Monday, April 23, 2012

31 ways to use a Thirty-One Large Utility Tote

Update: I wrote this post three years ago (because, as a mom of four, I love the organization I get from Thirty-One) and I cannot believe how popular it has become!  Sort of mind blowing?  Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! Would you like some encouragement for your heart today before you leave?  Start here, or here!  

I joke that the Large Utility Tote was my 31 "gateway bag".  It's funny to think of the things we get so hooked on. . .and that one product or event that just got it started.  Like the one casual trip to the Goodwill in high school to pick out a halloween costume. . . that turned into 2 trips a week and 3 years of wearing the craziest most brightly colored polyester dresses and pantsuits I could get my hands on.   Like that, this one little teeny tiny thirty-one purchase of this tote as a gift from my mom turned into MANY more purchases. I love the thirty-one brand so much and carry their products everywhere!  If I could recommend ONE product to anyone, the Large Utility Tote would be it.  It is just so darn USEFUL.  You can personalize it.  It flattens for easy storage.  The fabric is durable and wipes easily.  It comes in tons of fantastic patterns. Here are 31 ways that you can use the tote or give the tote, so you can see just how versatile it really is!

1.  Diaper bag  
So, yeah, now that I have four kids, most of the time this tote is my diaper bag.  My friend Andi gave me the idea, and since she has 7 kids and does it gracefully, I consider all of her ideas BRILLIANT.  Throw a zipper pouch inside with diapers/wipes, toss in all the snacks and toys and changes of clothes you might need for the day and you are good to go!  Then, I just grab the zipper pouch of diaps and throw it in my purse when we get out of the car for a quick trip to the park, or just take the whole thing in if we are going to a playdate.

2. Groceries
I like to rock it at Aldi with this tote ALL the time.  You can fit so many groceries in here, even the awkwardly sized ones, like giant melons and huge bags of chips!  I shove all of my other reusable bags in the cute 31 tote and I am off for a day at the store.

3. Picnic
Not only can I fit a big old quilt in here, but my Fisher Price portable booster fits in here for the baby, too!
4. Poolside
I can't wait to use it at the pool this summer- towels, life vests, googles, it will all fit in here!  I can add a coordinating zipper pouch for sunscreen and I am set!  Plus, you can personalize it with your name, initials or a cute phrase, so everyone knows that lounge chair you just set it on is YOURS.

5.  Sand
We have a couple of great sand parks by our house.  Even though we have our own great sandbox in the backyard, it is so fun to grab a bunch of our favorite toys, throw them in the tote and head to a different sandy spot!  The wipe clean feature of this tote makes it easy to fill with "dirty" things without worrying too much.

6.  Errands
Off for a day of returns, shopping, dropping things off at people's houses, etc?  Toss it all in the tote and carry it out to the car, then keep everything on the passenger seat next to you all organized and ready to go!

7.  Laundry
I love the handles.  Therefore, I have full intentions of making one of these our master closet laundry basket.  Then, I can carry a baby downstairs AND the laundry, no problem!  I am thinking folded laundry would look really swell inside this, too, especially since I don't like to put it away.  Maybe noone will know it is un-put-away laundry if it is in a cute bag!

8.  Car
In a dark or coordinated-to-your-interior color, this is the perfect catch all for your trunk.  And if you need a bag while out and about, just empty it and use it!

9. Entry Catch-all
I keep mine on the bench in our entryway.  That way, when I toss things down when we walk in the door, it looks neat. Then, I can just pick it back up and grab it on the way out!

10. Teaching
Oh, how I wish I would have had one of these teaching.  Every day I looked like a bag lady going into school with an assortment of totes from textbook companies, Vera Bradley bags, plastic Walmart bags, my umbrella, my purse.  Ugh.  This would have looked way better.

11.  Photography
Our digital camera bag fits great in here along with any other props you want to take along to a photo shoot!

12.  Bridesmaid
This would make such a cute gift for your bridesmaids.  Pick a color or print that coordinates with your wedding, get it embroidered with her initals, and it is something she can use on the wedding day to catch all of her "gear". . .shoebox, makeup bags, change of clothes, etc.  The best part, she'll still be able to use every day after!

13.  Sports
The new Spirit colors coming out May 1, 2012 make this the perfect bag for cheering for your favorite team member from the sidelines or hauling their equipment to the field.

14.  College Student
Because it folds flat and is easily personalized, this makes a great graduation gift!  Your college student can just keep it tucked away when not in use and pull it out for everything from a trip to the laundry room to a trip home for the weekend.

15.  Tailgate
Once again, SPIRIT COLLECTION!  I can't wait to pack my tailgate supplies in one of these.  Every year, our tailgates get more elaborate.  This would help haul all of the spirit gear and decorations I need!

16.  Baby shower gift
Any new mom would find this useful- get it embroidered with her last initial and put it by the door at the shower.  Ask each guest to bring something small to fill the basket- washcloths, saline spray, baby medicine, a tiny board book.  Have each guest attach a note of encouragement to the mom-to-be so after baby is born she will have lots of kind words to read, tiny items that will save her trips to the store, and a great basket to use of all kinds of  new mommy things.

17.  Home Parties
If you sell Scentsy or Pampered Chef, do craft shows, etc, wouldn't it look cute to haul all of your wares into the place you are selling in one of these!  Plus, like I said before, HANDLES.  You can throw it over your arm and still carry a crate or two in your hands!

18.  Stuffed animal/toy storage
I have used one of these to hold stuffed animals.  They look so cute peeking out of the top, and it can also lend itself to lots of pretend play!  It's a house!  It's a boat!  It's a cave!

19. Pitch ins
There is no easier way to haul boxes of crackers, tupperwares full of cookies and my favorite serving trays to a friend's house for a pitch in!  You will look super prepared.  Impress everyone.  They'll never know you just tossed it all in there on the way out the door.

20.  Holiday gifts
It goes without saying that it can be a little tricky to haul all of your beautifully wrapped presents to the family gathering.  Every year, 31 comes out with one of these in a great holiday print!!  Enjoy!

21.  Sleepovers
Taking your kids to Nana's for the night?  Forget the trash bag!  Put all of their pillows, blankies, and favorite stuffed animals in here and you don't risk dropping an armful of linens on the driveway!  Not that I have ever done that.

22.  Day out with the Fam
Perfect for packing all of the things you need to head out for an adventure with the family.  Just leave it in the car and grab the things you need as you hop out- a frisbee, sunscreen, your purse, hats. . .they all just toss in and go.

23.  Road trip "Suitcase"
If you are taking the kids on a road trip, don't even bother packing the real suitcase!  Just pack the kids clothes in here, then when you put them in the dresser at the hotel, this can be your laundry basket!

24. On the boat
Big enough to carry your life vests and towels, and even a tiny cooler full of frosty beverages down to the boat for a day of fun in the sun!

25. On the trail
You can fit bike helmets for the whole family, portable bowl for the dog, snacks, even an air pump.  The space is generous and it fits great in your trunk or the back of your van!

26. Guest room
Embroider it with Welcome and keep this in your guest room full of extra things your guest might need. . .towels, washcloths, an extra pillow, a spare blanket.  then, they can use them as needed and if they don't need them, they are out of the way!

27.  Craft room
Fabric, scrapbooking, the possibilities are endless.  My whole sewing machine fits in here.

28. Garage
Great for big things like balls, a blanket or small tent for the baby, or your container of sidewalk chalk that you just want to haul out to the yard when needed.

29.  Purse/tote organization
Keep one on the top closet shelf with all of your lesser-used purses, totes, and evening bags.  Then, when you need one pull the WHOLE basket down, instead of untangling a bunch of straps to find what you want!

30.  Entry closet
This looks great and fits great on the top shelf of a small entry closet to store anything you need- hats, umbrellas, tote bags, you name it.

31.  Travel
My sister took one of these to Africa with her- it's so flat and light that it travels well in a large suitcase, and can perform lots of functions when you arrive.  She can take it to market and who knows, maybe even carry a live chicken around in it.  It's just that versatile.

See?  Now don't you think you need one?  Or, don't you love yours even more?


  1. So...I just figured that you took the 31 uses straight from a thirty-one company Web site, but these are all hand-crafted reasons by Jen - amazing!

    Also, that picture of your bag looks so professional...I bet no one would know that it's your living room!

  2. Love this post. Can't wait to be a Thirty-One Gifts Consultant in Canada. I am on the waiting list.

  3. Thanks, Carolyn!!! I am sure you will be a great consultant!! :)

  4. Carolyn - how did you get to be on the waiting list? I'm in Alberta and interested in learning more. My sister in South Carolina is having a party and I've fallen a bit in love with these bags. I KNOW they'd be a hit here where I live. I'd love to know more.

  5. willowfree- if you are following these comments, Carolyn is now a consultant! Email me and I can put you in touch with her so she can help you out!! :)

  6. I have two of these - one lives in the back of my car. I also gave one to a co-worker, filled with snow cleaning stuff for her new car.


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