Putting Old Biscuit Tins To Good Use

It seems this time of year I’m swimming in biscuit tins, but I’m not complaining since they’re such great storage tools! Plus the crafts you can make with them are gorgeous and not that difficult to manage–you can go as simple or as elaborate as you like.

These Containers Come In Handy & Have So Many Uses
These Containers Come In Handy & Have So Many Uses

These are also known as cookie or advertising tins and they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. I have a few ideas for the large popcorn ones too.

Here’s a list of organizing ideas followed by some tutorials for craft projects. I’m sure you already know and use many of these ideas, but some might be new and useful for you. Since they come in an unlimited number of shapes and sizes, it’s just a matter of fitting the right size and shape to the decided use.

Ideas For Using Them:

  • Store Baked Goods: Cookies, fudge, squares, candies. I prefer lining them with wax or parchment paper first. Great to use when giving baking gifts.
  • Store Craft Bits: Ribbons, trims, notions, spools of threads, embroidery floss, beads, buttons.
  • Crayons & Markers: I found square or rectangular varieties with tight fitting lids ideal when my son was younger. He wasn’t able to easily pop off the lid himself and get into the markers when I wasn’t looking.
  • First Aid Kits: Make your own first aid kits for the car and home.
  • Junk Drawers, Desk Drawer & Desk Top Organizers: Some are shallow and narrow enough to make ideal drawer organizers. Easily holds pens, pencils and stationery items. Great organizers for junk drawers too.
  • Store gift tags, labels, greeting cards, birthday cards, keepsake letters.
  • Gift Basket: The tin can be used as the container for a gift basket.
  • Pantry Baskets: Store loose packet items like dry soups, seasoning packets, spice packets
  • Dry Goods Storage: Rice, beans, flour, popcorn, coffee, tea bags. I like to keep the food items in the bag to prevent any chance of a metal taste being transferred to the food.
  • Loose change collectors, coin wrappers
  • Store cookie cutters, measuring cups & spoons
  • Homemade Emergency Kits: Store home emergency kit items like waterproof matches & fire starters, candles, a small flashlight
  • Big Popcorn Tins: Store balls of yarn, fill with gift bows and ribbons, Christmas decorations & lights, seasonal decorations (Halloween, Easter, Thanksgiving, Birthday), use as garbage cans (line with a plastic bag first), wild bird seed storage.

Craft Projects:

You can decorate them with paint, fabrics & trims or paper. Nice for keepsake boxes, gift sewing kits, and special gift containers. You can also paint them to make cute kitchen accessories, who needs store bought canisters when you can design your own with recycled tins! See the resources below for some great ideas and how to’s:

  • Quick & Cute Project Idea: Chocolate Truffle Tins
  • Crafts Supplies Organizer: Learn how to make a tiered organizer using large round varieties, great for holding crafty bits.
  • Tangle-Proof Yarn Case: Spiffy up with some paint, add a grommet and use to hold yarn (thread through the grommet in lid top).
  • Embroidery Hoops Container: Clever idea! Hoops are stacked then a tin is placed in the middle (can hold flowers, etc.).
  • DIY Vintage Tins: Spray paint then cover with vintage graphics that are printed on labels (links to printable freebies).
  • Decorative Containers: Pretty scrapbook paper is applied over the metal using glue.
  • Book Covers: Tins are disassembled then the metal is repurposed into book covers by cutting and hammering folded edges.
  • Doily Tins: Assorted free doily designs to download and print on clear, full-sheet labels which are then applied to the lid.
  • Makeover: Sprayed with a coat of paint then covered with pages from an old book (using glue and water) and topped with a knob.

How To Clean Them:

Just a quick wash in hot soapy water, then hand dry immediately. Let them sit out on the counter for a few hours before covering with the lid and storing away to make sure the surface is completely dry as any little bit of moisture can cause rust havoc. Do not put them in the dishwasher.

Where To Find Them Cheap:

These are so inexpensive to collect, I never fail to find heaps of them at garage sales–many of them given away for free! Some are vintage or collectibles that may cost more, but average prices should be a quarter or two (I’d spend a dollar if the size was perfect).

Just stick with picking up the shapes and sizes that you can use purposefully either as an organizing item or decorated for a decor piece or to give away–otherwise you’ll need a storage solution just for your collection of advertising tins ;). No matter how “ugly” their manufactured design may be, they can be turned into beautiful and useful items as shown above.

If you have an idea for using these productively or some crafty idea, I’d love to hear it!

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    • sara

    I absolutely love tins! I keep one in my bathroom cupboard filled with bobby pins, hair clips, etc. My kids use them to keep small toy pieces together and we have a popcorn tin in the laundry room for the whole family to put change in and when it’s full, cash it out and take a mini family vacation.. I also found a popcorn tin that matched my kitchen and wanted to display it, so I made it functional by storing dry dog food in it. I also have a decorative one on the bathroom shelf of the salon where I work that is hiding feminine hygene products for emergencies. A tin filled with a new bar of soap, razor, toothbrush, etc. would go nicely in a guest bathroom. Just one more tip..my mother-in-law lives 12 hours away and only gets to see my kids once a year. One year for christmas I painted 2 tins green and the lids red, and then put the kids’ handprints on top in green paint and sent them to her. She still displays those in her home filled with pictures we’ve sent over the years of each kid in their respective tin. The most inexpensive gift can be the most meaningful!

    • Lynn

    Re: Repurposing tins….spray paint them & decorate if you wish with pretty cut out cards, post cards, etc. They make wonderful “Memory Boxes”. Scrapbooks are really nice, but the decorated tins are fabulous, especially if you put a letter or descriptive message in the tin, write on the reverse side of photos, store ‘bits and pieces’ of memorabilia in the tin. It’s fun to pick up items and sort through them if they are in the tin. Also if someone so desires, a photo or article can be computer scanned.

    • patty

    use nail polish to coat the bottoms of the tins.

    • Airmans Mom

    I saved a large popcorn tin from the Christmas. I used it to ship cookies to my son and his guys stationed in Iraq. My son has been over four times. I have found these tins to be the best to ship cookies. I can pick them up for 50 cents at the Goodwill. Run them through the dishwasher. They are sturdy enough to protect the cookies, yet light enough to not drive up the postage. They also would keep the cookies fresh over there, but, once home made cookies are opened, all the guys share and there are never any left to have to worry about getting stale!

    • GramaGrate

    Years ago bandages were sold in a small metal flip-top tin. A friend made one into a sort of vase. She painted it a pretty pale yellow and pasted a decorative decal onto the front. Then she tied a small bouquet of dried flowers with a bow made of a bit of ribbon and lace, and inserted it into the open tin. So charming! Now if only you can find such a tin at your next yard sale.

    Thanks for all the ideas you share.

    • Dj

    I love this site…thanks for sharing!

    I was making fridge magnets and needed a way to display them at a craft fair. I got some round thrift store tins, different diameters and heights (one of them is really tall and narrow). I cleaned and painted them and then used a glue that stays tacky (Aleene’s Tack It Over and Over) and applied to the bottoms. I then stacked them on lazy susans, also thrift store purchased, cleaned and painted. Voila! A GREAT display for my little fridge magnets all along the outsides of the tins. Because the glue isn’t permanent I can disassemble the display at the end of the show and nest the tins together for storage.

    • Terri

    I buy tin candy containers and turn them into lunch pales!! It’s a great way to show them off, get lots of compliments, and it’s cheaper than buying the commercial tin lunch boxes!!

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