26 Low-Cost, Make-You-Smile Ideas
Play Banana-grams and see how many W-O-R-D-S you can create.
Bananagrams, $17, patinastores.com.
Whip up dinner Betty Crocker–style by plucking one of her recipes out of a retro box.
Betty Crocker’s Classics, $17, amazon.com.
Face the workday with a smile, thanks to stickers you can apply to desk supplies.
Inanimate Character stickers, $5, thinkgeek.com.
Ditch plain packing tape for a vibrant, patterned version.
Decorative Tape Green Vines, $8, containerstore.com.
Take a trip down memory lane each time you reach for a regional dish towel.
Region Dish Towels, $20, uncommongoods.com.
Organize business cards in a mini filing cabinet.
Mini Business Card File Cabinet, $13, thinkgeek.com.
Pop Fido’s collar.
Casual Canine Preppy Puppy Polo, from $6, amazon.com/pets.
Revive the handwritten word and send someone a “paper e-mail.”
Paper E-mail, $4, thinkgeek.com.
Bite into peanut butter–filled pretzel nuggets.
Peanut Butter Pretzels, $10, ilovepeanutbutter.com.
Boost your spirits with a reel-good movie.
Lisa Schwarzbaum, movie critic for Entertainment Weekly, recommends Broadcast News, $10; Annie Hall, $17; and The Shop Around the Corner, $10: all available at amazon.com.
Replace that cardboard coffee sleeve with a cozy hand-knit version.
Hand Knit Coffee Sleeve, $18, curiosityshoppeonline.com.
Turn ordinary sticky notes into works of art.
Origami Sticky Notes, $4, thinkgeek.com.
Let a cocktail compass point you to one of 16 classic recipes.
Bar Compass, $10, kikkerlandshop.com.
Mark your territory with an initial tote.
Alphabet Bag, about $16, alphabetbags.com.
Sip sparkling wine from a can that comes with its own bendy straw.
Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs four-pack, $20, franciscoppolawinery.com.
Dance around the house.
Zena Burns, a music guru for Clear Channel’s radio websites, suggests Mamma Mia!: The Movie Soundtrack, $14; Astrud Gilberto’s Finest Hour, by Astrud Gilberto, $11; and The Anthology, by A Tribe Called Quest, $11: all available at amazon.com.
Pay your gratitude forward with reusable thank-you notes.
Civilette Thank Yous, $8, paper-source.com.
Dress up your deli meat.
Mobi Designer Sandwich Bags, $5 for 20, spoonsisters.com.
Show a hangnail who’s boss with a hand-painted file.
NYCitylimit Girl Nail File, $18, nycitylimit.com.
Draw a masterpiece, dot by dot.
The Greatest Dot-to-Dot Books in the World, $7 to $8 each, spoonsisters.com.
Saw through a stack of bills with a serrated letter opener.
Saw letter opener, $15, uncommongoods.com.
Transport a cupcake in style.
Cup-A-Cake Single Cupcake Carrier, $3, organize.com.
Have inspiration at the ready with tiny quotation books.
Miniature Book of Quotations
, $9, katespaperie.com.
Enjoy fancy (yet microwaveable!) French-chocolate fondue in a stone pot.
Aux Anysetiers du Roy 70% Dark Chocolate French Fondue, $20, thefrenchybee.com.
Or satisfy your sweet tooth with a single serving of Ciao Bella sorbet or gelato. (Try Sicilian Blood Orange or Turkish Pistachio.)
Ciao Bella Minis, $1.50 each, ciaobellagelato.com for stores.
Laugh out loud while reading a good book.
Loriene Roy, a past president of the American Library Association, picks The Dumb Bunnies Go to the Zoo, by Dav Pilkey, $12.50; When You Are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris, $11; and Notes From a Small Island, by Bill Bryson, $17: all available at amazon.com.