January is one of the more dismal months. No more decorations. Back to the regular routine. Diets and exercise. Bills. There’s MLK Jr.’s birthday to look forward to, of course, but other than that it’s just one long stretch of deprivation and paying the piper.
This is why I recommend that January be a month of small treats. “Small” because it’s a month of many kinds of restrictions, and we are not going to get anywhere by thwarting all of them. “Treats” because if we don’t find ANY small way around those restrictions we’re going to lose our will to live.
(And make sure you price it right: if it’s something you’d need buy anyway, the treat is only the amount EXTRA it costs. That is, if your regular fabric softener is $6, but the scent you really love is $8, buying it is only a $2 treat, not an $8 treat. If packing a lunch would cost you $2, but buying a lunch is $6, buying it is only a $4 treat, not a $6 treat.)
Treat Idea #1: A nice smell. If you have perfume you don’t usually wear, wear it sometimes. Or buy a new candle, or get some perfume samples to try, or choose a new hand soap, or a new air freshener, or a new fabric softener. We are not thinking BIG here: even very small and ordinary things can be cheering.
Treat idea #2: Something yummy. A new coffee or tea or overpriced fruit if you’re dieting. A Lindt truffle or whipped cream on your coffee one morning if you’re dieting but won’t spin off with a small step from the straight and narrow. A candy bar you’ve never tried or a value meal you like, if you’re working on something else with this year’s resolutions. Would it be more fun/cheering to get something that’s your favorite, or to try something you’ve never tried before? Maybe do both.
Treat idea #3: A day off from a chore. This works best with chores that take the same amount of time to do whether you’ve put them off or not. Taking a day off from the dishes or the filing means twice the work the next day; but taking a day off from vacuuming or a phone call means you get to feel the pleasantness of slacking without adding anything to how long it takes to do tomorrow.
Treat idea #4: A new thing for your hair or skin. A nice lip balm. A new hand lotion. A new conditioner. It doesn’t even have to cost more than your usual thing, and can easily be cheaper: just having something new to try can be cheering. I got a little $1.50 tub of Pond’s moisturizing face cream from the Target travel-size aisle this past week: fun to try, AND it turns out I really like it, AND in the regular size it costs less than my usual moisturizer.
Treat idea #5: Desky things. Don’t you need a fresh pack of pens? A new notebook with a cute cover? A pack of colored pencils to keep away from the children? You are working with a tiny stub of an eraser there. And you lost the pink highlighter and it hasn’t seemed worth buying a whole new package just to replace it, and now is the perfect moment to do it.
Treat idea #6: A new kitchen thing. A new coffee mug can be surprisingly cheering to see in the morning. Or a new cereal bowl. A new cute smiling spoon or pig spatula. A cute little frying pan you probably don’t have a use for but it’s only $4.99 and it keeps catching your eye.
Treat idea #7: A new accessory. Earrings can be cheap. A bracelet. Cute socks. New mittens that look better with your coat. A lipstick.
More treat ideas, please: it’s a long month.
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