I’m not quite sure where the notion of saving things ‘for best’ comes from, and my research has proved fruitless (maybe I just used the wrong search terms?) but it seems to be a thing that is inbuilt into our culture. Last week, when I was clearing out a cupboard and gathering items together for a car boot sale, I came across my son’s christening gifts. There were the usual moneyboxes and so on, and precious trinkets like his St. Christopher necklace which he can have when he is old enough to look after it. I also found a mug in a tin. It’s a child sized mug, with a Peter Rabbit design on it. Previous cupboard explorations have led to me just putting it back in the box with the rest of the ‘stuff’ in case it gets broken, it was a thing to save ‘for best’. But why? He uses his christening cutlery set every single day, yet this perfectly usable mug has sat in it’s (admittedly very pretty) tin in a dark cupboard for over 6 years. This time I decided stuff it, there’s a lot more pleasure to be had from using that mug as his own special one than there is from keeping it in storage, admiring it once a year or so and then returning it. I now have a happy son (who has also commandeered the tin for a treasure store!) and one less item being wasted.
This then led me to think about other things I’ve saved for best, and times when that has not been the best plan of action. Obviously there are times where keeping things for a special occasion are useful-my very high wedge shoes would be completely impractical for digging in at the allotment, and I wouldn’t wear my smartest dresses for painting the shed in. I also consider us very lucky to have things that we can keep for best in that way.
I have a ‘best’ perfume (Daisy by Marc Jacobs) which I wore on my wedding day. (I hasten to add I’m not still using the same bottle!) It’s not the cheapest of perfumes to buy, so I tend to save it for special occasions. However, I am aware that it needs to be used, otherwise it is wasted money (perfume really does not smell nice when it’s gone off). When one of my other bottles of perfume went off, it made me decide to use this one more often, so sometimes I just wear it because I feel like it. It’s still a bit of a battle though to break that saving it for best mindset.
My craft stash is another thing I’ve had to work hard on using rather than saving. So many times I’ve bought pretty things and nearly used them, then decided not to. Only when it finally came to wanting to use them, they were useless. Stickers had lost their ‘sticky’ or gone yellow on the back, rub on images had stuck themselves to the cover sheet over time, glitter glue had set in the bottle and so on. Now I’d say I’m much more free and easy with my usage of items, and if it;s right for the project then I will go for it. I actually felt a little sad at the wastefulness of having to throw away items that I’d paid for and allowed to be unused, and I’ve reduced my crafting purchases accordingly.
Another area where saving things for best has proved to be false economy has been children’s clothes. One example is a pair of trousers my daughter got for her birthday. They are really lovely, cool cotton with a pretty pattern and perfect for summer. Because she tends to get mucky or fall over and rip things, I’d made her save them and she’s only worn them a handful of times. Now she has her little foot in a plaster cast (nothing too serious!) and can’t get them on, and they won’t fit next summer so they are ‘wasted’. Of course I wasn’t to know she’d end up like that, but it still seems a shame. There are many other examples of times this has happened with their clothes, you’d think I’d learn! (However, we are reusing as many things as possible as hand me downs where it’s suitable.)
I’m going to make more of an effort now to reconsider the things we save for best, as it’s easy to end up with too much ‘stuff’. There will always be things that are treasured for whatever reason-family heirlooms etc, but consumable items really do need using up before they go off. I’m still on a mission to reduce waste, and this is an area where I can make a difference in our house relatively easily.
What things do you save for best? Have you ever saved something for best and regretted it? And, since I have readers from around the world, is it just a British thing?