Sign in / Join
Mary Hunt

A Solution for Too Many Toys

If you have kids, you might still be trying to figure out how you’re going to find room for your kids’ Christmas loot. EC reader Beth has a great suggestion that will please everyone, even the kids.

BALANCED TOY INVENTORY. A family friend had a great system that avoided too many toys no longer being played with. Their children knew that each year after their birthday and Christmas there would be a count of the new toys they received as gifts. They would then go to their rooms and find the same number of toys they no longer played with, to give away. Of the toys they picked, one could be put away and kept in a memory box.

As a family, they would take the toys to a local charity where they would donate them. Doing this each year helped to keep their house less cluttered, and the kids learned a valuable lesson about making choices and allowing other children to benefit from things they had once enjoyed. — Beth, email

SWEET SKIN CARE. I have a great home recipe for exfoliant that uses what I have in my pantry. I mix equal amounts of honey and cornmeal, and apply to my face, elbows and heels. It leaves my skin feeling wonderful, and it smells nice, too. — Lee, email

RUBBER BAND GRIP. Instead of using those rubbery disks to open jars, I simply put a rubber band or two around the lid and twist! It provides a great grip, and it’s much handier than keeping one more thing in your kitchen that only serves one purpose. — Mara, Michigan

GRINDING THE GROUNDS. I don’t purchase whole peppercorns for use in a grinder, I just fill my grinder full of regular ground black pepper. The grinds are big enough that when it’s ground again, I get a fresh ground pepper taste at a fraction of the cost. It lasts a lot longer than those tiny bottles of peppercorns. — Jennifer, email

WRAP UP A BOUQUET GARNI. If you make soup, a bouquet garni (spices and herbs tied into a little bundle) is a wonderful thing. But instead of buying cheesecloth for this process, I wrap the herbs and spices in a coffee filter, roll it or fold it, and wrap it with string. I drop it in the soup pot and fish it out easily with a spoon when the soup is done. — Jessica, email

FOIL SCRUBBER. One morning, I faced a tough job cleaning the dried-on pancake batter in a bowl. Instead of reaching for a scrub pad, I balled up a piece of used aluminum foil, and it worked perfectly to scrub the bowl clean. — Brenda, Michigan

HANDY CHARCOAL LIGHTER FLUID. I’ve discovered that charcoal lighter fluid works well on removing the residue that stickers leave behind. A little on a cloth does the job. I also found that it does a great job getting oil paint out of brushes. It has very little odor, and it’s a lot cheaper than the product designed for that. — Grace, Minnesota

Would you like to send a tip to Mary? You can email her at, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. Include your first and last name and state. Mary Hunt is the founder of and author of 23 books, including her January 2013 release “Cheaper, Better, Faster: Over 2,000 Tips and Tricks to Save You Time and Money Every Day .” To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at