The "Downsized Holiday": Ur Doin It Wrong

Alex Williams wanted to throw a holiday dinner party, but in this economy, he found it difficult to throw a proper shindig on a budget, and so he enlisted the help of David Monn, a party-planner who made it his mission to help Williams throw a "downsized" feast for his guests. Williams recounts this experience in The New York Times, writing with wonder about the deals he was able to snap up at Kmart, Jack's 99 Cent Store, and Trader Joe's, as if these places were exotic wonderlands where magical cheapness comes to life. In the end, Williams is able to carry off the entire party for a "budget" total of $238.40. To which we say: shenanigans, Alex Williams. She-na-ni-gans.

Perhaps the most annoying thing to come out of the economic crises are the stupid articles that keep appearing in publications like The New York Times, wherein a fairly well-off person marvels at the deals he or she can find when they shop like the poors at the dollar stores and Kmarts of the world. Even more infuriating is the idea that $238.40 for one dumb party is some sort of economic success, considering that many families in this country can barely afford to put food on the table.

Here is how Williams begins his article: "I heard a jingle. No, it wasn’t an angel getting its wings. It was my iPhone, carrying word that David Monn, the celebrated New York event planner, was on his way to meet me at Kmart." Ok, first of all? If you're that dude that always has to drop the fact that you own an iPhone, your credibility, as far as this "OMG budget!" life is concerned, is pretty much shot.

Of course, Williams makes it a point to point out that his West Village apartment is "dingy" and that his "plaster is peeling", as if that lends him some street cred as far as budgetary strains are concerned. He is shocked by Monn's suggestion that he serve his guests potatoes for dinner, and claims that watching "Mr. Monn reinvent the humble wares of Kmart," into a Winter Wonderland theme, "was like seeing Gabriel García Márquez channel Martha Stewart. He showed a magic-realist’s ability to stare down endless aisles of Crock-Pots, diapers and circular saws, and conjure an ice palace of czarist proportions." Yes! Because only a magical realist could walk into the crap factory that is Kmart and walk out with some decent party ideas.

I'm sure that Williams meant well, but the point is this: for many people across the country, a trip to the dollar store or Kmart isn't some amazing sociological experiment: it's everyday life. And to continue to publish crap like this shows, once again, that the Times, while reporting unemployment rates and layoffs on the front page, still doesn't quite get the plight of the average American when it comes to trends and styles. I suppose this simply speaks to a target demographic, which is understandable, but every "recession chic" article that goes up just reinforces the divide between those who feel that a $238.40 party is a steal and those who have to live on $238.40 on a weekly basis.

Do you have any advice for Williams for his next "budget" party? I'm sure we could come up with cheaper ways to celebrate with friends, no?

We're Gonna Party Like Its 1929[NYTimes]