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New Uses for Old Things

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


New Uses for Old Things

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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.

A leftover backyard-party balloon will help keep freshly cut flowers from wilting when you’re bringing them to a friend’s house. Fill the balloon with a bit of water, then slip the opening over the stems.

New Uses for Flowers

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Just flatten a banana peel and bury it under one inch of soil at the base of a rosebush. The peel’s potassium feeds the plant and helps it resist disease. Consider it a nutritional boost for you and your buds.

New Uses for Flowers

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Cut stems short and add water to keep blooms upright for a night. (Alas, beauty is fleeting.)

New Uses for Flowers

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Add marbles to the bottom of a vase to keep your daisies in the drink and make arranging, well, child’s play.

New Uses for Flowers

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Whether you’ve held onto your grandmother’s keepsake or purchased something special for this occasion, add some bling to your bouquet. The flowers may last only a few days, but you’ll always have the pin—and the memories that go along with it.

New Uses for Flowers

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Give Easter eggs a year-round use (and save on resealable bags) by filling them with snacks like crackers or Cheerios.

New Uses for Easter Things

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Help hollow-stemmed blooms, like daffodils, delphiniums, and amaryllis, soak up water and stay hydrated longer with this fresh idea: Cut the bottom of each stem at a 45-degree angle, turn the stem upside down, fill it with water, and stuff it with a piece of cotton.

Take your cake stand to new heights by wrapping a plain glass vase with a ribbon in your signature shade.

Contain extra extension cords by wrapping the length of one around your hand then sliding the whole thing inside the tube.

Most-Pinned New Uses

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Scoop guacamole or salsa into a wineglass, then stand it in the center of a bowl of chips for an impromptu chip-and-dip platter.

Salt as Homemade Drain Cleaner: Get a slow-moving drain flowing again and pour a solution of ½ cup of salt for every quart of hot water down the pipe.

Most-Pinned New Uses

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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.

Most-Pinned New Uses

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If you don't have extra-long matches, use an uncooked piece of spaghetti to light multiple or hard to reach candles.

Nail Polish as Key Coder: Differentiate your keys by color-coding them with your favorite nail hues. Lay keys flat and apply a thick coat of a different shade to the top of each one.

Most-Pinned New Uses

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Aluminum Foil as Wrinkle Remover: To get wrinkles out of silk, wool, and rayon clothes that can't take direct heat, place a piece of foil on your ironing board, then lay the garment flat over it. With the steam button down, pass the iron three to four inches over the fabric several times. Wet heat radiating from the foil helps smooth out wrinkles.

Most-Pinned New Uses

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Deodorant as Blister Preventer: Make breaking shoes in less of a pain. Rub clear-gel deodorant on spots prone to blistering before you step out in a stiff new pair.

Button as Earring Holder: Travel is best done in pairs (think of Lewis and Clark or Thelma and Louise). To keep a set of earrings together on your next overnight jaunt, fasten them to a button so they won’t get lost in your suitcase pocket.

Most-Pinned New Uses

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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.