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.)
Cupcake Liners as Light Embellishments
For a string of minilights that takes the (cup)cake, poke the pointy bulbs through foil cupcake liners. Use them for the tree or around your little girl’s bedroom mirror to make her feel like a holiday star.
Candy Corn as Cookie Mix-In
Chop leftover chocolate candy or candy corn and use in place of chocolate chips for cookie recipes.
Coat Rack as Art and Photo Display
Display a collection of photos, treasured items, or seasonal ornaments over the mantel or in a hallway. Use ribbons or strings of different lengths to hang the arrangement from the pegs.
Cookie Cutter as Candle Stencil
Repurpose mini alphabet cookie cutters as monogramming tools for pillar candles. Hold the candle steady, position the letter, and tap it lightly with a hammer. Do just an initial or go wild and spell out JOYEUX NOEL or HAPPY HANUKKAH.
Cookie Cutters as Ornaments
When you just can’t bake another batch of holiday cookies, turn the tin cutters―angels, bells, stars―into sun catchers or tree ornaments. Mix shapes and sizes, string them with various lengths and colors of ribbon, and tack the ribbons to the window casing.
Find more easy holiday decorating ideas here.
Dish Towel as Wine Bag
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.
Easter Baskets as May Day Gifts
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.
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.
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.
Flat Iron as Ribbon Smoother
Get the kinks out of wrinkled wrapping ribbons that were tied around your birthday presents for recycled bows without the telltale creases from the previous gift box.
Garden Hose Holder as Holiday Light Organizer
Coil strings of holiday lights round and round for knot-free hall decking. Your reward: You won’t blow a fuse trying to hang next year’s light show.
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.)
Greeting Cards as Gift Tags
Create a gift tag by cutting a greeting card down to size, then punch a hole in the corner and slide a ribbon through it.
Last Year's Holiday Cards as This Year's Table Runner
Rescue last year’s heartfelt wishes by turning them into a festive table runner of winter wonderlands. Place the cards facedown on a color copy machine (they should cover most of the glass). Next, put a piece of colored fabric or paper on top of the cards to serve as a border. Print out multiple copies (enough to cover the length of your table) on 11-by-17-inch paper. With double-stick tape, join the copies along the top and the bottom.
Holiday Lights as Wreath
Ring in the season with a brilliant mantelpiece. Start with a wire wreath frame (this one is 18 inches in diameter, but you can use any size). Then wrap a string of lights around the frame, making sure to leave enough slack to reach the plug; otherwise use an extension cord.
Baby Spoons as Condiment Servers
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.
Clothespin as Holiday Card Display
Adhere a wide grosgrain ribbon to the wall with double-sided mounting tape, then attach holiday cards up and down it for a jolly–and changeable—seasonal exhibit. Both regular-size and mini clothespins will work.
Dictionary as Art
Send a message that speaks volumes. Make a blow-up copy of an entry that relates to the occasion (for Valentine’s Day, try kiss or love) and use a highlighter to mark your most heartfelt sentiments.
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.
Paper Shredder as Gift Wrap Maker
Dress up presents by running tissue through a shredder instead of scrunching it inside boxes and gift bags.
Paper Shredder as Confetti Maker
Feed colorful gift-wrapping tissue through your shredder to produce instant Easter-basket grass.
Paper Towel Holder as Ribbon Organizer
For easy access when you're wrapping, slide spools of ribbon with at least a one-inch diameter opening onto the towel stand's post. Stack the spools from largest to smallest, bottom to top, and tape the ribbon ends to their spools when you're not using them.
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.
Shoe Box as Holiday Light Storage
Trim off the edges of a shoe box lid and wrap string lights around the flat cardboard. Then slide the whole thing inside the box. This will keep lights untangled and tidy during the off-season.
Luggage Tag as Gift Label
Slip a gift label inside a tag.
Shoe Organizer as Gift Wrap Storage
Arrange gift wrapping supplies so you can easily locate bows, ribbons, scissors, and tape.
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 Bowl as Homemade Candle Holder
Fill mismatched sugar bowls and tea cups with melted wax and a wick for beautiful handmade gifts.
Wire Hanger as Ribbon Dispenser
Dispense ribbon for wrapping gifts. Untwist the hanger—or pop out the cardboard-tube bottom of a hybrid hanger from the dry cleaner—and slide on spools for easy storage.
Farfalle as a Gift Bow
All out of premade bows? Tie up wrapped gift boxes with cooking twine and farfalle pasta.
Artificial Holly as Centerpiece
Plastic greenery tends to look, well, plastic. But place boughs of holly, evergreens, or mistletoe in clear glass jars or vases and they make for a glossy yet understated table decoration. Group various sizes and shapes together for a stronger statement.
Jelly-Roll Pan as Turkey-Carving Station
Carve your bird without covering the counter with drippings. Set a plastic cutting board inside the pan so you don't fowl it up. Less time cleaning means more time for tryptophan-induced, post-dinner napping.
Jump Rope as Ribbon Replacement
Jump-start a trend with this fun, colorful decoration that doubles as a bonus gift.
Key Chain as Gift Tag
Add a fun touch to a gift box by using a bright key chain as a tag, attached with big rubber bands in place of ribbon. The recipient will love it, even if it doesn’t go with a bow-wrapped Lexus in the driveway.
Lazy Susan as Egg Decorating Helper
Use a lazy Susan to simplify egg dying―you don't have to precariously pass those cups of green, red, and purple dye. And you won't end up with a "tie-dye" finish on your kitchen tabletop.
Need a quick refresher? Learn how to hard-boil an egg.
Lightbulb as Ribbon Smoother
To smooth a wrinkled ribbon, hold it taut, run it over the surface of a clean, warm (but not too hot) lightbulb. (Caution: To avoid singeing the fabric, don't use a bulb that has been on for more than five minutes or so.) You'll have a beautiful bow all without hauling out the iron.