Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Whack on the Side of the Head Wednesday: Dumpster Dive

Sometimes when working with students in higher education you must engage in team building activities. We use them to get to know students better and to help students get to know one another. Every once in a while I participate in an icebreaker called, "I never." The purpose of the activity is to have each person contribute one, "I never" statement (I never... went scuba diving. I never... ate a peanut. Both are true, by the way). Someone then reads each statement aloud, while the rest of the group tries to determine to whom it belongs.

Thanks to my mom, I've always been able to offer up the one, "I never" statement that left everyone talking for hours afterward. Here it is... I never... have seen my mother in a pair of pants or shorts! It's true. I have NEVER - as in... not one second, of one minute, of one hour, of one day, of one month, of one year, in forty-two - have seen my mother in anything but a skirt or dress.

Yesterday my mom added another to the list. My mother has never... disposed of an Altoid Container. Now, I'm not exactly sure how many she has, but... she has NEVER thrown one away. I did not know this about her. Yesterday afternoon we were talking on the phone about my theme for this week's blog. When I told her it was about creative uses for what others might consider trash, she chimed in, "Oh, I have a great one for you." It was then she revealed her obsession with the perfectly-sized, sturdy, and practical tin in which Altoids are packaged.

At that moment the subject of today's whack was born. Empty Altoid Containers. What possible uses could there be for an empty Altoid container? My mother said the only thing she could think to do is... stack them on top of one another, drill a hole through them, wire it, add a funky shade, and turn it into a fun lamp. It is safe to say... that would NEVER have occurred to me... which begs the question... why am I the one hosting this blog and not my mom?

But she's not and I am, so instead... I'll resort to some back up from my friend von Oech and his Whack Pack. Now for the "whack."

See the Obvious. "Only the most foolish of mice would hide in a cat's ear," says designer Scott Love, "but only the wisest of cats would think to look there." Don't miss the obvious. What are you overlooking?" What's the most obvious thing you can do? What resources and solutions are right in front of you?

The obvious? The most obvious thing I can think of is continuing its use as a container. It held mints and mints make me think of money. Hmmm... the more I look, the more convinced I am it is the perfect size to hold a gift card (I just checked and bingo, I was right). Ok. I could use the Altoid container as a gift card holder, wrapping it with ribbon, and attaching a note stating, "You're worth a mint." or "Enjoy the mint."

Along the same lines... I could use it to hold change. Hmmm.... maybe I could begin filling them with quarters, so that by the time Ricky heads off to college (4 years), he has a "small mint."

It's made of tin and is the front is nicely framed in red with gold trim. A little less obvious... but I wonder if I (code for my husband) could remove (code for use one of his million tools) the white portion of the cover - the part that bears the logo. I would be left with a tin box, with a hole in the top, but framed with a pretty red and gold trim. Once that part was done, I could add a photograph to the top and a magnet to the bottom. It could still be used to hold things, but instead I could attach the box- made photo frame - to my refrigerator.

That's my whack at it. Now your turn. Hey, if someone comes up with something compelling, my mom has offered to send you the whole lot of them for experimenting.

Wait... one more. I just read today's entry to Richard and he wants to add one to the list. How about a candle? A peppermint smelling candle. His favorite part... close the top to snuff it out.

I never... will get my kids off to school if I don't sign off...NOW!


Cassie said...

A handsome carrying case for Bunco dice and, one that my brother as a teenager would have appreciated, a great place to store your stash.

highlowaha said...

I like it. If pool players can strut into a pool hall with their stick in a special carrying case, then why can't I show up at Bunco this Friday with my lucky dice in a fancy carrying case?

I'll get on it.

Cassie P said...

my brothers like to keep stuff like that, they never let us throw things away... like toilet paper rolls or wrapping paper rolls when all the paper is gone. i like to use them to torment our little jack russel terrier. she freaks out at the sound of my deep voice as i creepily yell her name "lou-lou" through it. if there are two used at the same time around christmas, my mom will let the boys use them as swords; until they get bent or broken. when i was little, i think i made a rain stick out of one- paint it, and put a cup of rice in it, close the ends, and turning it back and forth, it sounds like rain!
what other stuff can we make out of our old toilet paper rolls? maybe something useful? my parents just left town early this morning, so i have my three little brothers for the next four days (ages 7, 9, and 11)! it should be interesting... but maybe i will scrounge up a few of those cardboard rolls, instead of throwing them away, and see what they can come up with. sounds fun! ill let you know how it goes!

cspgradstudent said...

A carrying case for small first aid items such as bandaids, tylenol, guaze, etc. to be nicely stored in a purse or diaper bag.

Also, I'm not sure of the dimensions of the altoid tin, but I was thinking about coasters for the coffee table. To be designed and decorated according to the room decoration.

maureen said...

Claudia, being an organization freak lately I think that it would be a great place to hold game pieces,or you could put a small sewing kit in one and carry it with you. Heres a few others, keep one in your desk for paper clips etc, use it to carry small jewelry items when you go away, how about using magazines or colored tissue paper and decoupage them for a craft project with your group of girls coming to visit you. I will be honest I LOVE RICHARD'S IDEA! Im a candle person. Now that Im rambling on....

At a wedding I went to there was a small emergency kit in the ladies room. It contained, asprin, sewing needle and thread, bandaid, etc. Knowing that Murphy's Law was written for me I thought it was great. How about decorating the lid with something "weddingish" and then giving them to your bridesmaids as something to have at the wedding..... OK I'm done rambling so have a great day !!!!

Tera said...

The first thing I thought of when I read we were trying to come up with a use for old Altoids containes was a coffee table top. I've seen table tops with bottle caps on it covered in glass. You could arrange the lids of the tins (in a semetrical pattern please!), attach them to the table, and then get a piece of glass cut to go over top of it. No real purpose for this, but a great conversation piece I'd assume.

You could also line one of your desk drawers with them and put all of the "random" office things (staples, rubber bands, tacks, etc)in the appropriate container.

Happy Altoid-ing!

Cheryl said...

Wow. So many great ideas already. I love them all. I like the table top idea but I would leave the glass top off so you could open them and store stuff in them. My initial thought was a place for all of the buttons, tiles, beads, etc that I collect. How many cans are we talking about here? I also envision an art piece with them all attached to something, say a piece of wood. Maybe painted. Maybe not. And then inside each one would be a single word like, Imagine, Dream, Believe, Love, Hope and so on. It's an interactive piece. :)

Anonymous said...

Cheryl and Tera-
Talking about an altoid table reminded me of an art exhibit I attended in undergraduate and I think the "altoid box table" would be a great community builder.
Essentially the art exhibit was "take and give". A table was laid out with various trash and treasures. As you were leaving you would take an item that had been traced on the table and then leave a different item behind and trace its shape on the canvas lined table. Some people left notes describing the item they left, other did not.
I remember I took a antique ball jar, and left an old silver dollar.
How awesome would it be if the "altoid table" was set up somewhere public and became an exchange place? I think it would be too much fun to open the various containers and see what prizes or surprises awaited. The best part leaving a small treasure behind symbolizing you.
Ok..that may not have made any sense. Hard to explain ideas sometimes.

highlowaha said...

Wow! I love all the ideas surrounding the table and special treats or words being hidden inside of each. I want to pursue this idea and see where it goes.

Maybe we can make it happen and I can kick off the table's debut in my local Starbucks. They're all warmed up from the Random Act books, so maybe they'd actually engage with the table. Or for all you university administrators... this would be perfect in a student center.

I don't build tables though, so I need someone with talent to step forward.

Anonymous said...

I need an idea for an end of the year teacher gift for a 1st grade teacher, and of course, I need it quick since I have waited until the last minute. Hopefully nothing that requires too much planning--something simple but thoughtful. Any help will be much appreciated!

Your not so creative friend Meaghan

Miss Howard said...

Two things...I have some ideas for Meaghan and her gift. I subbed in a first grade classroom today and there were two particularly creative gifts I saw in the process. One student brought in a clay pot with daisies planted in it and on the pot in "To keep your garden growing now that this years seeds have bloomed!"
The second student bought their favorite book for the classroom library. I thought both were creative ideas you could use!

Secondly, in staying with the teacher theme, you could use these for your students! Each student could have one in their desk and use them to hold items such as paper clips, pencil end erasers, rubber bands, or small post it notes to mark pages. You could even make an art project out of decorating the top by decoupaging it or using paint.

highlowaha said...

Meaghan... last minute is the name of the game here at highlowaha. No worries. A couple of weeks ago we did a small spread on teacher gift ideas. On Wednesday, May 14 first addressed the issue and then on Friday, May 16 some educators wrote in and shared gifts they appreciated receiving.

Since then, however, I have received some other suggestions from trusted and creative friends. Some of the ones listed below came from an article passed along to me. Hopefully you find something that works and thanks for considering us a viable resource.

A potted plant with a pot decorated by your child.
A laminated book mark (see yesterday's post) with a book new book.
A gfit card. See Packaging is Everything (May 16) for fun ways to package it.
A night at the movies (unpopped corn, other snacks, a movie rental gift card.
Baked cookies in a decorated pot.
A canvas bag decorated with fabric paints by your child and then filled with suntan lotion, a fun magazine, and a beach towel.

Maybe there's something useful in here and maybe some more ideas will roll in.

close2it said...

Hmmm, posted this once but it didn't appear. I'll try again but if it shows up 2x, you'll know why.

I love all the cool ideas so far!

If you use an Advent calendar or do a Christmas countdown, you could decorate, number, and fill this tins with surprises for each day of the celebration. I see myself filling them with pills and vitamins for the car and my purse. Also, I think some scrapbookers have been covering these (and other) tins with scrapbook paper and then putting small pictures inside.

As for teacher gifts....being a teacher myself, I always appreciate gift cards, especially when there is some special thought to it. A card to my favorite resteraunt, a scrapbook store b/c I scrap, to a local candy store b/c I love chocolate, or even to a local teacher store since I use a lot of my own $ on supplies. Maybe in conversation this teacher has mentioned her likes to you or your child?

beekayroot said...

how about a wind chime? attac some fishing string and create one.