Monday, May 14, 2012

Unique Gift Giving on a Budget

“The good guest is almost invisible, enjoying him- or herself, communing with fellow guests, and, most of all, enjoying the generous hospitality of the hosts.”--Emily Post

When in doubt, ask Emily.  It is an honour to see a bride and groom, who are well suited for each other, pledge their lives to one another.  As a guest, I am there to say that I believe in what they are doing, that I am a witness to the goodness of this day, and that I will help in whatever way I am able.  With that said, I can't tell you how many weddings I have decided not to attend simply because I could not afford a gift.

Though it is no longer customary to give a gift that equals the amount the bride's parents will spend on you as a guest at the wedding, it is still customary to bring a gift (Thank you, Peggy Post for amending that rule of your mother's).  If you are able, by all means, stick to the registry.  However, just because you don't have a lot of money or you spent all of your gift money on traveling to the wedding, doesn't mean you can't give the bride and groom something lovely.   

The difference between spending a lot of money and looking like you spent a lot of money is creativity.  Thankfully, for those of us who don't have a lot of money to spend, our favorite stores like Anthropologie and Restoration Hardware have taken things which are beautiful and simple and have made them elegant and luxurious.  

Following are 4 beautiful and simple gifts, which will cost less than $10.  

1. Vintage Tea Linens
Find old hankies at antique stores, flea markets, and ebay.  I bought these for $1 each at The Madison Flea, which is an antique store with flea market prices.  Compare these to Anthropologie's Chit and Chat napkins, which are $8 each.  Add a personal touch with a recipe for English Scones.  If you still have a little left over cash in your budget, a nice additive to this gift would be Emily Post's book on Entertaining, which you can buy used on Amazon for 1 cent--or new for $20.

2. Vintage Apron
If you buy actual vintage aprons they'll run between $3 and $12 (compare that to Anthropologie's aprons, which look like vintage aprons and cost between $30 and $40).  I found this apron at The Madison Flea for $5 and paired it with this sweet yellow spatula.  For a personal touch I included a few of my favorite recipes.  Should you have a little more cash left over in your gift budget you can pair this gift with Bought, Borrowed, Stolen by Allegra McEvedyMastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, or The Fanny Farmer Cookbook by Fanny Farmer

3. A Framed Invitation
 If you're going to the wedding I'm guessing you got the invitation.  Find a lovely old frame.  I bought this vintage metal frame at Music City Thrift for $2.  Choose a complimentary fabric or paper and use it as the background.  I used this lovely old hankie I purchased at Madison Flea for $1.

4. A Jar full of Knobs
Ignore the name and just walk in--Hobby Lobby has an aisle full of cool knobs, all priced from $1.50-$6.00 (compared to Anthropologies knobs, which run $6-$12 each).  This is a collection of 12 porcelain knobs in a Ball Canning jar.  I bought them for $1.50 each (ok, ok, if you buy 12 then it's going to be $20 instead of $10.  So, just buy 6 if you need it to stay under $10).

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Habit of Happy: drink specials around Nashville

Happy hour is a state of mind.  Let's forget the happy and talk about schedules.  Our internal clock usually tells us to drink and be merry between the hours of 7 and 10 pm.  However, if we can learn to appreciate alternate hours of merriment we can easily transform a $50 tab into a $20 tab.  Following is a list of my favorite and frequented happy hours (and remember: tip your server on the value, not the price).

Holland House: Monday-Sat 5-7 pm and Monday through Wednesday10pm-2am, all day Thurs (yeah-ya!). $5 cocktails off of their happy hour menu.  I always get the Weller Manhattan.  

Eastland Cafe: Monday-Thurs 5-6:30; Friday and Saturday 5-6.
$5 appetizers; $5 cocktails; $3 beers.  I always order the pizza and the Downtown Jim.

Whiskey Kitchen: Tuesday: 2 for 1 4-10 pm.  I always get their Old Fashioned.  Also, between now and Christmas if you buy a $50 gift card you get 30% off.  The catch is you have to wait a day before you use the gift card.  

Rumours East Wine Bar:  Wednesday 5-6 $5 select wines and $5 paninis

3 Crow: Wednesday and Sunday: 2 for 1

Crows Nest 1/2 priced drinks Mon-Fri 2-7 pm

Coopers on Porter: Tues-Sat 4-7pm; $5 appetizers, $3 beer, $4 wine (their burger is one of the best burgers I've ever had)

Mafioza's: Tuesday: 2 for 1 beer; 2 for 1 pizza

Urban Flats Wine Down Wednesday: for $20 you get 8 half glasses of wine and appetizers

Sunset Grill: Tues-Fri 11-4:30: 1/2 priced well drinks and wines by the glass; Thurs: Girls' Night Out $5 Stoli Martinis, $5 apps, $5 wines--I've never done this with a boy, so I am not entirely sure if this is applicable to men, but it's worth a try.  Also, I'm somewhat passionate about their late-night nachos.

Anyway, these are just my favorites.  Please share your Happy Hour favorite below if I missed a really good one.