diy project: kate’s miniature helper tins

this past week i have been passionately involved in nineties movie madness on best week ever, where the public can vote on the ninetiesest of nineties movies (go clueless!). the relevance of this to my diy is that in my mind, altoids are a very nineties food. if there was a nineties food bracket, i think altoids would go right to the top with dippin dots and blue m&ms. but for being so trendy in the nineties, altoids have definitely stood the test of time, and the tins are so fantastically useful that i am making them the diy material for the month of april. the best tins for these projects are old altoids tins, because somewhere along the line altoids changed the design so that the logo is now embossed on the cover. but fear not, because the old ones are easily found in thrift stores and there are also spin off brands like myntz, sucrets, etc. that have smooth tins. so grab a bunch and start passing out the mints! happy crafting! –kate

CLICK HERE for the full project instructions after the jump!


What You’ll Need:
1. altoids tins or other mint tins
2. white primer spray paint
3. acrylic paint in various colors
4. masking tape or contact paper
5. exacto blade
6. tarp or scrap cardboard for spray painting

1. Clean out the tins and dry completely.

2. Open the tins and lay them flat and upside down on a tarp outside. Spray tins with a light even coat of primer and let dry for 30 min.

3. Spray tins with a second coat to cover all writing. Let dry.

4. Flip tins over and spray the inside with an even coat of paint. Let dry. You can now spray them with another color of spray paint if you want, but I chose to keep them flat white.


5. Using the masking tape or contact paper, draw the shape for the cover.
Carefully cut out the shape with the exacto knife and use the leftover cutout as your stencil.

6. Stick down the stencil and paint a layer of acrylic paint over the exposed area. Peel the stencil off while the paint is still wet to ensure a clean line.

7. Let dry completely.

8. Fill your tin with the necessary kit essentials.



  1. these would make great gifties if you filled them w/ little nail polishes, different lip balms, assorted candies, etc….the possibilities are endless. thanks for sharing!

  2. Kate says:

    So cute! I love collecting tins, knowing deep in my heart of hearts that I’ll use them for something… some day.

  3. Kelly says:

    They’re also great as business card holders. Every time I finish a pack I can’t bring myself to toss the tins and was searching for new ideas…thanks.

  4. Carmen says:

    I have been trying for a while to come up with good things to do with altoid tins, because they just seem so useful! What a great idea! Thanks

  5. Kristan says:

    I’m so happy to see this idea. :) I first noticed my uncle keeping Altoids tins to reuse, and after he passed away I decided to do the same in his spirit. I carry a little pocket mirror and a few tissues folded up in an Altoids tin in my purse. This has the added benefit of making the tissues smell minty!

  6. I need this for my purse!

  7. Lilly Mae says:

    Uh, correction, Sucrets came first…they’re 75 yrs old…I have an old case, not sure of age, but figured Altoids copied Sucrets…

  8. Kristan says:

    I have the love for all tiny containers and mini kits!

    Oh, and FYI Lilly Mae, Altoids have been around since 1780 and by the 1920’s had started using metal tins.

  9. kdka says:

    How about the Chimes Ginger Chews tins with the cool slidey top? So satisfying to slide. Even after I decided the chews would eventually destroy my fillings, I kept buying them for the box.

    There’s a picture here…

  10. Brenna says:

    I use the tins to hold my scraps of international change! SO ORGANIZED.

  11. elyoo says:

    OMG! Now I know what to do with my empty Altoids containers!! Great idea!!

  12. Mary says:

    After seeing this tins, which I’ve used and like, I think another idea would be to fill this as you have and give them to your teen when their off to college.

  13. Ashley says:

    I also have kept a few of these for various reasons. I have one in my desk drawer for trinkety things that are too small I don’t want to lose, like stamps, return address labels, and paperclips. They’re also good for coupon or punch cards that you don’t use often enough to be in your wallet, but somewhere in your purse.

    They’re cute to decorate with contact or wall paper samples :)

  14. Louise says:

    very Japanese ..

  15. Shayna says:

    These simplified tins remind me of the “help i need help” medical products:

  16. MBF says:

    I keep one filled with pennies under the parking brake of my car (my Honda has a little recess there). I always have change at the ready when I need to use the drive-through. Maybe I will upgrade to one with a cent sign on the lid…

  17. Shannon says:

    I feel bad for every tin I threw in the recycling now. I have saved a few to use as money math projects for our homeschooling. I really like your ideas though.

  18. stephanie says:

    What a great idea! Do you have any ideas for the eclipse tins?

  19. robin says:

    The Altoid gum boxes are the perfect size for iPhone earbuds. I drop the tin in my book bag and always know where my headphones are. I’ve also used the regular size box for my iPod Shuffle + earbuds. Just the right size!

  20. alaa says:

    Also, knitters like to use the tins to hold their stitch markers, tiny scissors, tape measure, ect.

  21. katia says:



  22. kathy says:

    I keep a used altoids tin in the console of my car filled with quarters for the parking meters also keep them filled with bobby pins and make great travel container for Q-Tips and hair bands. endless possibilities!

  23. dee says:

    I love to collage the tins for gifts, I like the tiny altoid tins for holding stamps. Paint, stickers, cutouts, enless ways to decorate.

  24. ashley says:

    I love this i have had tins that had watches in them years ago and i almost threw them away im so glad i found a use for them.


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