stuff we buy ourselves

The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in November

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

If you follow our monthly feature “Your Shopping Cart,” you know we have some eerily good intel on what you all are buying. Which led us to think that, as Strategist editors, we could turn the tables and highlight all the things we’ve been buying for ourselves. As you’ll notice, it’s both a blessing and a curse to be a Strategist editor; we’re picky, but sometimes we just have to get on with it. (It’s online-shopping expertise meets IRL needs.) Below, what we all bought in November.

Rosie Percy, senior audience-development manager

Like many millennials, I have anxiety and a mild TikTok addiction. The combination of both got me into a bad nighttime routine of scrolling my FYP until nearly midnight, then struggling to switch off my mind to sleep. When I complained to a friend about being so tired, she told me about the Kloris CBD oil she had been gifted, which helped calm her before bed. I hadn’t used a CBD oil before and was a little skeptical, so I tried a few drops from her bottle when visiting one weekend.

I don’t know if it was a placebo effect or if the CBD oil actually did the job, but it worked. A few drops took the edge off, helped quiet my mind, and stopped my meandering train of thought. I ordered a bottle for myself in the lower-strength 5 percent formula — which I would recommend for beginners — and now I use it almost every night. As it helps me feel less anxious, I’m turning to the comforting distraction of TikTok less, too, reducing my presleep screen time. The only problem is the Kloris oil doesn’t taste great, so I have to let it absorb under my tongue for a few minutes before lying down or else I end up spluttering.

My skin is very sensitive and flares up at the first sign of stress, hormonal fluctuations, or changes in the weather. So when a busy week coincided with a drop in temperatures, scaly patches appeared around my face, and my lips cracked. Even my beloved Cerave moisturiser and Weleda Skin Food couldn’t rid me of the flakiness, so I turned to a skin-care-obsessed friend who swears by Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream and immediately ordered it.

The product is an orangey-brown balm, rather than a cream, with a slightly medicinal scent. I needed only a tiny smear to provide instant relief to my sore, chapped skin — sometimes just the residue from inside the lid was enough. After two days, my skin stopped flaking, and the pigmentation calmed down. I barely had to use any of the 50g tube, but as it lasts for three years once opened, I’ve got a while (and plenty more flare-ups) ahead of me to finish it.

Ailbhe Malone, senior editor

My parents recently adopted a giant former racing greyhound. They named him Milo, and he is the light of their life. I perused our reporting on the best dog toys and chose this hide-a-squirrel toy for him (Milo is as obsessed with squirrels as my parents are obsessed with Milo). I went for the large size, which comes with three squirrels; Milo could probably have done with the extra large (five squirrels), but I needed to fit the toy in my suitcase. Regardless of the number of squirrels, it was an instant hit. Milo loves to shake the squeaky critters loose from their hiding places in the tree trunk and then chew on the trunk for good measure. After a few days of vigorous play, he destroyed the squeakers, but that seemed only to add to his satisfaction.

I’ve been flip-flopping over an Advent calendar for almost a month, and after a lot of research, I finally chose the Rituals one. It’s shaped like an Amsterdam townhouse and comes with a range of Rituals products (I have yet to try a Rituals product I don’t like). The deciding factor was that it comes with four candles: a bounty I didn’t see in any other Advent calendar that crossed my path.

Ever since I bought my (first!) car earlier this year, I have been hunting for a non-gross phone mount. Phone mounts are oddly technical (specific air vents need specific mounts) and tend to be bulky. I was almost about to give up and add a foul dashboard mount to my basket when a Black Friday email from PopSockets came through. I’ve had a PopSocket on most of my phones (from a company-branded one via my last job to a PR-gifted one most recently) but had never thought to look at the PopSocket mounts. I nabbed a discreet lilac one for 20 percent off and called it a day. Just one note — you can move the mount by 90 degrees to best fit your vents. It’s pretty stiff (several Amazon reviewers returned theirs because they couldn’t move it), but I just wedged a ruler in the slats as a kind of lever and it was fine.

I am paranoid about anyone seeing my Christmas shopping in advance, but I’m pretty sure my in-laws don’t read the Strategist. So I feel confident sharing here that I bought them this Hackney soap and hand-lotion gift set from Soapsmith, proud Hackney dwellers that they are.

Rachael Griffiths, writer

Norma Duvet Cover Set

With winter arriving overnight, I felt a need to turn my bed into the cosiest place possible. A quick poke around the sales revealed Wayfair had some great discounts on duvet sets, and after considering a few, I settled on the Norma. With a diamond-texture pattern and silvery hue, the set reminded me of a fancy hotel, and it cost less than £25 for a double size (accompanied by two pillowcases). When it arrived — rather swiftly, within two days — I was delighted that it felt soft straight out of the packaging and not at all scratchy (no matter how soft, my preference is always to give sets a machine wash before use). After a wash and an air-dry, I made my bed and settled in for a binge-watch of Ted Lasso. As well as giving my busy room a calm, sophisticated touch, the duvet set was just as thick and cosy as I could have hoped, and I settled in for a lovely night’s sleep.

I’m an absolute sucker for the mini makeup products at Boots; anytime I nip in to grab a concealer (or even a meal deal), I can’t escape without picking one up. On one of my last trips, I noticed a hydrating miniature version of the Benefit Porefessional primer. I’d been given the original Porefessional as a Christmas gift years ago, and whilst I loved the way it made my makeup look, my skin felt dangerously close to cracking beneath it. After one use of the hydrating mini, I ordered the full-size version in the Black Friday sales. Not only did my makeup blend with the smoothest consistency in memory, but my face felt actively moisturised throughout the day. Although I’d become blasé towards applying primer, after a full day my makeup not only looked but felt fresh. I would now never dream of skipping the step. Plus, you really need only a pea-size dollop, so I’m hoping this tube will last me for months to come.

Chris Mandle, writer

I have been wearing the same scent since I was 17: Polo Black, by Ralph Lauren, a peppery, leathery scent I first picked up while working in the shop as a sales associate. Keen to broaden my olfactory palette, I have spent the past couple of months sniffing my way through any department store I drifted into, sorting through samples (“too grassy,” “too leathery”) like an aroma-enthused Goldilocks. One name that came up among those in my finer-smelling social circles was Frédéric Malle, the founder of perfume house Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle. One afternoon at Liberty, I landed on a Malle scent I was drawn to: the campily named French Lover, which is spicy in places but also quite minerally. Although they’re not listed on the bottle, I noted elements of fresh dill and martini-soaked olives after a few heady sniffs. Mindful that Malle’s fragrances are pretty expensive, a friend let me in on an inside tip; you can buy smaller 10ml bottles for about £40. Most department stores won’t tell you this, however — in fact, when I asked for the 10ml bottle, our sales associate, eyebrow raised, asked if we were ex-staff (this is easier to do online, however). French Lover is a scent I now keep for occasional use — like an impromptu dinner at Brasserie Zédel earlier this month with a friend who was over from L.A — but I’m already saving for the larger bottle.

Earlier this month, I was using a co-working space in central London and popped into Uniqlo to pick up some of the brand’s black fabric face masks, as the three I bought this summer had all gone missing. I couldn’t resist picking up some more chunky hiking socks and a flannel shirt (I was listening to evermore at the time, which I partly blame), but on my way to the till I spied this turmeric-coloured mock-neck T-shirt, which I instantly shoved into my basket. I’ve already worn it layered under everything this month, from chunky cord shirts to granddad cardigans, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of other colours end up in my shopping cart in December.

Tinned fish is having a bit of a moment — from the Tinned Fish Market’s artful subscription boxes to the new range launched by Rockfish chef Mitch Tonks. Since the early days of lockdown, I’ve been getting mine from Sous Chef, which I turned to for Caputo flour when my local shops (and Amazon) were sold out. This month, while ordering some food-based gifts for Christmas presents, I thought it was silly not to buy myself something, too. Sous Chef sells tins of razor clams, sardines, and mackerel, but I picked up some octopus, which I folded into a pan of spaghetti, sliced garlic, and tomatoes. I really like the illustrations on the boxes, too, which make them feel very giftable. I’d much rather a tin of this in my stocking than another bar of Tony’s chocolate.

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.

The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in November