The Frugal Hostess knows what it's like to freak out. Her paramour, The Cheap Host, once announced that his parents were visiting for the weekend - a weekend that included Valentine's Day - on the Thursday before they arrived. Thus, Friday FREAK OUT! Every Friday, The Frugal Hostess will provide you with tips on how to deal with last-minute nonsense without freaking out.
The Last-Minute Gift
The Frugal Hostess does not care for surprises. Well, that's not entirely true - she loves it when The Cheap Host surprises her by making dinner or getting her a present. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that The Frugal Hostess is not one for spontaneity. She plans out her planning sessions, during which she makes detailed plans for each plan. She does not care for last minute developments.
Unfortunately, all of the planning in the world can't prevent every short-term occurrence, and The Frugal Hostess knows, because she has attempted the completion of all of the planning in the world. Either someone decides to celebrate his birthday at the last minute, or someone else throws together a cookout celebrating Flag Day. What's a well-mannered girl to do?
Enter The Regifting Closet. (Wait. No need to actually enter it. Not a huge fan of the closeted.) OK, OK, The Frugal Hostess knows that some people consider regifting a little tacky, and she herself is torn. However, desperate times call for desperate measures and all that, so let's get on with it.
Find a shelf in your house. The Frugal Hostess uses the top shelf of the closet in her office, above the fray of ballgowns and winter coats. You will need open space, but you'll probably also need a medium-sized shopping bag and a shoe box. Into this area, put all of the random items you accumulate. Include used gift bags and tissue. Then, when you're faced with a last-minute event or birthday you forgot, you can peruse the regifting closet for a suitable item, pop it into a color-coordinated gift-bag-with-tissue, and voila!
Here's a partial list of what The Frugal Hostess has in hers:
1. miniature pedicure kit received by husband in swag bag at fashion show he was dragged to by TFH
2. free pack of note cards and envelopes received with purchase at stationer's
3. promotional deck of inspiring words of wisdom for women, with promo label discretely removed
4. box of assorted teas purchased for someone but never given
5. colorful luggage tags bought for $0.38 each because they were on sale
6. lotion samples from various retailers and beauty practitioners
7. 1.7 million pens and other Cheap Plastic Crap (CPC) - this is what the shoe box and shopping bag are used to corral.
A note on CPC: while you would certainly never give your BFF's BF a Viagra-emblazoned pill case for Christmas, The Frugal Hostess strongly suggests that you hold on to all the random junk people give you for free. You can do two things with it.
1. Christmas Stocking: Make an agreement with your family that all stocking stuffers must be items collected for free through out the year. This is often hilarious, and, at worst, cheap. TFH's entire makeup collection is comprised of free samples she got from her grandmother in this way.
2. Rainy Day Box: Once, when TFH was a wee lass, The Frugal Mother gave her a wondrous surprise. It was a box filled with assorted treasures, saved up over the months just for The Frugal Hostess. There were Mardi Gras beads, perfume samples, and even the wishbone from a turkey. In all, it was one of the most magical experiences of TFH's young life, and she encourages you to use your CPC to make the same kind of magic for your child. If you don't have children, consider sending your young nieces or neighbors a rainy day box filled with all of the things that are too stupid to use but too nice to throw away.
The Frugal Hostess encourages you to get busy on your regifting closet this very weekend. Meanwhile, she will be finishing up a Rainy Day Box for two little girls she knows.
photo by Kitten