Increasingly, you hear about wealthy women buying at super-high-end shops but then asking for ‘plain white bags’ instead of the Hermes or Prada bag that would scream, ‘Yes, I know you are starving, but I just spent $2,200 on a throw.’

It’s become a little unseemly to splurge. ‘Economy’ (so long as its first class) is the new chic.

So, yes, if you want quality and a designer name at a fraction of the cost, I get huge product placement fees to mention Charles Nolan – look at these $100 ruffles! (I didn’t know what a ruffle was, either. We learn together.)

But forget clothes. Here’s a way to save $20,000 a week and still come back rested and tan.

You COULD stay in this two-bedroom Four Seasons Costa Rican villa for $4,000 a night with the taxes and resort charge. (Just $24,000 for the week – they give you one night free.)

And listen, we’d love to join you if we could afford it.

OR, you could rough it in this FOUR-bedroom luxury villa, twice the size and an even nicer pool, for under $600 a night and perhaps even split it with friends. (Or for under $200 a night in this studio.)

Yes, it’s a bit harder to get to Paradise Breezes. And, yes, ours is a different kind of luxury. (We have a private cook and masseur on call for you, daily maid service, and a brand new gym . . . but no restaurants or poolside bars, no gift shop or uniformed bellmen. Our sheets are high-end and there are bathrobes and flowers . . . but there’s no mint on your pillow – and we drew the line at slippers.)

Then again, you do save about $20,000 a week. Check out our guest comments!

Full disclosure: I am closely related to Charles Nolan; I am a part owner in Paradise Breezes.

LAST-MINUTE GIFT IDEA: Print out this page, and maybe some screenshots of the views. Package and gift wrap nicely. Present on Christmas morning. Spend the rest of the day deciding which of the villas you want to stay in and which week you want to come.


Some my friends are outraged that Rick Warren will be giving the Invocation at the Inaugural. (Others are outraged that there even is an Invocation – what about the separation of church and state, they reasonably wonder.)

Warren is the author of The Purpose Driven Life, which Newsweek says is the best-selling nonfiction hardcover book of all time. He is not rabidly anti-gay, by any means – you can hear his views in this clip and decide for yourself – but he definitely opposes marriage equality, and worked to pass Prop 8, and, as you know, I am firmly of the belief that this is not what Jesus would have done. I think Warren gets it dead wrong.

But is it an outrage that he will be part of the Inaugural program? Here is how the President-elect addressed the question yesterday:

PETER SLEVIN, WASHINGTON POST: I have a question about pastor Rick Warren. He holds a number of social views at odds with your own views and your strong supporters. I’m wondering what went into your decision to choose him for this prominent role as you embark on your own presidency at a time when you are dotting every I and crossing every t to send some important signals?

OBAMA: Let me start by talking about my own views. I think it is no secret I’m a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans. It is something that I have been consistent on and something that I intend to continue to be consistent on during my presidency. What I’ve also said is that it is important for America to come together, even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues. And I would note that couple of years ago, I was invited to Rick Warren’s church to speak despite his awareness that I held views that were entirely contrary to his when it came to gay and lesbian rights, when it came to issues like abortion. Nevertheless, I had an opportunity to speak and that dialogue, I think, is part of what my campaign has been all about: that we’re not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans. So Rick Warren has been invited to speak. Dr. Joseph Lowery, who has deeply contrasting views to Rick Warren on a whole host of issues is also speaking. During the course of the entire inaugural festivities there are going to be a wide range of viewpoints that are presented. And that’s how it should be. Because that’s what America is about. That’s part of the magic of this country is that we are diverse and noisy and opinionated. And so that’s the spirit in which we have put together what I think will be a terrific inauguration, and that’s hopefully going to be a spirit that carries over into my administration.

To have a President-elect who would say stuff like that, comfortably and non-combatively – and to have it shown on all the national evening news broadcasts for all the world to hear?

To have a President-elect publicly pledged to advocate on behalf of equal rights? (And in considerable detail on his website?)

I think this is wildly more significant than who gives the Invocation, especially as I feel quite sure the Invocation will in no way be identifiably anti-gay (but equally sure the Lesbian and Gay Band Association – included as a marching contingent in the Inaugural Parade – will be identifiably gay).

If it helps Barack Obama govern successfully to have Rick Warren bless his efforts and signal Evangelicals that they, too, are a part of his America – well, I’m not sure that’s bad. My goal is to open hearts and minds, win our rights, and get progressive judges appointed to protect them.


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