With Christmas right around the corner, I am willing to bet that many of you, like myself, are in a place where the money is all spent, the presents have been bought, the groceries are in the fridge, but there are still some precious friends, family, and neighbors for whom you would like to give a small gift to show that you care and are thinking of them this holiday season.
Christmas cards are one way to share warm wishes with others. But if you are looking for a small token to give, DIY Christmas Gifts in a Jar are a wonderful and affordable way to do this.
This Christmas, I was informed rather short notice that my spouse needed eight (which was later corrected to nine) gifts for the team and subordinates at work. Now, we had originally planned on purchasing some Frango mints at Marshall Fields in Chicago the last time we were visiting for just such an occasion. However, we failed to do so, and the purchase price plus shipping was just not in our budget this year. Add to that list, something for our amazing babysitter, our children’s play friends, and our dear neighbors to whom we also felt inclined to gift this year.
The best solution I can think of, that was affordable, would provide me and our kids some fun, and also gave me a creative outlet this December, was to do DIY Christmas gifts in a jar. Now, these jars can be decorated and filled with anything that you want. In previous blogs I have mentioned doing gifts in a jar filled with ingredients to make cookiesexample. However, this year I decided to go a bit more simple with assorted candy (chocolate and licorice) and hot chocolate powder with marshmallows.
My DIY Christmas gifts in a jar were decorated as several characters this year, to include Santa Claus, Reindeer, Elves, and Snowman. You can decorate the jars as simply and inexpensively as you want or rack up that craft store bill with add-ons. I really was trying to make a meaningful but super-affordable gift this year, so I simply used the acrylic paint stored in my art cupboard for most of the detail work, and added some twine around the jar lids to tie on the gift tags. I did purchase a few buttons and pipe cleaners for embellishments.
Some other ideas would be to add a jingle bell to the twine label, to purchase or print festive Christmas labels, to add holiday themed fabric over the jar lid, or glue other embellishments onto the jars. I include some ideas for additional embellishments with each jar description below.
Some materials you will want include pint sized wide mouth mason jars with or without lids, small foam brushes, acrylic paint, colored buttons (like black, red, green or white), glitter (like gold, white, red, green, etc.), a hot glue gun and glue sticks, twine (like the standard kitchen packaging twine or red and white wine), Christmas labels with a whole punch and fine-tip permanent marker, and a pair scissors.
If you have mason jars without lids plan on covering the Jar mouth with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Some of my jars did not have lids, so I covered the mouth of the jars with aluminum foil, and then secured the foil to the jar (and also disguised the shine a bit from the sides), by wrapping kitchen twine several times around the mouth of the jar and securing with a knot at the back. This also gave me a great place to attach my gift tag.
A tip from experience, do not open your packages of candy to fill the jars until the night before or the morning of the day you plan on gifting the jars. You do not want the candy to become too moist or too hard and dried out, depending on the conditions where you live or inside your home.
The Santa Claus Jar
For the Santa Claus jar, I used black and white acrylic paint and gold glitter for decorations. Using my foam brush, I carefully painted a stripe along the middle of the jar in black paint. Let that dry before moving onto the next step. And then with white acrylic paint, I painted an outline of a square over and centered on the black line in the center of one of the sides of the jar. While the white paint was still wet, I sprinkled on gold glitter and gently tapped the glitter into the white paint with my finger. The idea is for this to look like Santa’s black belt and gold buckle.
Now you could go fancier and use black satin ribbon (½”) for the belt and actual brass buckles from your local sewing center or gold metallic cardstock cut into a buckle shape.
Fill the jar with any red candy you like. I think red hots, red licorice bites, long strands of red licorice, sour candies… But be sure that it is all red.
The Reindeer Jar
For the reindeer jar, I used half-inch red buttons and brown pipe cleaners. If you want to add an extra detail, you can also paint eyes on your jar (black acrylic paint). I did not include eyes on my reindeer jar, going with a more abstract look. If you want eyes, with the foam brush, carefully paint black eyes in the top-third of the jar. In the middle-third of the jar, use the hot glue gun to secure one red button in the center of the jar, below the eyes. This will be Rudolph’s nose. Around the mouth of the jar, below the ridges for the lid to screw on, bend two pipe cleaners (in opposite directions of each other) around the mouth of the Jar and twist the ends to secure the position and keep the ends separated in a ‘V’ shape to form antlers on each side of the jar. Using a third pipe cleaner, wrap the pipe cleaner around the jar and just above or below where you did the two antler pipe cleaners. Twist the ends together at theback of the jar to look like a tail, and aim the ends down and away from the bottle.
Fill the jar with any brown candy, like chocolate M&Ms, malt balls, chocolate covered raisins, chocolate dipped pretzels, etc.
The Elf Jar
For the elf jar, I used white acrylic paint, white glitter, and half-inch red buttons. With the foam brush, around the top of the jar and just under the ridges for screwing on the lid, carefully paint upside down triangle’s overlapping each other all the way around the jar. This will be the color of the elves shirt. While the white paint is still wet, sprinkle on and gently press and white glitter. Down the center of one side of the jar, glue on three evenly spaced red buttons. These will be the shirt buttons for your elf.
Now fill the jar with any green candy, like sour apple, mint flavored M&M’s, Green gumballs, etc.
The Snowman Jar
For the snowman jar, I used black half-inch buttons, and black, green and orange acrylic paint. With the foam brush, paint on two eyes and a smile in the upper one third of the jar. The smile should be four to five evenly spaced dots of black paint. The idea is for the eyes, the smile, and the buttons to look like pieces of coal. So, do not try to make the black circles look perfectly circular. You want the edges and lines to be irregular and uneven. But, definitely try to make the positioning on the bottle symmetrical and proportional as you would with decorating a real snowman. For the nose, you want to make an elongated triangle on its side to look like a carrot shoved into the middle of your snowman’s face. I accomplished this by putting my brush on the jar and keeping the point of the nose still, I arced the other side of the brush downwards to form the wider base of the carrot (or the nose) where it would enter the snowman’s face. The base of the carrot (nose) should be centered between the eyes and above the mouth.
In between the smile and the top button, paint a green line all the way around the jar to be the scarf. To the left side of your snowman’s face, along the line of the scarf, paint a small knot (think about drawing a butterfly with four wings) and then draw three overlapping lines coming down from the knot to form the tassel of your scarf. I then added on tiny lines at the end of each tassel of the scarf to be fringe. The three Colburns should go down the middle of the jar, centered underneath the mouth and between the eyes. You can either keep the buttons in the middle-third of the jar or center them over the middle- and bottom-thirds of the jar.
At the bottom of the jar, measure out and fill the jar with hot chocolate powder for as many cups as you want to provide. I aim for 4 to 6 cups of hot chocolate which is usually 2 to 3 tablespoons of powder mix per cup. Then, fill the rest of the jar with white, miniature marshmallows. The goal is for the jar to be mostly filled with marshmallows so it looks like a white Snowman, so you need to limit how much hot chocolate powder you put in the bottom. Otherwise you’re going to be gifting a muddy snowman!
I decorated the lids in the same color paint that I used for the scarves.