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Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Idea: junk box

The measuring cup below is like ones I put in a "junk box" gift, wrapped nicely at Christmas. The potholder is one I found yesterday on sale that is so sweet--not part of long ago (1970 ?)gift. However, if I found the Christmas potholder on sale for a dime back then, I would have put it in the box!

I gave a "real" present at Christmas, bought or made, to my mother and two sisters. However, they got an additional gift from me. For about 14 years, I filled a box every year with odds and ends found on sale and gave one to my mother and also to two younger sisters as they set up house.

Surprisingly, this shirt box filled with "junk" was a hit. We referred to it as the "junk box present" because it was filled with junk--small items. The name was my idea, sort of self-deprecating to soften the blow to my family. One year, someone gave it to my sister to open first. I begged her to open her "real gift." She laughed and said she always liked the junk box and looked forward to all the things in it.

Rarely did I spend over a dime on any one item. I found stainless steel scoops, 1/8 cup, I think for a dime. Okay, so they were measuring cups. They were a dime, so I bought four, one for me and each of the three junk boxes. Actually, I believe I have three of them still. So, I purchased three or four just for me. I don't measure with them, just leave them in flour, sugar, different places to scoop with. It was always a mystery to me as to why there were only 1/8 cup measures!

Then, there were the packs of emery boards, just on clearance. SCORE! The junk box could hold personal or household items, all nestled together.

It's been almost twenty years since my mother died and we no longer have Christmas together, so I have forgotten the odds and ends, all useful, that I saved all year for the boxes. I know that one year I made potholders with loops on the loom she bought me when I was eight-years-old and put one in each box. There was never anything just purchased as cheaply as possible for filler.

I have never, ever had too many scoops (usually, measuring cups in 1/4. 1/3. 1/2 increments) or too many emery boards. I do use all sorts of little measuring cups and scoops just to dip out dry items, like oats, cornmeal, flour and sugar. The scoop stays in the food for next time.

All year long, I filled a corner of a drawer with these items. At Christmas, I got out three shirt  boxes boxes and divided the loot amongst the three boxes.

It may be too late for this kind of gift now, but for next year, if you keep your eyes open, things might appear. The junk box is not choosy as long as you choose wisely.

Okay, so this may be a silly hint. But, it brings back fond memories of a tradition I started and my family enjoyed. I lived too far away to share these items as I found them, so saving them and transporting gifts by car worked for me. Every time I look at the measuring cup above, I know my mother used one for many years, one exactly like mine, given to her by me. (And, I call it a scoop because that is how I use I am reminded of the tradition of finding and saving things for my family.

My brothers never received this gift!

Your turn
Does this seem like an idea you could incorporate into your gift-giving? This was an almost-free assemblage, not a plan for buying anything specific.


  1. In case you still want the pattern, here is the one I used for my oven mitt.

  2. Actually, I have never wanted a oven mitt pattern, but thanks! Okay, when I went there, I got a 404 error.


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