sunday circular

7 Things That Delighted Us Last Week: From Halloween Trees to Anti-Thigh-Chafe Sticks

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

We write about hundreds of products every week. Here, in our version of the Sunday circular, we’ve plucked some of our recent favorites: expert-recommended essentials, life-changing stuff you didn’t know you needed, newly launched gizmos, and very good deals we uncovered while trawling the vast online-shopping universe — including the cat bed that made Anna Biller’s skittish tuxedo cat chiller, the giant orange tree Lauren Lapkus puts up each fall to spread Halloween cheer, and gender-neutral (and ultrasoft) bedding for kids that stands up to machine-washing.

The film Sofia Coppola used to take pictures on the set of Priscilla

With the release of Archive, Sofia Coppola’s first photography book, you (like us) may have wondered what equipment she used to capture the never-before-seen images. Well, when we spoke to Coppola about her favorite things, she told us that this is her go-to Kodak film, which she loads into a Contax T3 camera. Coppola, who has been using Porta 400 for long enough to remember a brief shortage, describes it as having a soft color quality that never looks overly contrast-y. “I’m so happy they still make it,” she says.

A medicated lip balm for chapped, Accutane-affected lips

Dr. Dan’s CortiBalm

Isotretinoin, or the oral medication colloquially called Accutane, will almost certainly cause skin dryness in most patients (we’re speaking from experience). To find the best skin-care products for Accutane users, Strategist contributor Fiorella Valdesolo spoke to dermatologists Dr. Corey L. Hartman and Dr. Mamina Turegano, who gave this medicated lip balm their stamp of approval. Hartman recommends the formula because it contains emollients and hydrocortisone, which eases irritation and dryness; meanwhile, Turegano says active ingredients like petrolatum and beeswax calm and protect very inflamed lips.

The glowing “Christmas” tree Lauren Lapkus puts up to celebrate Halloween

During an episode of the Bravo-centric podcast Bitch Sesh, actress-comedian Lauren Lapkus shared her special fall tradition: putting up a towering orange “Christmas” tree with built-in white lights and an array of Halloween-themed ornaments. Strategist contributor Sarah Turcotte tipped us off to the unique decoration — which she adopted this year in her Brooklyn apartment — and interviewed Lapkus to learn more. Although Lapkus’s artificial pine was originally a mood-lighting purchase made during the pandemic, she told Turcotte that a niche population of the country is passionate about Halloween-themed trees. And since she’s owned the seven-footer, Lapkus notes that spooky season has become almost as major a holiday as Christmas in her house. “It’s all about the lights at night and feeling that glow,” she says. “It’s unexpected and brings so much warmth.”

Colorful, gender-neutral bedding for kids that’s made to wash

Alongside recommendations from interior designers, artists, and stylish parents for the bedding they suggest for kids, Strategist contributor Youngna Park highlighted these rainbow gingham sheets that her 5-year-old likes for “maximizing the color on his bottom bunk.” Park says the set, which also comes in rainbow heart and dot patterns, is made of a crisp cotton percale that stays cool during the summer months. And when it’s time to clean up any messes, the durable material can handle a lot of tumbles in the washer and dryer without losing its vibrancy or texture — plus because the fitted and flat sheets are sold separately, it’s easy to mix and match patterns, Park says.

The anti-anxiety bed that helped Anna Biller’s cat come out from under the covers

Whiskers & Friends Cat Bed

Anna Biller can’t live without this doughnut-shaped pet bed, which the filmmaker initially bought for her “very nervous cat, Jacques.” Biller says it’s “like therapy” for Jacques, who used to spend a lot of his time burrowing under the covers and hiding from Biller’s other (much larger) cat. The anti-anxiety bed has given Jacques a huge confidence boost, almost “like if a child has their comfort blanket,” Biller says, adding that she now owns two fuzzy beds for each of her pets.

The winning product in one Strategist writer’s anti-chafe showdown

If you missed Wednesday’s The Strategist Beauty Brief — a new weekly newsletter in which our beauty writers share their must-tries, can-skips, and can’t-live-withouts — Strategist writer Dominique Pariso tested the recently launched anti-chafe stick from First Aid Beauty and compared it to her old faithful Megababe formula. After walking 10,000 steps (which is the actual wear time First Aid Beauty boasts about), Pariso concluded that Megababe’s stick is thicker, creamier, and requires fewer reapplications. “It’s like a shield protecting me from the gates of hell,” she says. While Pariso says First Aid Beauty is a perfectly fine option for those who prefer a lighter texture (like on a hot beach trip), Megababe is still her preferred solution.

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.

7 Things We Loved: From Halloween Trees to Anti-Chafe Sticks