Fun ideas for old books: White elephant gifts and more

Posted by PartyWeDo on Friday, April 6, 2012


Old books and white elephant gift exchange giftsOld books can make great white elephant gifts to share with family and friends. We have heard of reading groups that host a white elephant gift exchange to share their favorite books among themselves. We came across some other fun ideas for your old books.

By Rose Simpson

Those who enjoy curling up on a cold day to read a book will tell you that there’s nothing like the feeling of holding a real book. But what do you do when you’re finished with it? Many homes contain vast libraries of well-read books. Those true book worms will likely be dealing with a rapidly-growing collection that can only be sufficiently housed with additional storage space.

If your collection of books seems to be taking up all of the space in your home, you may be thinking about what you can do with them. But there are many other things you can do with your old books besides donating them or lending them to a friend.


The term ‘repurposing’ refers to using an item in a way that it wasn’t necessarily designed for. And there are many ways to repurpose your old books, although you may want to check and see if any of them are rare before you do!

Around Your Home

Books that are damaged beyond repair can still have a useful life around your home, while saving you money at the same time.

If you exercise using step aerobics or yoga, use one thick book or several thinner ones as a step or yoga block. They can easily be bound together by tape or fabric so that they stay together. And when not in use, they can double as a bookish decoration.

Gardeners spend a lot of time digging in the dirt. So why not cover an old book with foam and use it as a kneeling pad? This can save you a trip to your local dollar store, leaving you more time to tend.

If you want to secure your valuables, consider creating a book safe. Simply cut out the center of all pages while leaving the front and back covers intact, place your valuables in it and then hide it in plain sight amongst the other books on your shelf.

The covers of an old book, or thinner books can make great trivets when you need extra space for hot pots or pans. Using books with busy covers can add a nice pop of color to your kitchen, in addition to saving your counter space from damage.

Anonymous Lending

If you can’t bear the thought of ripping, cutting up or otherwise rendering your books un-readable, a neat solution can offer a suitable alternative.

BookCrossing is a ‘catch and release’ site for books. When you find a book that you want to give away, you simply visit the site, and register that book. The site will generate a unique ID number for your book. Once you have an ID number (called a BCID on the site), you can visit another area of the site that offers free printable labels that you can stick on the inside cover of your book.

Once you have filled out the information on the label, it’s time to ‘release’ your book. You can do this in three ways: by leaving it somewhere, such as on a park bench or in a shopping mall for another reader to pick up, by giving it to someone you know, or by placing it in an area known to be used by other ‘book releasers’.

When you’ve released your book or books, you can return to the BookCrossing site after a few days, enter in your BCID, and see where your book has traveled since you released it. This can be fun for kids of all ages, as you can visit the site at any time to see how your literary ‘message in a bottle’ is doing.



Guest author Rose Simpson enjoys writing on a variety of topics, including how to help families get a great deal at their favorite theme park.  Check out some of Rose’s work at


Thanks to Content in a Cottage for sharing the image

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