Do you want to bring more splendor into your life? What’s stopping you? Perhaps it’s one of these Myths About Splendor?
If you haven’t read it already, check out What is Splendor?, my mission statement and manifesto.
IT COSTS TOO MUCH/I NEED TO HAVE TONS OF MONEY SO I CAN BUY LOTS OF FANCY THINGS
Ok, the truth is that just about every hobby, activity or form of entertainment costs some amount of money, and trying to live graciously is no different. So, yes, if your idea of splendor is setting an elegant table or having formal cocktail hour or filling a home with lovely things, it will likely require at least some kind of expenditure above and beyond your normal household budget from time to time. But it doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune. You will be delighted by the lovely things you can find for very reasonable prices in consignment, thrift, and “antique” stores, not to mention eBay and Etsy.
Yes, you may have to do a bit of compromising if you have Limoges taste on an Oneida budget (guilty!). Don’t let the idea that “Splendor = Expensive” hold you back. Splendor is about what you do with what you have.
Check out Splendor on a Shoestring for tips on adding tableware, linens, or art and collectibles to your home on a budget.
IF I DO A BUNCH OF FUSSY, FANCY STUFF, PEOPLE WILL THINK I’M PRETENTIOUS OR SHALLOW
Your friends and family will only think you’re being a pretentious fool if you try to be “fancy” because you think it will impress them. A good way to avoid that is to simply ensure you are using, doing, or sharing only things you truly love and that bring you joy. If sipping sparkling wine out of a crystal flute genuinely delights you, then sharing that with guests will only magnify your pleasure. But if you’re doing it because you think it’s “what people do” or because you think it will impress people, then it’s probably not going to come off as sincere or natural.
If you live your life with genuine warmth, joy, and graciousness, people will respond in kind. And keep in mind, you can love setting a fancy table or visiting art museums or collecting shoes and ALSO love to get your hands dirty in the garden.
MY GLASSES/DISHES/ART/HOUSE ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH
This is a really valid feeling, but it doesn’t need to hold you back. There’s no such thing as “not good enough” here. Use what you have, where you are. Present it joyfully and it will be more than good enough. I don’t care if you only have mismatched plates, plastic cups, and paper napkins – if you set your table neatly and serve good food to people you care about, that IS splendor.
If you love household silver but worry about using it? Let me bust some Myths about Silver for you.
I NEED A COMPLETE SET OF EVERYTHING
Let’s face it, collecting and acquiring stuff is half the fun of most hobbies. When starting a new hobby or endeavor, it’s really easy to get caught up in the endgame, whether that’s a 500 piece set of china or a half-acre vegetable garden. It can help to focus on now instead of the final destination. As they say, if you want to eat an elephant, you need to do it one bite at a time.
Suppose you’ve always wanted to invite friends to your home for fabulous soirees, but you don’t have a full set of china. Or even a full set of plates. Or a table. Oh, and you don’t cook.
None of those are a real impediment.
Start Where You Are
Do you have a set of wine or cocktail glasses? If not, you can get a set of 8 wine glasses for $20 (you can spend more, of course, if you like, but it’s ok to start inexpensively). If you hit a local thrift store or consignment shop, you can almost certainly drop that cost further. Then pick up 2 or 3 bottles of wine (lots of great options for $10 or even less). Now you have everything you need to throw a wine party. Start small. Have a few friends over to share a bottle or two of wine. Put some crackers in a bowl and a block of cheese on a plate or board and you’ve got refreshments.
Wish you could grow your own food or keep chickens or have a huge flower garden? It’s ok, better even, to start with a few containers of herbs or a couple of tomato plants first. Start small and figure out what works for your home and life. Then add more plants (or take some away!). You’ll get the joy of tending plants while you build up a foundation for the future.
Have you looked around your living space and wished it was beautifully decorated, with perfectly chosen furniture, accessories and art? It can feel daunting to start creating a home space, especially if you’re on a close budget. It’s ok if you start with one thing – one really comfortable chair or single piece of art that you love. Or even just a throw pillow in a gorgeous fabric. Think of a home that inspires you, that closely matches your ideal homescape. Guess what? They almost certainly didn’t wake up one morning with that. It’s likely the result of years of deliberate collecting and careful purchases.
It’s Not About the Finish Line
My point in all of this is that it’s very easy to look at Pinterest or Instagram or your friend’s house and think “I’d love to have that/do that but I’m nowhere close to it, so it’s not worth trying”. We all start somewhere and most of us never “finish” because for most of us, there’s not a magical finish line. The joy is in the process.
ALL THIS SPLENDOR IS A LOT OF WORK
Anything that’s truly worth doing in life is going to take a bit of effort, including things like using dishes that need to be hand-washed or growing your own vegetables. But here, too, you can choose the moderate path that works FOR YOU.
If you absolutely loathe hand washing dishes, then you’re probably not going to find the delights of using fine china worth the cleanup. Guess what? You can get a set of lovely “special occasion” dishes that can go in the dishwasher – there is no rule that says a splendid table must be set with only fine or expensive china. The only requirement is that those plates please you and give you some sense of “occasion” when you use them. It doesn’t matter if they’re a cheap set from Target or high-end antiques.
That’s just one example – apply as needed. Find things that create more delight than hassle and focus your efforts there. Living in splendor and elevating the ordinary isn’t about making life harder, it’s about strategically using a little extra effort to make life (or at least parts of it) more special.
I DON’T HAVE TIME
Time is a precious commodity. Anything worth doing will take up some of your time. Here, again, moderation is key. You don’t have to devote heaps of time to polishing silver or caring for a large house or garden in order to celebrate a bit of splendor in your life.
If your life is hectic and heavily scheduled, splendor for you (at least right now) might be as simple as picking up a few flowers every week during the grocery run or making sure you eat dinner (even if it’s delivery pizza or leftovers!) on a real plate. Start where you are, and work from there – even making tiny changes to slow down and shift your habits can make a tremendous difference.
If you love to have dinner parties but you don’t actually like the time involved in planning, shopping for and cooking a big meal, serve good take out or even hire a caterer if you have the budget for that. Then set the table beautifully, serve the food with graciousness to your guests, and enjoy the evening.
Far be it from me to try and sell you on the idea of gracious living. It’s something that will either appeal or it will not, and either is ok. But if you want to start experimenting, don’t let these mistaken ideas hold you back. Splendor is about what you do with what you have, it’s about starting where you are and adding a bit of burnish to your life. It’s ok to start small and it’s ok if your own definition of living in splendor is different from someone else’s.