Wintertime New Uses for Old Things
Cork as Heat Protector
For a heat protector, slip a cork or two under a lid's handle and you'll always have something safe to grab.
Ice Scraper as Decorating Tool
Hide your picture-hanging mistakes. Smooth wall filler into nail holes and small cracks with the scraper.
Colander as Knitting Assistant
To prevent balls of yarn from tangling, string the end of each through a colander hole.
CD as Ice Scraper
Too cold to hunt down the real deal? Use a jewel case to clear the frost from your windshield.
Ice Scraper as Pastry Dough Lifter
Lift sticky pastry dough from the work surface. Next to ice, this job really isn't quite so hard.
Vinegar as Sweater Fluffer
Fluff up wool sweaters by adding a few capfuls of vinegar to the rinse cycle.
Use Cooking Spray as an Ice Repellent
Before clearing snow off a driveway, liberally spray both sides of a plastic or metal shovel with cooking spray. The ice will slide right off the oily surface. It's the easiest trick for smoother snow removal.
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.
Dental Floss as DIY Popcorn Garland
String a popcorn garland for the holidays (after a pit-stop in the medicine cabinet).
Citrus Peel as Firestarter
Kick-start a fire with citrus peels. Leave orange or lemon peels on the counter for several days to dry out. Then use the pretty pieces as kindling in your fire pit or bonfire for a fragrant flame starter.
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.
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.
Dryer Sheet as Static Stopper
Stop static cling on clothes—or tame flyaway hair—by rubbing a sheet over the problem area.
Emery Board as Stain Remover
Remove small stains from suede by gently rubbing the file (either side) across the problem area a few times to get rid of the splotch and refresh the nap.
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.
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.
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.
Hairspray as Static Stopper
Banish static cling in the winter with a quick spritz of hairspray on the areas that are bunching.
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.
Paint Chips as Valentines
Create a homemade Valentine with rose-colored swatches cut and arranged in a sweet way on craft paper.
Pinecones as Flower-Box Filler
When autumn comes and the temperature dips, outdoor decorating becomes more challenging. Collect pinecones and pile them in an empty flower box for a pretty, no-maintenance display.
Pumice Stone as Sweater Depiller
Restore a favorite, well-worn cardigan to form by lightly running the stone across the surface to lift off any unsightly pills.
Salad Spinner as Sweater Dryer
Speed the drying process for a favorite sweater. After hand-washing the garment, twirl it in the spinner to take out excess water.
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.
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.
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.
Mitten as Sunglasses Protector
Save your shades from scratches by slipping them into a spare mitten before stashing them in your purse or glove compartment.
Olive Oil as Tree Sap Cleaner
If dragging and decking out the 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.
Ornaments as Chandelier
For this whimsical piece, you’ll need 16 ornaments. First mount eye-hook hardware to the ceiling (or use a preexisting plant hook). Tie two three-foot-long ribbons to it, knotting a glass ball at each end. Then cut four more ribbons two inches shorter than the first; tie them to the eye-hook so they surround the center balls. Attach ornaments to the ends. Build the next tier (again, two inches shorter than the last) with four more ribbons to create an upside-down pyramid. Last, use Blu-Tack (a reusable adhesive) to secure each ball to the one next to it. After the holidays, store the arrangement in a large box stuffed with tissue paper.
Ornaments as Window Hanging
Maintain a cheerful outlook with the help of a “curtain” fashioned from retro bell-shaped ornaments. Cut a length of ribbon one foot longer than the length of the window. Securely tie the ribbon to a tension rod fitted in the frame. String the bells through the ribbon, knotting them in place about five inches apart. Repeat this across the width of the window, staggering the ornaments.
Scarf as Christmas Tree Skirt
If each member of your family has, oh, four or five scarves, put some of them to work as a tree skirt. Arrange in a pinwheel fashion around the base of the tree and secure with safety pins.
Tube Socks as Wiper Protectors
Come on―when was the last time you wore them, anyway? Instead, slip a pair over your windshield wipers on the eve of a storm so you won’t have to deice the blades in the morning.
Wire Hanger as Static Stopper
Nix static cling by running a wire hanger over the spots where your clothing tends to bunch or climb.
Rubber Bands as Gift Bow
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.