Thanksgiving New Uses for Old Things
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.
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.)
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.
Sticker Dots as Party Cups
Turn plain white cups into custom-designed party wear with simple dot stickers, available at any office supply store.
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.
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.
Muffin Tin as Cooling Rack
Increase your baking capacity by using an upside-down pan as an extra cooling rack. The space between the molds lets the cool air flow freely.
Paper Towel Tube as Linen Organizer
Keep linen placemats and runners crease-free; roll them around a paper towel holder instead of folding.
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.
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.
Dental Floss as Cake Slicer
When a recipe calls for splitting a cake in two horizontally, use a two-foot piece of waxed dental floss to make a clean straight cut. Just make sure it's the unflavored type!
Turkey Baster as Plant Dryer
Bail out a waterlogged plant by suctioning excess water from the pot's base.
Soup Tureen as Centerpiece
Arrange an easy centerpiece. Fill with a little water and float flowers on the surface, or stack citrus fruits inside.
Wrapping Paper as Confetti
You could toss old giftwrap in the garbage or… in the air. Use a hold punch to turn gently used paper (or last year’s stock) into confetti.
Use a Wineglass as a Candleholder
Give some height to a candle display by perching a pillar on an upside-down wineglass.
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.
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.
Wine Bottle as Rolling Pin
Sure, you can fork over the $40 for something you use only at Thanksgiving, but why would you when a wine bottle works just as well? Sandwich your pastry between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to prevent sticking. Press down firmly on the bottle with one hand; grip the neck and steer with your other. (If you chill the dough to firm it up, do so briefly: Slightly firm dough is easiest to control.)
Wristband as Wine Protector
Toting more than one bottle to a party? Slip a wristband over one to prevent banging or breaking.
Holiday Tags as Drink Labels
Merlot gone missing? A small, adhesive gift tag keeps each drink in the right hand.
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.
Turkey Baster as Water Changer
Easily change dirty water in a flower vase with a turkey baster. Suction up the old liquid without disturbing your arrangement. Then add fresh water directly from the tap.
Sugar-and-Creamer Set as Candy Bowl
Keep candy handy.
Separate your cotton balls from your elastic bands. Think of your sugar bowl and creamer as decorative containers. “You don’t always have to arrange things in those perfect little plastic cubes,” says Susanna Linse, a spokesperson for Sur La Table.
Avoid a mad search when you’re late for an appointment. Place keys and small change near the front door.
Dress a desk for success. Use a creamer for pens and pencils, and a sugar bowl for a stack of business cards.
Hold earrings and rings. Small pieces of jewelry add dazzle to a dresser top when stashed inside a sugar bowl.
Go nuts. During cocktail hour, put pistachios in the sugar bowl and drop the shells in the creamer. Do the same for olives and their pits.