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New Uses for Old Things

Clever ways to repurpose everyday items from and around the web.

New Uses for Old Things

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Keep a retractable cord from rewinding too soon. Just clip the cord near the opening to prevent the cord from being sucked back in too quickly.

Laundry New Uses for Old Things

Turn your fridge or stove hood into a memo board. Glue a magnet to the back of a pin and use it to hold reminders, invitations, and photos.

Stock laundry room supplies over a doorknob so you know when to reload. Detergent, softener, and clothespins fit neatly in the dividers.

Outfit a home gym by filling two empty bottles with sand and using them as dumbbells.

Laundry New Uses for Old Things

Introduce a signature dish—or at least make sure your brownie tray finds its way home from the potluck. Stick a label on the pan’s bottom.

Differentiate the cheddar, machego, and chèvre at a cheese-tasting party.

Mark playful place settings at a dinner party with alphabet magnets for each guest’s first initial.

Create festive party lanterns for any season. Count the bulbs on a strand of holiday lights and cut X's into the bottoms of the same numer of small cups. Then push a bulb through each cup's center and hang the string from a doorway or window.

  • Chrissy C
    Chrissy C

    That would just look like trash hanging from your walls.

  • Marlie W
    Marlie W

    This belongs in your next "what were we thinking" article

Collect used toothpicks at a party so you don't end up with them all over your tables, seats, and floors. (Stick one in the lemon ahead of time to give guests the hint.)

  • Brittany Ketterman
    Brittany Ketterman

    If people can walk over and stab a lemon, they can use a garbage can. That's a waste of a perfectly good lemon.

Decorate on the cheap. Fill a glass bowl with lemons for a sunny centerpiece. Or display a row of them along a windowsill.

Send party guests home with one-of-a-kind favors. Parcel out groups of pieces from an incomplete puzzle and glue a magnet to the back of each. A single box will yield enough decorative sets for dozens of refrigerators.

Fill sturdy foil cupcake holders with mixed nuts, mints, hard candy, or candy corn and scatter them around a party. Or, to make kids swoon at a birthday, place an individual cupcake holder at each setting.

Create a one-of-a-kind wedding keepsake by renting an engraving pen from a hardware store and asking guests to sign their names on the platter.

Serve ice cream at parties without the drips. Freeze individual scoops in liners the night before.

Use a wooden crate to store extra towels in the spare bathroom, so guests don't have to go hunting for the linen closet.

When cloth napkins become overly stained, cut them into 5 1/2 inch squares with pinking shears, and let them protect your tables at parties. To make a longer-lasting version, lay a napkin flat on a piece of felt and use the shears to cut the square out of both pieces of fabric. Apply fabric glue to the edges and across the middle of the felt piece, then press the napkin to the felt.

Get that bottle of Pinot Grigio to the perfect temperature by wrapping it in a cold compress or ice pack.

A little silicone spray lubricant (sold at hardware stores) will grease the skids. Spray it onto a rag, then wipe along the tracks, whether they’re metal, wood, or plastic.

15 Quick Fixes to Make Around Your House
  • Melanie M. Spindler
    Melanie M. Spindler

    WD40 does the same, and is WAY cheaper.

Contain rain-boot runoff by placing a tray near the entryway when wet weather descends.

Springtime New Uses for Old Things

Screw off the caps of spare salt and pepper shakers (or empty jam jars or perfume bottles) and use the receptacles to display flowers on a bedroom night table or a guest-bathroom sink. You can also put potpourri inside.

New Uses for Flowers

Grab your bridesmaids and settle in for a night of crafting. With this easy DIY project, it’s a breeze to create table numbers that are beautiful and budget-friendly. Purchase cheap frames (or use ones you already have on hand), attach numbered stickers to a background in your signature color, and frame.

Add a feminine and romantic touch to the reception by illuminating tables with an array of small glass votives wrapped in delicate white tulle.

Fill that (clean!) old ashtray with soy sauce instead. The notches make a handy resting spot for chopsticks between bites of spicy tuna.

  • Annette Cardullo
    Annette Cardullo

    Gross. Who has old ashtrays anyway?

  • Dawn Walsh
    Dawn Walsh

    Real Simple...Did you even give pause over this idea? Yuck!

  • Jill G.
    Jill G.


  • Jaclyn Vickers
    Jaclyn Vickers

    Gross. No way I could bring myself to consume anything from an ashtray.

  • Marlie W
    Marlie W


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To keep all types of flowers in place in a wide-mouth vase, stretch a clear hair elastic around the stems, then let the flowers fall naturally. Your beautiful blooms will be styled in a snap.

New Uses for Flowers

To get more bang for your bouquet, add a few drops of bleach to the water to prevent bacteria growth and keep stems from mildewing.