We write about hundreds of products a week. Here, in our version of the Sunday circular, we’ve plucked out some of our favorites — expert-recommended essentials, life-changing stuff you didn’t know you needed, newly launched gizmos, and the very good deals we uncovered while trolling through the vast online-shopping universe this past week, including a bright bralette for boobs large and small, a YouTube yogi’s spillproof spouted water bottle, and a multi-tool for tightening screws (and toking up).
Portable speakers for a (post-vaccine) pool party
“When I wash dishes, I do it with music. It’s the only way to make the job bearable,” Strategist tech writer Jordan Bowman told us last week. And after using the JBL Charge 5 for several dishwashing sessions, he decided to test out the JBL Xtreme 3 — the Xtreme 3 is the Charge 5’s larger, more substantial counterpart — and didn’t realize that his phone was still connected to the Charge 5 when the music started to play. “I was surprised when, after connecting the Xtreme 3, they both synced up and started blasting Vampire Weekend’s Father of the Bride. JBL calls it Party Boost Mode. Instead of the music deferring to one speaker or fighting between the two, it comes out perfectly tuned from both.” He placed the Xtreme 3 on the counter behind him, and the Charge 5 by the sink, and “wherever I walked, the music surrounded me.” The surround-sound effect was “probably overkill for the kitchen,” but it proved perfect for outdoors — a post-pandemic, outdoor-party must for clear sound. As for the speakers themselves, “I found both the Charge 5 and Xtreme 3 to be simple to use. They sound impressive straight out of the box, with no need to tinker with EQ or even read the manual,” Bowman writes. And if you happen to be using it near a pool or the beach this summer, the Xtreme 3 is fully waterproof.
A YouTube yogi’s spillproof spouted water bottle
If you’re in the market for a new reusable water bottle (that’s a little easier to drink from than, say, a wide-mouthed Nalgene) YouTube yogi Adriene Mishler of Yoga With Adriene told us that this spouted water bottle from YETI is one of the items she can’t live without. “It sounds silly, but if you like your drinking vessel, you’re more likely to make it an extension of your body. This is my favorite water bottle,” Mishler says. “I spilled a lot of water on myself drinking from a Nalgene while on tour in the past. This has a nice little spout for your mouth. The lid also has a handle, and I like that the water bottle is stainless steel and can better control the temperature of the liquid.”
A Mother’s Day gift that gives back
There are lots of mom-friendly gifts out there that promise to give back — especially at a time when so many are in need — but it’s not always clear exactly how much of your purchase will be put toward a good cause. (“While the case could be made that every little bit does help,” writes Strategist’s Chloe Anello, “we think you’d be better off giving directly to a charity than buying a $10 candle that claims to donate 2 percent of proceeds.”) For those who’d like to find an actually charitable gift for Mother’s Day, we searched high and low for things that you — and your mom — can actually feel good about, including this limited-edition Mother’s Day tee that directly benefits moms in need. “One hundred percent of the proceeds from this colorful Clare V T-shirt that reads ‘Liberté, égalité, maternité’ — or liberty, equality, maternity — goes to Every Mother Counts,” we write, a nonprofit that works to improve access to quality, respectful, and equitable maternity care around the world. (You can find the same sentiment in tote form, too.)
Boba for at-home bubble tea
Kathy Li’s earliest memory of bubble tea was on a family trip to Shanghai. “I was 7 or 8, and I was so obsessed with my new discovery that I couldn’t stop prattling on and on, bending my mom’s ear about how the Oriental Pearl Tower resembled the similarly shaped orbs in my drink,” recalls Li, the Strategist’s audience growth coordinator. Her love for the tapioca tea drink continued into adulthood, but once the pandemic hit, “Many of my favorite bubble-tea shops around the city began to shutter.” Partly as an act of defiance and partly of necessity, she began frequenting Asian grocery stores to stock up on ingredients for meals she could no longer order from restaurants, which led her to these tapioca pearls for making her own boba tea. “The ‘black sugar’ flavor is a bit of a misnomer — the pearls by themselves aren’t sweet, but you can soak them in a brown-sugar mixture or simple syrup to get the desired sweetness,” Li explains. “Or, if you’re feeling lazy (as I often am), just add sugar to your milk tea and your taste buds will be none the wiser.”
Regina King’s silky sleep bonnet
“Finding a good bonnet — one that doesn’t leave a mark on your forehead or slip and slide during the night — can be difficult,” Strategist writer Tembe Denton-Hurst wrote last week in her guide to the best hair bonnets. But there’s lots of reasons to wear one while you sleep: They can help hair retain moisture and “increase the longevity of a look or hairstyle,” says Jamila Powell, founder of Maggie Rose salon. Satin and silk are the two most popular options, but not all silk or satin bonnets are created equal, and this one from silk-hair-accessories brand Slip is a favorite of actress Regina King, who says it’s big enough and deep enough to fit her hair when it’s in braids. It’s made from pure mulberry silk and has a thickness of 22 momme, making it a “luxurious and protective option,” Denton-Hurst writes.
A multi-tool for tightening screws (and toking up)
Last week also happened to include 4/20, and for those who want to partake in the great outdoors, Strategist contributor (and avid outdoorsperson) Aleta Burchyski tipped us off to the Geekey, “a chunky little tool with a hexagonal bowl and pipe stem surreptitiously built into its body.” It’s actually a very good multi-tool, with a sharp tip and serrated edge that “break down boxes better than a house key,” and a screwdriver that “makes quick work of opening battery compartments,” Burchyski writes. And as a pipe, it’s a “solid option for discreet enjoyment. The hexagonal bowl blends right in next to the hex-wrench cutouts, so you can add the multi-tool to your keychain or clip it to a zipper and no one has to know.” And since it’s made from virtually indestructible stainless steel, it can’t break like a glass pipe, and a “quick soap-and-water bath” eliminates any remaining tar buildup — making it a low-maintenance (and highly practical) option for hitting it on the hiking trail.
A bright bralette for all boobs, large and small
We’ve long been fans of Parade’s comfy yet eye-catching underwear, and we think the brand’s new bralettes, which we wrote about in our latest Don’t Dillydally, should live up to the hype. “The two available styles, scoop and triangle, are designed to offer comfy support,” and, similar to the underwear, “the bras go up to a size 3X (which corresponds to a 42F) and are available in a variety of eye-catching shades,” we write. And if the banana-yellow color above isn’t quite your thing, there are several other still-in-stock seasonal shades (and neutrals) to choose from.
Our favorite nonalcoholic aperitif — for a rare 15 percent off
In case you missed it, the Strategist’s second annual Two-Day (Actually Good) Sale happened this past Thursday and Friday, and we put together over 40 deals — exclusively for readers of the Strategist — on some of our most stood-behind products. Many of the deals have expired, but this nonalcoholic aperitif from Ghia is still on sale for our readers. “Even though there’s no alcohol, it still feels like a special cocktail,” one Strategist staffer told us. “Made with yuzu, elderflower, fig, rosemary, and ginger, Ghia is versatile and can be enjoyed, for example, by being mixed with some sparkling water and throwing in a big rock of ice and an orange twist.” With the code STRAT15, new customers can get 15 percent off a bottle (plus free shipping) — a deal the brand has not offered since it launched the aperitif last year.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.