My other ramblings

Saving things ‘for best’

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?

30 thoughts on “Saving things ‘for best’

  1. It’s funny. I’ve been pondering this same question myself lately. For me, it’s my “good” dishes. As my casual set is getting older, with fewer pieces making it back into the cabinet all the time, I’m thinking about pulling the “special” ones out of the china closet and using them every day. 🙂

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  2. I don’t know how to post a picture but I’ve been using (and breaking) the family China for years now. Mainly the hot chocolate cups (I use them as coffee cups), but also the tea and coffee service (silver- that I don’t polish).
    I’m sure if there were more kids/girls in the family someone would care but since there are only two of us (the other one got caught selling the heirlooms given to her to buy vices). No one seems to mind.
    I’ve also been using the “nice” quilts as everydays and the everydays for sitting outside! I doubt I’ll be haunted by the makers- probably congratulated.

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  3. I think saving things for best goes back before disposable consumption to times when new clothes etc had to be saved up for and last a long time (at least for working class people). When I was a child, I remember people always referred to your ‘Sunday best’ and I had the idea that it was basically about being poor (back in the day) and only having one presentable outfit that was kept for church, albeit that mostly meant weddings and funerals! The men certainly only had one suit – usually the one they got married in. I’ve never really saved things for best but now I sometimes feel I should have taken better care of things!

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  4. We all do this and deciding to get rid of or go on and use is just another decision to make. I would be lost without some of my grandmothers things and now all my children have their own things and probably will have no need for the things I leave behind. So…..some things need to move on to the second hand shop so someone may get use.
    Now crafting things? As soon as I dump the tins and small boxes I will need them. You know how it goes.

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  5. Definately not a British thing (although most of my relatives are from that part of the world!). I’m a saver. I had my inlaws for dinner last night and wanted to use my “best” plates – hubby wouldn’t have a bar of it! Should have insisted.
    Has happened to me with the clothes far too often. With my youngest she was given so many clothes when she was born + I had pre loved so I took what I could back to the stores and got things we did need. I hate to think of the waste if I’d kept them all no way would she have worn that many clothes.

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  6. It’s definitely not just a British thing! We’re just as bad in the US. I sell vintage linens and can’t believe how much of what I find–old, high-quality linens–has never been used, often in original packaging! I’m with you, though–use it, with care, and enjoy it!

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  7. this may be my favorite post so far. You are so very right-what a fine line between being practical and splurging”! I suspect we all have toyed with this idea. I say splurge every chance you gt, in good faith that the supply of gifts will not run out!! Thank you for inspiring me to do the same.

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  8. I used to do this all the time, but that’s changing as I get older. Now I only really do it with the pretty things I inherited from my grandparents; I’m so clumsy I just know I’d break them if I used them all the time!

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  9. Years ago I had to clean up my grandparents’ a house after their passing. The things I found! Beautiful dishes, cutlery, clothes, blankets, bed linens, towels… never used because they’ve been saving them for special occasions (that apparently never came). It was such a shocking discovery to me and while I sort of understand (they both experienced war and the communist rule when everything was scarce so beautiful things were almost too precious to just use on daily basis), it forced me to take a hard look at myself. I’ve stopped saving things for best or for hard times, I use my good perfumes, nice clothes, etc. Of course, everything within healthy limits, I don’t wear nice clothes while cooking or anything like that, but I stopped saving things for later if I can just use them in my daily life. Later may never come, we never know… I also make it a point not to hoard or collect too much stuff. Whenever I get new clothes, I get rid of something old – give it away, donate etc. It’s all just things after all.

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  10. I can relate so much to this. I used to buy my children clothes that were so special they got saved but then they grew so fast (my daughter especially) that she grew out of them so rapidly and never wore them again. I am now that parent that goes to the shops with a nearly 10 year old in party dresses and trainers because if she wants to get dressed up to enjoy her day then I won’t stop her. She already wears age 12-13 clothes so really I want her to just enjoy it whilst she can. I have also saved so many paper crafting supplies as they were too pretty to use and now I don’t make cards any more and all those pretty things are sat in boxes and I just don’t know what to do with them.
    When I was younger I went to see Santa. My choice of a present from him was a selection box of chocolates or a Christmas mug. Odd child that I am, I chose the mug and then my mum refused to let me use it as it was special. I got that mug back about 2 years ago and, despite it’s super ugly picture, I use it daily quite defiantly!!!

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    1. I love the mug story! I ended up giving loads of my Christmas papers away to a lady making cards for charity, it felt good to get rid of something that I wasn’t using. Kids clothes are a nightmare, but my friends and I seem to have a fairly good swap system now which means it feels less wasteful if we don’t use stuff.

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