In the past couple of years, I have been volunteering in the gift shop For All Seasons, which supports Hospice of Miami County. All the workers are volunteers, so all the proceeds go directly to Hospice. We also take donations of small household items and many are pieces of china or glassware from decades ago.
Many people don’t use their sterling silver, celery dishes, or salt cellars with the same excitement as our parents’ generation did. So, I try to think of new uses for these treasures.
Celery dishes were a mainstay in my youth. Mom stuffed celery sticks with peanut butter or cream cheese and then served them as an appetizer on a lovely little crystal tray. This happened many nights, not just on holidays. Today, we are lucky to get out any of our three celery dishes for Thanksgiving, let alone during a routine week.
So, when a gorgeous crystal celery dish wasn’t selling in the shop, I found myself thinking of all the other uses it could offer to today’s younger shoppers. Turns out, it’s the perfect shape for mixed nuts (so your guests don’t have to paw through a bowl to find their favorite.) It’s also the perfect size to hold keys and a wallet. Or to put on top of your dresser for earrings, necklaces, anklets or rings. The person who bought the dish was going to put candy corn in it for Halloween. Inspired!
Lots of antique bowls or small platters could be used for holding wallets, coins, jewelry, eyeglasses, or candy and nuts.
The shop has a set of four egg coddlers that are beautiful. They are ceramic and look hand painted with little grape vines. Their tops are air tight and silver. I don’t know anybody who coddles eggs anymore, but I know lots of folks who keep fresh herbs on hand when they cook. That set sold as an attractive means of holding oregano, rosemary, parsley, and coarse sea salt for an amateur chef.
In the old days, before automatic ice makers in our refrigerators, we had to use ice cube trays. Often, these were plastic, but if you cast your mind back a little longer, you’ll remember the metal trays that stuck to your fingers and had a lever you pulled to loosen the ice.
I gave quite a few of these away a few years ago, but I kept two. One was for making specialty ice cubes – the cubes with bits of fruit frozen in them to spruce up summer drinks. The other tray was used to as a place to store earrings, especially holiday earrings that I only wear one month a year.
I used a Bundt cake pan that I had in my cupboard for years as an autumn centerpiece. Turned it over, spray painted it russet-orange, and it created a wonderful pumpkin for my dining room table. Antique glasses and jars have become pencil and pen holders.
Old things can be reinvented so well. Thank goodness the same is true for people!
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Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at a local elementary school and Hospice and keeps busy taking care of house, husband, son, and pets. She lives just outside of Troy, Ohio.