100 Possessions: Glass Tumblers

glasses-200Once upon a time, my husband and I had a cupboard full of glasses: water glasses, juice glasses, pint glasses, wine glasses, champagne glasses, even whiskey glasses. Name a beverage, and we likely had a special glass for it.

In hindsight, it seems ridiculous – but we hadn’t gone out and purchased them all at once. They just slowly accumulated over the years we lived in our house. Some we bought for daily needs, some we received as gifts, and some we acquired for special occasions.

Some we used every day, and some we used just once or twice a year. But because they generally came four to six in a set, we had far too many for a household of two.

When we moved to the UK, we said “enough” to all those glasses. Since they didn’t make the trip overseas, we had a chance to start over – and we did so with the four simple tumblers pictured above.

Our strategy was to start with those, and add more only when absolutely necessary. As we’d moved to a foreign country where we knew very few people, we didn’t anticipate throwing big cocktail or dinner parties.

Well, I’m happy to report that eighteen months later, we haven’t found need to add to our collection. Our various beverages taste perfectly fine in the same simple glass – who knew?

My greatest concern had been wine. Would the lack of a fancy glass do a disservice to a fine vintage? Maybe – but since our bottles of choice are generally in the sub-$10 category, I needn’t have worried. In fact, while traveling through Europe, I’ve been thrilled to discover that the restaurants we love most (rustic, down-to-earth, family-run) serve their wine the same way. I’m sure many a connoisseur would disagree, but I’ve come to prefer a simple glass over fussy stemware.

Ah, but what if we need to entertain? Well, we rarely host dinner for more than four people; and if called upon to do so, glasses would likely be the least of my worries (after plates, flatware, seating, and oh yes, a dining table). If the occasion arose, I would rent or borrow what’s needed, depending on the scale of the affair. At this semi-nomadic time in my life, I can’t justify owning all that stuff for a giant “what if?”.

So what do you think – have I violated all sorts of culinary decorum here? What’s the glass / people ratio in your household?

(This post is part of my “100 Possessions” series, in which I explain why each item I own deserves a place in my minimalist life.)

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

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86 comments to 100 Possessions: Glass Tumblers

  • Fawn

    Four persons living in this home:
    7 glass tumblers (4 oz-12 oz size)
    6 ceramic mugs.

    Honestly, we could half this except when DS and DDIL come to visit at holidays and our china requirements go from 4 persons/day to 6 persons/day it does make a difference.

    Also, 5 bowls and 7 plates is enough for us. :)

  • I’ve recently downsized by about ( well a boatload) of glasses and coffee mugs. It does make you think why did I have all that in the first place. My thinking about hosting a big party is:
    1. I’m not likely to do it
    2. I can rent glassware from the rental store for less that $10.00

    I’m done with avalanching cabinets of cups.

  • Bonglecat

    My first husband and I collecting a full set of “Wine connoisseur” stem ware, all in expensive crystal. Red wine, White wine, Bordeaux, sherry, champagne etc. We only ever bought 2 because we never intended to share the fine wines!! LOL. I still have them all in perfect condition because we only ever bought about 6 bottle of really fine wine. Now I’m with my second husband and we actually don’t drink at home at all, so I really need to find a good home for the crystal.

    Plus I agree with Francine I love drinking wine out of tumblers, it feels so me mediterranean.

  • JBear

    In Britain you can usually borrow glasses for a party from the place you have bought the drink from, if they are a specialist such as Oddbins, Majestic etc. and only pay for breakages – they deliver,too.

  • Carly

    Really it’s about appreciating the taste of the drink, more so than the glass. Sure presentation has a part but I think if you and your husband aren’t fussed than don’t worry about it. If friends or family are than just ask them to bring their wine glasses along, I’m sure no one will think you eccentric for serving them in your own way. Another idea is maybe you could add some simple decoration to the glasses to make them more versatile and ‘celebratory’. There’s nothing wrong with having a fancy cup for special occasions and daily use. ^^

  • Maria

    This post got me thinking and I will look at my kitchen with a new mindset. The tabletops are so full of everyday useful items while cupboards are filled with stuff that gets rarely used. Gotta do some serious decluttering ;)

  • Nancy Adams

    My only question is, what do you drink coffee in?
    Last fall when I got your book, I got rid of 48 “Old Dublin” pattern glasses that we had gotten for our wedding 17 years ago and maybe made use of twice. Now we have 2 sets of different wine glasses, 6 juice glasses, 6 larger glasses, and coffee mugs. Not as simple as you but much simpler than we were! Thanks for continuing to inspire me!

  • I’m currently “sharing space” and the person I’m living with has three giant cupboard shelves filled with nothing but coffee mugs. I haven’t pointed out the obvious fact that if the coffee mug collection was downsized we wouldn’t be so crammed for storing food items!

    On my own, Patrick and I live like barbarians with two tea mugs, 1 travel water bottle, and 1 extra cup. It’s the perfect number for us!

    When hosting while living with this small amount, we’ve asked people to bring their own cup. It’s a fun tradition and our (casual and relaxed) friends didn’t mind at all.

  • Carrie

    In the UK, you can buy wine from many wine shops and they will loan you the glassware – now worries

  • I have a bit of a weakness when it comes to coffee mugs, I must admit… though I also have far too many glasses for little old me. I live alone anyway, have multiples of everything, and have at least two wine glasses when I don’t even drink the stuff!

    I think part of my problem is that I live in a ‘granny flat’ that makes up part of the family house, and since it used to be used as holiday accommodation it came fully furnished with all the crockery and glasses and mugs that a holidaying couple might need. I, of course, then added my own things to the mix, and now I just have far too many of everything!

    When I was at university I had a handful of much-loved mugs and just a couple of all-purpose tumblers, and it suited me just fine. Thanks for reminding me of the good old days and inspiring me, once again, to get stuck into my cupboards and root out all my extraneous stuff!

  • Robin

    Several years ago I decided to only use multi-purpose glasses – tumblers with lids and jelly glasses – so I could use them to store food as well. Worked great but I’ve broken all but one of the large tumblers and rarely use the jelly jars since I mostly use them for wine and haven’t been having wine lately. I’ve actually been thinking of getting more glasses but now I’m thinking I’ll start using my excess mugs. Except I do use that one large glass a lot so I probably would replace it if it breaks. Yes, I am somewhat clutzy.

  • Lauren

    I love your 100 things posts! I always get happy when I see you’ve posted one. (although I love all your posts) lol

  • I like to use a plain old tumbler for wine because I can put it in the dishwasher : )

  • Tradd

    Love this post! I had a bunch of mismatched glassware. I prefer large ones as I don’t like to bother with getting up for a refill when I’m in the midst of a good book. I finally found a set of 4 “cooler” glasses for $8. They’re the perfect size. I live alone and don’t have visitors too often. While I sometimes think I’d like to just have one mug, one glass, etc., I loathe washing dishes. Having four of everything lets me run the dishwasher every 2-3 days! :)

  • Lan

    I use a mug 99% of the time for both hot (tea/coffee) & cold beverages (juice/soda/ice water etc) I just luv the handle, it’s so comfortable on the hands. I have not used a glass for almost a year now, hm, wonder where are the glasses, probably broken, or been donated. . . .
    If I were to buy a glass, it’s tumbler, I don’t like dealing with fancy shapes of wine glasses, life is already too complicated, and I try to have other aspects of my life simplified. . .

  • I’ve given up with the official dining glassware and have resorted to collecting and keeping the pickle jars and other oddly shaped jars from various artichoke, pepper, and olive jars. Love recycling and reusing these items for cups. Makes my collection all the more fun. Although I can’t say much for when my parents swing by for a visit. (So I save a few “normal” glasses for them.)

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  • miss minimalist

    Wow, thanks for all your wonderful responses. I never expected this to be such a hot topic!

    I loved hearing about everyone’s glassware strategies. For those who asked: we have separate coffee mugs, which I’ll talk about in a future 100 Possessions post. :)

  • Jennifer

    Although I agree with you on principle, think about your statement that you would borrow what you need for a dinner party. Does that mean your friends need to keep you supplied with all the things you don’t have? Cuz, I’d love to have that lifestyle. Just borrow, don’t own

  • cecilia

    My cousin only buys neat little glasses at garage sales, or the goodwill. Wine should be honoured to be drank (drunk?) out of such cool vintage glasses.

  • […] many people over, we’ll be using disposable cups. We can definitely get by on eight (or even just four). There’s this awesome thing called a sink, where you can wash the dirty glasses and then […]

  • anna

    We use goblet style glasses, they work great for every beverage and *almost* look like a wine glass….so we serve wine in them :)

  • WannabeMinimalist

    You can buy great wine glasses at charity shops, I recently bought six quality glasses for 50 cents each, then if you like you can donate them back after your dinner party. Same goes for crockery etc!

  • Gina

    People in my household: 1 (for most of the last 13 years)

    Glasses/drinking vessels: Roughly, 50.

    I was thinking as I was reading about the dinnerware and glasses that once I get rid of almost everything, if I really needed more plates for guests, they could bring their own! Or I could run down to the thrift shop and probably buy an eclectic set for a couple of bucks – and then donate it back when I’m done.

  • We started out with all matching, white coffee mugs from Crate and Barrel when we first got married, and realized that what made more practical sense when people came over were our odd collection of Starbucks mugs from random countries. This came about because we realized it stopped people from drinking out of each others mugs because they could remember their city. So while I thought the Starbucks mugs were not as classy looking, practically they won out. I don’t do disposable, so when we have eight friends over for coffee and cocoa, the Starbucks mugs work fantastically well, as the confusion over whose mug it is is gone most of the time!

  • Tina

    This made me think about my husband’s collection of coffee mugs. I think he has about 20. I have 2. I use them over and over. He takes a sip and then he wants a new mug. Some day, I will get him to part with the mugs.

  • I don’t collect that many glass cups because they take away a huge portion of my cabinet. Besides, most of my glass cups were destroyed during a recent earthquake.

  • Dylan

    Small Ball jars work great as glassware. If you keep extra lids around, they can always be used as storage containers.

  • Tina

    My husband wants to buy more cereal bowls. That’s fine, we use them every day. He has mugs he never uses so maybe he will part with a few. He is also selling a huge telescope– 10″ in diameter, so that will make a lot of space.

  • Liz

    We have 10 tumbler glasses for a household of two – we started with 6 and realised that we often had to run the dishwasher half empty as we run out of glasses and plates to eat way before we ever filled the dishwasher. 12 did not fit on the shelf – therefore two had to go to the charity shop – even though it sounded wasteful, it just made our life easier not have to pile the glasses into each other!

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