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10 Fancy (and Free!) Things You Can Do to Feel Something this February

February is a month of short days, cloudy skies, and massive cravings for sweet, confectionary chocolates. It’s when we grasp for comforts and put a damper on the good ol’ credit card bill. It can be incredibly difficult to know how to treat yourself on a budget, but not to fear: there are plenty of frugal ways to make yourself feel like Fancy Nancy or Eloise at the Plaza. 

  1. Live vicariously through movies and television shows. 

Do you have the ability to hyperfocus on a cinematic masterpiece and proceed to maladaptively daydream about being the main character for days on end? Couldn’t be me. If you want a fancy evening, look no further than watching a fancy movie. Check out classics like “The Great Gatsby,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” (the frat business bros are quaking). For television shows, check out “Gossip Girl” and “Downton Abbey” and delight in the whimsical land of the wealthy. Just make sure to put some popcorn in the microwave, put it in an actual bowl (no eating out of the bag!), and season it with literally anything. 

  1. Learn how to properly brew loose leaf tea.

First things first, you must somehow acquire a china cup. They average 50 cents at a thrift store, but you can always steal one from a grandmother or your closest wealthy relative. Just kidding. I can tell you from personal experience that there is no better feeling than brewing a blueberry-black tea and curling up into a ball after a long, hard day. For bonus points, put on a thick bathrobe and wrap yourself in a fuzzy blanket. Most of the time, even the best loose leaf teas are way cheaper per cup than the worst ones at coffee shops, so treat yourself. 

Study in the Shakespeare Garden. Many students, especially those outside the humanities, never venture into the adorable Shakespeare Garden behind Hellems. A hidden gem beholden with tables and benches, this is a wonderful space to spread out and study in. Bring your journal, your favorite book of poetry, or one of those books that tells you how to manifest things into being. For bonus points, make yourself a picnic basket and sit out on the grass. 

  1. Host a photoshoot.

Before I came to college (and before I’d ever heard the word “Covid”) I had assumed I’d regularly dress up for parties. Little did I know that the general party uniform consists of filthy sneakers that will likely get thrown up on and a jacket that always gets lost somewhere in the house before I have to put it back on and clumsily walk back home at one in the morning. The wine nights, concerts, and dances I envisioned were far and away from reality. Luckily, a photoshoot is a perfect excuse to put your movie-star shades on and go to any fancy location of your choice. If you really want to feel the aesthetic, find someone with a Polaroid camera since they make everything look old and magical. 

  1. Have midnight brunch. 

Eggs, pancakes, and french toast are about as cheap as it gets, and there is nothing better than breakfast for dinner. Fancy your dishes up with toppings like chocolate chips, berries, or Trader Joe’s seasonings. If you’re 21, make your own homemade mimosas for an extra bonus. Play music in the kitchen, and enjoy your post-food coma state by looking out at the stars.

  1. Make a charcuterie board. 

No cheating, you have to make it yourself! Find some cheese, nuts, crackers, and olives. Cut them up yourself, place them on a platter, and feel like a self-made Emily Gilmore. Throw in some wine if you’re so inclined and recline in a chair.

  1. Fold your clothes properly.

Okay, okay. I know what you’re thinking. Doing chores is fancy now? Hear me out: I used to let my room get to a disastrous state on a weekly basis. Every day, I would walk in after a long, tiresome class and want to hit myself for not providing future-me with a warm, safe, and cozy environment that soothes as opposed to sparks anxiety. In the past few years, I’ve learned that doing little things like properly folding and hanging clothes up makes me feel that much more put together. Additionally, keeping up with my dishes, regularly washing my sheets, and plumping pillows makes me feel more like I’m living in an elegant hotel as opposed to a dark and dank dorm room. 

  1. Surround yourself with lovely scents.

I know, I know. Candles are banned in the dorms. There are ways around it! You can use wax melts, diffusers, room spray, or even just boil orange rinds, herbs, or anything aromatic on the stove. If worst comes to worst, get a super nice lotion, smother it on your hands, and breathe. Scent can really set the tone and feels like a luxury.

  1. Have yourself a Pinterest night. 

I’ve spent many an unproductive evening scrolling on Pinterest. One of my favorite leisurely activities is to put on my old money playlist and simply put together beautiful boards that make me happy. From boards of old, iconic 60s fashion to boards that envision my cottagecore future home, I love sketching out a dream life for myself when I one day have the money to splurge more on items that will make me happy.

  1. Read something light and breezy. 

You will never feel freer than when escaping into a good book. If you’re a romance girl, get on that enemies-to-lovers train and read “The Cruel Prince.” If crime is more your style, grab an Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, or Colin Dexter novel for a fun, unpredictable plotline. If you really want to feel on top of the world, sneak onto the fifth floor of Norlin, look out the dark-academia windows, and listen to the bells of the clocktower chime on the hour. Enjoy! 

10. Study in the Shakespeare Garden.

Many students, especially those outside the humanities, never venture into the adorable Shakespeare Garden behind Hellems. A hidden gem beholden with tables and benches, this is a wonderful space to spread out and study in. Bring your journal, your favorite book of poetry, or one of those books that tells you how to manifest things into being. For bonus points, make yourself a picnic basket and sit out on the grass.

Being “That Girl” is all about living life to its fullest. Though February can be slow and sluggish, there are plenty of ways to lap it up in luxury. No matter your checking account, you have the power to prioritize your time and allow for brief moments of elegance and grandeur. So, sit back and bask in the splendor.

Hannah is a freshman at the College of Arts and Sciences. When she's not writing music or reading Jane Austen, she's likely having a Harry Potter movie marathon, hiking up the side of a mountain, or thrifting at Goodwill.
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