Easily found at flea markets and antique stores, old bottles in various shades of white, blue, amber and green have character worth showing off. Don't worry if they are chipped or flawed; you can still use them in creative ways. Whether they are old medicine, wine, milk or vinegar bottles, there are easy and inexpensive ways of highlighting their shapes and characters.
Soak old bottles in hot, soapy water to remove dirt and dust and to loosen the label. Scrape the label off with a plastic dish-scraping tool or a razor blade. Wash them in the dishwasher on a sterilization setting if you plan to refill them with beverages. Set the bottles aside to dry completely before starting any projects with them. If the bottles have an undesirable odor, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda into the open bottle followed by a tablespoon or two of vinegar; do not cover the bottle while the chemical reaction takes place. Rinse with hot water and allow to dry.
Reuse old wine and milk bottles to hold iced tea, juice and lemonade the next time you entertain. Set the decorative bottles onto the buffet or dining table and let guests help themselves. As an added touch, embellish them with homemade labels.
Make a reed diffuser with your cool old bottles. To complete, fill the bottle with scented oil and insert reeds. DIY reed diffuser kits are available at arts and crafts store.
Let There Be Light
You can also make a lamp from an old bottle; use one with a wide bottom, like a 1-gallon jug or larger. With a lamp-making kit from a home improvement store, you can repurpose an old bottle as the body of a vintage-style lamp. Add a bulb and a lampshade to enjoy your new lighting decor.
Alternatively, one of the easiest ways to use an interesting old bottle is to give it new life as a candle holder. Place a mismatched collection of bottles of varying heights on a table and set a taper candle into the neck of each. If the base of the candle is just a little too wide, shave some wax off with a potato peeler. If it seems too wobbly when you insert it into the bottle, use a dab of hot glue inside the bottle's neck to hold it in place. For added interest, fill the bottle with sand, dried beans or marbles.
The most obvious way to use a cool, old bottle is as a vase. For added impact, cluster five to eight bottles together on a tray before adding flowers to them. Even a green sprig from a bush or a bundle of rosemary looks fresh and inviting when placed in a pretty, old bottle.
For a personal touch, display a postcard or photo by wedging it between the tines of a fork. Select a fork that fits the image, such as a bamboo, vintage silver or brightly colored plastic fork, and place the fork, tines up, into the bottle.
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