Which household supplies find their way into your craft projects? Talk amongst yourselves.

Sarah’s craft supply gift idea got me thinking about the piles of household items that add variety to your art table for free.


  • Scrap fabric and paper (I often raid the Goodwill bin for material)
  • Cotton balls
  • Aluminum foil
  • Freezer paper
  • Cereal boxes and other colorful packaging
  • Magazine pages
  • Bottlecaps
  • Buttons
  • Almost any office supplies
  • …and a million more ideas.

Parenthackers, what are your favorite household items-turned-craft-materials?

Be careful: you can go crazy saving stuff until your craft area is an overwhelming mish-mash of junk. Use spare containers (empty wipe boxes, washed out jars, retired plastic storageware, etc.) to keep everything organized.

PS. Check out this week’s Kids Craft Weekly for a bunch of crafty ornament ideas — most of which come together using stuff you’ve already got lying around the house.


  1. Ticia says

    Jar and can lids, I have the clean edge can opener, or whatever it calls, where it breaks the seal instead of cutting it. They make great game pieces. Oh, same with milk jug lids.

  2. Shylo says

    I’m not a parent yet (April!) but I find that old socks always get re-used as draft blockers, stuffing, dusters or puppets for my cats. And I’ve always saved egg cartons as well for sprouting seeds, which sounds like a great project for kids as well.

  3. says

    We use the veggie trays you sometimes get in the grocer. They are made of styrofoam maybe? They make fantastic paint palette’s. We don’t use the ones the meat come on…just the veggie ones.

    I use an old three ring binder with plastic page protectors for all the stickers. Its the best. You can put the stickers inside the page protectors or stick them on the front with zots. All the stickers are organized and the kids love to “look through the book” for their project ideas.

    Giant matchboxes are great, too. Kids can paint the outside(not the sides where you run the match) and they make adorable crafty gifts to give with a candle!

    I use oversized plastic serving trays for almost all of our crafts. Our table is an antique and needs to be protected. The trays are big enough for play dough, paint projects, etc. Each kid gets their own. No fighting!

  4. Rachel says

    My mom always saved the cardboard toilet paper and paper towel tubes. She did all kinds of things with them. My brother and I used to make racetracks for our hotwheels out of them.

  5. says

    I went crazy saving egg cartons once—I had, like, 50 of them on top of our fridge. Then the cat brought in a mouse, which escaped and took up residence (unbeknownst to me) in the egg carton nest up there. Yuck.

  6. marci says

    stamps. my mama has been saving interesting stamps off letters & packages for crafts with my son since way before i was expecting…the only hint she’s ever given that she was really really looking forward to a baby in the family!

    she has mainly saved ‘pretty’ ones. they could be a sorting game or i spy game or concentration game as well as a craft supply, and they’re free!

  7. claudia says

    I love crafts! With kids ranging from 15 to 7, I need a wide variety of materials. One of my favorites is a bleach pen! The older kids, and even the younger ones closely supervised can draw on denim or any other material and make it their own. My daughters have written their names and drawn pictures on their jean jackets, tote bags, pillow cases, etc. Very fun! Draw, wash, and done!

  8. says

    My son makes something new out of a toilet roll every day – yes we use a roll a day – there are a lot of us! I don’t think he could breathe in a world without toilet rolls! Otherwise… kitchen sponges are used for everything except kitchen sponging… painting, stamping, building things, sculpting, poking things in, stuffing fabric toys… we never have kitchen sponges where they are meant to be…

  9. says

    I love using the unusual stuff around the house as a toddler trinket.

    -cupcake pans, to put different things into each little cup, and to turn over as a neat drum.

    -tuperware with lids, to put things into as shakers or to use as nesting cups. The Kid also loves to open and close the tops. Again and again.

    -rotisserie or wire racks, something else the kid likes to pick up and move around, put balls on, ribbons or scarves through the holes, whatever.

    -cardboard boxes from the grocery store, the kind with handles and a little dip on one side so a toddler can step in and sit down and then Mom or Dad can pull around. Works especially well on carpet. Kid would let me pull him around all day if I would.

  10. Kirsten says

    This isn’t exactly a craft, but a way to reuse, and keep your kids busy for a while. We learned this from my son’s preschool teacher last year. Save the styrofoam packing inserts from computers, or other gadgets that you buy, and won’t need again. Then let your children use a toy hammer and hammer in golf tees as nails. My kids spent hours over several days hammering in, removing and rehammering golf tees. The floor was a mess, but a little vacuuming and you’re all cleaned up!