Thursday, November 4, 2010

Repurposing Coffee Cans

No photos with todays post since I don't have any to share. I've made several of the projects I mention below, but they were made years ago before I had a digital camera or thought about archiving my projects. Some of them turned out really cute - and they sold well at the elementary school Santa's workshop that I ran for many years.

A friend recently asked if I had any ideas for plastic coffee containers. I don't drink coffee so I don't have any on hand to experiment with. However years ago when I ran the holiday bazaar at the elementary school, we made numerous crafts out of the old tin type coffee cans that we had parents save for us.

NOTE: soak with vinegar and water to help remove the coffee smell before using them for your project.


Salt/cinders/sand/kitty litter in the coffee can to keep in your car or near the door of your home. These always sold well, especially since we painted them with snowmen.

Fill them with peanuts and decorate for the "Sports Nut", also sold well.

They can be used as a container to make a sort of "gift basket", depending on the size of can and items you want to fill it with. One of the most popular gift basket items we made was a "baking kit": decorate the can with decorative paper that has cupcakes, cookies, etc on it. Fill the can with a baking mix, hot mitt, wooden spoon, candy sprinkles, cupcake liners, etc - which can all be found at a dollar store.

Same idea as above, but using supplies for a gardener. I normally used flower pots for the container for this project, but you could use the empty coffee can - and drill holes through the bottom so the recipient could use it as a make shift fertilizer/seed spreader.

Movie night with popcorn, soda, movie gift certificates.

Use them to present any sort of food item in, homemade cookies, candies, etc.

Snowman Kit - scarf, etc for building a snowman, hot cocoa.

Fill with bird seed and decorate for the bird watcher.

Punch holes into them in a decorative design, paint for a luminaria.

Memory Can - use it to drop in little notes and such about your children, trips, etc


Catch alls anywhere in the house/garage/potting shed. Keep one by the washing machine to put things in that you find in pockets. Keep one in the kitchen to pour off fats into.

I've read these tips in magazines: keep them in the kitchen for vegetable peel scraps to carry out to the compost pile or clean egg shells to lay around plants to keep slugs away.

Drill holes through the bottom to attach them to a wood board, then attach the board to a wall to create cubby hole type storage.

Store extra toilet paper in for camping. Or worms to take fishing.

Store leftover paint in.

Perfect container to soak items in, such as greasy nuts and bolts or paintbrushes to be cleaned.

Store scraps in your craft room or art supplies for the children.

Drill a hole through the lid then drop your yarn into the base, thread up through the lid while working on a knit/crochet project

Store pet treats, supplies.

Store dried goods in your pantry.


Line up several on a piece of wood, drill through the bottom to attach it. Each can is a different point value (I used 4 cans, scoring 1-4 points) that the child tosses a bean bag into. For the outdoor summer play day, we filled the cans with water and they threw the fabric "water bombs" balls into the cans, they loved it - especially if the volunteer helper got wet, too!

Use three cans, with lids that have various size holes cut into them, to drop a clothespin into. Each lid has one hole in it, the smallest is slightly bigger than the clothespin, two others with larger holes. The smaller the hole, the higher the point value. The child would stand above the cans, looking straight down at the can slightly bent over, they hold the clothespin up near their nose and drop it, hoping to make it into the hole. They can choose whichever holes they want to drop them into, give them however many clothespins (the old round type) you wish.

Use them for a guessing game. Put in safe unbreakable items, one per can. Have children describe the item they are feeling for their classmates to guess what it is OR they can guess for themselves. Another version, punch tiny holes in the plastic lid for odors to escape then place smelly items inside for the kids to guess.

Lastly, if you've been saving coffee cans to use someday and find that you have more than you need, call your local schools, day care centers, library, Y, pet rescues, etc. to see if they could use them.

Also, do an online search: there are bound to be many more useful ideas posted online for reusing coffee cans.

Thanks for reading =)

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