sunday circular

12 Things That Delighted Us Last Week: From Solar Holiday Lights to Spaghetti Forks

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 reliable cashmere crewneck our resident fashion experts call one of the best wardrobe basics, the DJ-ing headphones Paris Hilton owns in dozens of colors and styles, and the leather messenger bags Amy Sedaris suggests giving to a husband with a Christmas birthday.

The Birkenstock ornament Annie Meyers-Shyer is attaching to her sister’s gifts

Strategist contributor Annie Meyers-Shyer is serious about holiday decorations — so much so that she starts the process right after Halloween. She shared her handbook for decking the halls, which includes hanging a rust-colored gingham bow, burning her festive Ralph Lauren candle, and ordering ornaments like this one to tack onto gifts when wrapping. Last year, Meyers-Shyer says she gave her mom, filmmaker Nancy Meyers, a typewriter, and this year, she bought this kitschy sandal ornament to tie onto her Birk-loving sister’s gifts.

Our best easy-to-clean carry-on that’s already a Black Friday steal

Monos Carry-On Plus
From $187
From $187

Many merchants have decided to start their Black Friday sales early, so Strategist deals editor Sam Daly cherry-picked all the best discounts worth shopping from brands such as Caraway, Material, Primary, Target, Tatcha (exclusively for Strategist readers), and more. If you’re jetting off for the holidays and want to avoid checking a bag, this Monos carry-on suitcase, which is our best easy-to-clean option, is on sale with the code EARLYBF. But if nothing is speaking to you just yet, check back this week as we cover all the Black Friday sales.

From $187 at Monos
with code: CYBERWEEK

The DJ headphones Paris Hilton bedazzles with Swarovski crystals

V-MODA Crossfade LP2

Paris Hilton can’t live without these DJ-ing headphones, which she’s used for over a decade. Hilton describes the sound of the Crossfade LP2 as “incredible” and says she owns about 100 pairs, many of which are rhinestoned or encrusted with Swarovski crystals to match her outfits. “I love the shape of them and the style of the earpiece; I think it’s very modern-looking,” Hilton says.

A funky Alessi spaghetti fork

If you (or your giftee) have a taste for the finer things in life but just can’t seem to swing that Le Creuset Dutch oven, we have a guide for you. Strategist kitchen and dining writer Emma Wartzman assembled a list of affordable, highly giftable kitchen products from spendier brands — which includes a Matilda Goad toast rack, a Mosser juicer, and this spaghetti serving fork from Strategist favorite Alessi. Wartzman says it has six prongs to help catch wiggly strands and a stout handle for maximum control.

The solar lights Vanessa Hudgens puts out for the holidays

Solar Outdoor Lights

Vanessa Hudgens counts these easy-to-operate solar lights among her favorite things and says she loves to keep them up through the holiday months. Hudgens, a self-described do-it-all-herself type of girl, says she discovered the outdoor set on Amazon while prepping for a Halloween party last year. She uses the green and blue color settings during the spooky season, Hudgens says, but with Christmas coming, she’ll change them to red and green. “You literally just put them in a place that gets sun, and they charge and will light up the night,” she says.

The only cashmere sweater our women’s fashion writers say you need in your wardrobe

In a world of constantly changing clothing trends, shopping for timeless pieces can be tricky — which is why we created the Strategist Womenswear 100. In making this catalogue, we uncovered the best basics, like this under-$100 cashmere sweater. Named our best overall pick, this classic-fitting Naadam crew is an example of the brand’s unbeatable quality that feels supersoft without being mushy, Strategist writer Arielle Avila says. It’s available in a whopping 17 shades and ranges in size from XXS to XXL.

The messenger bags Amy Sedaris would gift to a well-traveled, 63-year-old husband

Last week, Amy Sedaris, our first-ever gifting columnist, released her second round of suggestions for readers with hard-to-shop-for recipients: the poor daughter with a fancy mother, the wife whose travel-loving husband is turning 63 on Christmas Day, and the mom whose teen daughter wants Olivia Rodrigo tickets. For the second giftee, Sedaris recommended a multipart present that involves replacing his worn-out messenger bag with one from Il Bisonte or Billykirk. It can be filled with Japanese yen and sleeping tablets for their next trip together. And for his birthday, Sedaris says to “make him a personalized bookmark that doubles as a coupon for a hand job,” which is very in line with her first batch of tips.

A framed title signed by the prince of Sealand for the gallerist who has everything

Every year, Strategist contributor Cynthia Talmadge says she tries to get her gallerist, Ellie Rines, a birthday present to remember. But after presenting numerous unique ideas — from a Law & Order SVU–themed party to a Times Square billboard that flashed her headshot — Talmadge says that, by far, the best gift she’s ever gotten Ellie is an aristocratic title. Available for purchase via the Principality of Sealand, or the “smallest country in the world,” Talmadge says the “independent” spirit behind the miniature state reminded her of Ellie, who punches far above her weight career-wise. “I figured if I couldn’t arrange for her to meet Bates or his son, Michael, the prince of Sealand, a deed of title personally signed by the latter would be the next best thing,” Talmadge says.

The boar-bristle brush Candace Parker uses to smooth her baby hairs

When we spoke to Candace Parker, a forward with WNBA champions Las Vegas Aces, she told us about this edge-control brush that she uses on her baby hairs in the morning. Parker, who says she used to get made fun of for having them, applies pomade with this smoothing tool. “You will know if I’m sick — that’s the only time I don’t have them done,” Parker says, adding that she won’t even let her makeup artist touch them.

A barrier-friendly moisturizer for distressed skin

In last week’s installment of the Strategist Beauty Brief, Strategist writer (and beauty expert) Tembe Denton-Hurst explored the skin-care damage-repair cycle and the products being marketed to restore the uppermost layer of the skin. Although Denton-Hurst says skin is skilled at regeneration on its own, a moisturizer can help to speed up the process, and a no-frills pick like First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream works just as well as those touted as being barrier-specific. Denton-Hurst says she’s used First Aid Beauty’s simple formula for years and likes that it sinks into skin but doesn’t feel too thick or oily.

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.

12 Things We Loved: From Solar Lights to Spaghetti Forks