We write about hundreds of products a week. Here, in our version of the Sunday circular, we’ve plucked out some of our favourites — 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 some artsy, blobby candles, an award-winning rum, and a teeny-tiny monkey costume. (And if you want even more Strategist stories sent straight to your inbox, sign up for our email newsletter.)
An award-winning, Scottish-brewed rum
It’s unusual to find a rum distillery in the U.K. — much less in Scotland — but Matugga has been brewing in West Lothian for six years. Its golden rum is one of 24 items included in our gift guide from British Black-owned businesses. We think it would make a great gift for your hard-to-buy-for uncle, or perhaps for a mum who’s partial to a pineapple rum punch.
A baby-approved trick-or-treating costume
Of all of the outfits that we found when we researched the best baby Halloween costumes on Amazon, this baby monkey costume was perhaps the most delightful. It was certainly one of the most popular — it has an average rating of four and a half stars. Several reviewers were fans of the sewn-in banana — one reviewer said her 7-month-old daughter was particularly enchanted to find the banana concealed a small rattle. Nine reviewers said that the sizing ran a little big, which meant that there was ample space for their baby to wear a T-shirt underneath (and stay warm during trick-or-treating). Overall, 19 of the costume’s 427 reviewers were in agreement that the outfit was simply adorable.
A way to explore nail art (for the clumsy)
When we asked beauty experts — from manicurists to editors — for their picks of the best stick-on nails, celebrity manicurist Kate Williamson told us about Shrine. Shrine’s sets are heavily illustrated, making them an easy way to wear nail art, without requiring any skill. “Shrine always comes through and delivers with the cutest designs and colours,” says Williamson (whose clients include model Jourdan Dunn). “They also regularly collaborate with nail artists and brands to feature new designs, so you’re also supporting small businesses.” Shrine’s nails come in packs of 20, and in a range of shapes, from coffin to classic squoval.
A truly unusual calligraphy set
Whether they’re a painter or a sculptor, shopping for an artist can be an intimidating task. When we asked artists what gifts they’d like to receive, textile designer and artist Camille Auclair told us about this truly unusual calligraphy set from London Pigment. The set is a collaboration between two artists themselves, Lucy Mayes and Katie Kirk. “Mayes is an artist who collects ‘London grit’ (sludge from the Thames, bits scratched off the surface of an old rusty moped …) and then makes gorgeous inks and pigments out of them,” Camille Auclair said. London Pigment offers bespoke colour options across their range of products, for an additional personal touch.
Some delicate silver earrings
These dainty earrings come from ESEA-owned jewellery brand Loveness Lee. Made of recycled silver, the pair each feature a single dangling freshwater pearl. We think that they would make the ideal addition to a partner’s stacked ear. For more gift ideas from ESEA-owned businesses, read our guide here.
Some teething-proof toys
These soft stacking blocks are a reader favourite. They were originally recommended to us by Natasha Crookes, director of public affairs and communications at the British Toy and Hobby Association. She says that while any interlocking cubes are a great toy for babies around the age of 1, these chewable options are an especially good idea, as babies of this age are still teething.
A stylish staple
When we asked 13 stylish women (including designer Vera Wang) to reveal their go-to white T-Shirt, artist Jesse Le pointed us toward Comme des Garçons. Le says that the material (“just a little bit thicker than most”) and the “perfect”cut combine to make it her staple white tee. She’s also a fan of the small CDG logo on the shirt’s breast: “The heart just gives it that little bit of ’tude,” she says.
Some hotelier-standard lighting
When Strategist writer Chris Mandle accidentally kicked over his lamp, he reassessed the lighting options in his home. “I recalled podcaster Arman Neifi (who used to be the creative director at the Chateau Marmont telling me about the filament bulbs he swears by,” he writes. “Not only does he have them in his home, but he takes a box of them when he’s travelling in order to improve the often unsatisfactory lighting in hotels he stays at.” Chris says that the pumpkin-y hue of the bulb offers a nice contrast to the sharper light at his desk after a day of working from home.
A drag queen’s favourite sewing machine
When we asked Drag Race UK’s Lawrence Chaney about their favourite things, they told us about the sewing machine they’d used from the age of 14. “It puts up with the shit that I’ve fired through it,” they said. “I fire sequins through there, velvet with padding with more velvet, so it’s had a lot of wear and tear.” Chaney favours the Brother LS14S thanks to its generous selection of 14 stitches, and its overall ease to use (from threading it up to altering the tension).
A subscription-worthy moisturiser
Contributor Sandy Yu has used over 40 Beauty Pie products, but this moisturiser is one of the few that she buys on repeat. In fact, she’s actually been using it since her very first order. “It feels refreshing and silky smooth when applied,” she says. “In the mornings, my skin looks refreshed and dewy, like it’s been well rested, even if I didn’t get my prescribed eight hours of sleep.” Suitable for all skin types (including sensitive), the moisturiser includes antioxidant Tomato stem cells, and moisturising flower stem cells, to quench and plump the skin.
Some goofy, artsy candles
While we were snooping through the deals in Liberty London’s autumn sale, these goofy Goober candles caught our eye. The candles have a burn time of 40 hours, and are currently available for 20 percent off (£21.60, down from £27). Our U.S. colleague Dominique Pariso is such a fan of her own Goobers that she can’t bear to light hers. They’re available in shades including baby blue, lavender, and apricot.
The Strategist UK is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Read about who we are and what we do here. Our editors update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.