It’s gotten to the point where you can’t throw something away without a serious attack of the conscience! That’s okay, though; recycling is very important. Just about everything is recyclable now: cardboard, paper, plastic – the list goes on and on. The things that most people recycle are obvious but some people just aren’t aware of other things they can recycle. Take, for instance, a microwave family dinner tray. There are very few people who save them from the landfill but you can! Use them to make all sorts of new things for your home and you’ll be getting a real bargain when you purchase them. Not only will you get the entree or other meal but you’ll soon have new decor and useful objects to boot!
The trays I refer to are the ones that are not cut off into sections. The large, single-area trays work great for making all sorts of new things. Sometimes these trays are cardboard; other versions are a type of plastic. Either one can be used to make various craft projects while doing your part to recycle. I find it best to use the plastic-type trays, though, because they’re easier to clean. After thoroughly washing and drying the trays you can proceed to make any number of new items for around the house.
Lay one tray upside-down onto a thin piece of cardboard. Start at an area about two-thirds of the way down the side of the tray. Draw from this area, down, across the bottom, and back up, about a third of the way, so that you end up just opposite of where you started. Cut out this third-of-a-lid and use it to make a letter holder. Turn the tray right-side-up and glue the third-lid to the tray. Position it so that it covers the bottom third of the tray. This object can be hung on a wall to hold mail. The tray itself holds the mail and the cardboard piece across the bottom prevents letters from falling out. Poke a hole in the top area of the tray, on the backside, to hang. Or, use picture-hanging adhesive strips to hang. The tray can be painted or otherwise decorated. Glue on stickers to spell out “Mail” or cover the front piece with decorative cloth.
The above design works great as a new stationery gift, too. Just fill the tray with colored paper, envelopes, stickers, pen and pencils and similar items. It’s an inexpensive gift that really impresses if you take the time to really decorate the tray. Paint it blue, for instance, fill it with blue paper and envelopes, then use blue metallic tape to make stripes on the tray and the cover.
The cardboard-type family dinner trays work perfectly for making all sorts of wall hangings. Spray paint the clean trays with gold paint, silver, or other colors. Poke a hole in the top area of the bottom of the tray for hanging. Gather a bunch of dried flowers and glue them to the inside bottom of the tray. If you want, you can cut a piece of fabric to glue to the bottom before adding the flowers. Make something completely different by turning the tray around so that the bottom of the tray is showing. Mount flat, wooden letters to spell out a child’s name or a “Welcome” greeting. These can be hung on the front door or any wall.
Create equal sections in the spray-painted trays and you’ll have any number of organizers. Cut two or three pieces of cardstock or cardboard and glue them into the tray. Set the tray so that the longest side is facing you. Glue the cardstock pieces vertically across the tray, spacing them evenly apart. Make two, three or four sections and use the finished piece to hold things on the desk or even a girl’s jewelry. Glue small-diameter feather boas or even pom-poms around the edge of the tray to glamour it up a little. Make a different jewelry holder by hanging the painted tray on the wall. Stick on a small assortment of adhesive hooks and the girl can hang bracelets, necklaces and even hair ties. Glue longer pieces of cardboard in the trays, gluing them in horizontally, and you’ll make silverware holders.
Make travel game sets by starting with two trays that look identical. Cut three short pieces of narrow ribbon and glue the ends to the two trays. Start by gluing one end of each ribbon to the edge of one tray. Glue the pieces so that they are evenly spaced along one long side of the tray. Now glue the opposite ends of the ribbons to the other tray. Close the two trays like a clamshell. When you open the top tray it will stay attached to the bottom one via the ribbons. Close the tray, mark a spot in the front center, and add velcro to create a closure for the new game case. Use these cases to make game sets, a travel doggie feeder or even an emergency first aid kit. Once you do a couple of projects using microwave dinner trays you’ll see just how useful they are and you’ll never want to throw one away again!