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Aug 29, 2019

How to Build a Glassware Collection on a Budget

Helen Naylor

I love vintage glass, particularly cake plates and vases. Over the years, I’ve accumulated my own collection of vintage glass from Deseret Industries that I use as decor and for events. I’ve also helped others collect table-setting decorations and items for weddings, parties, and other events. 

DI is a great place to shop when building a collection or gathering items for a party. Here are nine tips for creating a collection of your own.

Tips for Creating a Collection

1. Get inspired. Last year, I helped my niece decorate for her DIY wedding reception. We scrolled through her Pinterest boards to get an idea of what she liked and got the idea to put centerpieces with multiple vases of different shapes and sizes on each table. I knew exactly where to find the vases—DI!

2. Be selective. Once you decide what you’re going to collect, you don’t need to indiscriminately gather items in mass quantities. Think about things that are similar, either in style, shape, purpose, or color. Imagine them in a grouping, and try to envision how you can incorporate them either into everyday use or for party purposes. Punch cups and candy dishes can double as vases with the help of a little floral foam, some tape, or a pin frog flower holder. You can use cake plates to display something other than cake. Use your imagination!

For this collection, I looked for items that were white and had interesting textures and patterns.

3. Check multiple areas. When I stop by DI, I head straight to the kitchen department and then to the knickknack shelves. After scouring those aisles, it’s out to the yard area I go—because sometimes items on my list end up there.

4. Don’t forget that a good collection takes time. A collection usually starts with just one thing. To find everything in a single trip would spoil the thrill of the hunt. Keep looking for items that round out your collection and make you smile. Enjoy the journey.

5. Don’t get discouraged. Sometimes the shelves will be packed full of perfect finds, and other times they can look bare—it depends on the day. Sometimes you don’t find something that you love, and that’s OK. Don’t worry—those shelves will keep getting replenished. Donations are constantly being dropped off and put on the floor. Keep looking, and don’t give up!

Sometimes you’ll find a lot of what you’re looking for, and other days you won’t find anything.

6. Enlist the help of family and friends. If you know people who are frequent shoppers at DI, ask them to keep a look out for items to add to your collection. Show them a few pictures to make sure they understand the look you want.

7. Remember that you can find whatever style of vase you want if you shop frequently and thoroughly. If you prefer uniformity in your table settings, remember that florists use the same sorts of vases, so you are likely to find the exact same ones on any DI shelf. Look closely—you’ll be able to spot multiples of several different vase types. 

8. Set a price limit. For my niece’s wedding, we decided to set a limit on what we were willing to spend on each vase. We tried to keep the largest vase in the centerpiece under $2, and we felt like $0.50 or $1.00 was a reasonable amount for the smaller sizes. If you live in an area with multiple DI stores nearby, shop around to find what you want. 

9. Re-donate what you don’t need. We ended up using over 50 vases for my niece’s wedding. Each table held five vases, and we put a few extra around the room. After the wedding was over, I kept a few vases that I really liked to add to my own collection, but others made their way back to DI.

Ideas and Inspiration

Ready to start shopping for your own collection? Here are a few ideas to remind you to think outside the box.

You can use all kinds of containers to hold flowers. In this picture, you can see that I used two vases and a small pitcher along with a jelly jar for the leftover greens.
Look at the beautiful colors you can choose from! In just one visit to DI, I found six of the same short, corn-flower blue vases and a larger one in the back. A rainbow of different-colored vases would make a beautiful centerpiece.
For a recent retirement party at work, we made 19 centerpieces using cylinder vases, three grower’s bunches from Costco, four trash bags of someone’s yard trimmings, and a bag of pebbles. Each arrangement cost us less than three dollars, and they looked beautiful. Now that’s thrifty!

Helen Naylor is a mom, grammy, and collector of many awesome things, especially paper-crafting supplies. She works full-time, but in her off hours she loves to bake, cook, and try new things. You can see some of her ideas at