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 trawling through the vast online-shopping universe this past week, including Ludacris’s favorite boxer briefs, a fuzzy Telfar bag, and an artificial Christmas tree preloaded with pine cones.
To keep hot chocolate hot …
This week, we launched a new series called Steal My Holiday Party in which we ask stylish hosts to share their entertaining secrets. We talked to Dan Pelosi, who shared his secrets to planning the perfect holiday cookie-decorating party, where “the act of making them is very much a part of the conversation.” But when it comes to hot chocolate, store-bought is fine. “Nothing hits quite like 20 packets of mix and five pounds of milk,” he says. And to serve the hot chocolate at its ideal temperature, Pelosi bought this machine: “I set out marshmallows and straws and liquor next to it, too.”
… and to keep Ludacris cool
Ludacris told us that he works out a lot: “I jump a lot. I do a bunch of burpees. I’m always on the move.” And since he’s on the move so much, he needs supportive underwear — specifically these briefs from Polo Ralph Lauren: “I like briefs because they are able to hold things together a little bit. I’m such an active person, so why not do it in fashion and style? That’s the best way to explain that.”
A $25 Birkin (plant)
Strategist writer Erin Schwartz noticed this Birkin philodendron when flipping through a greenhouse catalogue. The story goes that the philodendron was originally so rare and pricey that it drew comparisons to the highly valued Hermès handbag. Fortunately, prices have deflated to a reasonable $25 for a four-inch to six-inch pot. The plant itself is lovely, with light pinstripes across its leaves that resemble hand-drawn lines. One thing to note: The Birkin is an unstable mutation of the Rojo Congo philodendron and can spontaneously revert to producing large, reddish leaves (or, in some cases, half-and-half pinstripe and red leaves.
A tree to make your holidays shine …
If you want an artificial Christmas tree to decorate this December, the time to order it is now — and so we went to Amazon to find the best artificial trees, according to hyperenthusiastic reviewers. This pre-lit tree is the best if you’re looking for something that could fool Santa. According to one reviewer, “This is one of the most realistic-looking fake trees I’ve ever seen.” Plus, it’s very easy to assemble.
… and a gel to make your smile sparkle
Whitening your teeth can be as simple as finding the right product. We spoke to seven dentists about whitening strips, pastes, and more to get their expert recommendations. Along with mouthwashes and whitening kits, the experts recommended Bite whitening gel. If you don’t want to fuss with trays, this whitening gel can be brushed on and only needs to sit for two minutes, so you can easily add it into your morning routine. Instead of hydrogen peroxide, “their active ingredient is carbamide peroxide, aloe vera, and a pH balancer,” says Dr. Sharon Huang of Les Belles NYC. “The peroxide again will lift the stains, and the aloe vera is also very soothing to teeth.”
Reusable bags inspired by ancient ceramics
In this week’s installment of Don’t Dillydally, we highlighted Starface’s Big Bird pimple patches, the nail polish for Harry Styles’s new beauty line, and these (very giftable) limited-edition Baggu bags. They’re inspired by the Met’s collection — specifically its blue-and-white ceramics and ancient Greek vessels — and are in some of Baggu’s most classic styles, including the shopping bag. If you’d like to collect all three, grab the three-bag set. Another thing to note: If you buy it now, it will ship sometime in late November.
Universally flattering leggings (that are 30 percent off)
We are big fans of Girlfriend Collective’s sustainably made, size-inclusive, and actually nice-looking activewear, all of which is on sale for Black Friday. These Float leggings are a favorite of Luster author Raven Leilani, who told us that “there’s no compliment better than a compliment from another woman, and whenever I wear these, I get the most compliments from other women.” They “suit many body types — you don’t have to have a perfect body to wear this and look good.”
An in-stock and on-sale Lego set
We’ve rounded up the Best Early Black Friday Deals so you can shop deals before the turkey-fueled urgency peaks. Along with an outdoor firepit and Limited-Edition Jonathan Adler Keurig, we found this Brick Box of classic Legos, which is 30 percent off and would make an excellent holiday gift for the creative kid in your life. (Depending on their playing style, it might also teach them to look before they step when barefoot.) You can check out additional Black Friday coverage here.
An IRL gift for the person who lives life online
If you’re stumped by what to give your brother for the holidays, we’ve pulled together over 30 options for every type of brother — including the one who is just starting to collect NFTs. This hardware wallet will let him carry his crypto securely without worrying about hackers.
A still-in-stock Telfar bag
If you missed out on the original UGG x Telfar collaboration, you’ll be thrilled to know round two is kicking off now — and you can preorder the entire collection at Saks, which includes a fuzzy robe, bucket hat, and this shearling shopper. We suggest moving quickly if you want a piece of the action since the last UGG x Telfar drop flew off the shelves as quickly as it came. Note that the expected ship date is no later than December 2, so if you were hoping to make someone on your list very happy come Christmas morning, the goods should arrive in time for the holidays.
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.