Calendar Towels – Preserve or Repurpose?

The calendar towels I’ve always admired but never found for less than $12 each in an antiques mall finally revealed themselves to me at a great thrift-store price!  Someone evidently collected them for many years, and decided to clean out the stash.  I had such fun digging through a huge bin of old blankets, bedspreads, and (ugh) used sheets* to find all of these towels which had become separated from each other.  Several years are missing.  Did someone else beat me to them?  Are they still in that bin, buried under hundreds of other used fabrics?  I may have to go back and dig some more.

*Junkin’ tip: Keep hand wipes in your car…for when you end up digging through used sheets…just before picking up lunch 🙂


Sorry to start off with the most faded one, but I feel compelled to go chronologically.  Even though she’s faded, I still love her old mill design:

Vintage Calendar Towel, 1972, old mill


This Irish linen calendar is just gorgeous.  Look at those colors!

Vintage Calendar Towel, 1976, Birds


This 1978 towel with fruit is still really colorful, too:

Vintage Calendar Towel, 1978 with fruit


From 1979, the covered bridge makes me think of my home state of Ohio:

Vintage Calendar Towel, 1979, Covered Bridge


We’re into the eighties now, and this 1981 calendar has pockets for mail, grocery lists, and memos.  That’s a great idea:

Vintage Calendar Towel, 1981, fruit design with pockets for mail and memos


There were several of these peanut butter cookie recipe towels.  I know that some of these calendar towels were given out as grocery store premiums, or by local businesses, such as banks and furniture stores.  I wonder if the reason someone had so many of the same design from different years (assuming these all came from the same home), did they work somewhere that gave these out? Maybe it was their Christmas bonus.

Vintage Calendar Towel, 1982, 1985, 1988, 1989. Peanut butter cookies recipe, too!

I haven’t tried the recipe yet, but I need to!

Yes, I need peanut butter cookies.


There was even a bonus 1989 towel with a lovely little cardinal, other birds, and botanicals.  Maybe the owner of these, in 1989, said, “I’m tired of the office giving me the same recipe towel every year.  I’m buying this one with pretty birds on it!”

Vintage Calendar Towel, 1989, Cardinal or "red bird" and other birds and flowers


This 1990 towel shows how the style and colors in home décor changed.  Remember all the colonial blue and house designs from that time?

Vintage Calendar Towel, 1990, Blue with colonial houses


Did you know they still make these things?  I just might have to get a current one.

  Here’s a link to use to shop for current calendar towels

As I’ve said here before, I’m a preservationist at heart.  If something is olde and still in good shape, I really like to see it left alone for future folks to see and learn from. 

On the other hand, repurposing and reusing is a wonderful thing!  It keeps things out of landfills, maybe not forever but for a while longer, at least.  And it curbs the production of more new stuff in a world that already has a lot of stuff. 

So what should I do with this little treasure trove of calendar towels?  I don’t have room to hang them all around my kitchen, so that’s out.  Should I keep them in a closet, preserved but unseen?  Or should I get out the old cutting mat, rotary cutter, and sewing machine and turn them into something new, something useful? 

The preservationist in me is losing the battle.  I think I just might pull the sewing machine out of the closet, render my kitchen completely unusable for the next few days, and get busy making something. 

I’ll let y’all know how it turns out. 


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8 thoughts on “Calendar Towels – Preserve or Repurpose?

  1. I’m a preservationist at heart too (those cake stands made out of beautiful old dishes ruined by gluing them to candlesticks drive me crazy!), but oddly enough, in this case I vote for repurposing. I think it’s all those duplicate peanut butter cookie recipe ones that tipped me over into the repurposing camp – they make the towels in general seem less rare and precious. I think you could make something out of them that would be more interesting than they are at present.

    1. I know what you mean, my pet-peeve is the fabulous vintage Pyrex bowls with HOLES drilled through them to turn them into hanging lamps, ugh.
      I just posted some pics of the calendar towels I’ve repurposed so far, hope you like 🙂

  2. ’72 & ’81 would be my desire; birth dates of our two sons. Interesting that you found both! Enjoy!

  3. I have always loved these calendar towels but never had room in my kitchen to hang them! I would love to see what you make with them.

  4. I am anxiously awaiting the repurpose on these. I have 2 or 3 tucked in a drawer that I would love to do something with. I remember my grandmother and my mother used them for dish towels when the year was over.

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