My husband’s birthday was Tuesday, and it’s a milestone year for him (meaning one of the fives or tens, but no, I’m not telling you – a lady never says her age, or the age of her paramour; you shouldn’t have asked…). It got me thinking about mini-vacations.
In this economy, it’s useful to have some frugal tools in your handbag. After all, a steady diet of nothing can become dull, but none of us has money to burn right now. Here are my five favorite ideas for how to make the simple luxurious:
1. Simply Marking the Date
What makes something important? The fact that we think it’s important. After all, to someone in Guangzhou, China, the Fourth of July isn’t a holiday, it’s just a date. To non-Muslims, Eid ul-Adha is just like every other day, but to a Muslim person Eid is a very important day, much like Christmas is to Christians. I could go on, but you get the point: we decide, either individually or collectively, that a particular day is important and it becomes so.
We can use this principle in our own lives. We can, for example, pick a “family day” or a “personal day” once each month or once a week. On that day, we can make a special meal, maybe light a candle or two, and direct our thoughts to whatever important thing is happening (even if it’s important because it’s “family” or “personal” day).
2. Spend Time Writing Down What You Like
Here are some questions to prime your list:
What do you like to eat?
How do you like to sleep? Do you like to sleep in late, get up early, sleep in pajamas or not, on special flannel sheets or silky, satiny, fall-off-the-bed during play sheets?
What are your favorite colors?
What’s your favorite music?
What do you like to do when you don’t have to? Knit, walk, hike, bungee jump, boogie…
3. What is your spending limit?
If it’s $0, that’s important information to have (after all, that would change how you research for a special weekend, no?) – but all hope is not lost – my next point will address the spending plan of “well, honestly, I really don’t have one.”
If it’s $25, there are some interesting options that open up. Buy some special cocoa and marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate, and make yourself a s’mores party. You can find how to make s’mores online (it’s not hard – melt the marshmallows over a flame (a candle will work), put them on the chocolate, mush that between the graham crackers, and voila).
If it’s $50, maybe plan a special dinner out. If you look, there are some neat options for this range of budget. For example, one of the restaurants one town over from me have an “all-you-can-eat sushi” for $22.95.
If it’s $100, your options become either go somewhere (gas money plus food), or maybe buy something special (those sheets we were talking about above).
If it’s $150, you can plan an overnight somewhere, as long as you’re careful about how much money you spend on food and plan to bring snacks and such.
4. Tips for the “No-Money-Down” Mini-Vacation
This is where your research skills really come in handy.
If you’re reading this, it’s safe to say you have access to an internet connection. That, and an inventive imagination, is really all you need.
Let’s say there’s two of you. You can consecrate your mini-vacation by anything you like. Look up “holidays this weekend” and see what Google says. There’s bound to be a holiday somewhere. Maybe it’s one or the other of your half-birthdays (you know, the date halfway between your actual birthday?). Maybe it’s the “Day That Ends In Y” day. Whatever you decide, even if it’s made-up, it’s now your festival.
What is the theme of your festival? What are its colors? (Hence the previous question of favorite colors…)
Poke around your house and see what decorations you can re-purpose for this holiday. Sometimes even just rearranging the furniture can make the ordinary unusual, and therefore set the mood for a festive holiday.
Turn of the computer and cell phones and smart phones and iPad and anything that goes beep, squeak, ring, blip, bump, meow.
Well, okay, if it’s a cat and not a recording of one, you can’t really shut them up, but you get the point. TURN IT OFF!!! This is, after all, a very special mini-time. Very special mini-times don’t have interruptions from modern technology or television. You think they allow that stuff at the Vatican? (Well, okay, the Pope probably has a cell phone, or a minion with one, but the point is – make this time and space sacred and special and that can’t happen with outside interference.)
Try turning off the lights and living by candlelight for a bit, or even nightlights. Something about the silence of electricity can set the mood.
5. Give yourself permission to enjoy yourself. No matter what is going on around you, you deserve some time to relax and recharge. After all, like some moms have said since the beginning of time: “It’ll look better in the morning, dear.”
From my heart to yours, I truly hope it does. And in the meantime, I hope you have some solace.