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Practical Uses and Ideas for Mason Jars

Updated on February 23, 2016
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Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

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It's easy to dismiss the idea of using mason jars in the home and workplace. Every time you turn around, you find another silly decorative idea online that doesn't seem to serve any real purpose. It is worth looking past the more frivolous ideas and thinking about ways that you can use mason jars functionally at home and work. From small item storage to plantings to candles, there is something here for everyone.

Mason Jar Resources

If you do not have a stash of mason jars on hand, consider looking in one or more of the following places.

  • Big box stores. There should be some stock in the kitchen section all year round with more ample selections during the summer and fall for canning.
  • Big box craft stores. Most major craft stores keep mason jars in stock for both crafting and cooking projects and gifts.
  • Thrift stores. If you frequent second hand or thrift stores, it's worth keeping your eyes open for jars.
  • Amazon and eBay. Amazon has some of the best prices online for bulk jar sets in multiple sizes and with different features (i.e. handles, wide mouths). Don't forget to check for options that qualify for Prime free shipping. It's also worth looking at the current listings on eBay.
  • Garage sales / Craigslist. These methods may not be the speediest ways to get mason jars, but they can be great ways to get jars locally for cheap.

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Storage

You can use mason jars to store any number of different small objects. Your imagination is the limit. I've included just a few of the most popular storage uses for kitchens, bathrooms, offices / classrooms, and craft rooms.

  • Kitchen. Spices, canister items (i.e. flour, dried beans), silverware, serving / cooking utensils, ground coffee, tea bags, popcorn kernels, dried pasta, snack foods (i.e. pretzels, dried fruit), leftovers.
  • Bathroom. Q-tips, cotton balls, makeup brushes, toothbrushes / toothpaste, razors.
  • Office / classroom. Pens / pencils, crayons / markers, erasers, scissors, paper clips / binder clips, note pads, Post-It notes.
  • Craft room. Paintbrushes, beads, buttons, safety pins / pins, clothespins, thread / yarn / fabric scraps, paper scraps, pom poms.

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Lights / Candles

You can keep it as simple as placing tea lights in jars to making it as complex as upcycling multiple jars into a chandelier or other hanging light. There are lots of ways to decorate the jars so that you can make one of a kind lighting pieces to give as gifts and to display at home either year round or as holiday decor.

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DIY Mason Jar Light / Lantern

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Vases / Plantings

  • Fill a jar with a few inches of water and add freshly cut flowers to keep them beautiful for several days. They make a wonderful decoration for the home as well as a perfect table centerpiece for a wedding or party. Of course you can decorate these vases any way you like or leave them plain.
  • Mount the vase to the wall as you would with a small light fixture. Do It Yourself Decorations has instructions.
  • Grow and snip fresh herbs right in the comfort of your own kitchen or hallway. You can also mount one of these mason jar displays outside on a fence or porch. Tutorials are available at Camille Styles, Not Just a Housewife, and Wild Ruffle.

Summer Survival Kit as an end of the year teacher gift.
Summer Survival Kit as an end of the year teacher gift. | Source

Kits

  • Sewing kit. You never know when you might need to sew on a button or repair a rip. It's best to be prepared. A pincushion top is always a nice touch, too. There are numerous resources for this idea, but you can check out one with a mason jar at It All Started With Paint.
  • Wedding day emergency kit. Equip the bride-to-be with every last minute item that she might need on the big day from bobby pins to a Tide stain stick. Check it out at A Casarella.
  • Housewarming kit. If you're looking for an alternative to the traditional food gift or coupon book, a housewarming kit with supplies like a dish towel and hand soup is perfect. Head over to The Southern State of Mind.
  • Manicure kit. Manicure kits are great party favors for everything from teenage girl sleepover birthday parties to elegant bridal showers. Tidbits and Twine has all of the details for this fun project.

DIY Mason Jar "Manicure" + Other Mason Jar Gift Ideas | Baby Shower Game Gift Ideas

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Drinks

Of course you can simply stick a straw in a mason jar or drink directly from the jar and call it good. However, some people like to use tops so that they can take the mason jars with them for drinks on the go. The most simple solution is to drill or punch a hole in the top to fit a straw. Life Sanity has instructions on how to do this simply and safely. Ginger Snap Crafts uses plastic storage lids to make more sturdy drink tops. There are numerous ways that you can dress up your drink glasses or personalize them (i.e. adding chalk paint for names for a birthday party) if you like.

Soap / lotion dispensers

If you have a rustic or country décor theme or you're simply looking for something easy and practical for a bathroom or kitchen, a mason jar soap or lotion dispenser adds a nice touch. The concept is pretty self-explanatory. There are lots of pre-made dispensers for sale online as well as supplies to make your own dispensers. I've included just a couple of options on the right.

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Food Gifts

There are mason jar food gift ideas out there for everything from mints for a wedding reception to homemade hot chocolate mix for teachers. Regardless of the specific holiday or occasion and the given recipient, you should be able to find something that fits the bill. Many of the options are easy to customize as well. For example, instead of layering seasonal M&Ms for Valentine's Day, you can use the seasonal variety that is available at Easter.

5 DIY Mason Jar Christmas Gift Ideas | Whitney Jasper

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Party Favors

You can spend a lot of money on favor packaging that most people throw out immediately. Instead why not spend that money on an item like mason jars that people can reuse? Mason jar party favors are great for birthday parties, bridal showers, baby showers, wedding receptions, and more. Several of the previously mentioned ideas in this article are perfect for party favors including lights / candles, manicure kits, and food gifts.

© 2014 Rose Clearfield

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    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's awesome. :) Thanks, Patsybell!

    • Patsybell profile image

      Patsy Bell Hobson 2 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

      What great fun and useful. I am hooked on jars. Love your hub.^+

    • Journey * profile image

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 2 years ago from USA

      You share some great ideas for how to use mason jars. Thanks for the tips.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's awesome, Dolores. :) Thanks for sharing!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 2 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I love the older mason jars and love the old lids. I have a few that I use for kitchen storage. Newer ones I use for flowers. Thanks for sharing some interesting ideas!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Christin! A colored mason jar light sounds really neat. :)

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Love all the ideas on your hub. I have seen a lot of these painted in pretty colors on Pinterest. I would love to create a light with a colored one I think it would be cool :) Voted up and pinned.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Marlene, you're right that mason jars are so cute and versatile! I hope that you get a chance to try the lighting idea sometime.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 3 years ago from Northern California, USA

      I don't know why, but I collect mason jars. They're so cute and can be used for so many things. I like the lighting idea using the mason jars. That's so unique.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, CraftytotheCore! That's awesome. :)

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Terrific article on the uses for mason jars. I love mason jars. I've collected quite a few over the years and use them to store everything from buttons to silk flowers. My husband happened to walk by when I was reading this and he loves the mason jar light fixture.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Bill! Mason jars are insanely popular right now, but most people don't take this angle on the topic, so hopefully it will do well. With the wealth of mason jar projects online, I can imagine that they are getting harder to find at garage sales. They're still quite affordable at Michaels, especially with coupons, and on Amazon.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This is why you are so successful on HP; you always come up with very creative ideas that few people would think about. Well done!

      It's getting harder and harder to find mason jars at garage sales. It used to be very easy. I think more and more people are turning to projects like these and I'm excited that they are....but I wish they would quit taking my jars. LOL

      Nice job!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Glimmer Twin Fan, I hear you! I still love the idea, though.

      Meisjunk, you're right that some of these ideas are not hard or time consuming! I hope that you get a chance to try one of them.

    • Meisjunk profile image

      Jennifer Kessner 3 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Those lights are so pretty! =) Thanks for sharing. I always have ideas for doing things but never get around to the time to finish a project. Some of these don't seem too hard or time-consuming!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

      I absolutely love those hanging lights! Just not sure where I would put them. Great hub.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's awesome, epbooks. :) Thanks!

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I love the lantern idea and I've seen restaurants use them as drinking glasses as well. Cool post!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, sallybea and KoffeeKlatch Gals! I appreciate the feedback.

      Marie, that's a great idea. :)

      twoseven, I agree that mason jars can add such a nice touch to so many types of gifts.

      Helena, I hope that you get a chance to try some of these ideas soon. :)

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 3 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Great ideas, especially the chandelier.

    • Helena Ricketts profile image

      Helena Ricketts 3 years ago from Indiana

      I love these ideas! Thanks for sharing these. I'm sure I'll be taking advantage of some of these ideas soon.

    • twoseven profile image

      twoseven 3 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      What wonderful ideas! They are just so good looking, and I think they add a nice homey touch to any gift. Last winter one of my friends gave out a peppermint hot chocolate mix in a mason jar as holiday gifts and it was so nice! Thanks for the reminder of all the great things to do with mason jars.

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      I'm saving two from the spaghetti sauce I bought so I have a way to measure how much water I'm drinking during the day.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      randomcreative

      I have always loved these jars. You have some great ideas here for using them too.

      Thanks for sharing. Voted up.

      Sally

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks so much, FlourishAnyway!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      What great ideas. I love the lights in particular. Pinning this!

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      You're very welcome! Thanks for the pin.

    • Sandra Harriette profile image

      Sandra 3 years ago from Maryland

      Pinned this! Thanks for all the great ideas :)

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's great, breakfastpop! Enjoy. :)

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 3 years ago

      I see mason jars all the time and I want to buy them. Now I know what to do with them, so I'll be out shopping for them with a purpose!

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      prestonandkate, that's awesome! Best of luck with the bathroom work. :)

      Ann, that's great that you have some new ideas.

      Eddy, awesome, so glad to hear it. :)

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Brilliant and a definite for me to save.

      Great hub and wishing you a wonderful day.

      eddy.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 3 years ago from Orange, Texas

      Love these ideas - great gifts! Now I can use them for something besides a water glass. Funny thing, though; ice water always tastes better out of a mason jar.

      Voted up.

    • prestonandkate profile image

      Preston and Kate 3 years ago from the Midwest

      Great hub. We are searching right now for some small pendant lighting for a new bathroom in our home. We are considering making some out of mason jars. Your section on the lighting was very helpful for us right now!

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I agree, Suzanne. It's great that you've found some useful purposes for mason jars in your house!

      Thanks, Emma!

      Deb, that's awesome. :)

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Great ideas. This past Christmas, I gave homemade soup mixes in mason jars. They were a big hit!

    • Emma Lindhagen profile image

      Emma Lindhagen 3 years ago from Stockholm, Sweden

      Some cute and useful ideas here, thanks for sharing!

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 3 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      I agree that there's a lot of silly mason jar projects out there - I've often wondered why people would fuss when they ARE so useful as storage containers. I use mine for tea bags and also putting tea light candles in, as they form a good protective barrier between kids and setting fire to the house! Voted useful and up.