Ice Cream Cones as Cupcake Holders
Bake your cupcakes directly in the ice cream cones. Fill 24 flat-bottom cones two-thirds full with cake batter. Place the cones in a high-sided 9-by-13-inch baking pan and bake in two batches at 325° F for 30 minutes. Let cool, then frost with two 16-ounce cans of frosting. You can have your cake and eat its holder, too.
Tissue Paper as Cupcake Wrapper
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.
To-Go Container as Paint Palette
Even a starving artist eats takeout sometimes. Use the plastic top from a to-go container as a palette for mixing colors; when you’re finished, just toss.
Tic Tac Box as Spice Holder
Pack small amounts of your favorite spice (red pepper flakes, anyone?) in old Tic Tac boxes, to season food on-the-go.
Gift Box as Sugar Holder
More lovely to look at than the branded box from the store, but it still slides easily into the pantry for storage.
Wrapping Paper as Placemat
Turn rectangles of giftwrap into placemats you don’t mind getting dirty. You can even write guests’ names on the edges to designate seats.
Wrapping Paper as Tray Liner
Turn an old tray into a special serving piece with a single scrap of pretty paper. Use double-sided tape to keep it secure.
Cork as Heat Protector
For a heat protector, slip a cork or two under a lid's handle and you'll always have something safe to grab.
Salt as Homemade Drain Cleaner
Get a slow-moving drain flowing again and pour a solution of ½ cup of salt for every quart of hot water down the pipe.
Rubber Bands as Sandwich Labels
Distinguishing chicken salad from tuna is no picnic. Next time you’re packing sandwiches, stretch a thick rubber band around each one and label it with a permanent marker. Divvying up lunch will be a snap.
Cornstarch as Makeup Protector
Balance the oiliness of moisturizing makeup. Brush on a thin layer as a finishing touch.
Chopstick as Brewing Tool
For mess-free tea, tie a bunch of bags to a chopstick and rest it across the pitcher’s rim (use 2 bags per cup of boiling water). Brew for about 4 minutes, then lift and discard the bags.
Salt as Stain Remover
Remove coffee and tea stains from the insides of cups by rubbing with a salted citrus peel.
Cereal Bag as Crumb Maker
These durable bags can take a beating. Fill one up and give it a whack with a rolling pin to make crumbs out of crackers, cornflakes, or candy. Remember to twist the top closed to prevent flyaways.
Olive Oil as Stainless Steel Cleaner
Buff streaks out of stainless steel with a little oil on a terry-cloth rag, then shine with a dry paper towel.
Muffin Tin as Large Ice Cube Tray
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.
Ashtray as Condiment Holder
Fill that (clean!) old ashtray with soy sauce instead. The notches make a handy resting spot for chopsticks between bites of spicy tuna.
Salt as Iron Cleaner
Eliminate sticky residue from an iron. Run the hot iron (no steam) over plain paper sprinkled with salt.
Olive Oil as Cat Food Supplement
Prevent hair balls. Add ⅛ to 1¼ teaspoon to your cat’s food for easy digestion.
Olive Oil as Sap Remover
If dragging and decking out fresh spruce leaves you with sticky digits, pour a tablespoon of oil onto a cloth, then rub until clean. Bonus: The oil is a great moisturizer for dry winter skin.
Soda Bottle as Pasta Measurer
Said good-bye to soda? Fill the mouth of a dry 20-ounce bottle with uncooked spaghetti; the opening holds enough for a hearty single serving.
Baby Food Jar as Easter Egg Decorating Aid
Design Rothkoesque Easter eggs. Fill a jar with dye, then dip half the egg in and let dry. Dip again, but only one-third of the egg. Repeat with both ends of the egg until you have stripes in varying shades.
Need a quick refresher on how to dye Easter eggs? Watch this quick video to learn how to hard-boil an egg, then check out these homemade Easter egg dye recipes.
Melon Baller as Jar Scoop
Scoop and strain from a narrow-mouth jar at the same time by using a melon baller. Works especially well for foods like capers and pimento. Submitted by: KimEH1
Cereal Box as Drawer Organizer
If you're the flaky type, cereal boxes (including the single-serving minis) can corral desk-drawer chaos. Slice off the tops and the bottoms and fill them with loose odds and ends.
Cocktail Shaker as Egg Scrambler
Whip up fluffy omelets by adding eggs, milk, and seasonings together in a cocktail mixer. Give it a few shakes and it's ready for the skillet. Submitted by: suziegirl
Binder Clip as Chip Clip
Secure half-eaten bags of potato chips with a binder clip for an easy way to keep your favorite snack fresh and crunchy.
Paper Doily as Cupcake Holder
These cute patterns on cupcake liners are there one minute, gone the next—they virtually disappear in the oven. For a pretty touch, trim off the patterned edge of a large (12-inch) doily and wrap it around the cupcake liner. Seal with clear tape.
Plastic Easter Eggs as DIY Maracas
Fill emptied plastic eggs with puffed rice cereal and silver-ball cake decorations to make impromptu maracas for kids.
Paper Doily as Candy Cone
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).
Beans as Candle Anchor
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).
Dental Floss as DIY Popcorn Garland
String a popcorn garland for the holidays (after a pit-stop in the medicine cabinet).
Drink Holder as Fruit Protector
Rough commute? Slide a drink cooler over an apple to keep it from bruising in your lunch tote.
Paper Doily as a Cake Decoration
You baked the cake. Now you’re expected to frost it, too? Take a break from the sticky stuff and use a doily to stencil on a pretty sugar topping. Press a doily flat on top of a round cake and, using a fine-mesh sieve, sprinkle confectioners’ sugar liberally over the surface. Use two hands to carefully remove the doily post-dusting.
Marshmallow as Candle Holder
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.
Straw as Ketchup Unclogger
Insert a straw until it reaches the bottom of the glass bottle. Shake the bottle, then pour, leaving the straw inside. The airflow provided by the straw breaks the condiment-stopping vacuum.
Eggshell as Seedling Planter
Using a pin, poke a hole in the bottom of an empty eggshell half, put it in an egg carton (for stability), and fill with soil and seeds. Once your seedling appears, plant the whole thing in the ground. The eggshell will disintegrate and nourish the soil.
Coffee Beans as Pie Weights
When prebaking a piecrust, use beans to keep it from puffing up or shrinking into the pie plate: Line the bottom and sides of the cold dough with foil and fill to the brim with beans.
Baking Soda as Silver Polish
To polish silver: Wash items, then place on aluminum foil in the bottom of a pot. Add a baking-soda solution (¼ cup soda, a few teaspoons salt, 1 quart boiling water) and cover for a few seconds. The result? A chemical reaction that gets the black off the gravy boat.
Baking Soda as Hair Cleanser
If daily use of mousse or gel is weighing down your locks, add a pinch or two of baking soda to your shampoo once a week to remove product buildup. Getting squeaky-clean strands is a piece of cake.
Banana Peel as Rose Fertilizer
Just flatten a banana peel and bury it under one inch of soil at the base of a rosebush. The peel’s potassium feeds the plant and helps it resist disease. Consider it a nutritional boost for you and your buds.
Bubble Wrap as Produce Protection
Use bubble wrap to save fruit and vegetables from bumps and bruises. Cut a piece to fit into the bottom of the refrigerator drawer as a pillow for your produce. Say goodbye to squished squashes or mushy mangoes.
Business Card Holder as Sugar Packet Carrier
Use a business card case to make packets of your favorite sweetener portable. You'll always have coffee your way―without a purse full of powder from torn packets.
Cake Stand as Appetizer Server
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.
Can as Biscuit Cutter
Most biscuit cutters make overly wide biscuits, anyway―more beret than top hat. Use a tomato-paste can to achieve the proper size. First, scoop out the paste and freeze it in Tupperware or a storage bag. Then remove both the top and the bottom with a can opener and wash the interior. To prevent sticking, dip the can in flour before each cut.
Candy Canes as Cupcake Decorations
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.
Candy Corn as Cookie Mix-In
Chop leftover chocolate candy or candy corn and use in place of chocolate chips for cookie recipes.
Citrus Peels as Bowls
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.
Citrus Peel as Firestarter
Kick-start a fire with citrus peels. Leave orange or lemon peels on the counter for several days to dry out. Then use the pretty pieces as kindling in your fire pit or bonfire for a fragrant flame starter.
Coaster as Drip Catcher
Catch the sticky stuff from bottles and jars in cupboards. No more shelves that require a full wipe-down after every spoonful of honey, slather of jam, or glug of olive oil.
Coffee Filter as Yogurt Strainer
For a dip that doesn't taste watered down, strain your yogurt before using it. Secure a paper coffee filter over the mouth of a deep cup or jar with a rubber band then pour in some yogurt. Any liquid in the yogurt will drain through the filter.
Cola as Ham Marinade
For sweet, juicy ham without the goopy stove-top glaze, pour a 20-ounce bottle of regular cola over a 10-pound precooked ham and roast for 2 1/2 hours at 350° F, basting every 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, cut a hatch diamond pattern into the top, rub with a tablespoon of dry mustard, stud the centers of the diamonds with whole cloves, and pat with 1 cup brown sugar and 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs. Return to oven for 35 minutes.
Swap Conversation Hearts for Chalk
If you can’t find the real deal for your message center or that game of tic-tac-toe, these candies will do the sweet talking for you. (Hang on to them until summer, when the driveway is just begging for a masterpiece by your TOO CUTE toddler.)
Corn Flakes as Bread Crumb Substitute
For a new twist on a serial dinner favorite, add a layer of crunch to plain old mac-and-cheese. Top your child’s bowl with a sprinkling of flakes (even the bits at the bottom of the bag work). It’s easier and more kid-friendly than toasted bread crumbs.
Dice as Vegetable Counter
Decide how many more bites of dinner your child has to eat before being excused. Let your child roll so he’s the one controlling his fate. You'll end up with a more peas-ful family meal.
Teaneck, New Jersey
Dish Towel as Cutting Board Holder
To prevent your cutting board from sliding on the countertop, wet and wring out a towel, then lay it down for a nonskid work surface. There will be no more throwing in the towel while wrestling with your vegetables.
Dish Towel as Rice Steamer
Steam perfect rice. Once the rice is tender, remove the pan from the heat, place a folded towel over the saucepan, replace the lid, and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes. The towel will absorb the excess moisture for great rice with no mush.
Plastic Easter Eggs as Snack Containers
Give Easter eggs a year-round use (and save on resealable bags) by filling them with snacks like crackers or Cheerios.
Egg Slicer as Mushroom Chopper
Cut mushrooms into neat slivers, all without a cutting board to clean.
Egg Slicer as Mozzarella Slicer
Slice perfect pieces of mozzarella―and cut out the mess that goes with it. The wires divide the soft cheese into equal segments without squashing it. It's a clean cut, any way you slice it.
Eggshells as Bottle and Vase Cleaners
Here’s an idea for all those eggs you hard-boiled: Use their broken eggshells to clean the hard-to-reach places in bottles and vases. Drop some crushed shells in the bottle, add warm water and a drop of dishwashing liquid, and give it a good swirl. The shells will scrape off the gunk you can’t get to, so you can save your elbow grease for the dinner dishes.
Dental Floss as Cheese Slicer
Use floss to slice soft cheese, cake, and hard-boiled eggs. (Or try it as a substitute for kitchen twine to truss a chicken.) It's hygienic, neat, and cheap. Unwaxed works best, and of course you know better than to mix mint-flavored with a vintage Gorgonzola.
Dinner Fork as Garlic Press
To "puree" garlic hold the tines flat against a work surface, and vigorously rub a peeled clove across them. The result: A fine paste perfect for marinades, sauces, and vinaigrettes (and an end to hand washing the garlic press).
Garlic Press as Seed Crusher
Don't have a mortar and pestle? Crack coriander seeds (shown), cumin seeds, and peppercorns with a garlic press instead. When a recipe calls for "freshly cracked" or "coarsely ground" seeds, fill the chamber of a garlic press and squeeze to crush.
Gift Box as Cupcake Carrier
If the forecast calls for iced roadways, stabilize your sweet cargo by cutting X’s into the tops of gift boxes and inserting the cupcakes. (A shirt box will hold about eight.)
Golf Tees as Food Markers
Is that a blueberry or cranberry muffin? Eliminate all the guessing at your next brunch by using colorful tees to denote which is which. (Also handy when distinguishing medium-rare from medium patties at a cookout.)
Hair Dryer as Cake Decorating Tool
To gloss the frosting on a freshly baked cake, lightly blow warm air over the top and the sides of the cake until the frosting melts a little. When it cools, the surface will stay shiny for a professional finish.
Aluminum Foil as Muffin Tin Liner
Shield a muffin tin from burned-on batter drips by laying a foil sheet across it, snipping an X over each cup, then popping in liners.
Aluminum Foil as Baking Pan
Need a pan in a pinch? Use aluminum foil. Rather than struggling to dislodge your rustic apple masterpiece from its (supposedly) nonstick pan, bake it on a cookie sheet, supporting its sides with a doubled-over strip of foil. Secure the foil with a paper clip.
Baking Sheet as Juice Collector
When slicing messy foods like tomatoes, place the cutting board on a baking sheet. It will contain any juices, and make it easy to clean up—simply rinse in the sink.
Citrus Peel as Coffee Mug Cleaner
Remove coffee or tea stains from a mug by rubbing them with a lightly salted citrus peel.
Citrus Peel as Garbage Disposal Deodorizer
Keep your disposal smelling fresh by dropping a few peels down the drain and flipping the switch.
Coffee Filter as Snack Server
Serve chips, popcorn, or cookies in filters for consistent, portable (reasonably-sized!) portions.
Dishwasher as Salmon Cooker
Yes, the internet myth is true, you can cook salmon in the dishwasher, but be forewarned, your dishwasher will reek afterwards. Bob Blumer's Dishwasher Salmon Recipe
Ginger Root as Burn Soother
Soothe blisters and burns by applying fresh ginger juice directly to the sore spots.
Grater as Citrus Strainer
Squeeze lemons, limes, or oranges over the grater to keep seeds out of the juice.
Lemon as Laundry Brightener
Skip the bleach—add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of lemon juice to the wash cycle to brighter up those fading whites.
Lemon as Sore Throat Soother
Relieve a sore throat. Cut a lemon in half. Skewer one half over a medium flame on a gas stove or an electric burner set on high and roast until the peel turns golden brown. Let cool slightly, then mix the juice with 1 teaspoon of honey. Swallow the mixture.
Lemon as Hair Lightener
For subtle highlights in blond hair, simmer two sliced lemons in water for one hour (add more water if needed). Strain, then pour into a spray bottle.
Lemon as Grater Cleaner
After shredding soft cheese or other sticky foods, go over both sides of the grater with the pulp side of a cut lemon to get rid of any residue.
Lemon as Table Decoration
Decorate on the cheap. Fill a glass bowl with lemons for a sunny centerpiece. Or display a row of them along a windowsill.
Lemon as Toothpick Collector
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.)
Mayonnaise as Hair Conditioner
Use mayo to get a deep condition at home. Starting at the scalp, coat strands with 1/2 cup mayonnaise and leave on for 15 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly.
Mustard Powder as Jar Deodorizer
Deodorize smelly glass jars by washing them with a mixture of one teaspoon powdered mustard and one quart warm water.
Oatmeal as At-Home Facial
Treat yourself to an at-home facial. Mix a package of plain instant oatmeal with warm water and apply to skin. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then rinse well.
Cooking Oil as Cuticle Moisturizer
Soften cuticles easily with a couple of dabs of cooking oil. It's the quickest cure for dishpan hands.
Onion as Basement Deodorizer
Clear the air in a dank basement. Cut an onion in half, place it on a plate, and leave it out overnight. Once the initial salad-bar aroma dissipates, you'll have a fresh (non-oniony) atmosphere.
Oranges as Mini Snowman
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.
Pretzel Sticks as Appetizer Skewers
Use pretzel sticks in place of wooden skewers to spear bite-size meatballs or mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes. The best part: You won't have to fish discarded toothpicks out of your planters after the party.
Rice as Vase Scrubber
Prepare a stained vase for a new batch of blooms. If you can't reach the residue at the bottom, add a tablespoon of rice and a lot of soapy water, shake, and rinse until clean.
Salt as Wreath Duster
Place a wreath of pinecones or faux evergreen in a paper bag with a 1/4 cup of salt. Fold the top of the bag over and gently shake.
Salt as Salad Wash
Clean dirt from leafy vegetables by washing them in a bath of salt water.
Sugar as Lip Scrub
Perfect your pucker. Make a paste of sugar and petroleum jelly and gently brush on dry, peeling lips with a toothbrush until they are smooth.
Sugar as Hand Degreaser
Cut grease on hands by rubbing them with a mixture of sugar and water.
Vanilla as Freezer Freshener
Trade frostbite funk for a more pleasing freezer scent and wipe the inside of the icebox with an extract-dampened cotton pad.
Walnut as Scratch Filler
Repair hardwood floors by rubbing shelled nuts into shallow scratches. Their natural oils help hide the flaws.
Wristband as Coffee Sleeve
Protect your hands from an extra-hot latte by stretching a wristband around the coffee cup so your fingertips don't get burned. (Your tongue is another matter, so sip with care, for goodness' sake.)
Zippered Plastic Bag as Soup Saver
Stockpile soup by pouring extra portions into baggies, then laying them flat in the freezer. Once hardened, you can stack them up and save them for a rainy day.
Olive Oil as Measuring Spoon Primer
Rub olive oil on measuring cups and spoons coated with sticky substances (like honey) to ease cleaning.