In addition to creative lamps and simple blender drinks, one of the most popular uses for canning jars is to use them to house homemade gifts. Gifts in a jar are affordable, thoughtful and a great activity for the kiddos to be involved in. In short, they are incredibly useful when trying to be generous on a budget. From solid perfumes to homemade sundae sauce, here are my top choices for gifts in a jar.
1. Bath Salts
Bath salts are a decadent gift and extremely affordable to make in large batches. This makes them perfect choice when preparing gifts in a jar. Looking for additional uses for lavender to finish up that batch from last summer’s garden? Try using some in this hand-crafted gift idea, and your friends will feel like they have their very own spa bathroom.
2. Beer Bread
Searching for affordable hostess gift ideas? This beer bread mix in a jar is always a huge hit. One of the reasons it makes my short list of favorite gifts in a jar is because it steers clear of sugary sweetness. Many people tend to go with cookie and cake mixes when they give jar gifts, and that’s fine. But if you’re bringing a gift to someone who’s counting calories, or to a bachelor who just isn’t into baking (go figure), then it’s nice to have an alternative that leans more towards the savory side of things. Bonus? These look great when you layer the ingredients instead of mixing them together.
3. Canned Yard Bounty
Rhubarb chutney, homemade crabapple sauce and marinated mushrooms are all jar-gift worthy examples of free food in your yard that can be used as a hospitality item when the situation demands it. Even if gardening isn’t exactly your thing. If it is, then there are many more ideas to consider, such as homemade pickles and preserved peppers.
4. Salt Scrub
When it comes to gifts in a jar, homemade beauty products are some of the most customizable ones you can create. Salt scrub is a relatively simple combination of salt and the carrier oil of your choice (I prefer either olive or soy.), along with whatever essential oil you wish to add for scent.
5. Hot Pepper Jelly
If your friends are looking for affordable gourmet ingredients to add style and pizzazz to mealtime menus, consider adding a large batch of homemade, hot pepper jelly to your repertoire of jar gifts. It can be used to jazz up your black beans, spice up your cream-cheese-topped crackers for an at-home dinner party or simply enjoyed on a simple baked good for breakfast.
6. Roasted, Seasoned Nuts
Specialty nuts are a hit even when they happen to be store bought. Toss a few into a nicely-decorated mason jar and you’ve got a great way to win over any serious snacker. (Can you say homemade Valentine’s Day gift, ladies?) I’ve used this recipe for spiced, roasted almonds for a gift on numerous occasions. Always with rave reviews.
7. Hand-Crafted Candle
Handing over a homemade candle is a great way to make sure that gifts in a jar are given their fair share of respect. Most people appreciate a candle as a host or hostess gift, as it’s something that’s consumable and they don’t have to find shelf room for. Afterwards, they’ve got an easy storage container for other items.
8. Homemade Hooch
Granted, this is a decidedly rustic way to go when it comes to jar gifts. That being said, I don’t know anyone that doesn’t enjoy sampling homemade liquors when given the chance. This recipe for a vegan Irish cream is from Spa Bettie, and looks perfect for a favorite hot toddy recipe or a party where you want to serve coffee cocktails exclusively.
9. Bulk Candy
Seasonal candy is one of the best bulk buying deals you can typically get your hands on, and looks great inside a mason jar coordinating with whatever color of ribbon or bow you happen to use. If you have candy in a few different colors, consider letting the kids layer them while you get to work on labeling the gift tags. If you have extremely young children, this activity is well suited to their involvement.
10. Hot Cocoa Mix
Homemade hot cocoa mix looks great when the ingredients are layered in a wide-mouth mason jar. There are so many different gourmet jar recipes out there, it would be impossible to list them all. To get you started, here’s a double chocolate jar cocoa from The Yummy Life and a homemade vegan hot chocolate option from the people at Go Dairy Free.
11. Pet Treats
If your dog routinely has play dates with another canine down the street, or you have a friend who’s recently adopted a feline friend, then homemade pet treats should make it to your short list of ideas for gifts in a jar. Treats make great pet hacks for training new behaviors, and the minimal-ingredient dog treats from the book Eco Dog are easy and affordable to make.
12. Sundae Sauce
Bean soup and cowboy cookies aren’t the only jar gift ideas out there. Canning your own peppermint hot fudge sauce provides a unique item to toss in with gift baskets, and is perfect for those families where cooking for kids is a huge priority. If you want to take things to the next level, consider an entire “make your own sundae” kit.
13. Homemade Ketchup
For those looking for a healthier selection of gifts in a jar, homemade ketchup certainly fits the bill. And if you’re looking for a gift-worthy way to hone your assembly cooking skills, you can certainly prepare it in large batches. This leaves you with plenty for your own family to use throughout the year and also have lots on hand when you need a quick hostess gift to take with you.
14. Cookie Mix
We can complain about calories until the cows come home, but cookie mix is still a fave for many when receiving gifts in a jar. Two vegan jar gift options on this front include the punk rock cookies from the Post Punk Kitchen and this holiday vegan cookie mix from Crafting a Green World.
15. Solid Perfume
This works well in those really small jars typically reserved for fruit pastes and other gourmet goodies. Young girls, teens and even grown women enjoy having an easy-to-grab fragrance when out and about. This solid perfume recipe from Craft Bits would work well for jar gifts.
19. Bubble Bath
Also from Craft Bits, this homemade bubble bath is a great project for teens to be involved in during the holidays. It will make them feel like they are a part of the gift-giving endeavors and also provide an affordable gift that they may deem appropriate for at least a few of their friends.
20. Chai Tea Mix
For more on the “not too sweet” front, check out this sexy chai tea mix from 52 Kitchen Adventures. It’s great for those who want a little less caffeine, but still enjoy a hot beverage at various times throughout the day.
21. Healthy Soup Mix
This recipe for organic, vegan minestrone soup mix instantly became one of my top picks for this “gifts in a jar” list. It takes things a bit further than the typical layered bean jars, and works the organic angle as well. Waking Up Vegan also has a fun option for vegan soup mix that you can also present as a jar gift.
22. Sewing Kit
Got a college student heading away from home for the first time? Consider one of these mason jar sewing kits from Momtastic. They have a built-in pin cushion on the cover and the supplies stored inside. Very, very clever and customizable to a variety of dorm decors.
23. Dry Mixes
Rather than pad this list with a gazillion dry mix recipes, I’ll simple toss out the idea and link to a couple that we already have here on We Be Sharin’, such as cornbread mix in a jar and a healthy cinnamon-oatmeal pancake mix. Basically though, you can whip up whichever ones you like, and even make them organic if you’re so inclined.
24. Homemade Play Dough
If you’re looking for gifts in a jar that are appropriate for children, consider homemade play dough. You can give the gift as a kit for the child to mix under parental supervision, as with this Kool Aid play dough idea from Homemade Gift Guru, or mix it up in advance. A fun way to do this for the holidays is with the gingerbread play dough featured in this list of gingerbread recipes you can use throughout the winter months.
25. Make a Journal Jar
I love, love, LOVE this idea! A journal jar is perfect for writers or even classroom teachers who are looking for a special way to encourage children to write in their free time. Package it together with a nice writing utensil and a pretty fabric-covered journal to create a small gift basket.
26. Homemade Organic Salsa
Someone who is trying to cut calories or has recently started going vegan will really appreciate a jar gift of organic salsa, as will anyone who’s a fan of Tex-Mex cuisine. You can even take this to a Fourth of July picnic along with organic blue and white tortilla chips for a red white and blue party treat that’s tall on style and short on calories.
27. DIY Lip Balm
As with the solid perfume jar gifts mentioned above, I recommend you use the smaller size of canning jar. They pack flat and will fit into teen backpacks and messenger bags with ease. Also, depending on which flavor you use, you can also use these as teen gifts for guys who are involved in outdoor sports or have a job which requires them to spend a great deal of time outside in winter weather. Here’s a homemade lip balm recipe from Living on a Dime and a few more lip balms from Crunchy Betty to get you started.
These are my top picks. What are your favorite gifts in a jar?
Photo Credit: D’Arcy Norman