A Reader Uses This Dollar Store Kitchen Item to Help Keep Her Family Organized

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woman doing crossword puzzle

We love this simple Dollar Store hack!

Hip2Save reader, Emily, was looking for a frugal way to keep her kids’ messy craft projects, crayons, and puzzles organized and off the carpet. Who knew this kitchen tool from her local Dollar Store would serve so many unconventional purposes for kids and adults alike!

tray with play-doh

I found a cheap hack with multiple uses for the whole family! I picked up a set of baking sheet pans at the dollar store and have found unconventional uses for them.

girl coloring on coloring book

They work great as a lap desk, perfect for doing crossword puzzles for the adults or coloring for the kids. Because they are rimmed, the sheets are nice because they keep the crayons contained.

paint supplies on tray

Also, these sheets are perfect for messy crafts! They can contain glitter projects or jewelry making kits. They also allow my kids to play with play-doh or paints in rooms normally off-limits, like their carpeted bedrooms. The sheets make clean up so easy!


I also use these sheets as learning tools for the kids. Because they are magnetic, I put letters on the board to teach spelling. The kids also use them with magnetic characters as a play set. I love it since we are a busy, on the go family, and the kids can take this in the car as an educational tool.

puzzle on dollar store tray

Additionally, I like to use the sheets to hold jigsaw puzzles. It is nice because we can take them from room to room, the pieces are all contained within the rim, and the sheets can store flat under a bed without having to disassemble the puzzle!


If you’re an overachiever, the kids can also help decorate the sheet pans with scrapbook paper and washi tape to personalize it. A sock filled with rice, beans, or stuffing can also be velcroed to the bottom to make it a softer lap desk. Overall, I keep finding new uses for these cheap pans, and the kids love them!

This is such a great idea!

Thank you, Emily, for sharing your clever, frugal, yet genius hack with us!


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Comments 19

  1. Rachel Pearson

    We used the same thing when husband had a bad accident several years ago and he was laid up for 6 months. He used it as a food tray and numerous other things.

  2. Holly

    Great for Legos!

  3. Suzanne

    Great ideas!! I was just looking for something for puzzles! This also is perfect for magnets. I spray painted one and mounted it to the wall so my daughter has a little station since our fridge isn’t magnetic.

  4. sne3103

    Anybody know if the Dollar Tree carries these?

    • Rebecca

      Yes they do!

  5. Annie

    That is very nice. Especially for the price.

  6. mj

    I use these on road trips, kids can make magnet scenes on them, and then we use as drawing trays, food trays etc.

  7. em

    So smart! Love it!

  8. Holli

    I love this! I bought cafeteria trays for various kid projects and cookie decorating. So much easier to contain the mess.

  9. molly

    We did this on a road trip and it was generally great. The pans we bought from Dollar Tree were very flimsy, though. And they were just too small to perfectly fit most of the Dollar Tree puzzles. But, for $1, you really can’t complain! For daily use at home we use plastic trays from Ikea (cafeteria style trays) that were around $3-5 and have held up for YEARS. I try to teach the kids to contain their activities on a tray and then put everything away when they’re done.

  10. freedom

    I have a magnetic whiteboard sheet attached to mine and magnetic dry erase marker. Used for notes to each other or for family to add grocery items.

  11. Erin

    Haha! I’m planning a party and was considering these as activity trays yesterday. They also have plastic kids ones. Neither are quite right for my needs but I’m going to have to look into the Ikea cafeteria trays.

  12. Michelle

    Great idea… thanks for sharing! So simple… something I never would have thought of myself.

  13. V

    I have a cookie sheet with a Lego creation on my living room floor right now.

  14. Lisha

    Is it my oversight, or have Happy Hip Friday been MIA? Either way, I love it and I love this idea as well.
    Have a wonderful weekend h2s community!

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      It may be an oversite. Here’s last week’s post, Lisha!

  15. Angela Heisler

    YES!! LOVE these for kinetic sand and Playdoh 😀

    Our girl wanted a pink cookie sheet so we got one and tried to spray paint, didn’t work 🙁 Also, too big to fit in her kitchen cabinets!

    I was so excited to find an idea for puzzles but read that they are too small. I don’t have an Ikea….to Amazon I go looking for plastic cafeteria trays!

  16. jenn

    Gonna use this for my messy bf & all his projects that seem to be made with the sole purpose of covering every item we own in a layer of dust!

  17. Vera

    Wow. You know, looking at that tray, I have gotten a ton of ideas of things I can do with it. I won’t be wrong if I call it a multi purpose tray, it could serve as a food tray for a convalescing person, it could contain toy items for kids, can also contain craft resources and more. The list is juts endless, and it’s amazingly cheap! How exciting?

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