep, but I don’t even care at this point. I’m just thankful I’m not laying in bed wide awake all night, every night anymore.

Hilary Reid, writer

This month, my shopping was mostly for gifts to send to my family. For my dad, I went for the ultimate New England dad gift: L.L. Bean’s Wicked Good Moccasins. He’s been known to wear loafers and wool socks in lieu of slippers around the house, so I thought this shearling-lined, hard-soled pair might be a cozy alternative. Plus, the chocolate-brown shade makes them look a bit more like regular shoes, and that should make the loafer-to-slipper transition easier. One of his favorite things to do after work at home is to practice the trumpet, which he usually does in his unheated basement “studio” — so I’m hoping these will keep his feet warm while he’s playing scales.

Many years ago, I “borrowed” a striped cotton robe from my mom which I still wear daily — so this year, I hopefully made up for it by giving her this block-printed cotton robe from 21 Tara, a really wonderful home-goods store in Cobble Hill. She opened the robe over Facetime on Hanukkah and loved it, I think in no small part thanks to 21 Tara’s beautiful presentation: They wrapped the robe in a pretty silk bag, and they had even texted me a picture of the wrapping before shipping it out. Blue and white is absolutely my mom’s color scheme, too, and while it may be a bit too cold for a cotton robe right now, I think it’s something she’ll look forward to wearing in the summer.

Kelsie Shrader, editorial coordinator

This was a Christmas gift from my aunt, who heard the story of me flipping over my bike earlier this year when I stupidly decided to bike to dinner with my purse rather than my sporty backpack. I couldn’t use my right hand for a month, which I honestly deserved. But now when I’m biking somewhere I need to look somewhat presentable, I can store my stuff in a cute, safe way and remain upright on the busy streets of New York. What a concept.

2020 has not been bad for me, relatively speaking, but it’s still somehow made me the most anxious I’ve ever been (a.k.a. I think everyone hates me all the time). When I feel that way, I like to send cards to my friends telling them what I like about them, just in the off chance they’re feeling anxious, too. This month I added a few of Statement Goods’ Hello Friend cards to my stockpile so they’re handy whenever I need them.

Leah Muncy, junior writer

I finished watching the sixth and final season of BoJack Horseman a couple of weeks ago, which resulted in lots of tears and Reddit deep-dives. And while there’s no more show left to watch, I discovered that its creator and head writer, Raphael Bob-Waksberg, released a collection of short love stories last year, which I had no choice but to order. The stories have all of the same satirical humor you’ll find in BoJack, but are generally a lot lighter, and a bit more experimental. I’ve laughed out loud (snorted) many times while reading them.

I went over to a friend’s apartment for Christmas, and spotted this set of Turkish coasters — the most beautiful coasters I have ever seen in my life — on her coffee table. She got hers from HomeGoods (where I also snagged the remaining few), but this set on Etsy is just about identical. They’re ceramic, and I live with three clumsy roommates, so I’ll be keeping them in my room for now (where they also double as décor).

Arielle Avila, junior writer

My weathered pair of Chelsea boots finally gave out, so I decided to buy new ones with an updated look. My main concern was aesthetic: I am very short, and I wanted a platform to give myself some extra height. And my second concern was practical: I am very clumsy, and I needed a pair that was durable. These waterproof boots from Circus by Sam Edelman fit both bills, and I was able to snag them on sale. They’re pleasantly lighter than I thought they’d be (and much lighter than my 1460 Doc Martens), and while I’ve only had them for a couple of weeks, they’ve held up perfectly fine with everyday wear. And though the pair I bought is nearly out of stock, you can find a very similar pair with more sizes and colors available here.

I hit a slump recently with my reading, but after watching Miranda July’s delightful film Kajillionaire, I was then inspired to pick up her novel The First Bad Man. Filled with characters who have some bizarre obsessions and lots of neurotic charm, it might just be the strangest novel I’ve read in years — but it only seems fitting for a year that’s been equally strange, and it’s exactly what drew me to July’s work in the first place. The book has also been able to hold my dwindling attention span, which is proof of how entertaining it is.

Jenna Milliner-Waddell, writer

This month I focused mainly on gifts, which included a Theragun Mini (that I regret not purchasing for myself), a Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Jacket, and lots of things from Peace and Riot. But I finally got my hands on these often sold out, and TikTok famous, leggings, and they absolutely live up to the hype. They are so soft, super high-waisted, and not see through. I’m not sure if they have enough compression for my liking to really workout out in, but I’ve worn them on a couple of long walks so far and can’t complain.

I’m still getting my apartment together. I’m on the hunt for a dining table and chairs, but instead I bought the necessary items to create what will hopefully be an Instagram-worthy vanity mirror because … priorities. I’m going for the foam mirror look and took this blogger’s recommendation and bought three cans of this foam along with an oversized mirror from a discount home goods store. The process seems pretty simple, and since the entire concept is much based on a messy, childlike look, I’m pretty confident it’ll turn out the way I want.

Peter Martin, senior editor

This four-pack of steaks (two 16-ounce strip loins and two 16-ounce ribeyes) was a thank you gift for a friend I used to work with at Esquire — a place where, on the rare occasion you did acknowledge that you appreciated anything or anyone, you did it through meat. Mosner is based in the Bronx and sources family-farm-raised, grain-fed black Angus beef from midwestern farmers. (They also sell pork, lamb, and other meats.)

Now that I have my own family and our daughter is old enough to really be a part of Christmas, it felt like the appropriate time to get our own stockings (even if one and a half of us are Jewish). I love how these look festive but not gaudy, and that there are three different styles: birch, reindeer, and trees. We got one of each.

Louis Cheslaw, writer

Call me a fantasist, but the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this month got me dreaming about returning to the office and seeing my colleagues again. That in turn led me to question how office-ready my wardrobe was, and after realizing I don’t own any work-appropriate sneakers, my Christmas gift to myself (after asking a friend who works at Dover Street Market for the best long-term buy) were these handmade Japanese tennis shoes, which have a vulcanized sole for durability, a cork footbed for comfort, and a super strong canvas upper. They’ve arrived, and they’re beautiful.

If the above didn’t make it obvious, I’m having a bit of a “neo-prep” phase. So when I came across this book, about how Japanese designers continue to better American style, I had to have it. Every chapter has sent me down twenty internet rabbit holes.

Dominique Pariso, writer

I splashed out this month on holiday shopping: a seriously discounted KitchenAid stand mixer for my friend, a copy of Dead Style for my brother, and this robe for another friend who has been wearing the same one since we were in high school. The rainbow piping just makes me smile, and I appreciate that Hill House Home goes up to a size 3XL. While I cut it too close with shipping to take advantage, they also offer monogramming for an additional $25, which I think is always a nice touch.

I’ve been on a long-term hunt for a pair of cowboy boots to replace a pair of white ones I thrifted in college that have seen better days. Tecovas was kind enough to gift me a pair, and they are perfect in every way: the leather is gorgeous, they’re super comfortable right out of the box, and I love the detailing on the shaft of the boot. My feet ended up being too wide for their average size, but they were great about swapping them for a wide pair that fit like a glove.

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The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in December