Many people think the throw cup is the only useful thing that comes flying off a Carnival float. But even if you avoid parades like the plague, it’s possible to have a cabinet full of the plastic cups in all sizes, from your kid’s school fund-raiser, your friend’s bar mitzvah or your favorite po-boy shop or bar. They’re a popular souvenir as well as a symbol of our walking-around-drinking culture.

But what do you do with the accumulation? Of course you can drink from them, or send a stack off to a college apartment. But what else?

Ed Branley gives them away in his computer classes during the year as an icebreaker, to create a little excitement.

Ashley Dwyer uses them to hold pens at work. “Nice way to have a little Carnival year round,” she says.

Using them as holders is common. Use them to stash craft supplies, makeup or toiletries.

They’re also popular for paint projects. Sue Wespy Ceravolo writes, “I use them as semi-disposable paint cups. Sturdier than basic plastic cup. Perfect way to recycle.”

In the kitchen, you can use the smallest sizes for scoops for anything you keep in bulk. The one in my sugar bin holds just under 1-1/2 cups. You can also use them as scoops in dog food, but be sure to measure out the correct ration and make a mark on the inside of the cup so you don’t accidentally fatten up your pooch.

In the garden, I use one as a scoop in potting soil. In the urns in front of my house, I use an upside-down stack of cups as risers to support a potted plant so it’s even with the top of the urn.

Susan Langenhenning has used them (with holes punched in the bottom) as seed cups for tomato plants or other plants. Stephanie Stokes uses throw cups in the garden to hold beer -- for slug and snail bait.

They're great for kids' projects, too. Stokes says her son cut down a couple of different-size ones when he had to build a tennis-ball-hurling catapult for school.

And, she says, if you cut them down and poke a brad through a hole in the bottom, “You can use them as the wheels for a car made from a shoebox or milk carton.”

Stokes and Amanda Phillips both noted the Speed Stacks game/competition phenomenon. In other areas, people pay money for cups to stack. Imagine.

Phillips takes throw cups to the beach for kids to use in the sand, and to play in water in the tub or at the beach. They’re also useful for rinsing kids’ hair in the tub.

If you don’t wash kids’ hair any longer: Jill Elliott uses one when she bathes her dogs.

Throw cups can even be used as holders for other beverages in another container. Phillips has used throw cups as a make-shift coozie while on the parade route, and Eileen Andrews uses them as cup holders while on a float.

And the usefulness of throw cups is not limited to New Orleans.

“The parade in our German town is Sunday,” Phyllis Carter wrote the week before Mardi Gras. “The most useful thing from a float is a little plastic cup -- filled with schnapps!”