Finding novelty in new places

Was it during the eighties that novelty (and often slightly naughty) items really came into their own? I seem to recall there being much humour associated with novelty aprons (highlighting various anatomical features), novelty ironing board covers (with scantily clad men), and novelty hats (equipped for beer-drinking) in circulation at the time. But perhaps my memory is failing me on the correct timeline?

One item I don’t remember seeing is novelty tea-towels (though I’m sure they existed). If there’s one thing that needs to have a bit more humour involved, it would have to be the dreaded task of washing / wiping up the dishes … Yuck! As far as domestic duties goes it’s one of my least favourite, ranking lower than clothes washing but far higher than ironing.

Tea Towels ... Dishes I'd Rather Be Doing

I recently discovered these tea-towels by Dear Colleen, and they did give me a giggle … I’m not sure what the Mr makes of these though. I purchased the original ‘Dishes I’d Rather Be Doing’ printed tea towel (featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, Johnny Depp, Owen Wilson, Brad Pitt and George Clooney), as well as the ‘Costume DramaΒ Addiction’ version (featuring Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, and Sean Bean). HaHa! Do they make you giggle too?

Some dishes hanging on the line.

In a rare moment when I took some time to dwell on domestic issues, I found myself reflecting on how it’s difficult to find a good tea-towel. In the past I’ve gone for the cheap and nasty versions, and they are quite simply both cheap AND nasty – often failing to absorb any water and leaving a shedding a trail of fabric. Thank goodness that apart from providing me with some amusement, my latest pair of kitchen towels are sturdy and ready to do their duty to a very high standard.

In conclusion, I shall leave you with just one question …Β Could THIS be the time for novelty tea-towels?


  1. Felicity

    How very, very clever.
    We’re fortunate in our home that the children are of an age where it’s rare that I have to take up a tea towel but I tell you what I’d probably be volunteering more often if I was able to use one of these.
    To answer your question….only if they’re of this quality.

    Happy day Lovely!

    xx Felicity

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Felicity – They’re sweet and funny tea towels for sure … such a great combination I think! I think all kitchens need a good dash of humour! πŸ™‚

      Haha, you never know who might start volunteering to help with tea towels such as these waiting to be used! πŸ˜‰
      I hope you had a lovely weekend. xx

  2. Sonia

    Very funny! A scientist friend of mine stopped me from wiping dishes years ago. Apparently the best thing is to let them air dry. So that’s generally what I do. I agree with Felicity.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Sonia – Haha, too funny indeed! I like this whole ‘air-drying’ idea … unfortunately in our house we rarely have enough drying space, so a wipe dry is necessary. πŸ™‚

  3. Chartreuse

    Love the ‘Dishes’ tea towels. I, too, am a stickler for good quality TTs, and tend to buy a dozen when I find one, then none for about 10 years. Just so happens I recently bought a couple of new ones — this time trying out a larger size of very good quality – and I love these bigger ones, so will buy more. Alas, they’re not as much fun as yours. Anyway, though I know it’s environmentally unsound, I tend to use the dishwasher at even the smallest excuse, especially since my human dishwashwer (hubby) is no longer able to manage anything but the brekky cups and plates.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Chartreuse – Yes indeed, these are my kind of ‘dishes’ … haha! πŸ˜‰
      I think larger size tea towels are the best, those small varieties are more trouble than they’re worth I think … If I had a dishwasher I would most definitely be availing myself of its services … sadly, it’s all manual washing in our kitchen! πŸ™
      I’m sure our kitchen would be much cleaner with a dishwasher … things get out of hand far too quickly when we’re involved! πŸ™‚

  4. Lucent Imagery

    Hilarious! Dishes I’d like to do! Hee hee! I use tea towels more for drying my hands as I have a dishwasher. I used to say I’d never need or want a dishwasher. But come the time when we bought our home and it came with a dishwasher, I fell in love. I even think it’s gurgling noises are cute whilst we sit watching a movie in the lounge room. I call it it’s happy sounds! I too air dry my dishes after the cycle has finished and open the door of the dishwasher overnight to let the machine and dishes dry completely. It stops it from getting smelly too. Still I like a cute tea towel more and more for photos at home. Hope you are having a lovely week my dear.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Lucent Imagery – Haha, I know right? They are still making me giggle! πŸ™‚
      I must admit that tea towels in my kitchen are often used for hand drying too … and I find them very handy when I’m doing baking … they are great multi-taskers I think! πŸ™‚

      Dishwashers are definitely the way to go!! I miss the one we had in our old place … I can’t wait to get another one!!
      My weeks are zooming by, but I’m trying to not get too bothered by that now. I hope all is well in your world, you birthday girl you! xx

  5. Monica {bohemian twilight}

    chuckle, nice choice of dishes. and yes, i think it was the 80’s to blame for novelty items.
    you know, leaving dishes to air dry is more hygienic. just saying, in case you needed a good excuse. πŸ˜‰

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Monica – I’m so glad you appreciate the gentle cheekiness of these! πŸ™‚
      Yes, those ’80s have a lot to be blamed for I think … haha, thanks for the air-drying tip, I’m happy with any excuse for laziness! πŸ˜‰

  6. Teresa

    Haha! I do believe my mum had one of those scantily clad men holding a towel on her ironing board cover!

    That costume drama addiction tea towel is fabulous! I think it would distract me from the dish drying task at hand… which would be perfectly okay with me. πŸ˜‰ (Although I am another one who leaves them out to dry.)

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Teresa – Haha! My mum DEFINITELY had one of those ironing board covers … I seem to remember we bought it for her as a joke gift … I wonder what she actually thought of it!?! πŸ˜‰

      The costume drama tea towel is great, and the captions are such a delight … they give me giggles on top of giggles. I wish we could air dry our dishes more often … we tend to leave washing up too long and then there’s no room on the drying rack! πŸ™‚

  7. Narnie

    I remember when I was a kid, they were all maps. Everytime someone went away, they’d bring back a tea towel with a map on it for us. How very strange now I think about it… but at the time it felt very exotic, haha. These are fabulous Tracey… but luckily I have my trusty dishwasher so towels are virtually obselete in my little world.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Kiersty – Oh so true … maps on tea towels were really huge for a while! I think a few of my relatives had quite a collection of them going. Haha! πŸ™‚

      I’m so very jealous of your dishwasher ownership … I really should make that a higher priority purchase! πŸ™‚

  8. Louise

    Very funny. I’d forgotten about novelty aprons. I think you’re right it was a very eighties phenomenon. xolj

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Louise – There were so many weird and wonderful phases throughout the eighties … thankfully must of the weirdness has passed by now! πŸ˜‰

  9. SignePling

    Hihi, these totally cracked me up!
    ‘Dishes I’d rather be doing’
    Brilliant πŸ™‚

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi SignePling – Well I’m very glad to hear that I was able to provide some humour your way … I think these tea towels are very funny! πŸ™‚

  10. Alison

    When I was growing up in Canada my Mom had tons of those things – nothing quite as sexy as these you’ve found. They were printed with all sorts of things – calendars were big, as were birds and flowers, churches – churches? I guess they were an inexpensive gift to give to someone. I loved them.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Alison – From memory a lot of the earlier novelty stuff had more of a tacky, naughty edge … I prefer the sweet humour of these towels too. It’s amazing how much variety there is in the world of tea towels … I bet there’s a collector out there who has them all! πŸ™‚

  11. Christine Clemmensen

    Hahaha :-))) this is hilarious πŸ™‚ absolutely gorgeous!!!
    Thank you for a great giggle!

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Christine – So glad you like them, and they gave you a giggle! πŸ™‚

  12. hila

    oh my, I believe it is indeed the time! these are great – I never knew tea-towels could have such wit πŸ™‚
    thanks so much for your wonderful present tracey, I’ve blogged about it and given you a proper thank you. I really don’t think I deserve it, you’re too kind.


    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Hila – I know! Some people are so clever with their tea towel creations … I just adore the concept and the humour applied in these varieties! πŸ™‚

      PS. I’m so glad you liked your present Hila, sorry I’ve been so slack in replying to your email … I will catch up one of these days. You must definitely deserve sweet gifts. xx

  13. Debby

    He he…what fun…

    I think you should get some for Mr with appropriate leading ladies too…

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Debby – Haha, yes indeed. I should get the Mr some leading ladies tea towels, that would be only fair! πŸ™‚

  14. sissy sparrows

    That is so funny….I really, really enjoyed reading your tea towel post!!! I haven’t seen those tea towels before…but I love them. I also remember quite well all those corny novelty ideas that were getting around at that time. Funny.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Sissy Sparrows – I’m so glad you enjoyed this post … with such fantastic source material to talk about, it was lots of fun to put together. They are such clever tea towels … I think every home should have a set! πŸ™‚

  15. Selma

    I love that Dishes I’d Rather Be Doing teatowel. Teatowels always make me laugh because for years I used to associate them with my Aunt Jo who travelled up and down the east coast of Australia ostensibly to buy me tacky teatowels. She would buy me teatowels whose images had nothing to do with the place she’d stayed. That kind of thing really amuses me. The one from Coffs Harbour with the merino on the beach on it still baffles me. Didn’t know there were any sheep farms on the water there. It’s all good fun!

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Selma – Haha, I know … these ‘Dishes I’d Rather Be Doing’ tea towels are great. I seem to connect tea towels with certain relatives of mine too.

      How funny your aunt would buy you tacky tea towels from her travels … I love how obscure some of them are … I mean a sheep on the beach? Haha! πŸ˜‰

      I wonder who comes up with those tourist inspired designs? It must be some kind of job! πŸ™‚

  16. woolf

    ha ha ha. i love quirkiness, did you know?
    they’d be a great help in the kitchen, sort of (shamefully) passive, but nonetheless. usurping the dishwater. way to go!!…

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Woolf – Haha, I just knew you’d enjoy a bit of quirkiness. After all, quirkiness is wonderful and so are you! πŸ™‚
      If I had a dishwasher I would still keep these tea towels around for those other important kitchen duties, like hand wiping and baking assistance! … and of course for a laugh or two! πŸ™‚

  17. Hayley Cafarella

    Oh, those are cool!! I have been thinking lately that my tea towels are boring and for no good reason. I am going to get me some fun ones πŸ™‚

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