This Gorgeous Thrift Store Find Is an Unexpected Storage Gem

published Feb 13, 2024
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Thrift shops are full of *almost* obsolete items, such as CD towers and magazine racks, and I just bought one of those virtually extinct objects for myself: a vintage brass napkin holder. I have plenty of plans for this thrifted beauty, and not one of them involves paper napkins: I use it as a storage stand.

Credit: Meg Asby

Napkin Holder as Tablet Stand

I was initially inspired by Sarah Corbyn Woolf’s (@scorbynw) TikTok video demonstrating how to use a napkin holder as a tablet stand. The process is straightforward: Place the tablet in the napkin holder. And that’s it! Woolf also threads the charger cord through the holes in the stand, but that’s optional. “And there it lives until I need it,” says Woolf. When I placed my kids’ ancient iPad in the napkin holder, it looked fantastic, despite the tablet’s beleaguered appearance after too many years of Roblox. 

Other Ways to Repurpose a Napkin Holder

The napkin holder works great as a tablet stand, but because I don’t have a tablet of my own, I explored other options. 

Credit: Meg Asby

Gaming Console Storage 

In the video, Brittany Richards commented a suggestion to use the holder to store a gaming console. I tried it with a Nintendo Switch, and it works perfectly if you charge it with a cord and not a dock.

Mail Drop Zone

I don’t get lots of snail mail these days, and the napkin holder is the perfect size for the few letters that make their way to my mailbox. It can also hold an Amazon envelope package. 

Credit: Meg Asby

Cutting Board Organization

The holder is also ideal for small cutting boards. My extra-large cutting board looked slightly ridiculous in the small holder, but the heavy base was able to keep it upright easily. On the other hand, my smaller boards looked incredible, and I could fit two inside the holder easily. 

Vertical Laptop Storage

I only use my desk for computer tasks, but if you need your workspace to transform into a junk journaling studio on a whim, a napkin holder is an easy way to store a laptop vertically.

Credit: Meg Asby

Miniature Bookshelf

A napkin holder can be great for storing a novel or ereader in the bedroom or a cookbook in the kitchen. It doesn’t work well for storing an open cookbook, though; you’ll still need an angled stand for that. 

Credit: Meg Asby

Coffee Filter Storage

Inspired by one of the comments on the video from Kayla Nicole Vaugn, I placed my Chemex filters inside the napkin holder, and this is one of my favorite uses of them all. I’ve been on the lookout for something like this magnetic coffee filter case, but the napkin holder does the job brilliantly.

Make-up Palettes

Sarah-Nycole Cerelia commented on the video, “Napkin holders … are also great for holding eyeshadow palettes.” If my daughter had considered this, she would have pushed hard for ownership of the napkin holder. I made sure to test this option while she was at school. 

Credit: Meg Asby

Muffin Tin and Sheet Pan Organization

As with the cutting boards, the napkin holder works best for sheet pans approximately the size of a 12-cup muffin tin, and no larger. If you’re short on cabinet space, this method can make storing pans on the counter look purposeful and less cluttered.

Vinyl Organization

In the end, I chose to store a small collection of LPs in the napkin holder (coffee filters were a close second). If you have more vinyl than I do, the holder could be for records you are actively listening to or ones you are proud to display. 

Where to Find a Vintage Napkin Holder

If money is no object, you’ll find plenty of vintage beauties on Etsy for around $20 to $40. Be sure to search “napkin holder” and “letter holder” to see all the options. If you aren’t in a hurry, it won’t take long to find one at an estate sale, Goodwill, or local thrift shops, often for $5 or less. 

You don’t have to thrift to be thrifty, though; Amazon sells a variety of napkin holders, from this beautiful ginkgo leaves napkin holder, to mushroom or dinosaur versions. Just keep in mind that these lightweight holders may be unable to handle heavier items.

I’m going to stick with thrifting myself, and now that I know the uses are practically infinite, I’m never going to pass over a napkin holder in a thrift store again.