I want to buy my friend, who has great taste, a nice 30th birthday gift but I’m just scraping by. What should I do?

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Each week, Brokelyn.com’s in-house etiquette expert, Dear Penny, tackles your recession-related stumpers. Send her questions at [email protected].

I’ve got three ideas for you. The first:  CB I Hate Perfume in Williamsburg sells small sampler sizes of elegant custom-made fragrance. And their scents are inspired. Take “Mr. Hulot’s Holiday,” named for the Jacques Tati film: “The salty breath of the breeze of the Mediterranean, driftwood, rocks covered with seaweed and the smell of old leather suitcases.”

Very nice. Sample bottles run about $14. 93 CB I Hate Perfume, 93 Wythe Ave., 718-384-6890
Number two: Bam Rose Cinema offers gift certificates in $20 increments, called “BAM Cash,” and they’re beautifully designed. BAM, 30 Lafayette Ave., 718-636-4100.
Finally, I love giving soundtracks as gifts; those still typically clock in less than $20. I called Halcyon Records in Dumbo for a few recommendations—he wouldn’t give me any.  The guy at Fifth Avenue Records and Tapes in Park Slope recommends the classics (“So many good ones!”) like Saturday Night Fever—still a classic, it’s got quality with camp appeal—or West Side Story. I recommend the soundtrack for Breathless, the French New Wave film directed by Jean-Luc Godard. The music is early-’60s uber-chic.


  1. A word to the wise about BAM Cash – their “policy” is to not give any change if you don’t use the entire value of the gift certificate. If you go to an $11 movie there and pay for your ticket, they won’t even give you the remainder in a gift certificate to use at the concession stand. They basically just pocket the extra $9. I fought a long battle through many departments over there regarding that very scenario, but never got anywhere – I wasn’t provided any explanation about the absurd policy, nor was I tendered a refund. Needless to say, I have thought twice about supporting BAM since then. If you do want to use your BAM Cash but you don’t want BAM to blatantly steal your money, take a date!

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