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An Ice Bucket Isn’t Just for Ice - 5 Creative Ways to Use Ice Buckets

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A Display of Roses in a Crystal Ice Bucket

The photographer filled a Waterford crystal ice bucket with magnificent pink roses.

The photographer filled a Waterford crystal ice bucket with magnificent pink roses.

Just about everybody knows that an ice bucket is for keeping ice cubes in their cubed state over time or for chilling champagne, wine, beer, and other beverages. An ice bucket is a classic barware necessity. You also know that ice buckets can be timelessly elegant, rustic, new or antique, and coming in styles that complement any décor and any way of life. But, if you like to re-purpose the everyday objects in your home, as I do, then ice buckets can take on creative uses and also fill unexpected needs. Here’s your fun guide for putting ice buckets to unconventional uses in five clever ways.

1 • The Power Is Out - Load Up the Ice Bucket!

I don’t know why the electric power goes out so often in this modern community where I live. But the instant it does, I unload ice from my freezer into an insulated, lidded ice bucket that keeps the ice in good condition for about six hours. To do this while minimizing cold air loss from the freezer, I get the ice bucket ready on the countertop closest to the freezer, quickly open the freezer door and yank out the ice bin, close the door, dump half the contents of the bin into the ice bucket without caring if some of the ice falls on the counter or floor, open the freezer door again, insert the bin into its holder, and shut the door. The power may be out, but I’m not going to miss my cocktail hour!

Insulated Ice Buckets for Keeping Ice and Potato Salad

2 • Yes, that Potato Salad Is Cold - It's in the Ice Bucket.

Our family gets together a lot, and when we do, food is always involved. As my mother is our family’s reigning queen of potato salad, she is almost always asked to bring her special recipe for the occasion. Rather than search in the storage room for a cooler, she refrigerates the insulated, lidded ice bucket within easy reach in her kitchen cabinet while her homemade potato salad chills. Then she loads the chilled potato salad into a plastic bag, seals it, pops the bag in the cold bucket, and puts on the lid. Her mini cooler is ready to go and will keep the salad cold for up to two hours. An extra benefit of using an ice bucket to keep the potato salad cold is that the host of the event has an extra ice bucket to use to keep thirsty, ice-loving guests happy without having to constantly open and close the freezer door.

3 • Out of Flower Vases? Fill the Ice Bucket.

Ice buckets are particularly suited to doubling as flower vases for large flowers such as peonies, hydrangeas, full-bodied roses, zinnias, football mums, and sunflowers. To anchor the flower stems, pour in clear or colored glass marbles or pebbles as far up in the ice bucket as you need to support your desired arrangement. Add water and create your display. Crystal ice buckets let you add an additional design element when the marbles or pebbles you use accent a color in the flower arrangement. Be sure to strip the leaves from the stems before inserting the stems into the filled ice bucket.

Elegant Crystal Ice Buckets for Sale Online

4 • Can't Find a Large Candle Holder? Use a Crystal Ice Bucket.

Cut and pressed glass reflect light beautifully, making spectacular light shows in a darkened room. If you have more pillar candles than pillar candle holders, use a cut or pressed glass ice bucket for both beauty and safety. There are so many ways to arrange candles in an ice bucket. You can place the candle directly on the bottom of the bucket. You can add glass pebbles or marbles, or colored sand, and then place a candle securely nestled in. Or add water and floating flower blossoms around a large and heavy candle, or even fill the ice bucket three-quarters of the way up with water and add floating candles.

5 • Where Are the Washcloths? In the Ice Bucket, of Course.

We often have overnight guests, especially around the holidays. It's always a challenge to put out extra towels and washcloths in the bathrooms, since the bathrooms are small and the towel racks are few. Our ice buckets come to the rescue when we fill them with rolled washcloths and place them on the vanity tops or even on the floors. Fold a washcloth in half and then roll it tightly so that the folded edge is at the bottom and the open edges are at the top. Pack the rolled washcloths into the ice bucket. It’s quite amazing how many cloths can fit into an ice bucket while making an attractive display.

A Different Meaning for the Term “Ice Bucket”

From the photographer: “There was this bucket of water in the garden . . . and then we had frost . . . So we drilled a hole in the ‘water’ and put a candle in it. (All swedes have ice drills, of course)”

From the photographer: “There was this bucket of water in the garden . . . and then we had frost . . . So we drilled a hole in the ‘water’ and put a candle in it. (All swedes have ice drills, of course)”

Ice Buckets for Friends on the Go

An Ice Bucket Is a Practical and Thoughtful Gift

As you probably figured out by now, I have several ice buckets to put into service as occasions demand. Still, I’d be happy to be gifted with yet one more, because ice buckets can be so gosh-darned practical.

When thinking of gifting another with an ice bucket, base your decision on what you know of the other’s life style. Are they formal and traditional, more modern, or more retro in their tastes? Do they enjoy traveling and camping? There is an ice bucket on the market to complement anyone’s life style preferences.

Now that you know the clever uses an ice bucket can be put to, your gift can be accompanied by a selection of glass marbles, flowers, candles…or it can be, instead, a block of ice and an ice drill.


What Do You Think?

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© 2011 Sally's Trove. All rights reserved.


Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 02, 2012:

@pstraubie48, thanks for your awesome comment. And for the pin. :)

@RTalloni, pansies, YES! Gorgeous.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on October 02, 2012:

Great suggestions. I love to use something for a holder other than its original intended purpose. The roses in an ice bucket just pops. These are awesome ways to give a special gift to someone who has everything. Pinned...

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RTalloni on October 02, 2012:

Small price to pay indeed! That salad should include pansy flowers showing through the glass sides, yes? :)

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 02, 2012:

Right you are, RTalloni, about thinking outside the box. You just gave me an idea for a glass ice bucket...pack a wonderful layered salad in that and let the layers show through the glass. So pretty! But then, I'd have to pack the glass ice bucket in a cooler to keep it cold. Small price to pay. :)

RTalloni on October 01, 2012:

Nothing like thinking outside the box to make the most of an already useful item! The potato salad tip is fabulous and also inspiring. Other "specialties" would work well in an ice bucket!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on April 05, 2012:

Right you are, Laura. The "double-boiler" system is perfect for keeping food safe, and if your ice bucket has a handle for carrying, the set-up is even better. I'm glad you enjoyed this hub and want to try some of the suggestions. :)

Laura Schneider from Minnesota, USA on April 05, 2012:

Potato salad, dips, condiments... anything that can go bad at a picnic I use a "double-boiler" system like you describe with the ice bucket: the bottom bowl is filled with ice and the bowl containing the food item is nestled inside to keep it cool and safe.

I love all of your creative suggestions for ice buckets. I'm going to have to run out and buy one now and use some of those suggestions. Thanks!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on February 18, 2012:

TY, alocsin. No need to keep those buckets in hidden places. When you come up with more new uses for them, please share!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on February 18, 2012:

These are excellent uses for a vessel that normally just takes up space except during parties. Voting this Up and Useful.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on February 05, 2012:

Dolores, I love the idea of a candle in the ice and your description of turning things upside down a bit. It's been plenty cold here...would you like some of my freezing temps? ?)

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on February 05, 2012:

I also love the ice bucket with the candle. I make ice candles like that, but place the hunk of ice on top of the candle, ice set on bricks. The whole thing lights up so prettily. Waiting for some cold weather this year, but so far, it's a no-go.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on January 19, 2012:

Thank you, The Dirt Farmer!

Jill Spencer from United States on January 19, 2012:

Love the towel idea & the flower vase idea. Awesome!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on January 02, 2012:

Agaglia, thank you for reading and commenting. This is a good place to start to get your questions about ads on Hubs answered:

Annette Gagliardi from Minneapolis on January 01, 2012:

This was fun to read and interesting. Thanks for the information. How did you get the adds on this Hub?

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on December 12, 2011:

TY for the vote, adrienne2. Glad you enjoyed!

Fierce Manson from Atlanta on December 11, 2011:

Hi Sally, Interesting hub on using an ice bucket. What an unusal article. Voted up!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on December 11, 2011:

pstraubie48, what a lovely comment! I think I'd be a bit wary of letting him make a hat out of a $300 Waterford crystal ice bucket, though. :) You are so fortunate to have this beautiful child in your life. Kids are so creative...what a joy it is to watch a simple utilitarian item take on magical qualities in the hands and mind of a child.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on December 10, 2011:

Sally's Trove...clever ideas for the IB. My grandson who is almost 18 months now would have a few other ways to add to your list for the not so special ice buckets: 1. a hat, of course; 2. to make an imaginary dish to serve us (he is just learning to do this); 3. a wonderful container to carry his special toys or books. Thank you, seriously, for these clever ideas. I shall pass them along.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on December 10, 2011:

@SUSIE, that would be so beautiful! I don't have a Waterford bucket, but I wish I did. :)

@Kris Heeter, I so envy you. I know the penguin bucket you mean. The good news for me is that they are still relatively affordable, and I think I need to go get one before they get priced out of the market. I love that your great aunt gifted it to you. There must be lovely memories to go with it.

Kris Heeter from Indiana on December 10, 2011:

Very clever hub! I had to laugh - I have one of the "retro" Penguin ice buckets. I inherited it from a great aunt and absolutely love it!

SUSIE DUZY from Delray Beach, Florida on December 08, 2011:

Great ideas. I especially like the idea of a flower vase. I have a beautiful Waterfore bucket that would look great with flowers.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 29, 2011:

You just wrote clever use #7, rockinjoe. I'll let you write the book! Ty for the good words. :)

Actually, there was another use I had in mind, based on past experience, about using the ice bucket as a first-stage treatment for minor burns. Burn your hand, fill up the ice bucket 1/3 ice, 2/3 water, submerge hand until you can't stand it, warm hand up, and repeat. We did that many years ago, but it's not the currently accepted practice...using an ice bucket to keep a cut-off digit, though, would work well. :)

Joseph Addams from Standing right behind you! on November 29, 2011:

Cut off a finger, bring it to the hospital in the ice bucket. This could be a whole book!

Nice hub :)

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 29, 2011:

Hey, Peggy...I ain't gonna miss that cocktail hour! LOL

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 29, 2011:

I had to laugh at your first use of the ice bucket. We think along the same lines! Haha! You have given some great suggestions for use of ice buckets in non traditional ways. Up, useful and interesting votes!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 26, 2011:

Hi Shalini! Glad this hub adds a bit to your awesome creativity. :)

Shalini Kagal from India on November 25, 2011:

Very interesting ideas, ST - I'm going to be looking at my ice buckets with new eyes now!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 25, 2011:

Thanks for reading and commenting, A.CreativeThinker. Glad you enjoyed!

A.CreativeThinker on November 24, 2011:

Very nice hub with great ideas. Thanks for sharing. Take Care :)



Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 23, 2011:

Ty, Holle, Hh, and Dorsi!

I love the idea of an ice bucket big enough to hold a baby. So sweet. And that's Clever Use #6. :)

Dorsi Diaz from The San Francisco Bay Area on November 22, 2011:

Great ideas. I like that flower arrangement idea a lot.

I have one of those very large tin ice buckets with handles that my grandson used for a dip in the water this summer - it worked out quite well!

Thumbs up!

Hello, hello, from London, UK on November 22, 2011:

Certainly great ideas. Thank you

Holle Abee from Georgia on November 21, 2011:

Kewl! Girlfriend, you're just too clever. Voted up!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 20, 2011:

Dolores, I know you do! That's why I linked to your hub about hydrangeas. They are so perfect for those relics found in the garage. Big, fulsome, bursting blooms...and even if they are not fresh, but dried, an old ice bucket can be the perfect showcase. :)

@jfay, go for it!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 20, 2011:

Trish, my friend, you and I come from the same mold about a lot of things. Actually, my mold came in a large way from your home, from your parents. I'm glad I've stirred up the memories...these are things we share in our hearts.

jfay2011 on November 20, 2011:

good hub full of interesting ideas. I like the flower idea.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on November 20, 2011:

I like using the ice bucket for flowers! I'm not a big fan of ice, but I love those old ice buckets. Using one as a giant vase is a wonderful way to repurpose something that might just be sitting in the back of the garage!

trish1048 on November 20, 2011:

Hello dear friend,

As you well know, we had an ice bucket in our home for as long as I can remember. It was a necessary item to have when you had a bar in the basement, a home design that was so popular in the 60s. Talk about re-purposing :)

As you also know, my parents loved to entertain. They always had a Halloween party as well as a New Year's Eve party. The bar was always well stocked and yes, they had a martini shaker as well. I also remember the colored aluminum tumblers which also kept drinks cold. Another item I favored were the glass drink stirrers. Seems you've stirred up some memories for me :)

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 18, 2011:

Thanks, Om Paramapoonya! Those insulated ice buckets are amazingly effective, especially when they've been chilled down first.

Om Paramapoonya on November 18, 2011:

Smart ideas. Tip #1 is super helpful. Next time the power is out, I'll use a large ice bucket as my temporary freezer.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 18, 2011:

LOL Moonlake...chicken salad would do fine, too. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.:)

moonlake from America on November 18, 2011:

What good ideas for an ice bucket. Never thought of potato salad in an ice bucket.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 18, 2011:

randomcreative, I like to keep my life as uncluttered as I can, so I'm always looking for ways to re-purpose the things I have. I've been lucky to have good role models in my thrifty family and have learned so much from them. Thank you for reading and leaving your good words!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 18, 2011:

Feline Prophet, I'll bet you have a few, maybe even one with a kitty motif. Maybe they're hiding in your wine cellar? :)

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 17, 2011:

Great topic for a hub! I love your ideas. It's great when you can make common place items more versatile.

Feline Prophet on November 17, 2011:

Great ideas! Now if only I could find an ice bucket when I needed one! :D

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 17, 2011:

Stephanie, you've got the spirit!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 17, 2011:

I imagine ice buckets work well in your beautiful B&B! TY so much for your comment, alekhouse.

Stephanie Henkel from USA on November 17, 2011:

I love the idea of putting potato salad in an ice bucket! What a great way to take and serve it, and keep it cool, too! Now I think I need one of those crystal ice buckets for a candle holder...

Nancy Hinchliff from Essex Junction, Vermont on November 17, 2011:

Really good suggestions and I agree that an ice bucket makes a great gift.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 17, 2011:

Well, thank you, drbj! I needed a few salutes today. :)

You make a good point about revitalizing the ice bucket market. Like spittoons, ice buckets had their heyday and are not nearly as popular as they used to be. I'm sure there are many reasons for the decline of the ice bucket, but one that comes to mind right away is the home automatic ice maker and dispenser. (Good for nothing in a power outage, mind you.)

As Uninvited Writer commented, I, too, thought of ice buckets in the past as sophisticated entertainment bar ware, but now I'm thinking they are quite practical, as they can be so creatively re-purposed.

Now working on 5 creative uses for a martini shaker. ;)

drbj and sherry from south Florida on November 16, 2011:

The ice bucket manufacturers of America salute you, Sally. Single handed, you have performed an awesome task of revitalizing that market. Nice looking hub, m'dear.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 16, 2011:

You are welcome, AllSuretyBonds. Our mothers are smart, smart people.

AllSuretyBonds on November 16, 2011:

Very creative. This reminds me a lot of how my mothers uses things. Thanks for sharing.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 16, 2011:

paradigmsearch, TY so much for testing this stuff out. You and UW know what I mean.

@UW, you did make a berry good funny...and ice buckets are for everybody. :) Would love to share an ice bucket with you.

Susan Keeping from Kitchener, Ontario on November 16, 2011:


Ha Ha, just realized I made a funny :) Great ideas. I always thought ice buckets were so sophisticated, like martini shakers...

x on November 16, 2011:


Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 16, 2011:

Glad you enjoyed this hub and found it useful, jenuboka!

jenubouka on November 16, 2011:

Well after this awesome hub I just found a new item to collect and use. Great info, so innovative!

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