Alternative uses for coasters

The next time you’re out at a pub drinking a pint of Guinness with your pals, pocket a few cardboard beer coasters to take home with you. Once you get home, put them to use as buffers from liquid dribbles in your refrigerator and cabinets.

The coasters can live under items like soy sauce, steak sauce, and honey. The flat cardboard surfaces have just the right absorbency to prevent messy, hard-to-clean-up spills.

What alternative uses have you found for beer coasters?

Additionally, have a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day from all of us at Unclutterer.

30 Comments for “Alternative uses for coasters”

  1. posted by Brian on

    Probably esoteric, but…

    I make lighted glass blocks as gifts for folks. They are usually decorate with ribbon wrapped around the block and hot-glued underneath, making an ugly joint. I use spiffy coasters glued over the joint as a sort of escutcheon to hide them.

  2. posted by marcus on

    I ordered several hundred of these off eBay for around $10 or so. I keep a mini-basket of them on the coffee table just for general coaster usage. I got a huge sleeve of “Stella” coasters, as well as an assortment of other beer brands. People enjoy just looking through them, believe it or not.

    I put a few of them on flat, self-adhesive magnets for use on the “beer fridge” in the basement as well.

  3. posted by Sara on

    Is using coasters to prevent spills really an alternate use? Isn’t that what they’re built for? I was hoping for something much more innovative!

    It’s still useful though, I suppose! 🙂 I just don’t think I have enough room in my fridge for the extra space a whole coaster would require under each of my bottles.

  4. posted by Celeste on

    My kitchen is too small to use the coasters in the cabinets. I’d be better off putting down some of that vinyl sheeting drawer liner stuff that could be wiped down or replaced as needed. Part of cooking is cleaning up the countertops afterwards anyhow, so I don’t even see it as being useful during cooking. Sorry!

    However I actually like the commenter’s idea of having disposable coasters like this for regular use! I never thought of it. I use those “absorbent stone” coasters, but they get ugly and discolored over time. All others seem inferior. This would actually be more festive, too! I can see kids thinking they are fun if you have a collection of different ones. Score!!!

  5. posted by JEB on

    Usually I just write pithy or deep thoughts on the backs of coasters. My friends and I meet up at the bar on Thursdays, and I don’t drink often, so to unwind my mind, I scribble on the coasters, things like:

    The longer a supposedly intelligent person stares off into space, the less monumental their thoughts become, until eventually they’re just thinking about lunch.

  6. posted by Gillian on

    It’s the bottles of oil that are drippy. I always have to have something under them. Beer mats could do it.

  7. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    I use lids of margarine/yogurt containers to contain the drips off of the honey jar, oil decanter.

    The kids use the coasters as frisbees.

  8. posted by allen on

    that’s a great idea for Coster use. Lateral thinking, & something i wouldnt’ have thought of on my own.

  9. posted by Martha on

    You’re not supposed to pocket them and take them home, you know. They’re for your use while you’re there; it’s not a supply cabinet. Taking home the ones you’ve used is fine, but pilfering new ones still counts as pilfering.

  10. posted by Rebecca on

    I use them to make mini scrapbooks. Cover them with patterned paper and add photos and embellishments.

  11. posted by Sky on

    Cardboard coasters eventually get soaked through so I use plastic lids from margarine, frosting, etc. They last forever, are easy to wash and I don’t have to swipe stuff!!

  12. posted by Another Deb on

    Sometimes people collect coasters much as they do matchbooks. If you have a collection, this is a great way to enjoy it for a bit, then send it on to the bin.

  13. posted by Sandra on

    Instead of a coaster under my oil and other messy bottles, I cut the extra length off an old orphan sock and slip that on the bottom of the bottle. When it gets grungy I throw it in the wash. Don’t use around company though, you get weird looks!

  14. posted by Chris W on

    This is the first time I can recall being prompted to bring something completely unnecessary *into* my house by this blog. I cringed, since this tip has nothing to do with uncluttering, and it kind of involves petty theft.

  15. posted by Ruth Hansell on

    Coasters or any bits of cardboard make a great holder for tiny nails or screws, the kind that are so small you can’t hold them in place in order to hammer them.

    To use, cut or rip a small tear in the coaster. Push the nail or screw through the cardboard at the end of the cut. Hold edge of cardboard and put the nail/screw in the spot you want it. Hammer or screwdrive gently. Remove coaster by pulling off via the cut you’ve previously made.

    If accuracy of placement is critical, use a clear piece of stiff plastic instead of cardboard.


  16. posted by infmom on

    *tsk* Don’t steal stuff from the bar.

    Just go to the thrift store and buy a stack of real, washable coasters. If they get too glopped up to be washed, you can toss them out and go get some more.

  17. posted by knitwych on

    While I see Martha’s point about restaurants not meant to be supply cabinets, I believe that the basic rule in restaurants is that the table must be completely cleared of everything short of condiments and salt/pepper once a dining party has left. I’ve watched servers put down four new coasters for a party of two many times, and I’ve watched busboys sweep used and unused coasters into their trays as they cleared tables. If you’re taking these things home by the sleeve, then, sure, that’s stealing. But taking home something that’s going to get trashed anyway is saving an item from the landfill. I’m sitting here right now with a Pepsi sitting on an Outback Steak House coaster on my desk. One side is an ad for the steak house; the other side says “…and then I accidentally hit reply all.” My DBF and I were laughing at the silly quotes on the back of the coasters and the server invited us to take them home. Coasters are another form of advertising, so most restaurants are going to be more than happy if you take a couple with you.

    BTW, I like the idea of keeping coasters under drippy stuff. I’ve repeatedly scrubbed syrup and sesame oil puddles out of the cabinets; this is a great solution for that problem.

  18. posted by Sue (Uncutterer) on

    @JEB – I like the ‘deep thoughts’ service you’re providing to customers.


  19. posted by Derrin Lester on

    It’s acceptable for the server to tell you it’s okay to take the coasters home? Is that because she obviously owns the restaurant and pays the bills? It would be acceptable if you asked and were given permission to take them home, but I guess theft is better than thrift!

  20. posted by Erin Doland on

    Obviously the people who think taking little cardboard coasters is theft have NEVER worked in a bar. These coasters are promotional materials that advertisers GIVE to establishments to use at no cost. Usually it’s the beer distributors who give them to the bar. The distributor WANTS people to take them. It spreads the message of their beer. Every time you see the coaster you think of their product. Do you people who think this is stealing not take the free promotional matches, either? Do you preserve your napkins and return them to your server for future use?

  21. posted by LP on

    You’re right. These are giveaways… I work for a company who has made items like this…and the hope is that people TAKE THEM!

  22. posted by Kristin on

    My niece loved to try to shove the whole coaster in her mouth and use it as a teething ring. She was 5 months old at the time – and the coaster was far to large to be a chocking hazard. Not to mention it really kept her entertained while we were having dinner.

    I didn’t know there was a beer named Stella – that is my nieces name.

  23. posted by Lynda on

    Would you believe Christmas cards?
    Since there are a lot of real ale / microbrew drinkers on our list, it was possible to send a local brewery’s design, or find last names, or simply find a pretty picture and Xmas related ones for people that don’t drink.

    We did have an advantage… 4 large bags, deemed surplus to requirements, by a former beer mat (coaster) collector.

  24. posted by Chris W on

    @Erin, to answer your questions:
    I only take promotional materials that have been offered to me for the taking. And I leave my napkins at the tables to be handled by the restaurants in any way they see fit.

    It’s my understanding that taking things that don’t belong to you and haven’t been offered to you is called stealing. Your rationalization, that since *some* restaurants get coasters for free necessarily makes it okay for anyone to take them, falls short of ethical. It’s not your place to assign value to things that are not yours. Opportunistic theft is being advocated by telling people to take things from restaurants! How can you even think of defending such a position by denying facts that we try vehemently to teach small children!? And if you examine this situation closer, the author’s intent for taking the coasters is to supply herself with disposable cleaning aids.

    Here’s a question for you, Erin: When a coaster gets too soggy with soy sauce in a home cabinet, is it your recommendation that a reader goes back to a restaurant to get a new coaster? Or, do you recommend that readers stockpile restaurant coasters until they’re needed?

    Petty theft is a slippery slope. Don’t start down it, lest you end up at the bottom with the likes of Bernie Madoff.

  25. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Chris W — You’re right. Taking used, cardboard, free, promotional beer coasters that the beer companies want you to take home IS THE EXACT SAME THING as what Bernie Madoff did. No difference whatsoever.

  26. posted by Tiffany on

    Apparently Chris W has missed the part where the promotional materials ARE offered to the patron for the taking. You know, when the bartender/server puts it in front of you.

  27. posted by DeeAnn on

    Coasters make a jiffy bookmark if one can’t be found.

  28. posted by Greg / Wise Bread on

    @Kristin — Stella Artois is a wonderful Belgium beer. It’s light but satisfying, and very tasty. My sister turned me on to it a couple of years ago, and it’s been a top 3 “go to” beer since then.

  29. posted by Steve on

    As someone who sells promotional materials for a living, I can assure everyone that you are not stealing the coasters. No need to freak out people. The beer and liquor companies print them by the millions and the whole idea behind promotions is to spread your logo as far and wide as possible. The same goes for matches, napkins and hundreds of other products. Relax and have a beer!

  30. posted by Tom on

    @Steve; exactly!
    @Chris, you are in way over your head with regards to this being petty theft, you should even some of the coasters out there… ring sizers, seat savers, coupons, cab company cards… You need to unclutter other things first!

    Please take the coasters!!! Take as many as you can!

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