Silent auction goodies, gratuitous flower photos, and a different approach to leisure

photo-149We no longer spend sun-up to sun-down milking cows, harvesting hay, and scrubbing our laundry on washboards. Studies show modern Americans — even parents — do have leisure time. But one reason we feel we don’t have leisure time is that it often comes in little chunks of “time confetti” in Brigid Schulte’s phrase — a few minutes spent gazing upon the beauty of this magnolia tree in my front yard before getting my kids dressed — rather than obvious leisure time at the spa.

But we probably have time for spa visits too, which brings me to an unplanned experiment I’m about to be conducting in me time, and the motivation to make it happen.

My 4-year-old’s (and next year, the 2-year-old’s) pre-school hosts a silent auction every spring. We know a lot of the parents by this point, it’s the only fundraiser the school does, and let’s just say the drinks were flowing freely when we went a few weeks ago. While some people get more social and forget to bid on items when they drink, I become competitive and want to win. Net result: We walked off with a bunch of baskets that included gift certificates for massages, pedicures, boutique shopping, etc. (all totaling less than retail value!)

Here’s where a different motivation kicks in: I’m cheap. I hate to buy things and not use them. I know a lot of silent auction items go unused, but not by me. I made use of every single thing I won last year at this auction, from front row Sixers tickets to a photo package, to my B. Makowsky purse I carry every day (bought for half off retail!). Now I’m trying to make good on every darn spa certificate before they expire.

photo-150This is going to take some effort. I’m starting a spreadsheet and listing each certificate, and getting myself on a schedule of using one every 2 weeks or so. (There is an out, of course: I have friends who’ll be getting a few of these too — especially for manicures, which I don’t care for). It’s a regimented approach to leisure, but here’s the funny thing. I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy getting my facials and shopping at this little boutique that’s less than a mile from my home that I’ve never been to. Aligning my incentives for leisure with both the cheap and type A aspects of my personality will probably increase the quantity of fun in my life. And that’s not a bad thing.

In other news: There’s a piece in Fast Company quoting Brigid about Why You Should Stop Bragging About How Busy You Are. I interviewed her for a Fortune piece recently on The Leisure Revolution That Never Came.



8 Responses to Silent auction goodies, gratuitous flower photos, and a different approach to leisure


  1. Judy says:

    Thanks for the reminder. I just scheduled a massage that I already paid for also.

  2. ARC says:

    I had a 2 hour chunk of time ALL BY MYSELF in the house today for the first time since 2009 that there were no kids, dogs or husbands around. I thought about getting a pedicure, but really wanted to enjoy the silence in my house :) But yes, if I schedule spa stuff, even if I feel like I “don’t have time”, I’m always glad I went. Especially for massages which I only get a few times a year.

    • Laura says:

      @ARC – congrats on the 2 quiet hours! And yes, massages are awesome. I think that might be the first thing I pull off my list…

  3. So with you on the manicures. I dislike them because I can usually only manage to make them last for about 2 hours before I ding them up on something. I don’t know how anyone who does any sort of hands on labor like cooking or cleaning or laundry manages to keep their manicure nice. Except maybe by wearing gloves, but who wants to cook with gloves on?

    • Laura says:

      @the Frugal Girl – exactly. I got my nails done for a bridesmaid stint once and manage to chip them in the parking lot of the manicure place. It’s just futile…

      • Zenmoo says:

        Try vinylux polish by CND – it’s not as hard wearing as shellac, but I did get a full week before getting a chip (and I am not gentle on my manicures) it comes off easily too.

  4. Michelle Miller says:

    Haha we think alike! My husband is like you – a couple drinks plus a silent auction = massive quantities of charity goods! I have often told him he should do one of those gimmicky blog-project books where we try to live exclusively off of silent auction goods for one year :-)

    • Laura says:

      @Michelle – that would be a hilarious book concept. You should try it! Except there usually isn’t too much in the food department…