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 a puffin-print swimsuit (made from 100 percent recycled materials), a six-pound bag of Haribo, and a luxurious quilted dressing gown. (And if you want even more Strategist stories sent straight to your inbox, sign up for our email newsletter.)
Hue-like smart lighting
This week, Strategist staff reflected on their own purchases from the previous month. Included in the October recap were some stretchy dad joggers, a pour-over kettle, and a set of smart Wi-Fi sockets. “I prefer ambient lighting, so I have multiple lamps dotted around my home to create a cosy glow,” says Rosie Percy, our senior audience-development manager. “However, that meant taking a walking tour of my flat every time I wanted to switch a light on or off, so I looked into smart plugs that would let me adjust the lighting without having to move.” Percy discovered these TP-Link Tapo plugs after a search through Amazon, where they have over 3,500 five-star reviews. The plugs, which Percy says are straightforward to set up, can be linked up to a smart device (such as a Google Nest), which means she can control her lighting via voice activation. “Now I can ask Google to turn the bedroom or living-room lights on, and call from the front door on my way out to switch everything off without having to do a lap of the flat,” she said.
A gift for a bake-off obsessed mum
To help you find the perfect gift for the woman who has remarked, “Oh, you really shouldn’t have” every Christmas day on record, we compiled a gift guide for every single type of mum. Whether they’re a young mum, a retired mum, or a new mum, we’ve got an idea that’s sure to delight her, such as this dough rolling bag. Strategist editor Maxine Builder says that the bag is quite simply the “easiest way” to roll out pie dough she’s ever tried. It’s the perfect gift for a mum who reckons she could win star baker on Bake Off (and consider it a little treat for you, too, once she starts dishing out her perfectly rolled treats).
A deceptively vintage Bluetooth radio
We also delved through our archives, reached out to experts, and even combed through celebrity recommendations to compile a gift guide for every type of dad imaginable. We particularly liked this Roberts Revival radio, which, despite its vintage look, can connect to both Bluetooth and Spotify. It’s available in six shades, including leaf, duck egg, and dove grey. It would make the ideal gift for a dad who’s partial to a dance in the kitchen, or a dad who likes to listen to In Our Time whilst he works.
A flattering, ecofriendly swimsuit
While Strategist contributor Issy Sampson was swimming lengths at Tooting Lido, she noticed the same puffin-patterned swimsuit pass her by again and again. One Saturday morning, after asking a fellow swimmer where she might buy her own puffin swimsuit, Sampson discovered Batoko. After nine months of consistent usage, Sampson says it is categorically the best swimsuit she’s ever owned, well worth the (initially steep-seeming) £50 price tag — and it’s made from recycled plastic. As for the shape and cut, Sampson says she’s seen women “between 18 and 80 years old in the lido” sporting a Batoko. “Everyone looks good in it,” she says. For those not keen on the puffins, there is a wide range of prints available on the Batoko website, from floral to prints of “every kind of sea animal you can think of.”
A multitasking carafe
To help your friend settle into their new place, we reached out to ten cool homeowners and renters to find out what housewarming gifts new homeowners actually want. We found recommendations to suit every budget, ranging from practical gifts to more personal items. One such recommendation was this mouth-blown glass carafe, a personal favourite of writer and content editor Jemal Polson. He told us that whilst it’s “not something you might necessarily need,” it’s “something that is always nice to have.” The carafe can be filled with wine, water, or fancy oil, and can even be used as a vase — which means the versatile little gift is not likely to be stowed away and forgotten about in the cupboard.
A sustainable playtime subscription
If you’re really stumped on what to gift someone this Christmas, you might want to consider a subscription service. In recent years, subscriptions to suit all types of interests have become available, in genres ranging from beauty to food and drink to subscriptions suitable for kids. One such subscription service is Whirli Toy, a favourite amongst sustainability-conscious parents. A subscription to a plan provides tokens that can be used to rent some of the site’s 1,000-plus toys. Kids can then swap the toys for new ones after playing with them for any length of time, or — if they don’t want to give them up — the toys can be purchased at a reduced price.
A gift for a sweet-toothed brother
If your brother is still a big kid at heart, this (three-kilogram) bag of classic Haribo Cola Bottles is sure to go down a treat under the Christmas tree — although your mum might not be happy when he gets through half the bag and spoils his Christmas dinner. If he hasn’t got much of a sweet tooth, take a look through our 44 other gift suggestions for brothers here.
Some TikTok-worthy lighting
If it’s a sister you’re buying for, we’ve also got some ideas. If she’s an absolute pro at TikTok transitions, but always forgets to get recording during golden hour, this ring light with a tripod stand could be an ideal gift. With three light settings, a built-in phone stand, and a Bluetooth remote, she’ll thank you endlessly for taking her TikToks to a level of artistic excellence. It’s also ideal for taking a few Christmas Day selfies as a family, too.
And a gloriously thick, actually stylish dressing gown
When a reader asked for our help to track down an affordable (but not grandma-looking) quilted dressing gown, we got to work. After trawling through pages upon pages of pyjama and loungewear listings (and reaching out to a mum for some assistance), we came across this quilted dressing gown from Next. Filled with 100 percent polyester down, with deep pockets and a thick belt, we think it makes for an ideal option to get cosy in this winter. If you have any shopping requests of your own you’d like to see us cover, you can send your questions to email@example.com.
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.