Monday, June 25, 2012

I am crafty: Altoids tin repurposing.

Perhaps you can blame my mother for my love of Altoids mints. She gave us a tin in our stockings each Christmas. I savored those mints, striving to stretch my supply until the following Christmas. When I was old enough and had spending money of my own, I invariably bought Altoids. I've tried just about all the flavors and varieties (my standard favorite is Wintergreen).

However. I am also a packrat, and have thrown away few of the containers I have collected over the years. Okay, I've thrown away plenty, but I've also saved plenty. They're just such useful little things!

One of my favorite uses for old Altoid tins is the mini kit. Sometimes I just toss supplies into an empty tin and call it good; a few I've labeled with Sharpie. But I'm an adult now, so I really ought to make nicer looking kits.

Here are two uses for an Altoid tin: a mini first aid kit and a business card holder.

I have a separate container for my most commonly-needed OTC meds (namely sudafed and ibprofen or, while pregnant, tylenol), but I do also carry in my purse a stash of bandaids (mostly for shoe blisters) and, ah, gas relief medication.

I used to carry these items in a plastic baggie, but recently the bag ripped and I ended up with smooshed and torn bandaids all over the bottom of my purse. The solution? This nifty Altoid-tin-turned-first-aid-kit.

Since I also have some business cards for my Real Job but don't have a paycheck that would fund the purchase of a thirty-dollar Fancy Business Card Holder, I decided to use an Altoid tin for that purpose, too.

First, the materials:

The white paper is just spare scrapbook paper; for the red
cross I actually used an envelope from Target rather than
any fancy sort of paper.
  • an Altoid or similar tin for each use
  • paper for decorating the outside of your tin
  • Mod-Podge (or thin out some white glue with water)
  • brush for applying Mod-Podge
Wipe out the inside of your tin(s) with a damp cloth. It may still smell minty fresh, but you probably don't want suspicious white powder all over your business cards (or bandaids, for that matter).

Trace the top of the tin onto paper.

Make sure to trace onto the "back" side of your paper, if
it has sides.

Cut the paper to size.

Repeat steps 2. and 3. if you want to cover the bottom of your tin as well.

Apply a layer of Mod-Podge to the top (bottom) of your tin. Be generous, but not so generous that excess will ooze down the sides and glue your tin shut when you press the paper on.

Press your paper to the Mod-Podged top (bottom) of the tin.

It should line up pretty evenly; if not, trim with scissors or
an exacto knife.
If you want any other decorations, draw and cut them out. First trace an outline of your tin onto the paper you plan to use so you can ensure that your decoration will fit.


To do a red cross for a first aid kit, draw a cross onto the back of some red paper. Each line of my cross is 1/2" long, if that makes sense. Use a ruler to keep it straight!

Remember again to draw on the back side of your paper.
You can see how many times I messed up the poor cross.

Cut out the cross/other design.

Cut out and flipped over.

Apply a layer of Mod-Podge to the top of the paper on your tin. Feel free to do this as thick or thin as you like--a thick layer will provide a more textured finished product, while a thin layer will be sleek.

You do want your paper to get pretty well soaked.
Apply your cross or other decoration.

Position it how you want it now.
Apply more Mod-Podge on top. Don't worry--it will dry clear, I promise! You want to make sure the entire papered surface is coated in at least a thin layer. Once hardened, it will protect your paper from tearing or light water damage (use outdoor, waterproof Mod-Podge if this is something you intend to get wet).

White now, clear later. Promise.
Allow to dry. Depending on climate and how thick you layered the Mod-Podge, this will take 30 minutes to several hours.

Still not quite dry, but almost.

Fill your finished tin with your supplies!

Secret bandaid tin!

For the business card version, I simply trimmed the corners of the business card since the tin has rounded edges,

then applied with Mod-Podge as described above. After I did this, I discovered that I would have to trim the corners off all my cards if I wanted them to fit inside the thing. So I did. Hopefully people I give them to will think it's spiffy rather than odd.

If you got Mod-Podge around the edge of your tin,
you may want to leave them open to dry so you don't glue them
closed on accident.
Ta-da! Now I'm not exactly the first person to do this sort of thing to an Altoid tin; I'm not even the cleverest. But I do love them for storing things that would otherwise get beat up in my purse, and now everyone knows more-or-less what's inside--in a nicer way than if I had just labeled them with Sharpie. ;-)

For more tin repurposing ideas, check out The Art of Manliness's Twenty-Two Manly Uses for an Altoids Tin, Tested's fancy techie uses for Altoids tins, and Artists Helping Children's 15 Cool Crafts using Altoids tins.


  1. Aah I love it! I don't have Altoids almost ever so I don't have any tins, but they are super useful! I saw a website somewhere, maybe one of your links, that had a bunch of cool uses and the one I thought was the awesomest was a mini fire-starter kit, complete with flint and tinder!

    1. A fire-starter kit is such a good idea! People can do crazy complicated stuff with them--turn them into flashlights and things.

      I think perhaps because they're still metal in a plastics world...there's just something somehow /attractive/ about them.