Garbage Picked Altoid Tins for The Win!

by Katy on June 26, 2024 · 38 comments

The internet is filled with images of flawlessly organized homes. Whether it’s “pantry porn” or aesthetically curated refrigerators, it’s oddly mesmerizing and many people chase that feeling all the way to Target, The Container Store or even just Dollar Tree.

There’s just something so satisfying about perfectly organized bits and bobs. I’m not ashamed to admit that I watched every single episode of The Home Edit, even the one with Khloe Kardashian. It’s so soothing to watch chaos refold.

However, I try not to buy anything new and frankly I’d prefer to not spend any money at all. So when I passed by a discarded pair of Altoid tins in the neighborhood yesterday, I didn’t hesitate to bring them home. Even though there was a literal half-eaten sandwich (!!) in the same box. I knew exactly how I’d use them. You know . . . after they’d been throughly sanitized.

This bin of binder clips and staples sat in my built-in buffet, and it wasn’t any fun to accidentally touch the sharp end of a staple when grabbing a clip.



There, that’s better!


I then made labels using a cut index card, a Sharpie and a piece of packing tape. I didn’t go crazy and hide that these were lowly Altoid tins, I simply created some order from previous chaos.


I already had labeled tins for paper clips, safety pins, paper clips and keychain rings; so you can see why I grabbed the empty Altoid tins.



I now have little bit more organization in my home and I didn’t spend a dime. Plus I get the satisfaction of having worked my creative muscle and nothing had to be newly manufactured. An all around non-consumer win!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruby June 26, 2024 at 6:32 am

That is such a cute no-spend organizing trick.

I did spend around $100 on organizing supplies during the 19-month whole house clean out and re-org that just finished, but most of that was tubs with lids for the garage. I also purchased some plastic baskets of a certain width and depth to fit in a tight spot in the baking cupboard. Because I am quite short and so much of our storage is above my head, I am a big fan of putting like items in labeled baskets or tubs that I can easily pick up.


Katy June 26, 2024 at 9:07 pm

I made a drawer organizer out of cracker/cereal boxes and leftover fabric. I even wrote about it here:

It’s still cute and still keep my desk drawer all nice and organized.


Blue Gate Farmgirl June 26, 2024 at 6:38 am

I love altoid tins! I picked up several small tins in free boxes for organizing. I make little sewing kits for kids going off to college. One nephew, now 30, still has me refill his with buttons, thread and safety pins.


Sandra June 26, 2024 at 7:04 am

Getting organized is not only fun, it is also a time saver and a money saver. When I can find what I want, where I expect it to be….that is a time same and in also a money saver because it prevents me from having to go buy something I already have, but can’t find due to cluttered drawers, shelves, or closets.

One of my favorites is my lingerie drawer organizer. It keeps bras and panties seperate. I can break them down by color or style and it makes my drawer always neat and tidy. It was a frugal purchase at a garage sale. I paid 25 cents and have had peace of mind for probably twenty years. Prior to finding that my lingerie drawer was a constant jumble as I would rummage through it trying to find what I was looking for.

Other favorite organizers are small baskets and tiny boxes for keeping jewelry seperate. It is so easy to find the piece you want when you know right where to reach. Again, a time saver and ultimately a money saver, too. You are delighted to find that right pair of earrings or other accessory because you can e


Sandra June 26, 2024 at 7:08 am

What a lot of typos!! The last sentence was meant to convey that when you can see what you have, you are tempted to go out and buy what you already own.


MEM June 26, 2024 at 8:10 am

In the “Dull Women’s Club” on FB last night there was a discussion on whether folks fold their clean undies or toss them in the drawer. Some fold and use organizers, some fold without an organizer, some don’t fold, some are lucky the undies leave their clean laundry basket. One woman said her undies drawer is like a grab-bag. She sticks her hand in and the drawer selects a pair of undies for her! 😀


Katy June 26, 2024 at 9:01 pm

My sister bought me a set of IKEA drawer organizers in 2009 or so and they fit perfectly in our drawers. I later found a marked down set in their As-Is section, which has kept our drawers nicely organized since then.


Heidi Louise June 26, 2024 at 7:23 am

Practical and stylish! Better than the cut-off aspirin box I use.
I can’t tell what is photographic license and what is how you actually store them– Can you stand the tins on their sides or is the drawer too shallow?


Katy June 26, 2024 at 8:59 pm

I think it would be too shallow, but I’ve never tested it.


Fru-gal Lisa June 26, 2024 at 7:55 am

My grandmother’s very, very old antiquated and somewhat rusted muffin tin is what I use for staples, paper clips, tacks, et al. It fits perfectly in the middle drawer of my roll top desk. The drawer stays open bc I put the computer keyboard on top of it, a makeshift keyboard tray, with the screen on the actual desk surface. The drawer puts the keyboard at exactly the right height for typing. If I need something, I just lift the keyboard.

I use Altoid containers a lot to carry small items in my purse or suitcase. Such as earbuds or earplugs for noisy environments, Band-aids, and loose change.

My storage containers for my classroom, when I taught, were clear acrylic jars. They were unbreakable and you could see what was in them. (I taught at-risk juvenile delinquents at a residential treatment center and it was not uncommon for some kid to act out, have a temper tantrum meltdown, and possibly throw something across the room; therefore, glass containers and other breakables were too risky to use.)


Katy June 26, 2024 at 8:58 pm

I love that you are using your grandmother’s muffin tin!


Julia June 26, 2024 at 8:44 am

I use Altoid tins to;
carry my USB drives back and for to campus when I teach
2. Store push pins
3. Store fat wood shavings for campfires
4. Keep
Change in my car


Katy June 26, 2024 at 8:51 pm

They really are so versatile!


Bee June 26, 2024 at 8:50 am

An Altoids tin comes in handy for holding all sorts of things. When my son was hiking the AT and PCT, he used one of these containers in place of a wallet. It was just the right size to hold his credit card, driver’s license, and cash. It was waterproof, easy to open and close, and fit easily into the side pocket of his pack. I think that it also protected against the transmission of an RFID Signal. It was a much better choice than placing his wallet in a ziploc. He still uses one today just for this purpose. He also has a second one for his change. It always make me smile when he pulls it from his pocket.


Katy June 26, 2024 at 8:50 pm

I love this!!!


Lindsey June 26, 2024 at 9:41 am

If it were not for my husband, my underwear would stay in a pile somewhere in our bedroom until I needed to fish out a pair. He folds things and puts them away and is meticulous in his folding. He asked me to stop putting away the laundry because I did not fold his underwear in the way he likes. When I want to mess with him, I pull out his socks, knot one of them and then refold the pair so they look fine. I am the cause of a lot of eye rolling in our house.

I had to do a bunch of shops that involved purchasing Oui yogurt, with those cute glass containers. I ended up with about 3 dozen. I gave 2 dozen away but use the other for things like tiny flower bouquets like bunches of violas, keeping cough drops (I take a med that makes me cough) on my desk and by our recliners, and corralling desk things like rubber bands or paperclips. I also have six lids that fit them so I can use others for small amounts of leftovers like salad dressing. For some reason the clear glass is very attractive to me. The husband thinks it is because I can be orderly but still see the mess inside the glass, like the jumble of clips.


Mary Ann June 26, 2024 at 1:30 pm

I just found Ouie on sale at grocery outlet for 1.49 a four pack. Super cheap for my husband’s favorite. Now I have 16 jars. I am looking into lids made especially but the price is a little cost prohibitive for something I am not sure i will use. there are lots of crafty ideas online includoing making candles out of them.

When I reorganized my office, all the tidbits went into lidless mason jars.


Katy June 26, 2024 at 8:36 pm

My mom buys the Oui yogurts, so we ordered lids from Amazon when my son was setting up his spices. Of course we bought the spices in bulk from Winco.


Katy June 26, 2024 at 8:46 pm

I’m the one in the couple who is super finicky about the underwear is folded. It keeps the drawers tidy and organized.


K D June 26, 2024 at 10:46 am

I have similar repurposed tins that hold my regular and binder clips. I have a club size Nutella jar that holds my “chip” clips: many of them are binder clips and some held balloons decades ago.

DH gets empty plastic cat treat containers from a neighbor and uses them in the workshop.

I think I said it before, a friend likes to use everything at least one more time and it has challenged my thinking, just as Katy and this community have. My friend carefully opens packages of toilet paper from Costco so that she can use the plastic wrap as a kitchen trash bag.


Katy June 26, 2024 at 8:45 pm

I’ve tried opening the toilet paper packaging carefully, but the Trader Joe’s T.P. plastic tears too easily. I buy this brand as it’s made from recycled paper, yet not priced for Rockefellers.


Kara June 26, 2024 at 11:48 am

Continuing on the grandson care and unusually for me, I can’t think of a frugal thing I’ve ordered 3 items I need from Amazon (which I almost never do) and several ‘splurge’ fruits to eat. I guess other than food I’m not spending any money. I need to do a better job of using up the veggies that were already in the fridge when I arrived. I have no appetite and fixing food has been a massive challenge.


Katy June 26, 2024 at 8:40 pm

I think you be kind to yourself and cut yourself some slack during this time. ((hug))


Marie June 26, 2024 at 3:33 pm

I’ve discovered binder clips are perfect for rolling up your half empty tube of toothpaste.


Katy June 26, 2024 at 8:34 pm

I use one for that very purpose! Plus we have a big one in our bedroom to hold the curtains closed at night as there’s a street lamp right outside our house.


MamaMinou June 26, 2024 at 3:44 pm

Katy, I appreciate that philosophy! Use your creativity, spend no money, and find a solution.


Katy June 26, 2024 at 8:33 pm

Necessity is the mother of invention!


Selena June 26, 2024 at 4:17 pm

It used to be Sucrets boxes. Looks like they still make them but alas no longer in the metal box.


Selena June 26, 2024 at 4:22 pm

Then the boxes were plastic. I might have one tucked away somewhere. And I bet my Dad has at least *one* metal one at his house. Which is like a historical adventure of items of the past.


Katy June 26, 2024 at 8:33 pm

My sister and I used to sneak Sucrets when we were kids as we never had candy in the house.


Heidi Louise June 27, 2024 at 6:15 am

When band-aids went to cardboard boxes, the world lost out.
My Dad kept his Indian Head Pennies in a metal band-aid box.


Christine June 27, 2024 at 7:27 am

This brought back memories I haven’t thought of in a very long time! In elementary school one year for Fathers Day, the teacher had us wrap and glue twine around metal Band-Aid boxes. My father always had it on his dresser. I can’t remember what he kept in it, but he was both frugal AND organized so I’m sure it held something useful.


Heidi Louise June 27, 2024 at 9:22 am

And it was a gift from you!


Katy June 27, 2024 at 10:25 am

I have a couple vintage Band-Aid tins in the medicine cabinet for . . . Band-Aids. They’re cute.


texasilver June 26, 2024 at 10:26 pm

I took some tin cans that held canned veggies. I removed the label and washed them. Then I put water in them to freeze. My husband punched holes in the cans in patterns that I requested. (You put the water in to freeze and make the can rigid.) After the hole punching I thawed the ice & then spray painted the cans. I use some for pencils, pens holder. You can also put a battery operated tea light in it for a luminaria type effect at night. Seeing your repurposed Altoid tins reminded me. I need to make more tin can decor. Using things we already have & leftover spray paint from the garage.


Katy June 27, 2024 at 10:26 am

I’ve seen those, they’re so pretty!


Ava June 27, 2024 at 7:23 am

We use prescription pill bottles in the car to hold floss picks and quarters. We use them in the house for push pins, paperclips, beads, etc. They have secure lids and are see through so no need to label. The original labels peel off easily.We use toilet paper rolls to contain folded up extension cords.


Katy June 27, 2024 at 10:26 am



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