What On Earth Do You Do With Those Crystal Wedding Presents?


How many of us have a distant cabinet for crystal? Or if not crystal, glass objects from which one does not drink? How many of us ever take said unused objects out of said cabinet?

If you, as I do, answer, “Rarely,” here’s a thought. Liberate a piece or two and look at them in a new light, literally. Light them up. This is a cut glass dish and that’s all I know. Not fine, not delicate, but cute and endearing. What it’s for? A mystery. eBay suggest it may be from the American Brilliant Period. How fitting.


Below we have a fancier crystal candy jar. I believe it was a wedding present. Who uses candy jars any more? Or am I missing a beat in my cheese plate hospitality?


Glass, as I have said before, is one of my favorite materials. It’s such a good friend to light. Lends elegance, or at least its memory, to everything, even a cluttered bathroom counter. Sturdy Gals rarely bother with coordinated storage units. Unlike the Grande Dame they do not tend toward seated, skirted, vanities. Unlike the Artsy Cousin, they do not keep their perfumes in the Moroccan jars of origin. But they quite like the humor of cotton balls in crystal. Especially crystal not intended for this purpose.

And they vow to either throw out or use up the several tubes of mascara they’ve accumulated. But I digress.


Sturdy Gals also exclaim in happiness, having discovered that a little cut glass dish makes a perfect place to hold sleepily removed earrings. In situ, on a Pottery Barn rattan bedside table, next to a glass Pottery Barn lamp (Sturdy Gals just love some Pottery Barn oh yes they do), and a coaster brought home from Vietnam by obliging traveling family members.


And if you have no cabinet, you can start fresh. One Baccarat dish or another, a crystal jar, or something cut by someone on eBay or Etsy. Follow the light, fear not the repurpose. I imagine some of you have done the same and more?


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  • And my mantra, Fear Not the Re-gift. I had some beautiful crystal that belonged to my grandmother that I never used. So delicate, too delicate, for my household of boys and young men. So it went to one of my brothers and his wife who use it. Makes me happy, makes them happy.

    6:33 pm
    Kristina said...

    @Kathy, This is something my family does all the time! Sometimes, it’s crystal or china, and sometimes it’s a piece of jewelry, passed down again to signify a significant event. When my brother got engaged, I gave him our grandmother’s engagement/wedding ring which I had inherited and never worn. It’s got a rather large diamond on it, which I find cumbersome in my own life, but love to admire on my sister-in-law’s hand.

  • Love objects used for purposes other than what they were intended for.

  • I too have given away many pieces for church fundraisers. My biggest problem are the crystal wine glasses. While I make myself use them now, I surely won’t live long enough to make a serious dent in my supply. N

    9:31 am
    Lisa said...

    @Cornelia, Throw a REALLY big wild party:).

  • I love to re-purpose things I have. Float a blossom in a crystal bowl. Use your cake stand to display a special piece. Think outside the wooden box and use it for spare change.

  • I’ve picked up crystal vases at my favorite thrift. I’m partial to cylinders. Fill them with white Christmas lights and line them up along the counter so you can run the cord down the wall facing side.

    They put off a twinkly light that makes me happy. It’s a sign I’ve spent too much time on Pinterest.

    9:32 am
    Lisa said...

    @RoseAG, That sounds like a cool decoration.

  • I’m also of the mind that giving them to someone who will use and enjoy is a good idea. When in doubt, donate! Of course if they can be utilized, that’s even better. Love the cotton ball idea.

  • I have a crystal candy dish on my bathroom counter used for random skincare/cosmetic/perfume samples I’m either trying or plan to try. Might as well use the Pretty Things.

  • I have two china cabinets full! Between things from my grandmother, hubs grandmothers and all the estate and garage sales I’ve been to, I rarely find a piece of glass that I don’t fall in love with!

  • Put a well cut piece in a south facing window and light up the walls with prisms.

  • Love using objects for purposes other than those for which they were originally intended. Although not a wedding gift, my grandmother’s vaseline glass candy dish holds cleaner of my makeup brushes conveniently on my bathroom vanity. The silver lid keeps it safe. I also have a small decorative bowl that was a wedding gift, which until now, was used for cranberry sauce at the appropriate holidays. I think it will be repurposed to hold those cosmetic samples that are littering the countertop at the moment.

  • I’m right with you Lisa. I use a beautiful antique blue and white box to hold my eyedrops in on my night table. Antique baskets for hand lotion. Now I’m going to go digging through some crystal to add to my vanity. Great ideas to get me going. Thanks Lisa.

    9:33 am
    Lisa said...

    @Sandra, You’re welcome:).

  • Sadly, nothing breakable belongs on my bedside table – too many middle-of-the-night reaches for the water glass that generally knock everything else gallywampus. But the glass and crystal pieces that I have inherited from many other people’s weddings find themselves full of fruit or flowers in summer (even the small ones will usually hold a few grapes or a half-dozen dandelions), and scattered artfully throughout the house. When empty, refill. I like your idea of putting toiletries (and allergy meds!) in pretty boxes or jars, and I’ll see what I can do to make this happen today – thank you.

    9:34 am
    Lisa said...

    @Marsha Calhoun, You’re also welcome!

  • Oh yes, we have a dish pantry cabinet that houses seldom used crystal pieces. One is a large Waterford bowl. It was brought out this very last weekend for the FIRST TIME EVER for a wedding event at our house. It was perfect for holding cold shrimp.

  • When my husband and I were first married, I used our crystal (most of it not wedding gifts, but brought from my father’s house when he remarried and downsized) whenever we had people over. Now that we have a four-year-old, though, it sits unused in the armoire (which also came from my father’s house).

    I’m a big believer in using “the good china.” We’re not right now for practical reasons, but I have always believed that I am good enough for the good china. And the crystal.

  • Be careful with that crystal candy jar! Coincidentally, it is the same as my wedding pattern, Swag, by Tiffany & Co. Since they no longer sell the pattern and my family seems to use them with some frequency (thus they are broken and I am down to 6 highballs), I looked for replacements at Replacements this past weekend and they were $200 each. Eeek! On the other hand, heaven only knows why I’m telling you to be careful with the jar. My son said that the day after I die there is going to be the largest tag sale ever held in the world in our front field. That’s the trouble with producing only boy children……

    1:09 am
    Linda @ a design snack said...

    Had no idea “swag” was retired. I have a big vase in this pattern. I use it frequently for big arrangements.

    9:35 am
    Lisa said...

    @HHH, If it breaks, at least it had a moment in the sun:). Now I want to look up Tiffany “Swag.” I also love Baccarat “Harmonie,” and Waterford “Lismore,” they all share a reliance on lines.

  • I love crystal and glass but since relocating, I’m keeping myself down to the minimum ‘stuff’. We did get some little cut glass/crystal shot glasses in Krakow to remind us of the excellent flavoured vodka bars. We do use them every so often for an after-dinner liquer.

    My question is – what to do with china? I just inherited a tea set with cups and saucers, a sugar bowl and milk jug. Unless I’m going to have friends over and ‘play ladies’ I can’t see any use for it. The cups are too small for my normal mug of coffee and I don’t have room to display the set.

    9:38 am
    Lisa said...

    @Eleanorjane, I don’t know:(. My teacups are sitting in yet another cupboard.

  • I’d love a tea set! My children (both genders) love having friends over for tea! I snot know what to do with my stemware – its beautiful – Waterford – but we rarely drink…

  • Very nice. A friend uses her crystal bowls to hold shell collections. It is really beautiful and I wonder if that would work for you?

    Right – I am using export porcelain everywhere you are using glass or crystal. However, my house is at least 100 years earlier than yours and Waterford hadn’t yet been invented. Baccarat is fine, (ha!) but we’ve been collecting export porcelain for a couple of decades and since it is on display in every room, I’ve replaced the baccarat vases with export.

    I am into period decor. Even though I love and appreciate the homes of friends, who decorate mid-century architectural gems with museum quality family antiques, and 18th c Nation Register homes with the very best contemporary design and art. So much of this is personal. It is what makes us happy when we wake up every morning. It makes me happy to have canton serving dishes, which long ago lost their covers, holding toiletries in my bathroom. Next to the antique claw foot tub.

    And it makes us happy to use our grandmothers’ china tea sets for tea, in the afternoon, just the two of us now we are empty-nesting.

    9:39 am
    Lisa said...

    @anon, Ah, period decor is a whole nother ball of wax.

  • Lisa, I believe the glass piece holding your earrings is an ashtray.

    Eleanorjane; I use my various tea cups and saucers as tea light candle holders. They look very pretty when lit, and the saucers protect surfaces from the heat.

  • I was fortunate to receive ALL of my Waterford Crystal as wedding gifts 27 years ago. 8 wine goblet, 8 water goblets, 8 cordial glasses and 8 champagne flutes! For years it sat forlornly in boxes, all deemed too good to use. After five years of marriage, we moved to an older home with a lovely butlers pantry and displayed it all but still rarely used it. 14 years ago,we moved again and I decided that I would sell all of the “everyday” wine glasses at my garage sale and use the good stuff. It was a great decision! One goblet has a chip in the rim and one on a chip on the base and those have become the “everyday” glasses. I use all of the others on a regular basis when we entertain. Yes, they need to be hand washed but it takes mere minutes to do. I wasah, hubby dries!

  • I have a little glass doored china cabinet with tiny objet d’art in an attempt to contain ‘the clutter’ in one space, some small cut glass dressing table pieces from my English Grandmother and various trinkets of Swarovski crystal pieces gifted to me from birthdays past.

    However, Nan’s piece of pride (she now rests in other realms) was a cut glass/crystal serving basket complete with it’s silver and cut glass servers, (not a ‘basket’ at all, I just don’t know what else to call it) quite a heavy piece but apparently fashionable in the 40’s/50’s. I was quite young when I inherited her treasures, but having another look at the beautiful basket, which I should add is in the only display cabinet in our kitchen/family room and not confined to the treasure cabinet as it is a proud reminder of my British heritage, I feel all nostalgic for her. And appreciate once again this beautiful piece which travelled with her so long and so far, across the seas from UK to Aus and back several times, finally now retiring here in our home. Thanks Lisa. Thanks Nan.

    I keep all my ‘regular use/daily wear’ jewellery in a stemmed handmade Polish glass candy jar next to the phone on the kitchen bench. Easier access for burglars it’s true. But looks so decadent. And easy access for me to throw my jewellery on as I’m rushing out the door…

  • Ps, Lisa, that cut glass rose bowl in your fist picture really caught my eye. You simply must find a space for it in your decor! How about with a candle inside it?

    9:40 am
    Lisa said...

    @Tracey lovelifestyleandstuff.com aka Aunt Ada, Oh, I do use it, for roses! Thank you.

  • Somehow last comments posted before I finished!
    Anyway…I firmly believe in using the using the “good stuff” whether it’s in your clothing wardrobe or your household wardrobe! It gives you an appreciation and feeling of gratefulness for all of the abundance in your life, that you have been blessed that people thought enough of you to give you these beautiful things as gifts or that you were able to buy such lovely things for your self and family.
    I also received several crystal bowls as wedding gifts too.I’ve served cold slaw and potato salad from them, I stack lemons in the bowls for decoration. I keep nuts or candies in a crystal candy dish that was also received as a wedding present. The uses are endless! Glass and crystal are great because they blend with any décor. No worries about color! If it breaks, it breaks.Just use it and enjoy it!
    I’ve also repurposed silver candy dishes to hold hair accessories, change on my husband’s dresser, a silver tray by the bathtub to hold toiletries. Yes, it all has to be polished from time to time but it’s a small chore!
    If it’s really not to your taste, sell it! Isn’t that why God created EBAY and AMAZON??

  • Grocery store flowers look much more impressive in a crystal vase!

  • All my hair clips, pins, combs, etc are sorted between a set of 1950s champagne glasses. Crystal bowls and china salad bowls are full of potpourri made from the garden’s roses. And my dresser has a range of venetian glass, cupless saucers and bonbon plates that hold rings, bracelets and my everyday pieces (wedding rings, watch).

    We also use the good china and flatware on a regular basis, even if it’s just the two of us. I’ve no children, but more importantly, these are meant to be used and loved.

  • I am in the process of weeding out and repurposing or even just first-purposing stuff I have pulled out of boxes from every decade of my adult life. I have completed the acquisition arc of my life and have begun the redistribution process. Such an interesting exercise in life review and second-guessing simultaneously: should I have embraced a lifestyle that warranted more frequent use of fine china and crystal? Glass sings to us for all the glorious reasons you and other readers mention. I shall surely save some for my daughter if not my utilitarian-oriented son.

    9:41 am
    Lisa said...

    @M, The concept of an acquisition arc and a redistribution process is very interesting.

  • Much of the crystal is gone now, as is my grandmothers china, Hopefully it has been sold by the charity which supports breast cancer and is helping someone…it helped no one when it was in the back of my cupboard. We have downsized, and at some point I had to face up to the fact that while it gives me a lovely sense of peace to know that my linens (pre revolutionary chinese) reside in a chest of drawers built by great great somebody 225 years ago, the crystal and china was just a lodestone, that did not fit the person I have become.

    We of old families have, I believe, the right to unload those things that become a burden. or to redistribute among the other family members. I don’t actually use cotton balls for anything, so they give me no joy sitting in a pretty jar. I live with three cats, and crystal by the bedside will not survive. My grandmothers hope chest will remind me of my grandmother everyday, so it gets to stay. This does not make me sturdy, or artistic, but I’ll admit to sensible.

    9:42 am
    Lisa said...

    @Ellen, Sensible indeed:). I think donating some of this to charity is a wonderful idea. I might just do that with the tea set.

  • I have crystal vases and glasses…circa 1974.
    Yes they are the wedding gifts!

    We use them for dinner parties but I hand wash them as they are no longer available to buy…I must confess to being a wee bit lazy and would love to throw them in the dishwasher if they would not get cloudy!

  • Thank you for this terrific idea! Several months ago I happened upon the same use for a beautiful cut glass crudite dish my mother-in-law gave me. She gave it to me because I have fond memories of one at my grandmother’s house, but honestly, I wear earrings every day and serve crudite…..never.

    Going an extra step, it’s stored, along with several shallow boxes of necklaces, in the very short shelves of the old Victrola in our dining room.

    My mother-in-law also does something I think is genius. She and her husband have both been married more than once, and have inherited many items from their parents. Between them they have a staggering collection of fancy silverware, which gets everyday use. They put it in the dishwasher and don’t worry a bit about it. With constant use it doesn’t seem to tarnish and it makes their home seem very elegant.

  • Most folks I know put silver flatware through the dishwasher, except for knives. My understanding is that dishwashers damage the blades, but I have no idea if that is true. Does anyone here know? I have been considering running the knives from a recently inherited set through to see what happens. The blades are so discolored they really need to be replaced, so what is the worst that could happen? Maybe it will remove some more of the staining.

    I have also been told gold rims on plates will be damaged in the dishwasher, but I’m thinking of testing the theory. Anyone know?

    9:50 am
    Lisa said...

    @anon, I wish my silverware. I don’t machine wash the fancy gold-rimmed stuff, I wash the Swedish Royal Wedding bowls. I think I can see some degradation on the bowls, but oh well. They aren’t anything but things, after all.

    In terms of knives, I believe the edges get dulled. Also, if your knife handles are attached with solder? they may loosen.

  • One of my MIL’s friends gave me a deep, compact crystal bowl for a wedding gift. But as a 25-year-old grad student who was anti-gift and all things wedding-y, I didn’t know what to do with it, so it’s been sitting in my MIL’s cabinet for almost 23 years. I think it’s time to bring it “home” this summer!

  • One of our wedding-gift Waterford bowls came with a little note saying that the bowl was a “good luck” symbol and if anything ever happened to it our marriage would fall apart. No fooling. I used it to harvest cherry tomatoes from our hanging plant yesterday. But only because it was nearby. And I was REALLY NERVOUS the whole time.

    9:48 am
    Lisa said...

    @Sally, Um, that sounds downright sadistic! Not the tomatoes, the present-givers.

  • I love my glass pieces. They hold cranberry sauce for the holidays, gravy, straws, anything. I always remember the person who have it to me and for me, the remembrance is why I use them.

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