They can be used for decoration, gift-giving, organizing and transportation. In my book, the only thing better than being nifty thrifty is being able to multitask.
Though I've long since moved out from under my parents' roof, things belonging to me in some fashion continue to pile up. The post office still delivers mail there, though I've consistently changed my address. My mother still clips my columns for me to keep.
Wedding announcements and graduation photos are kept to share with me when I visit. The little-searched bedroom closet reveals I've forgotten to rid my mother's house of my elementary school pompons.
And since my visits are less frequent these days, a pile of junk is not what my mother wants lying around in wait. Her solution, which I've so kindly stolen, was a pretty wicker basket. She stacks everything that's awaiting my return in the basket and it fits in well with her d*cor.
Then, when I show up, there's no forgetting what needs to leave her house and go to mine. And, on the not-so-rare occasion that the basket is overflowing with items, my mom sometimes lets me use it to carry everything home.
Wicker baskets are much sturdier than plastic bags and offer more protection for delicate items.
But the hard-working wicker basket doesn't stop there. After I've gotten home and sorted through all the items I've carried with me, I put that bad boy to work.
I'm a piler. I admit it.
While the anal retentiveness I prided myself on as a copy editor carries over into the neatness of my work environment, home-Vanessa lets it all hang out.
On the coffee table there's a pile of magazines to review, DVDs to watch, receipts to be entered in my checkbook. In the corner I have two patterns, fabric, my latest craft project and a stack of my writing in various forms of completion.
Then there's the stuff that obviously doesn't belong anywhere near the living room: my iPod, dishes from last night, kitchen scissors, nail polish remover, paint samples, toothpaste, used boarding passes, assorted photographs, buttons, newspaper clippings, the skirt I wore to work yesterday, a shoe (mate unaccounted for).
And that's just a glance at three of my many "project piles." Caveat: I've just reread my list, and I need to say now that my mess should in no way reflect upon my mother, who diligently worked to create a neat daughter.
There were weekends spent cleaning and picking up the house, bonding time while we watched Mission Organization and Clean Sweep. Alas, my mother's efforts seem to have missed the mark. I'm sorry, Mom.
But my trusty wicker basket helps me to return some semblance of order to my house. Here's how you put the basket to use:
Step 1: Put everything that doesn't belong in the living room in the basket. Everything.
Step 2: Like Little Red Riding Hood, skip around the house with the basket on your arm and deliver the goods in your basket to the appropriate room in your house.
Step 3: Repeat first two steps until the living room is clear of any non-living room material.
So where do you store this marvel of modern organization when not in use? Admittedly, wicker doesn't go with my mod black-white-and-red decor as well as my mother's more contemporary country style. But organization is no fashionista, nor am I.
For those of you who are, container and hobby stores have caught on to the organization game and are pumping out baskets in all shapes, sizes, styles and materials. Pick one that works for you and get to organizing.
And for those unorganized people in your life, a basket may be the perfect gift bag. Find a basket that matches their decor, put your gift in and wrap the whole thing in cellophane. Or you can just stick a bow on the handle of the basket and it looks like you really did a lot.
Baskets: Use them, love them, clean your messy house and give them away.
Vanessa Cook is a former copy editor for the Southeast Missourian who dabbles in decorating. If you have any tips, questions or column ideas, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.