By Alexia Hudson
Most of us still have fewer disposable dollars on hand, and as a result scaling back a lot of our social activities has become more of the rule than the exception. But with two months left in this rather tough economic year, we can look forward to 2011 with anticipation that things will improve in our purses and wallets.
So start up your 60-Day Plan now—as the time is right to dive back into to “the lab” to brush up on some soft skills that will make you a social superstar. Okay, I know you’re probably thinking, “How? And with what funds?”
Start by grabbing some lifestyle books, all the Emily Post offerings on social etiquette, and other reads that will help you gain some knowledge on what will be useful at social gatherings and events. Ping a librarian for a hitlist, camp out at the bookstore or do an online search for titles like Emily Post’s Etiquette 17th Edition by Emily Post & Peggy Post and The New Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times by Karen Grigsby Bates and Karen Elise Hudson.
This is also a good time to enjoy fine dining and learn about gourmet fare. The restaurant industry is starving (no pun intended) for business. Many hot spots are offering nightly specials and small plates, so you can cultivate your palate for far fewer bucks than a year ago. Also, gourmet shops will be happy to see you and entertain all your questions about quality caviar, cheeses, wine, pâté, and other delights you were always curious about.
Cultural arts organizations are offering deeply discounted tickets that are sometimes bundled with other discounts (food and parking, for example). This is great time to go to an art museum, experience new musical formats, or see dance performances for a fraction of what the cost was just a few years ago.
And what if I live in a small town located far away from the East or West Coast? Channel your inner dinner party host and throw a great event at the house. Most people have either a Target or Walmart (or Carrefour for my international friends) near their home. Teas, hors d’oeuvres, and wine tastings can be done very elegantly for very little money. You and your friends can rotate hosting. Make the gathering a “learning exercise” in which participants swap informational tidbits about the food and beverages.
Then, when the economy fully rebounds (and your mailbox is bursting with invites again), you’ll be armed with great conversation points that will razzle and dazzle.
Knowledge and information, not cash and flash, are the global currency of the 21st century. Be ready so you don’t have to get ready.