sunday circular

10 Things That Delighted Us Last Week: From Lip Balms to Luxury Lunch Boxes

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 some bartender-recommended whiskey glasses, a formidable face serum, and two items to put in your basket now — before they sell out. (And if you want even more Strategist stories sent straight to your inbox, sign up for our email newsletter.)

A set-to-sell-out toy


Nine experts, including trend forecasters and toy-shop owners, let us know just which toys they predicted would sell out during the festive season (especially considering current supply chain issues). As well as the perpetually elusive Playstation 5, and some familiar brands (such as Lego and Barbie), their picks included this Yoto Player. Recommended by CBeebies presenter Nigel Clark, the Yoto Player is an audio player, telling stories from pre-loaded cards, or from blank cards that families can record over themselves. “It helps get children interested in books and reading in a really lovely way,” Clark explains. The audio player can also be used as a Bluetooth speaker, and children can access a daily free podcast and Yoto radio.

The original Beauty Advent Calendar

There are plenty of beauty advent calendars to choose from, and much like with Christmas toys, we recommend buying one sooner rather than later. We chatted to six experts — including beauty editors and makeup artists — about the best beauty advent calendars to buy (before they sell out). Two of our experts told us about the option from Liberty London. “I received one as a gift last year and I loved opening it every morning with my daughter to see what the surprise was,” says Dija Ayodele, skin-health expert and author of BLACK SKIN — The Definitive Skincare Guide. The beauty advent calendar, which Liberty claims was the first of its kind, is priced at £225, but contains products with a value of £844. Customers can look forward to products from brands such as Olaplex, 111Skin, and Le Labo, as well as goodies from Liberty’s own brand (and a store gift card).

A particularly powerful serum

When we researched the best products to treat hyperpigmentation, aesthetician Dija Ayodele brought this serum to our attention. “Cosmedix Simply Brilliant Serum helps to control excess melanin to prevent dark spots from forming, whilst also fading existing spots,” Ayodele explains. “It has lactic and salicylic acid to also exfoliate the skin to allow the brightening ingredients — which include whitonyl and waltheria — to penetrate the skin for a more even skin tone, and also to strengthen the skin to prevent future discolouration.” Ayodele views the serum, which is especially effective at banishing stubborn marks, to be a long-term investment, rather than a quick fix. “Over time, the skin texture is much improved and the overall complexion looks clearer and radiant,” she said.

A handsome photographic archive

From plant almanacs to a brutalist encyclopedia, our guide to highly giftable coffee-table books included options for every taste. We especially liked this archival, photographic tribute to the history of London. The Portrait of a City spans decades, including pictures from Victorian London, Mods and Punks, to recent royal weddings, festivals and even the 2021 Olympics. Sculptor Megan Dingwall told us it was a great source of inspiration, so perhaps it could be an ideal Christmas gift for a creative friend.

A palm-size portable photo printer

Fujifilm Mini Link Photo Printer

We asked some frequent solo travellers what items were on their wishlist. As well as items to make the actual flying aspect of adventuring easier, items that help preserve the memories of trips away were at the top of their lists. Becky Vandijk, the founder of We Are Travel Girls (which runs affordable luxury group trips for women) told us about this photo printer. The Fujifilm printer connects directly to your devices via Bluetooth and allows you to turn pictures taken on your phone into film prints — and it only takes 12 seconds. “[It’s] the perfect way to create and share memories during your travels,” Vandijk says. “It’s easy to throw in your handbag and take out with you.”

A petite desk chair

With many people still working from home (either part- or full-time), we combed through our archives, as well as interviewing stylish WFH-ers, to find the best office chairs to suit anyone’s needs. Animator and Strategist contributor Natalya Lobanova favours this Reis wheely chair from Wayfair, not merely for its vibrant colour, but for its petite nature. “It’s comfortable, and the lack of armrests is actually super-useful. I loved how it fit underneath my own desk, which has quite a narrow space for a chair — most wheely chairs don’t do this,” she said.

A luxury lunchbox

During our hunt through luxury listings for this story, we spotted this lunchbox from Prada. We think it’d be an ideal gift for a loved one with a devotion to Pret. Not only is it bound to be the nicest container in the office, it’s so lovely, it might actually prevent them from folding and grabbing a Super Club every day for lunch.

Industry standard whiskey glasses

Whilst they’re no doubt discerning, a sure way to delight the whiskey lover in your life is with some expertly crafted, great quality whiskey glasses. “Glencairn whiskey glasses are the industry standard, and absolutely the best for getting the most out of your whiskies,” says Katie Groves, from London’s oldest whiskey specialist Milroy’s of Soho. “You can get bespoke ones, or they’ve just launched some colourful ones which are so cool — you can buy them individually or in a set of six, perfect for blind tastings.” If they already own a set, our gift guide for whiskey lovers (according to whiskey experts) has 18 other suggestions, from aroma kits to guided tours.

New mum-approved pyjamas

Photo: retailer

When we spoke to 26 mothers about the best gifts they’d received after giving birth, most of them spoke about addressing a need for comfort. Emma Whiley, a mum from London, told us about this much-loved and frequently worn pair of pyjamas, which she purchased from an old colleague’s nightwear brand. “They are button-through, which is super helpful for nightime (or anytime) feeds,” Whiley says. Plus they are made from temperature regulating bamboo, which Whiley says is a lifesaver for those suffering from postpartum night sweats.

And a lip balm worth squeezing to the last drop

Of the eight bottles, tubs, and tubes beauty writer and Strategist contributor Daniela Morosini emptied in October, this Lanolips ointment caught our eye. “I am deeply particular about lip balm,” says Morosini. “In my opinion, it’s deeply unhygienic to dip your finger (or a wand) in and out of a balm.” Available in a squeeze tube, Morosini’s lip-balm application of choice, the ointment is “thick but not sticky.” It also requires very little touch-up throughout the day, meaning that Morosini found a small tube can last her for up to six weeks. As for the flavour, Morosini says that whilst she’s tried a wide selection, she always returns to the “yumminess” of Coconutter.

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.

Things That Delighted Us Last Week: Lunch Boxes to Lip Balms