Puck’s 2023 Guide to Mirth & Merriment

The Editors
December 11, 2023

Season’s greetings, from our Puck family to yours. It was another superlative year here at Puck H.Q., in New York, and at our multiplying number of outposts across the world: Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and yes, occasionally Paris and Milan. We’ve produced some incredible work these past 12 months, and we couldn’t be prouder of the remarkably talented and rapidly expanding team behind it all.

Of course, we’re especially grateful to you, our readers, and the unique community we’re building here together. We really, truly, couldn’t do it without you. 

To celebrate the occasion, and to mark the beginning of this year’s holiday festivities, we have once again asked our uniquely talented journalists (as well as our equally discerning behind-the-scenes operators) to share what they’re wearing, reading, and gifting in 2023. Plus, this year, we’ve also asked for a few recommendations from some V.I.P. friends of Puck—Gwyneth Paltrow, Lena Waithe, Don Lemon, Mickey Drexler, Risa Heller, Jeffrey Leeds, and our friends at Diageo. 

Thanks as ever for your support, and a Happy New Year to all.

The Best Books We Read This Year

Romney: A Reckoning by McKay Coppins, which is a peerless portrait not just of Mitt Romney, but of the fragility of American politics in the Trump era. Moreover, as a journalist, this is the kind of unfettered access that one dreams about. –Dylan Byers

The Shards by Bret Easton Ellis—I loved it, sue me. Listen to the “soundtrack” on Spotify while you’re reading. Also, Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick. Even if you hate your mother, you will love this book, written when books were still properly edited (i.e., the 1980s). –Lauren Sherman

Not even a question: Jacob Mikanowski’s stunningly elegant Goodbye, Eastern Europe. Absolutely incredible. –Julia Ioffe

The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman. It was the final decade in world history when the internet as we know it didn’t yet exist. How did we live? A really fun look back on a decade of music, film, politics, and the idea of knowledge before social media took over our brains. –Peter Hamby

Among the things taken from Black people by systems of white supremacy across the global diaspora has been our connection to the Earth. I’ve rediscovered that power through my PBS series, America Outdoors, but it’s been deepened by the histories and perspectives revealed in Black Earth Wisdom, a collection of essays and interviews by Leah Penniman. –Baratunde Thurston

What We’re Streaming…

I could list so, so, so many shows, but the three series that have stuck with me this year are Righteous Gemstones (HBO), I Think You Should Leave (Netflix), and What We Do in the Shadows (FX). All three are among the most elite comedy series airing today, endlessly quotable, and have defined the way I interact with everyone in my life. In my work, I’m often thinking about what makes a great show; if it’s something I’m still quoting three seasons later, that’s a pretty good start. God, TV is good. –Julia Alexander

One of the delights of adulthood is occasionally rediscovering old shows that have gotten a second life on streaming. (Thank the writers and actors strikes, I guess.) I’m not exaggerating when I say my girlfriends have collectively lost their minds over Hulu getting Moonlighting, a weird and brilliant and magical series whose lead detective, played by a young Bruce Willis, is even cooler than John McClane. Cybill Shepherd is at the peak of her powers. There are puns! Shakespeare! And the greatest TV romance of all time. –Abby Livingston

Since leaving corporate media I cut the cord. I have an extensive, eclectic streaming palate now: Fellow Travelers on Showtime; PBD Podcast (it’s very conservative); The Ben Shapiro Show (I want to hear his take on Israel); Pivot (of course); Piers Morgan Uncensored (very real, authentic conversations you don’t get in corporate media); Pod Save America (obvi); The Daily (every single day); Smartless (the best); The Adam Friedland Show (smart, irreverent, funny; download the Chet Hanks episode for evidence). Don Lemon, journalist

For All Mankind, on Apple+. I love shows that start with a pretty crazy premise and then go wild places. Such as: What if the Soviets beat the Americans to the moon? The answer given isn’t nearly as apparent as you think. The fourth season just started, and it’s set more than 30 years after the first. –Eriq Gardner

Wardrobe Upgrades

After my ski trial, I got two types of texts from girlfriends: They either (gingerly) asked if I was okay or (gingerly) asked me when the G. Label by goop belted cardigan I wore would be back in stock. I didn’t have great answers to either question at the time. But now I can confidently let them know the Noah sweater is back. And it’s a workhorse in fine Italian virgin wool: Great for holiday parties or courtrooms. Gwyneth Paltrow, founder and C.E.O., Goop

I’m not a clotheshorse, and never have been, but I also abhor the startup look—itself a fashion statement created by people without taste. There are a million ways to project that you take your day job seriously, and work around the clock, without looking sloppy. I remind myself of this constantly, especially since I’m not getting any younger. As a little treat, I’m eyeing this beautiful double-breasted Herringbone overcoat from Drake’s, which you can wear to the office or to the White House, or anywhere in between. –Jon Kelly

I have a pair of suede Hermès gloves that they don’t make anymore. So I looked at all 12 gloves for sale on the site and picked my favorite. I also asked Alex Mill designer Somsack Sikhounmuong to pick his favorite, and another guy. And we all agreed on these. They’re nicer than the ones I bought a million years ago that I never wear because they’re too nice and I lose all my gloves. –Mickey Drexler, chairman, Alex Mill

Look, Todd Snyder’s short sleeve Champion sweatshirts are fabulous. Very comfortable, great for the beach because they are both warm—post cold plunge—and cool, for that late afternoon sun. And they come in a variety of colors. By the way, the combo of Todd Snyder and Champion is hard to beat! –Bill Cohan

Josh O’Connor and Jacob Elordi have opened my eyes! I’m an aspiring bag guy, and I am ditching my canvas totes for something more elevated, like this beautiful Loewe Puzzle Fold Tote in Seaside Blue. –David Kobe

Brunello Cucinelli’s reversible cashmere blazer, a simple yet refined blazer that’s versatile enough to wear anywhere, anytime. It’s also so damn soft. And not to repeat myself from last year, but the Raen Remmy sunglasses remain a favorite. My latest pair are the honey frames with green polarized lenses. –Dylan

Gucci is better known for their loafers, but they also make a fantastic driving shoe—the sportier, rubber-soled cousin of the horsebit classic. It’s more comfortable, frankly, and just as stylish. –Ben Landy

Our Favorite Holiday Drinks

Bringing wine as a holiday party gift is very last year. People have such strong opinions about wine. “Oh, you brought a chardonnay… thanks…” From here on out, I’ll be bringing my hosts Ketel One Espresso Martinis and Bulleit Old Fashions via The Cocktail Collection. That’ll get the party started. –Alex Bigler

The Sierra Alta, an all-Californian riff on the Alpine Negroni that I recently created at my home bar. Rinse an ice-cold tumbler with Brucato Chaparral Amaro, then mix 1.5 oz of St. George “Terroir” Mount Tamalpais Gin, 1 oz. of Vya Sweet Vermouth, and 0.75 oz of Bruto Americano plus 0.25 oz of the Brucato Chaparral. Stir vigorously and strain over the largest ice cube you can find. I like to think of it as the apres-ski drink you’d have next to a fire in a snow-blanketed chalet, preferably before a hearty Italian meal. –Dylan

The “Beet Box” was created by U.W. Madison professor Dr. Martin Foys, who runs the most secret, underground bar I’ve ever experienced, called Gin Pennant. He graciously gave me permission to share the recipe with you: 1.5 oz. mezcal, 0.5 oz. Salers gentian liqueur, 0.5 oz. beet shrub, 0.5 oz. lime juice, and a dash of grapefruit and chipotle bitters. Stir over ice. Strain into a coupe half-dusted with Hart-Beet Seasoned Salt from The Deliciouser. Float five drops of chili oil on the surface of the drink and garnish with a lime wheel. Win the holidays. –Baratunde

Drinks by the Dram does a great Bourbon & American Whiskey Advent Calendar, so you can either savor a tiny bottle from a different premium distiller (about a shot in each one) every day of December, or save them and host an impromptu tasting party at a holiday get-together. –Matt Belloni

I usually stick with Casa Azul Blanco tequila year-round. I’m vain and keep an eye on the calories. But for the holidays I switch to añejo. Usually Don Julio 1942. I like the name. By the way, no eggnog please!!! It’s too sweet and heavy. Don Lemon

Dinner Party Secret Weapons

An eccentric butter dish and knife from Gohar World. Put a whole loaf out and just let everyone (who eats carbs) go nuts. –Lauren

Bonilla a la Vista Potato Chips. Imported chips from Spain— it comes in a massive tin. Serves as a perfect dip or caviar vessel. –Melanie Singer

For any vinyl heads out there, you know that most record stands are either ugly or too bulky. If you want to both display your records and accommodate speakers with a stand that doesn’t make your house look like a dorm room circa 1997, I’d recommend this one from WickerWoodWorks, a Portland-based outfit that makes midcentury stands in multiple sizes. –Peter

I have a caviar guy who hand-delivers to me in a cooler; be nice to me and I’ll give you his number. –Tara Palmeri

Prebatch your martinis in the freezer (the best recipe comes from Houston’s Bobby Heugel, via Punch). Curate your own genre-spanning playlist, don’t forfeit taste to the algorithm. Serve one show-stopping wheel of cheese (with olives, nuts, etcetera), not a smorgasbord that fills people up. Don’t set place cards unless you’re trying to do someone a favor. Dylan

Travel Accessories We Can’t Leave Home Without

The Rimowa Cabin Plus carry-on is really worth every penny. I travel 2-3 times per month to see Puck’s various partners, and I need as much space as possible for daytime work outfits, evening event outfits, bags, gym clothes, etcetera. In addition to looking chic, this suitcase truly is bigger than other standard carry-on bags. –Liz Gough

My D.I.Y. Sensory Deprivation Kit, which consists of the Travelrest Nest Memory Foam Travel Pillow (specifically this one, accept no substitute); noise-canceling headphones (I like this pair from Marshall); and the sleep mask I got from United. I look really stupid when I put them all on at once, but it has the effect of plunging me into a zen-like trance that makes six-hour flights zoom by. It is far more effective than Ambien. –Tina Nguyen

I carry Summer Friday’s Jet Lag Mask the way most people carry chapstick. One in my toiletries, one in a coat, one in my bag (okay two, because I’ll probably lose one of them). –Ali Hattamer

A friend with a private plane or at least one who is generous when chartering. Where’s the lie? –Don Lemon

Jewelry We’re Coveting…

I am obsessed with vintage zodiac pendants, so when Van Cleef & Arpels reissued the yellow gold medals from their first zodiac collection in the ’50s, I had to have one. –Liz

I frequently think about Mary-Kate Olsen’s vintage Cartier engagement ring… But if I’m being practical, this Sprinkle Necklace by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany is versatile, making it an ideal closet staple for a little added sparkle. –Isabella Lichauco

Bulgari’s Serpenti Viper bracelet is a favorite of those-who-stack, but this upgraded double-coil, pavé diamond version designs its own wrist. –Tara

“Should I be wearing more rings?” is a question I often ask myself; once I actually commit to doing so, I think this Clash de Cartier ring might have to be a centerpiece. –Eric Van Gelder

All my “good” jewelry is from my friend Danielle Sherman’s line, Sherman Field. (We’re not related, although she does have a sister named Lauren. There are so many Lauren Shermans in this world that we actually formed a private chat on Instagram.) Anyway, Danielle recently launched a diamond collection, and there’s nothing I want more for Christmas than these orbit earnings. –Lauren

These fun and fabulous earrings, from Lié Studio, which would look beautiful at a holiday party or, honestly, just about anywhere. –Risa Heller, Risa Heller Communications

Three Timeless Timepieces…

The OG Fifty Fathoms, from Blancpain, is my dream timepiece—and the 70th anniversary edition ups the game for anyone interested in taking a luxury watch down for a dive. –Richie Grin

The Santos-Dumont watch remains a timeless classic in Cartier’s collection, originally designed for the golden age of aviation. It has seamlessly transitioned to be a unique timepiece, exceptionally suited for formal occasions. –Dan Tsinis

Can’t live without my Panerai Luminor, especially since it lights up in all the movie screenings I attend. Matt

Our Beauty Holy Grails

Brandi Andrews gives life-changing facials. And yes, facials are a luxury, but the best thing about her is she is willing to work with you on prices because great skin shouldn’t be a luxury. Youth Dealer Skincare is her company name, and you can find her on Instagram. Slide into her DMs and start your skincare journey with the loveliest facialist you’ll ever meet! Tell her Lena sent you! –Lena Waithe, writer, actor, producer, and founder of HillmanGrad Ventures

There’s nothing like Dior’s Capture Totale Dreamskin Care & Perfect. The makeup artist/wizard on Real Time With Bill Maher introduced me to this primer backstage, and now I can’t live without it. –Julia Ioffe

The hoops I had to jump through this year to find Chanel’s Le Vernis in Rouge Noir! One department store that shall remain nameless told me it was discontinued, another department store that shall remain nameless actually laughed in my face because it had been sold out for so long. Nevertheless, I persisted. –Alex

U Beauty Super Hydrator: Show off your insider knowledge by gifting something from Tina Chen Craig’s sort-of-under-the-radar skincare line, U Beauty. This everyday moisturizer is a great place to start: It absorbs quickly and softens parched cheeks like none other. –Tara and Lauren

The reviews are in on SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic serum: “Probably the best Vitamin C Serum I’ve tried!” “Everything and More!” “I have the face of a 25-year-old now!” –Sally Teng, Tina Nguyen, and Julia Baldyga

The Cleansing Scrub and The Renewal Mask from Crown Affair are my weekly haircare ritual. –Julia Baldyga

Not Your Average Stocking Stuffers

In England, there was a shop called W. Bill on Bond Street, and they sold hand-knit argyle socks, and they were works of art. I was looking in America for cashmere socks, and they’re all ugly. This year, we asked a Scottish cashmere mill to make argyle ones. It’s silly to say they’re rare, but it’s a true story. –Mickey Drexler

A lot of people already have Hermès playing cards… no, really… So why not poker cards or a memory game? –Lauren

I love Kismet Olfactive’s Elizabeth Street studio, so this year I’m gifting their full classic collection sample set (six for $60). I’m dying to smell “Wedding in Oaxaca,” which “fuses smooth lactonic notes of coconut milk and tuberose with fresh floral violet leaves and woody undertones of vetiver, musk, and sandalwood.” –Becky Aydin

Great mustard. –Jeffrey Leeds, managing partner/co-founder, Leeds Equity Partners

Car Accessories We Literally Can’t Drive Without

Teslas can be uncomfortable not just because of the behavior of Cringe Executive Officer Elon Musk, but because the seats are literally uncomfortable for many people’s necks. My solution is this leather headrest neck pillow which provides soft support for Model 3 and Model Y front seats. –Baratunde

There are plenty of terrible car air fresheners on the market. Treat yourself and your passengers by upgrading to the Roadtrip Hits collection from D.S. & DURGA, the luxury perfumery brand, which includes ineffable scents like “Concrete After Lightning” and “85 Diesel” (saffron leather, vinyl, dirt, galbanum resin…). There are outposts in Nolita and Venice Beach, if you prefer to browse their perfumes—my wife loves Bistro Waters, which I won’t attempt to describe—although you can also skip the trip and order online. –Ben

I recently had the pleasure of getting to drive around San Francisco in a Genesis G80. I’m not one for electric cars in general—I think most Teslas are overrated—but I genuinely understood why people love electric cars after driving around in the Genesis. –Julia Alexander

Our 2012 manual transmission Audi S4 is so perfect I doubt there’s an accessory on earth that can make it better. I kid you not, every time we take it to get serviced, someone offers to buy it, especially when they realize it’s a stick (driving stick is a lost art). –Alex

Our Next Post-Holiday Escapes

The Raffles in Singapore. I dropped by for a drink at the Long Bar on a trip through Southeast Asia last year, and can’t wait to actually stay. –Teddy Schleifer

I’ve been planning for ages to visit Taiwan for the luxury hot spring mountain resorts— if time and geopolitical stability allows, that is. (Yes, I’m dying to try it, but not, like, dying dying.) –Tina

I love all Bunkhouse Hotels—I’m trying to visit them all—and they have a new spot in Mexico City I’m dying to check out called the Hotel San Fernando. It’s right in the middle of Colonia Hipódromo, in beautiful La Condesa, and just down the street from Baltra Bar, one of the best cocktail spots in the city. –Peter

Your post-holiday punch list must include the new-ish Lincoln Center restaurant Tatiana, by chef Kwame Onwuachi. “Afro-Caribbean-by-way-of-the-Bronx” is how Chef Kwame describes his heritage, and I can’t wait to find out what that history tastes like in the present. –Baratunde