So Smart: 4 Alternate Uses for an Inexpensive Tool Tote

published Jun 15, 2015
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(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)

My dad recently gave me this tool tote and, organizing fanatic that I am, I immediately started looking beyond its intended use and wondering what unexpected uses I could come up with. This little thing is handier than you might think, so read on for four uses, as well as some suggestions for similar totes, in case the red and black look isn’t your thing…

(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)

Kids’ Tote: Keep the things that keep your child entertained handy. Because of its portability, a tool tote is easy to take with you or to keep in the car, and the pockets are great for all the odds-and-ends that kids adore.

Some sample items to keep in the tote:

  • books
  • stickers
  • pencils and markers
  • coloring books
  • earphones
  • iPad or other electronic device
  • small toys
  • card games
  • snacks
  • construction paper
  • stuffed animals
(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)

Craft Tote: Stash everything related to your latest project in this tote so that it’s easily to handle. When I lived in a studio apartment, I used a similar tote as my mobile “craft room.” It kept me from acquiring too many crafty things, but it also kept all my items organized and accessible for whenever inspiration struck. Plus, everything is easily packed up again, so your coffee table isn’t perpetually strewn with yarn and paper.

Some sample items to keep in the tote:

  • filing folders filled with decorative papers
  • yarn
  • knitting needles
  • embroidery hoops
  • sewing needles
  • scissors
  • glue gun
  • glues
  • craft paint
  • threads
  • hole punches
  • stamps
  • ribbon
  • markers
  • sketch pad
(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)

Car kit: In case of emergencies, having a designated tote means that necessary items are close at hand. Consider adding daily essentials like parking passes and a phone charger in addition to emergency items like jumper cables and a tire iron. The whole kit is easily moved from the backseat to the trunk and vice versa.

Some sample items to keep in the tote:

  • jumper cables
  • flashlight
  • maps
  • cleaning wipes
  • Tide stain pen (in case of an in-car eating mishap)
  • a bottle of water
  • granola bars, dried fruit, or nuts
  • parking passes
  • a pen and notebook
  • an umbrella
  • flat tire emergency spray
  • an ice scraper
  • bungee cords
  • a tire iron
  • first-aid kit
  • extra chargers for electronics
(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)

A Bill-Paying/ Office Caddy: Tool totes are handy for corralling the things that you need every month when you spread out to tackle the bills. Even if you pay your bills online, having important papers and mailing supplies at the ready can be handy. Plus, in a really small space, this could serve as “mobile office”, filled with all the supplies you need and easily stowed in a closet or a cabinet.

Some sample items to keep in the tote:

  • File folders for receipts and bills (keep separate ones for bills that need to be paid, bills that have been paid, or bills that need to be filed elsewhere)
  • calculator
  • pens
  • envelopes
  • stamps
  • checkbook
  • letter opener
  • scissors
  • computer screen wipes
  • a notebook and pen
  • I used a small sewing caddy from the dollar store to corral things like push pens, rubber bands, Post-it flags, staples, and the like

Oh, and of course you could use it for tools. Any other alternate ideas?

In case you’re convinced that you need one of these multi-functional totes, but the color scheme of mine isn’t your favorite, there are plenty of different design options. Here are a just a few: