Entertaining New Uses
Fun new ideas for paper plates, cakestands, name tags, and more.
Glue ribbon around an existing matte to turn a basic frame into one-of-a-kind art.
Skip drink umbrellas in favor of this low-effort DIY option. Attach decorative tape to coffee stirrers and drop into signature cocktails. Guests will, well, drink to that!
Personalize key tags and attach to glass stems with a decorative ribbon. This way, each guest can fill their own glass with whatever tastes right!
Take your cake stand to new heights by wrapping a plain glass vase with a ribbon in your signature shade.
Cut even strips of leftover wrapping paper, wrap around a napkin, and affix with tape. There’s no easier—or cheaper—way to dress up place settings.
Fill that (clean!) old ashtray with soy sauce instead. The notches make a handy resting spot for chopsticks between bites of spicy tuna.
Add a feminine and romantic touch to the reception by illuminating tables with an array of small glass votives wrapped in delicate white tulle.
Grab your bridesmaids and settle in for a night of crafting. With this easy DIY project, it’s a breeze to create table numbers that are beautiful and budget-friendly. Purchase cheap frames (or use ones you already have on hand), attach numbered stickers to a background in your signature color, and frame.
Here's a fanciful and fun way to serve cubed cheese, cherry tomatoes, and more: Place large buttons on a tray, spear the hors d'oeuvres with toothpicks, then anchor the toothpick ends in the buttons' holes.
Hang party hats upside down and fill with colorful ready-to-be-thrown confetti.
Has your iPod player rendered that stack of CDs useless? Collect the spare sleeves, fill with confetti, and pass out to guests so they’re prepared to send off the happy couple.
Use a clothespin to keep napkins neatly stacked at a cocktail party—or from blowing away at a picnic.
Toting more than one bottle to a party? Slip a wristband over one to prevent banging or breaking.
Looking for an easy and inexpensive way to dress up tables? Give pillar candles delicate, lacey embellishments by folding doilies in half, wrapping them around candles, and securing with tape.
Turn plain white cups into custom-designed party wear with simple dot stickers, available at any office supply store.
Merlot gone missing? A small, adhesive gift tag keeps each drink in the right hand.
Ready to blow it out at your next dinner party? Use a permanent marker to write guests’ names on kazoos to designate seats—perfect for New Year’s Eve.
Turn rectangles of giftwrap into placemats you don’t mind getting dirty. You can even write guests’ names on the edges to designate seats.
Give some height to a candle display by perching a pillar on an upside-down wineglass.
Fill a large Mason jar with a strand or two of battery-powered lights to add whimsy to a walkway or a nightstand.
Use extra paper party hats to corral candy on a display table—or fill them with popcorn to hand out to kids.
You could toss old giftwrap in the garbage or… in the air. Use a hold punch to turn gently used paper (or last year’s stock) into confetti.
When utensils are wrapped together, guests can grab what they need in one go—great for a buffet table.
This frilly tissue paper wrap makes a birthday treat even sweeter. Cut a circle and gently gather it around the bottom of the cupcake, securing with a rubber band.
Admit it: You’ve always wanted to unfurl an entire stack of Post-its. Here’s your chance. Gently attach one end to a wall and spread the stack across without pulling too tight (you don’t want the sheets to come un-stuck) to make a quick, graphic garland.
Turn an old tray into a special serving piece with a single scrap of pretty paper. Use double-sided tape to keep it secure.
Punch four holes around a piece of cardstock, then tie two pieces of ribbon along the top and bottom to make a striped place card.
Spell out guests’ names with adhesive letters (or write them with a permanent marker); send the mini gourds home as party favors.
Use tree bows (with built-in loops on the back) to hold napkins for Christmas dinner—or turn any ornament into a decorative tie by threading a ribbon through the wire loop on top.
Keep linen placemats and runners crease-free; roll them around a paper towel holder instead of folding.
Dust off pinecones from the yard to make rustic (and free) place card holders for a fall dinner party. You can also paint them for a more modern look.
Don’t pay a premium for Halloween-themed treat bags. Turn any paper sack into a jack-o-lantern with a few precise snips.
Turn a birthday party prop into a loved one's bright spot on February 14. All you'll need to make this card is a blank note card, glue, and a felt tip marker.
Once you've found your perfect match, it's easy to turn sentiments into handmade crafts. Start with a blank note card, glue, and a felt tip marker.
When the stakes are high, you'd bet your money (and your heart) on this guy. Start with a blank note card, glue, and a felt tip marker.
Secure a cupcake liner over the top of a jar with a rubber band. It can be a temporary fix if you’ve lost the lid, a pretty solution to keep flies out of the lemonade, or a cute topper for a gift-in-a-jar.
Using a large sewing needle, thread a string through the alternating colorful cupcake liners to make a ruffled garland.
For a heat protector, slip a cork or two under a lid's handle and you'll always have something safe to grab.
A pretty jewelry box top is the perfect size for most wine glasses. Decorate the inside or add some confetti for a party.
What nice curves… for holding a place card. Tie together three canes with a ribbon to make a sturdy stand.
Use a baster full of batter to squeeze custom pancakes onto the griddle. Start with easy letters and shapes, then work up to more complicated designs, like these leaves. (The trick is to draw the outlines and veins first, let them brown, then fill in the gaps with more batter.)
The cold, hard truth: Small ice cubes melt fast, leaving a pitcher of lemonade watery. To make long-lasting jumbo cubes, use a muffin tin. Pop them out by running the back of the tin under hot water for 30 seconds.
Make jazzy (or rockin’) invitations. Jot down party details on the shiny side and mail the CD out in a cushioned envelope (postage: about a dollar).
Too cold to hunt down the real deal? Use a jewel case to clear the frost from your windshield.
Keep tables safe from water rings. Cut up corkboard to make coasters and place mats.
Nothing holds a candle to dining al fresco, unless it’s so dark you can’t see the food in front of you. Place tealights in foil cupcake liners for a little glow at your next outdoor party. They’re cheap enough to use by the dozen, and cleanup is a piece of (cup)cake.
Make a kazoo by folding a piece of parchment or wax paper over a comb’s teeth (the paper should hang over about an inch).
Revive a forgotten flickerer. Slide a dusty candle inside a stocking and roll it around.
Dialed back on late nights? Corral some clutter with that poker caddy. Glue a poker chip to the bottom of each slot, then close the gaps on the sides with playing cards to create compartments for stray pens and pencils.
Cut down on drinking? You can still start 2012 off with a bang—or at least a rattle. Drop a dozen coins into a clean, empty beer can and seal the opening with tape. When the clock strikes 12, shake some noise.
Curbed your TV watching? Remove the batteries from an old remote and stuff the empty compartment with emergency cash, a spare key, or anything else you need handy (but hidden).
Glam up a bathroom or vanity. Stock soaps and washcloths on top, or showcase your prettiest perfume bottles.
Don’t have a vase small enough to display those pretty buds you picked? A seldom used toothbrush holder fits a small arrangement perfectly.
Pretty and functional. Fill a hurricane vase with beans before adding a pillar candle to help keep the candle steady and minimize mess (the beans will catch the wax).
Arrange a luminous table setting. Write guests’ names on strips of parchment paper and wrap them around votive holders, securing the ends with tape. As an alternative, remove the candles, cut snapshots of guests to match the height of a holder, and then curl around the inside wall.
Store your hairdryer in an ice bucket to add a decorative touch to your bathroom and keep the counter tidy.
Set a sweet table and use scalloped pastry tips in fun colors as place-card holders.
Fill an antique gravy boat with a bar of soap to transform it into an elegant soap dish.
Show off. Display small photos and mementos, which look more important on a platform.
Form a cone with a small (5-inch) doily, secure with tape, and fill with candy and treats. The lacy server is a sweet upgrade for the next time you gather the ladies (think bridal shower) or girls (birthday party, sleepover, extra-special playdate).
Show what a creative Halloween party “ghost-ess” you are. Turn white liners upside down, attach spooky googly eyes, and display them by a boo-fet of seasonally inspired treats.
Assign seating at a holiday dinner. Slide festive photos of various family members into a case and prop it in front of a place setting.
Curb countertop clutter. Drop keys and bills on the stand instead.
Minimize countertop mess (and justify a predinner drink) by using a cork to elevate the necks of dirty spatulas and spoons.
For more serving space (without begging and borrowing from the neighbors) top a bucket with a tray for an instant side table for your lawn chairs. Your guests will have more spots to rest their cocktails.
Give a punch bowl an elegant (and functional) touch with this floating ice sculpture. Simply fill the cake pan with water (or nonalcoholic punch), freeze, and pop out before serving.
Create a candle centerpiece to light up your wedding (or you dinner table) by using cake stands as platforms for votive and pillar candles in assorted sizes.
To cut down on waiting time for hors d’oeuvres, stack a small cake stand on top of a larger one to increase your surface area for canapés or crudités and free up precious table space.
Remove the cellophane wrapping from the canes and form hearts by placing them hook to hook and tail to tail on a nonstick baking sheet or one lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350°F for 2 to 4 minutes (depending on the canes’ size) or until they stick together when you pinch the ends lightly. Cool thoroughly and remove with a spatula. If you want to make flat hearts with psychedelic stripes, bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
If you find yourself with a mismatched collection―or without bubbly―flip thick-walled Champagne flutes upside down to create a beautiful grouping of candle stands for a shelf or a mantel. Use heavy wineglasses for table centerpieces, as the wider mouths will provide more stability to withstand bumping.
Mini marshmallows may be too small for s’mores, but they’re a sweet way to catch wayward candle drips before they hit cakes and cupcakes—because it’s not so festive to find wax in your icing.
Serve sorbet in a memorable way. After juicing (or eating) grapefruit, orange, lemon, or lime halves, scoop out and freeze the peels. Cut a small slice off the bottom to create a level surface (without creating a hole), then fill with ice cream.
Let guests locate their seats in a creative way. Clip a miniature clothespin to the bottom of each paper to create the base for a rustic escort card display.
When the cork crumbles, salvage a bottle of wine by slowly pouring it through a filter into a pitcher or carafe. That way your $25 Fume Blanc won't go down the drain.
Make ice cubes last longer at your next cocktail party: Put them in a colander set into a bowl. As they melt, the water will drain through the holes instead of sitting and turning the ice to slush.
Celebrating by candlelight? Spray the inside of a votive holder with a thin coating before dropping in a tea light. After the candle has burned down, the remaining wax will slip out.
Let a colorful dish towel span the center of your table and you'll get two place mats for the price of an easy wash-and-dry staple and a Paris bistro feel (no passport required).
Place the bottle along one side of the fabric so that the bottle’s top meets the top of the fabric. Fold the excess material at the bottom over the bottle, forming a pocket of sorts. Then roll the dish towel evenly and secure at the neck with ribbon.
Maximize your green quotient by recycling that Easter basket for a May Day treat. Simply fill the basket with treats—a batch of fresh-baked cookies, candies, flowers and candles, or something more elaborate—for a surprise on your best friend or relative's doorstep.
Make a chic serving tray with an extra frame. Place a double of your favorite photo (so as not to ruin the original in case of condensation) under the glass and set out the drinks.
Dish out dips or condiments at a party. Reuse those old shower gifts to spoon the sauce from a teacup or a candy dish for a presentation a tad more elegant than the squeeze bottle.
When a plain napkin simply won’t do, break out the bangles and dress up a place setting.
Serve chips, popcorn, or cookies in filters for consistent, portable (reasonably-sized!) portions.
Get that bottle of Pinot Grigio to the perfect temperature by wrapping it in a cold compress or ice pack.
Use a wooden crate to store extra towels in the spare bathroom, so guests don't have to go hunting for the linen closet.
Serve ice cream at parties without the drips. Freeze individual scoops in liners the night before.
Fill sturdy foil cupcake holders with mixed nuts, mints, hard candy, or candy corn and scatter them around a party. Or, to make kids swoon at a birthday, place an individual cupcake holder at each setting.
Send party guests home with one-of-a-kind favors. Parcel out groups of pieces from an incomplete puzzle and glue a magnet to the back of each. A single box will yield enough decorative sets for dozens of refrigerators.
Decorate on the cheap. Fill a glass bowl with lemons for a sunny centerpiece. Or display a row of them along a windowsill.
Collect used toothpicks at a party so you don't end up with them all over your tables, seats, and floors. (Stick one in the lemon ahead of time to give guests the hint.)
Mark playful place settings at a dinner party with alphabet magnets for each guest’s first initial.
Differentiate the cheddar, machego, and chèvre at a cheese-tasting party.
Introduce a signature dish—or at least make sure your brownie tray finds its way home from the potluck. Stick a label on the pan’s bottom.
When cloth napkins become overly stained, cut them into 5 1/2 inch squares with pinking shears, and let them protect your tables at parties. To make a longer-lasting version, lay a napkin flat on a piece of felt and use the shears to cut the square out of both pieces of fabric. Apply fabric glue to the edges and across the middle of the felt piece, then press the napkin to the felt.
Build snowmen without bundling up. For a holiday party, give each child three oranges, some toothpicks, a sturdy plate, and store-bought frosting. Stick the large orange to the center of the plate with a dollop of frosting. Poke a few toothpicks halfway into the top of the fruit and spear a smaller orange on top. Repeat with the third orange, and layer on frosting, a vanilla wafer, and peppermints to make a hat. Use candy-cane pieces for arms and a nose, cloves for the eyes, and red licorice for a scarf.
Create a one-of-a-kind wedding keepsake by renting an engraving pen from a hardware store and asking guests to sign their names on the platter.
Create festive party lanterns for any season. Count the bulbs on a strand of holiday lights and cut X's into the bottoms of the same numer of small cups. Then push a bulb through each cup's center and hang the string from a doorway or window.