“Cheap and Cheerful” is described on some online dictionary as “Brit. informal — costing little but attractive, pleasant or enjoyable.” When I considered dipping a toe into the vasty waves of blog world I decided that cheap cheer would be my theme, and not just because I’m broke and have Caledonian depressive tendencies. Even when I had a few shekels to rub together and was cheerful as a chipmunk on crack, I’ve been enthralled by the cunning and sunny little things in life. Poached eggs on toast, origami paper, hotel give-away shower caps, rubber duckies, homemade pizza, paperclips, tea towels, matchbooks, grommets, Orangina, calculators with really big buttons, baking powder biscuits . Let me loose in Office Max with five bucks and two hours and my heart will be like a singing bird.
I could go on and on — and I will.
By the way, “Cheap and cheerful” is for sure Brit. colloquial, but what that winsome definition doesn’t say is that every Brit I’ve ever met, from my working class Lancashire-born grandmother to my glamorous buyer (Better Dress, Holt Rendrew) boss, Myrtle Neel, trots out those words with a sneer.For example, Nana might find a neighbor who’d planted out purple petunias and marigolds surrounding a plywood wishing well. She’s sniff: “Cheap and cheerful.” Miss Nell would return from the European couture shows and wail”After seeing those divine Missoni knits, everthing I can find in North America is just so cheap and cheerful!”
I’m trying to think of a North American equivalent — tacky, perhaps? Downmarket? Vulgar? Meretricious? Whatever! I’m a generation away from Old Blighty and I’m going with the non-ironic meaning.
Here’s my cheap and cheerful find of the day, courtesy of the King Arthur catalogue that his the mailbox this afternoon. Striped Swedish cupcake papers in those lovely clear Scandinavian colors. Although I don’t bake more than a dozen cupcakes a year, I’ve always loved those frilly paper cups. I think these Nordic beauties are the apotheosis of cupcake containers. At $6.95 for sixty, this is cheer on the cheap.