New Uses for Old Things: Holiday Edition
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.
Playing Card as Gift Tag
A playing card is a winning stand-in for a gift tag. Numbers 2 to 10 are fun for kids' birthdays; the king and queen of hearts are perfectly suited as valentines. (Use a permanent marker to write your message.)
Doily as Candle Holder
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.
Ribbon as Utensil Holder
When utensils are wrapped together, guests can grab what they need in one go—great for a buffet table.
Bobby Pin as Gift-Card Clip
More than just a hair accessory: Attach a note to a ribbon with a colorful or bedazzled bobby pin.
Wrapping Paper as Napkin Ring
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.
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.
Toilet Paper Tube as Wrapping Paper Holder
Slide empty toilet paper tubes over wrapping paper to keep it from unraveling.
Washi Tape as Cocktail Flag
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!
Birthday Candles as Valentine’s Day Card
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.
Ribbon as Cake Stand Embellishment
Take your cake stand to new heights by wrapping a plain glass vase with a ribbon in your signature shade.
Matchbook as Valentine’s Day Card
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.
Playing Card as Valentine’s Day Card
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.
Puzzle Pieces as Valentine’s Day Card
For the one who lights up your life, create a card that'll be for keeps. Start with a blank note card, glue, and a felt tip marker.
See more homemade valentines.
Holiday Lights as Night Light
Fill a large Mason jar with a strand or two of battery-powered lights to add whimsy to a walkway or a nightstand.
Candy Wrapper as DIY Gift Wrap
Sworn off candy? Use the leftover wrappers to sugarcoat small-scale presents: Cut a wrapper into a flat sheet, then fold and tape as usual.
Party Hat as Candy Dish
Use extra paper party hats to corral candy on a display table—or fill them with popcorn to hand out to kids.
Tinsel as Ornament Filler
If you have extra tinsel but aren’t feeling a fuzzy tree this year, stuff a handful into clear glass ornament balls. You’ll get tinsel in small, sparkly doses.
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.
Holiday Tags as Drink Labels
Merlot gone missing? A small, adhesive gift tag keeps each drink in the right hand.
Ribbon as Shoelace
Let everyone know you march to the beat of your own drum; use colorful ribbon in place of shoelaces. Change when the mood strikes.
Cereal Box as Sweets Carrier
Attention, PTA members: Here’s a practical Transport Alternative for the bake sale. Tape a cereal box closed, then cut away the front or back panel to create a tray for those top-selling brownies. Best of all, you can just "donate" the box.
Shoelace as Ribbon
Happy birthday, sport! Use a (clean) shoelace for a simple, reusable gift tie.
Ribbon as Place Card Embellishment
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.
Post-It Notes as Garland
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.
Paper Towel Tube as Linen Organizer
Keep linen placemats and runners crease-free; roll them around a paper towel holder instead of folding.
Kid Art as Holiday Wrap
Oh, that’s grandma dressed as an alligator? Perfect for wrapping her birthday gift. (And the fridge door is full anyway.)
Buttons as Appetizer Stand
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.
Pumpkin as Place Card
Spell out guests’ names with adhesive letters (or write them with a permanent marker); send the mini gourds home as party favors.
Tree Bow Ornament as Napkin Ring
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.
Pine Cone as Place Card
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.
Sticker Dots as Party Cups
Turn plain white cups into custom-designed party wear with simple dot stickers, available at any office supply store.
Kazoo as Place Card
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.
Clothespin as Napkin Holder
Use a clothespin to keep napkins neatly stacked at a cocktail party—or from blowing away at a picnic.
Gift Tags as File Label
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…).
Hanger as Ribbon Organizer
Turn a tangle of ribbons into a neat presentation. Hang coordinating colors over the prongs of a tie hanger.
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.
Cupcake Liner as Mason Jar Lining
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.
Cupcake Liners as Garland
Using a large sewing needle, thread a string through the alternating colorful cupcake liners to make a ruffled garland.
Binder Clip as Ribbon Organizer
Clip one end of the spool to keep the ribbon from unfurling in your giftwrap drawer.
Candy Canes as Place Card Holder
What nice curves… for holding a place card. Tie together three canes with a ribbon to make a sturdy stand.
Corkboard as DIY Coasters
Keep tables safe from water rings. Cut up corkboard to make coasters and place mats.
Turkey Baster as Pancake Shaper
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.)
Aluminum Foil as Party Garland
Twist foil into links to make a sparkly garland for an almost-instant party decoration (or a rainy-day distraction for the kids).
Cupcake Liner as Halloween Decoration
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.
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.
Paint Chips as Valentines
Create a homemade Valentine with rose-colored swatches cut and arranged in a sweet way on craft paper.
Sponge as Envelope Sealer
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.
Easter Grass as Packing Material
Don't trash that plastic Easter grass (but do keep it away from your pets; it can be dangerous if consumed). Use it as packing materials for delicate items—so you won’t need to worry whether Uncle Bob's favorite Chianti will make it to his wine cellar unscathed.
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.
Cupcake Liner as Decorative Snowflakes
Create a winter wonderland in the entryway. Flatten white paper liners (foil ones will work, too), fold into halves or quarters, then snip out shapes along the folds. When you open them back up, voilà: snowflakes you can string from the ceiling.
Paper Clips as Wrapping Paper Holder
Use paper clips to keep wrapping paper from unraveling.
Book as 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.
Toothbrush Holder as Vase
Don’t have a vase small enough to display those pretty buds you picked? A seldom used toothbrush holder fits a small arrangement perfectly.
Confetti as Packing Material
Don't ditch excess confetti or shredded paper. Use it to cushion breakable items so they arrive in one piece.
Cake Stand as Soap Dish
Glam up a bathroom or vanity. Stock soaps and washcloths on top, or showcase your prettiest perfume bottles.
Stretchy Bracelets as Wine Charms
Snag a couple of your child's stretchy bracelets to identify guests' glasses at your next party. Bonus points if the shapes match your party's theme. Submitted by: Abby123
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.
Branch as Gift Wrap
Spruce up a wrapped gift. Tuck pretty sprigs into the ribbon in place of a bow.
CD Case as Photo Place Card
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.
Dental Floss as DIY Popcorn Garland
String a popcorn garland for the holidays (after a pit-stop in the medicine cabinet).
Greeting Card as Bookmark
You'll never spend a penny on a bookmark, plus you'll get a special surprise each time you pick up your book.
Beer Can as Noise Maker
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.
Apple Container as Ornament Storage
Store delicate tree decor where the fruit once went to protect items from bumps and bruises. (You can also use wine boxes or egg cartons.)