sunday circular

10 Things That Delighted Us Last Week: From Advent Calendars to Artificial Christmas Trees

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

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 an unkillable fern, a stylish aroma diffuser, and pre-lit Christmas tree. (And if you want even more Strategist stories sent straight to your inbox, sign up for our email newsletter.)

Some herbaceous olive oil

When choosing a gift for a pasta-obsessed loved one, pasta chef Masha Rener recommends selecting an ingredient from their favourite dish for a truly personal touch. “Whenever I’m away from home for a long period of time, there is one specific dish my kids miss tremendously: pasta pomodoro,” she says. “It’s incredibly simple, requiring just passata, olive oil, and pasta.” Rener only cooks with the golden-green extra-virgin olive oil from Lina Stores — the restaurant and deli that she works at. She says that the Tonda Iblea olives that make the oil — originating in Monti Iblei in Sicily — produce “delicate, well-rounded, and herbaceous flavour,” which pairs well with both “tomato-based sauces” as well as “fresh focaccia.”

A stylish aroma diffuser

Our Christmas gift guide for every type of husband includes gifts for arty husbands, husbands that love gardening, and even skin-care expert-in-the-making husbands. It also includes this aroma diffuser from Muji with a built-in timer option. Once filled with essential oils, the diffuser produces a dry, calming, and fragrant mist into the air. We think it’d be perfect for a husband whose office is now in the shed — or perhaps for a husband who likes to unwind before heading to bed.

A Sunday Times best seller

We also compiled a list of gifts for absolutely every type of wife imaginable, including this Sunday Times best-selling book. Written by the hosts of Keep the Receipts, it includes comedic anecdotes, frank conversations about sex, and reflections on female friendship and enjoying life as a woman of colour. It’s ideal for a wife who’s a fan of the girls already or for someone always looking for new entries for her Goodreads account.

Some sustainable cashmere

During our hunt to find the best cashmere for women, writer Caroline Beirne recommended this jumper from Arket. “There’s something at Arket to suit everyone’s tastes, and their cashmere range is no exception,” she said. The polo-collar cashmere jumper is made from 72 percent recycled cashmere and 28 percent responsible wool, making it an ideal choice for those interested in sustainable fashion. “It is sustainable, on trend, luxury, and wearable all at the same time,” says Beirne. “Perfect to throw over loungewear around the house or to top off a ‘walk in the park’ outfit.” You can read about 13 other cashmere options (recommended by other equally as stylish women) here.

A snuggly sleepytime otter

Finding a gift to delight a 1-year-old — caught within the transition between baby and toddler — can be tricky, so we spoke to a panel of nine parenting and child experts to help. One such expert — Susie Boone, editorial director of MadeForMums — recommended this snuggle otter baby noise machine. “It has all the sleep-aid elements you would expect — cute features, soft music, and the soothing sounds of white noise,” she said. “But there is a special feature that makes it stand out: Its illuminated tummy moves up and down with a breathing motion.” Each of the otter’s features (sounds, light, breathing) can be isolated to play alone or set to play all together, depending on what each baby prefers.

A truly thoughtful baby-shower gift

To take the stress away from finding a perfect baby-shower gift, we asked seven baby experts — including doulas, midwives, and new mothers themselves — for some ideas. Their recommendations included gifts for the expecting parents, such as frozen-meal vouchers and vaginal oil. They also included gifts for the baby, including these milestone cards from Colour Celebrations. Nina Malone, Dope Black Mums podcast host, calls Colour Celebrations her “go-to brand for gifting.” Founder Deborah Ajaja founded the company after struggling to find products that represented her own family. The cards, available in both Black and mixed ethnicity editions, celebrate milestones in each baby’s life. There are also blank milestone cards, so parents can add and document their child’s very own special memory.

A resilient potted fern

Continuing our new column “Big Plants, Small Space,” plant writer Sonya Patel Ellis revealed how she prevents her dozens of ferns from drying out. Amongst her expert recommendations of plant misters and fertilisers, Patel Ellis discussed a thicker type of fern, less prone to growing crispy. “Simply choose a fern with thicker, strappier leaves,” she says, pointing towards the bird’s-nest fern (or Asplenium nidusi). Patel Ellis also advises plant parents not to beat themselves up over the odd brown leaf or two. “This is normal. Carefully cut them all the way back to the main stem with sharp, clean scissors and see how it goes,” she advises. “Most ferns are tougher than you think.”

A pre-lit Christmas tree

As Christmas approaches, we scoured through hundreds of customer reviews to find the best artificial Christmas trees available on Amazon. With an average rating of 4.5 stars, this pre-lit, pine-inspired tree from WeRChristmas proved immensely popular. Seventeen customers said that they would wholeheartedly recommend it to others, including one customer who had sold real Christmas trees for 30 years. The 400 LED lights dotted amongst the branches of the tree can be controlled via a controller, and reviewers described them as warm, with one woman saying they made her living room appear magical. Nine customers also described the tree as looking convincingly realistic.

A very European advent calendar

Whether you’re shopping for a cheese lover or a caviar fiend, we’ve located an advent calendar that’s sure to delight — with most guaranteeing delivery in time for December 1st. For the sister that can’t wait until season two of Emily in Paris, this vibrant advent calendar recreates a colourful Parisian Laudurée shop front. It also contains a selection of 24 sweets and chocolates, including bonbons, nougat, orangettes, and caramels.

And a stocking stuffer for a food-loving friend

For a gift that’s sure to arrive in time for Christmas day (despite any supply-chain issues), we did some sleuthing to find 39 of the best e-gift cards to shop online. Our picks include Deliveroo gift cards for Nandos addicts and ASOS gift cards for serial shoppers. We also found an e-gift card for Strategist-favourite food and kitchenware retailer Sous Chef. Recipients can shop from Sous Chef’s niche range of ingredients (including honeys, preserves, mushrooms, and truffles) or perhaps pick up a ramen- or pasta-making kit. Also, with Sous Chef’s gift cards starting at just £10, they make a great stocking stuffer.

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.

10 Things That Delighted Us Last Week