New Uses for Office Supplies
Packing tape, paper clips, and more creative uses for desk accessories.
Hang a clipboard on the wall (or inside a cabinet) to clamp down on place mats—and that old “I can’t find them!” excuse from the person setting the table.
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!
Sending Grandpa a shot of the all-star soccer team but don't want the postal journey to bend it (like Beckham)? Sandwich the picture between the large panels of a flattened box.
Use leftover, adhesive gift tags to label file folders. Holly leaves = medical records, Santa = bills (obviously—you owe him for the bike, the LEGOS, the dollhouse…).
Spell out guests’ names with adhesive letters (or write them with a permanent marker); send the mini gourds home as party favors.
To get a tiny sequin in just the right spot during your next craft project, use the tip of a chopstick to nudge it into place without gumming up your fingers.
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.
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.
Get a grip on a tricky top; wrap a rubber band around a slippery or sticky lid to give yourself some extra oomph.
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.
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 plain white cups into custom-designed party wear with simple dot stickers, available at any office supply store.
Clip one end of the spool to keep the ribbon from unfurling in your giftwrap drawer.
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.
Oh, that’s grandma dressed as an alligator? Perfect for wrapping her birthday gift. (And the fridge door is full anyway.)
Pack delicate items. Wrap frames and figurines with several pieces of newspaper, and then crumple the remaining sections to fill extra space in the box.
To prevent a smelly, waterlogged sponge, air-dry it in a binder clip away from the sink.
Keep tables safe from water rings. Cut up corkboard to make coasters and place mats.
Too cold to hunt down the real deal? Use a jewel case to clear the frost from your windshield.
Safeguard your taste buds during holiday card season. Replace a dried out ink pad with a damp sponge and use it to seal envelopes and attach stamps—no licking required.
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).
Make a clip-on key chain/money holder that's ideal for your morning walk. Take a 1¼-inch binder clip and pinch one of the wire arms toward the center to release it from its hinge. Slide on your key and refasten. Clamp to your waistband with a few bucks for coffee and a paper. No more wondering where to stash your key and cash.
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.
You'll never spend a penny on a bookmark, plus you'll get a special surprise each time you pick up your book.
Secure half-eaten bags of potato chips with a binder clip for an easy way to keep your favorite snack fresh and crunchy.
Use paper clips to keep wrapping paper from unraveling.
When you’ve lost (another) backing to the Bermuda Triangle of jewelry, mosey on over to the junk drawer and cut out a small square from a thick rubber band.
Store sets of napkins clipped together and they’ll always be ready to set the scene at dinnertime. You'll restore order to your linen closet and save minutes searching for elusive matching colors.
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.
If a key is sticking in the lock, scribble on its edges with a trusty number two. Graphite in the lead helps the key glide and turn more easily (so it also makes your day go more smoothly).
For tangle-free jewlery on the go, place chains and earrings on a length of wrap, roll tightly, and tape closed. Your necklaces will emerge from your suitcase ready to wear, even if the same can't be said for your clothes.
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.
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.
Reduce handbag clutter by catalogging the family’s club cards and gift cards according to store name. Your back will thank you for toting a lighter wallet around.
Separate foreign currency from American bills in your handbag or wallet so you don't mix up your paper trail.
For the 359 days of the year when you’re not hauling cupcakes, use the cups to store jewelry or craft supplies.
Sort cookie sheets, cutting boards, and jelly-roll pans in the kitchen for easy access (and no more cymbal-crashing sounds) in an overstuffed cabinet.
Don’t let your too-long belt tail get caught between your legs. Keep it in line with a small bit of Scotch. Neat.
Use this office supply staple to create an easy-to-update photo display. Stand clips on their flat ends and place pics between the two arms.
Showcase favorite walletsize photographs, or make a timeline of school portraits by stashing them in a business card file on your desk.
Size up a piece of fleamarket furniture. Checkbooks are roughly six inches long, making them ideal on-the-go measuring devices.
Liven up a child’s chair with colorful stripes. (Use lead-free or plastic tape.)
To revive a dried-out eraser or clean a smudged one, lightly rub it over an emery board. The board's fine grain will shave off the eraser's old top layer, leaving you with a good-as-new mistake-removing surface.
Attach adhesive file-folder labels with the names of the cords' owners (for example, phone, computer, fax, and lamp; or TV, DVD, VCR, and phone) near the plugs. This way, you can quickly ID which cord belongs to which machine—and you won't unplug the wrong one.
Neatly split a cereal-box lid without breaking a nail–and the entire box!
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.
Find the number for your favorite restaurant faster by clipping its page in the phone book.
Corral bobby pins and hair clips in a paper clip holder. The magnetic ring makes them easy to dispense.
Dress up presents by running tissue through a shredder instead of scrunching it inside boxes and gift bags.
Feed colorful gift-wrapping tissue through your shredder to produce instant Easter-basket grass.
Anchor artwork against the wall. Cut erasers from a pair of pencils and glue them to the bottom corners of a frame for added stability.
If the backing for one of your studs goes AWOL, slice off a disk-shaped wedge from an eraser. The earring will stay put, even if your pencil looks denuded.
Keep a plaster wall from chipping when you hang a picture by placing a small piece of tape over the spot where you plan to hammer in the nail.
Make cleaning your computer keys simple: Slide a 2½-inch strip of tape between the rows of your keyboard. The adhesive side will remove dust and crumbs.
Fix a fallen hem when there’s no time for a trip to the tailor.
Make your suitcase easier to identify. Stick a few pieces of duct tape to the sides of the bag to avoid the usual "Is that mine?" routine at the baggage carousel.
Gather loose bolts and nails in the garage by sticking them to a length of tape and layering another piece of tape on top.
Easily display a recipe card during meal prep by opening the CD case and bending it back as shown, then place the card (after cutting it to fit, if necessary) on top.
Stick the clip to the stove hood and your recipe is exactly where you need it, and end the daily dinner dance from recipe to stove and back.
Attach the sticky side of a shorter piece of masking tape to the sticky side of a larger piece. Then place the tape across the top of a container of, say, cocoa so that the ends adhere to the sides of the can. The next time you scoop, you can easily level off your helping and avoid cocoa-verload.
Instead of trashing an old (or extra) pad, save it from the landfill and put it to work as a trivet in the kitchen. (Be sure to use one with a nonplastic coating.) The best part? No more hot spots on your table.
To avoid dripping water all over your (or anyone else's) house on a rainy day, pop your wet umbrella into a bag as you cross the threshold. You can even tie the handles snugly and throw it back into your purse―unless, of course, your bumbershoot is of Mary Poppins proportions but your carpetbag isn't.
Unstick a stubborn zipper by rubbing the teeth on both sides with a pencil—graphite is an excellent lubricant.
To customize a standard linen shade, trim the seamed edges with a permanent marker in a shade that matches your decor. If you don't have a steady hand, use painter’s tape to outline the area to be colored.
Neater and more attractive than Scotch tape (but just as easy to apply), self-adhesive photo corners make even the simplest wrap job look impressive.
For more OJ in your child’s belly (and less on the kitchen floor) use rubber bands to provide some grip around a chilly glass so it doesn’t slip through a child’s small hands.
To control the inevitable juices that run all over the cutting board, place tomatoes in a measuring cup and chop with scissors instead.
You'll invest in a pizza wheel as soon as you install a brick oven in your kitchen. Until then, plain old kitchen shears will cut through crust and hot toppings without drama or fuss. If the pizza is really hot, use an oven mitt or tongs with your other hand to hold the crust while you cut.
Supplement potting mix by filling the bottom of a planter with leftover packing peanuts. They are lightweight and improve drainage, which promotes healthy roots.
Mark the end of a roll of clear packing tape by sticking a toothpick under the flap. No more wasting half the roll just to seal one box.
Use expired calendar pages to wrap gifts. Because the sheets are just the right size to cover paperback books and other small items, pictures from past months can find new life with a present.
Use various sizes to collect stamps, paper, and pens for writing notes or paying bills; stow markers to prevent ink stains; or keep paintbrushes moist during do-it-yourself projects.
Avoid drink mix-ups by color-coding cups with electrical tape at a birthday party.
Organize desk supplies like thumbtacks and paper clips, or corral small sewing notions such as buttons, beads, thimbles, and thread.
Corral office tools like scissors, letter openers, and rulers in a pretty pitcher on your desk.
To make your QWERTY cleaner, slide the adhesive strip of a sticky note through the crevices to collect and lift out dust and debris.
Cap an X-Acto knife before tossing it into a drawer.
Always have your pencils and PTA notes (or toddler’s crayons and doodle paper) in the same spot: Just punch holes along the nonzippered edge of a sandwich bag, then click it into a three-ring binder.
Keep your tools from sliding out of your hand by wrapping the handle with double-sided tape.
Tape a piece onto each sole of new, slippery shoes for added traction.
Add extra oomph to your backhand by making your racket more comfortable to grip. Simply wrap the handle with electrical tape for additional (colorful) cushioning.
When you're moving, tape nails to the backs of framed works of art so the appropriate hardware will be handy.
Add a snazzy touch to a gift in a snap. Instead of tracking down a bow, stretch several colored bands around the box. Bonus: You can slide a card under the bands.