A Little of This or That

by Linda Shapero


Are you the type of person who can't stand to waste that last foot of ribbon on the spool or throw out that one lonely latex glove? I am, and I'm constantly looking for ingenious uses for those odds and ends that I can't bear to part with. Here are some ideas for leftovers (not of the food variety):

Greeting Cards - These are absolutely wonderful for cutting into gift tags (especially Christmas or birthday cards) or for rainy day projects for the kids, such as making collages or decoupage. All it takes is scissors, bits of ribbon, glue and whatever else your imagination dreams up.

Wrapping Paper - If it's torn or wrinkled and just can't be salvaged to wrap another gift, use it to wrap up items such as ornaments before you store them away or to pad a box for shipping.

Ribbon - Use those small pieces for decorating doll clothes and crafts, to hang artwork or pictures for a finished decorator touch, or to attach gift tags to gifts.

Fabric - There are a lot of ways to use leftover fabric: doll clothes, cat and dog clothes (yes, there are quite a few people out there who dress their pets), cosmetic bags, jewelry pouches, cell phone cases, or patchwork quilts(my favorite).

Wallpaper - Wallpaper is great for making bulletin boards, book covers, trimming small and large mirrors, or drawer liners.

Denim Jeans - Make a shoulder bag and decorate it with leftover ribbon, sequins, studs, buttons, etc. Also, jeans make cute toss pillows for a bed or sofa.

Scrapbook Bits and Pieces - These are terrific for making greeting cards, gift tags, postcards, and confetti.

Teacups - Do you have teacups that no longer have saucers? They are perfect for filling with things such as candy or teabags, then wrapping with cellophane and tying with leftover ribbon or a bow for an instant gift.

Soap - Those thin slivers of soap can be used for lubricating screws and drawers that stick. I also know someone who filled a large clear jar with them and used it as a decorative piece in their bathroom. Beautiful!

Socks - Cover the wheels on a bed frame that has been taken apart for moving. The socks will protect walls and other furniture when it's being moved.

Butter and Margarine Wrappers - Handy for greasing pans. You can put them in a baggie and keep them in the refrigerator or freezer. Just pull one out when needed.

Latex Glove - My favorite use for that one lonely glove is to pick up pet hair from furniture. It works best if you dampen it first.

Carpet - Those leftover pieces after you have a carpet laid are handy for extra runners, mats, and pieces for patching.

Paint - Before checking with your local recycle plant to see if they will accept it, look around to see if you have any outdoor projects that might need a new coat of paint, such as wooden benches or other outdoor furniture, planters, etc. Also, check with local schools that may be grateful for donated paint that can be used for painting backdrops and scenery for school plays.

Light Bulbs - Used light bulbs are fun for kids to decorate by painting, gluing on glitter or other decorations like fake flowers, adding a ribbon to hang. Provide proper supervision so they don't hurt themselves.

These are just a few ideas for leftovers. I'm sure you'll be able to come up with a few of your own. As you already know, it's so satisfying to find new ways to be thrifty!

Take the Next Step:

  • Use the above ideas to put your leftovers to good use. Better yet, think of a few additional ways to use those odds and ends around your home.
  • Subscribe to our weekly "Surviving Tough Times" newsletter. This free html newsletter will provide ways to survive in this challenging economy. Each issue features nine articles to help you stretch your dollar!

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