Clever ways to repurpose an everyday item.

By Real Simple
Updated September 29, 2010
James Wojcik

1. Festive Decorations

To grow this smart-looking tree, first construct a trunk by stacking five or six narrow books, preferably with brown or neutral covers. Then layer on roughly 12 opened ones (widest first) with the pages facing down. Try green or red covers, or a mix of both.

2. Present Topper

Take a page from an outgrown or overly loved holiday book and fashion it into a bow. (Go to for easy step-by-step instructions.) Glue a hard candy in the center to add a sweet touch.

3. Cone Tree

Roll a page to form a cone (or “tree”), then secure with tape. Arrange several on a mantel.

4. Misleading Gift Box

To foil present-guessers, hide the real gift in a hollowed-out book. Using a box cutter, carve a space just large enough to hold the small item.

5. Word Scramble

For the kids’ table: Cut out 30 or so words from old children’s books (the fonts are larger) and challenge them to form sentences with the pieces.

6. Earring Holder

Stick studs through a snip of a relevant book page; back with cardboard for more support. For example, if you’re giving pearls, attach the earrings to a chosen passage from The Age of Innocence.