Thursday, 19 November 2009

Shoebox Utility

I've never counted the number of pairs of shoes I own. The ones cluttering the closets and under the bed are bad enough, but were I to add those in the attic and include old running shoes I'm certain I could easily come up with 3 figures. Of course they all came in boxes. If you add Bill's shoes -- more running than others, but by a shrinking margin -- we have had a lot of shoe boxes pass through our hands.

In changing over from warm to cold weather running clothes, I did some culling and found myself holding an empty shoe box and had no doubt it would come in handy. Just in case you've never developed a keen appreciation for your shoe boxes, I have the following suggestions:

1. Keep the shoes that came in them (duh). Take a photo of the shoes and stick the printed snap on the side of the box you can see. This is my least favourite use and I don't bother. The exception is for silver evening shoes and a matching clutch. These are in a labelled box in the top of the closet gathering dust. As we aren't likely to go out more than we do (and if we did I'd lean towards flat shoes, not these), I must make it a priority to do more dinner parties. Have I digressed?

2. Shoe boxes have been perfect containers for posting Christmas presents home to the US, particularly the ones with attached lids which tend to be sturdier cardboard. Fill the space around the wrapped packages with newspapers (which perhaps make amusing reading, being foreign) or plastic bags, so they can breed where there is more space for landfill. The boxes are occasionally the right size for gifts to be wrapped and placed under the tree; wrapping a box is infinitely easier than most other shapes.

3. The last time we re-decorated the West Wing (our bedroom), I decided it was going to be purple, in honour of my earliest memory of Rita's bedroom on 31st Street, where she had a floral bedspread with purple and lavender roses. Bill had taken to stacking things on top of his wardrobe, but I put a stop to that; it looked too messy. Instead I stacked things on top of my wardrobe, in shoe boxes covered with any shade of purple paper I could find. That made it OK. You see the difference, don't you?

(BTW I made those curtains and it's one of the hardest things I've ever attempted, dealing with the sheer size and weight of the fabric.)

4. Boxes with detachable lids that can be fitted to the bottom become compartments for the socks / bras / gloves in the running clothes drawer. If I didn't have the little shelves and compartments in my Victorian wardrobe (must show that to you sometime) which meet the need, I would use shoe boxes for other drawers as well.

5. I've mentioned before that the ladies at the sewing club give me their scraps and I do actually have uses for them. For this stash to be accessible, however, it needs to be sorted at least by colour group. Shoe boxes are great for this.

6. When Ruby first showed me how to make these sewing boxes, she went out and bought card stock from a stationery shop in North Shields. However, they no longer carried the heavier version we ended up using double thickness of what she bought. Never mind just shoe boxes, looking at all the other card stock that comes in my front door and into the re-cycling bin, I've never bought flimsy card stock for this again.

I'm certain there are tons of other uses for shoe boxes I've not listed, but these are the ways they get used in this house. And once too ragged to be of further use, they go into the re-cycling bin to be re-created into something else.

What do you do with your shoe boxes?


Update: Add to this list

7. Keep all those photos you can't be bothered to put into albums until someone comes along and volunteers to scan them for you.

Also, per Vivien, refuse offer of shoe box to begin with and save the hassle of figuring out what to do with them at all.


TKW said...

Unfortunately, this weekend, I am using a shoe box to make Miss D.'s deadly school project: A Native American Diorama. Someone just shoot me now.

Thanks for popping into my blog!

FB @ said...

I always reuse my shoe boxes to store sewing supplies (beading stuff too), or just random knickknacks

More often than not, I keep the boot boxes, because storing boots in them is a great way to keep dust off and let them lay down and keep their shape :)

Struggler said...

Fun post! Just yesterday, Beloved Husband threw a couple of shoe boxes in my (very general) direction and asked if I wanted them. I felt like I did, but couldn't remember why! Love your idea of covering them in purple paper and I agree, that makes it 100% for them to be on top of your wardrobe.

Struggler said...

And, thank you so much for your recent comment on the skirt I was unsure about keeping. You're not too late at all; the skirt is still in my closet (albeit resting for the chilly winter weather) but next spring will undoubtedly resurface to mock me. I love your idea of shortening it and a jeans jacket does indeed seem to pair very well with it.

Anonymous said...

I have gone to plastic shoe boxes. They are a dollar at the dollar store. I like them because you can look through them to see what color of what ever is in them. Also have scarves in one and hair clips, etc. in another.

Boywilli said...

If it was up to me I would fill all the shoe boxes with stuff and PUT THEM IN THE TRASH. That would be a much tidier solution, but hey, I just live here.