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 a leafy low-light houseplant, Tiffany “New York” Pollard’s popcorn she orders from every coast, and cozy cookie-themed slippers.
A dupe for Diptyque’s Figuier candle
Strategist writer Tembe Denton-Hurst spoke to candle expert and influencer Kudzi Chikumbu (known on the internet as @sircandleman) with burning questions about what makes a candle truly excellent. He explained his criteria and shared his favorite candles under $50, including one from PF Candle Co., which is a brand that makes “affordable and high-quality 100 percent soy wax, hand-poured” candles. Chikumbu recently discovered this black fig one and describes it as “very intriguing, but not overwhelming. It’s ripe fruit, a little spicy, but also herbaceous. Imagine a cheaper Figuier from Diptyque. It’s more green but is a great affordable, less fragrant, slightly sweeter option.”
A leafy low-light houseplant
If you’re in the market for indoor greenery, we rounded up a selection of houseplants for gardeners of every level. For “something leafy that thrives in low light,” consider this cast-iron plant option instead of the ubiquitous snake plant. “You can’t kill them,” says Tula Plants & Design CEO and founder Christan Summers. “They have a really elegant leaf shape that I always appreciate in the mix of floppiness.”
“Super-silky” powder blush for dry skin
During the winter months, Strategist columnist Rio Viera-Newton writes that her “skin is incredibly dry, flaky, and practically colorless — sometimes I’ll look in the mirror and see Nosferatu staring back at me.” Because of that, she relies on “an arsenal of hydrating and lightweight makeup products to even out my blotchy complexion, fake a little glow, and add a touch of color here and there.” That includes this Pat McGrath blush, which Rio admits is “a pretty splurgy product” but “also a truly excellent one.” She explains that most powder blushes “settle into the nooks and crannies of my dry skin and made the flakiness even more noticeable,” but this one is “a super-silky, creamy powder that melts into your skin once you apply it.” On top of that, she adds that it “lasts all day long” — even with a face mask on, it “never leaves me with that patchy, weird look that can sometimes happen with powder formulas, and it’s incredibly easy to blend.”
The popcorn Tiffany ‘New York’ Pollard has delivered from coast to coast
“Even if you’re not a popcorn lover, you will become one. It’s just that delicious,” says television personality Tiffany Pollard of this popcorn she can’t live without. She discovered Garrett popcorn when she was a guest on Steve Harvey’s show and received it as a gift. Now, she has it “sent to my location no matter what coast I’m on” and even gifts it to friends and family. “They go crazy for it,” Pollard says. “I’ve gotten calls after gifting it, and people have asked, ‘Oh my gosh, what is that popcorn?’”
Colorful, cheery drinking glasses …
Drinking glasses often go overlooked, but we like to think they’re as worthy of praise as other vessels. So we asked 21 of our favorite restaurant, beverage, and interior-design experts on their favorite picks, including Rebecca Carey, the food-and-beverage director at the Viceroy Chicago hotel. She pointed us to this colorful set from Italian brand Zafferano. “Using their products just makes me happy,” Carey says. She uses the Veneziano tumblers (in amethyst) at her home and says she gets “a lot of compliments on them.” She’s also used the Perle glasses (in cobalt) at work, calling the style “really striking and special.”
… and a spirit to cheers with your (sober) valentine
Valentine’s Day is less than a month away, and we’re already on the lookout for the best gifts for every type of sweetheart on your list. If they’re extending their dry January or are sober, bartenders recommend this nonalcoholic spirit, which has notes of grapefruit and cardamom. “Seedlip makes a beautiful line of nonalcoholic spirits” that “add flavor and viscosity” to nonalcoholic drinks, according to Bryan Dayton, the founder and beverage director at Colorado-based Half Eaten Cookie Hospitality.
Practical gifts for teachers with a personal touch
Giving something to teachers right now might be more meaningful than ever, especially as school districts adjust to COVID-era guidelines. To find the best gifts for teachers that are both practical and personal, we spoke to more than 23 teachers from kindergarten to high school about gifts they actually want. Kate, a music teacher at a Boston-area private school, says personalized items can make “a great classroom gift.” Because “kids need to have pencils to mark their parts,” she’d appreciate “boxes of customized pencils with the school’s name or the name of the class or ensemble.”
Cozy cookie-themed slippers
In this week’s installment of Don’t Dillydally, we highlighted Champion’s most recent pop-culture collaboration. “This time they’ve teamed up with Oreo. There’s sweats and slides and T-shirts, all of which have Oreos in various stages of consumption. There are half-eaten ones, whole ones, and even Oreos dipped in milk,” we write. For a more subtle option, we like these “cozy” slippers that “still have enough Oreos to feel fun.”
An elevated carry-on with room to spare
Finding your Goldilocks suitcase can be a long (and expensive) search. To help, we called upon some of the most well-traveled people we know (who also happen to be smart and stylish) and asked them about their favorite rolling luggage. Travel blogger Jessica Ufuoma recommended this Monos carry-on because “it looks modern, stylish, and minimal … At the airport, it’s normal to dress down but this luggage makes it look like you’re making an effort and elevates every look.” Not only does it look good, but it comes with a laundry bag, two shoe bags, and built-in TSA-approved lock. And she adds that it’s spacious enough to pack for weeklong stays. “I was able to fit in eight dresses, three tops, and some shoes, as well as some of my jewelry and skin care,” she says.
A techwear-meets-prep tote (that’s on sale)
Now through tomorrow, J.Crew is taking 25 percent off full-price items with the code EPIC. Our deals writer Leah Muncy says she’s “particularly drawn to the brand’s new line of recycled techwear-meets-prep nylon totes.” If you’re also onboard with the trend, the brand offers a similarly styled backpack and belt bag, too.
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.