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Save Money on Christmas Gift Giving by Making Homemade Gifts in a Jar

Updated on December 11, 2009

An assortment of Gifts in a Jar

Christmas gift giving can be expensive and stressful. You can save money and reduce the stress of rushing around crowded stores looking for the perfect gift by giving these easy to make homemade gifts in a jar. There are hundreds of possibilities to choose from to please anyone on your holiday list. When I make them, I make several of one kind at a time. I always make a few extras to keep on hand for people I may have forgotten or unexpected visitors during the holidays! You can add them to gift baskets or give them by themselves! They are inexpensive, easy and fun to make and just about anyone will enjoy them!  If I have leftovers after the holidays, I store them in my pantry and use them myself!

You can recycle jars to save money and help save the earth!
You can recycle jars to save money and help save the earth!

Necessary Supplies

  • Empty Glass Jars with lids
  • Recipe
  • Ingredients
  • Gift Tag or Cardstock
  • Funnel or Coffee Filter
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon, yarn, twine, cord or raffia
  • Hole Punch

Lid Decorating Supplies (Not Necessary)

  • Fabric
  • Patterned papers
  • Glue or double sided tape
  • Recipe or index cards
  • Holiday floral or greenery sprigs
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Small gifts to attach to jar such as wooden spoons, spatulas, oven mitts, measuring spoons or cups, cookie cutters, Christmas Ornaments, etc.

Ok, let's get started!

First you will need to chose the correct size container. If you want to make this a green gift, you can use jars you saved from home. Just make sure to remove the label and clean and sterilize the jar in boiling water or by running it through a dishwasher cycle. You can also purchase Mason Jars or canning jars at most grocery stores or visit a local craft or container store for some interesting jar choices. It all depends on how much money you want to spend on your jars. I save jars throughout the year to use for these gifts at Christmas time. Regarding what size to use, most recipes call for a 1-pint or 1-quart jar. If the recipe does not specify the size jar needed, you will have to figure this out on your own.

The easiest way to determine this is to look at the recipe and determine how many cups of powdery ingredients it calls for all together, include sugar, salt, flower, brown sugar, etc. Then measure out that many cups of flower into a container. Mark the container to the top of the flower and empty it back out. Starting again with the empty jar, use peanuts or something similar to measure all the ingredients such as nuts, raisins, candy, chocolate chips, etc. With the peanuts in the jar, screw the lid on it and turn the jar upside down. You will be able to see if your chunky ingredients meet the line of your powdery ingredients. If they surpass it, you will need a bigger jar. If they meet it perfectly, lucky you! If they don't quite meet the line, you can use plastic wrap as a bit of a filler at the top of the jar. I wouldn't use any more plastic wrap to fill the jar than what your lid decoration will cover just to ensure you keep the gift looking as pretty as possible.

Ensuring a tasty treat!

Of course when you are making gifts in a jar you want the person receiving them to actually make the contents and eat the final product!  In order to make sure that the final recipe works correctly and tastes yummy be sure to take great care in reading the ingredients and accurately measuring them.  You will also want to read through the recipe and blend any ingredients that need to be combined prior to adding them to your jar.  Use a funnel to ensure all of the ingredients make it into the jar.  If you don't have a funnel, you can make one out of a coffee filter by cutting a hole in the middle bottom of it or you can use a piece of card stock to form a funnel.

A unique jar option is one with a hinged lid.
A unique jar option is one with a hinged lid.

Lovely layered ingredients

To make sure all ingredients fit in the jar, make sure to pack down each layer a bit before adding the next.  If a recipe calls for layers to be packed down firmly, you can use the bottom of a long handled ladle to pack the ingredients down.  If the recipe calls for only lightly packing the layers, you can just gently tap the jar on the table or counter and then continue with the next layer.

Some recipes may require that you include bagged ingredients.  Use a resealable sandwich bag for these ingredients.  Make sure you squeeze out all the air before sealing the bag.  You want as little air as possible in your ingredients to ensure their freshness.

Proper Placement

Unless the recipe specifically says otherwise, all light powdery ingredients such as cocoa, powdered sugar or flour should be place at the bottom of the jar, otherwise they will mix and coat the other ingredients. Coarser or heavier ingredients such as granulated or brown sugars would come next. The last layers (the layers closest to the top) should consist of chunky ingredients such as nuts, cereals, candy pieces, or dried fruit. Once you have all your ingredients properly placed in the jar, make sure that you seal the jar tightly to help prevent the contents of the jar to shift.

Example of layering.  From the bottom up, flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, chocolate chips, oatmeal.
Example of layering. From the bottom up, flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, chocolate chips, oatmeal.

Creative Cover

Using various craft supplies you can create very cute covers for your jar lids. Or you can simply add ribbon and a gift tag. You can use a ready made gift tag, make one from card stock or use the back of a recipe or index card or you can print one from your computer. You can use fabric to cover the lid, or even patterned paper to decoupage the lid. If you crochet you can even make a crocheted cover or doily to cover the lid with! You can even attach small floral pics or Christmas greenery. Cinnamon sticks make a sweetly scented attachment. You can even attach a small gift to your gift in a jar such as a wooden spoon, spatula, hot pad, oven mitt, measuring spoon or cup, a cookie cutter or Christmas ornament. Let your imagination run and have fun with these! You can make them all the same or personalize them for the recipient. See the links below for some great ideas! I hope you have as much fun making and giving these as I do! Happy Holidays!

© Anglfire693, 2009


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    • daisydayz profile image

      Chantele Cross-Jones 

      6 years ago from Cardiff

      Some great jar tips there. Looking to make some cookie and soup mixes fro friends this year.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Love the article, I want to start writing my own but am having issued with my pictures. You picture at the top of the article is clear and bright. I am using a photo tent and my pictures are still not that bright I don't know what to do please help

    • profile image

      Dave Scott 

      7 years ago

      10 Ways to Save Money This Christmas

      Posted on 11/28/2007

      Ah, Christmas — the most expensive time of the year. It's a time of love and joy and giving. And racking up huge credit card debt. This Christmas, in addition to the money-saving deals from The Bargainist, use the ideas below to ensure that you're doing everything you can to save money.

      1. Make a list, and narrow it down. Who do you have to buy presents for? Make a list, because without it you will have a hard time creating a budget (see next item). Only put the essential people on it. Now see if you can narrow it down a bit. The surest way to have an expensive Christmas is to have a list that's too long.

      2. Set a budget, and stick to it. How much can you afford to spend on Christmas this year, realistically? Don't put your Christmas shopping on your credit card if possible — just spend what you can find within your regular budget or in savings (though it's not a good idea to deplete your savings just for gifts). Once you have a total amount, decide how you'll split it among the people on your list. If the budget isn't big enough for the list, see some of the ideas below. The key, of course, is not just setting the budget, but remembering your limits (take your list with you as you shop) and doing your best not to go over the limit you set for each person on your list.

      3. Do an exchange. This can drastically reduce costs, especially if you have a large family or group of friends or coworkers. Instead of buying something for everyone, you just have to buy one gift. Of course, that means you only get one gift too. But seriously, when was the last time you got something good?

      4. Make your own gifts. I like to bake stuff, but you could make anything — picture frames, knitted scarves, a digital photo slideshow, a bookshelf, anything you can learn to make.

      5. Buy used if you can. This may seem tacky to some, but really, you can get some amazing used stuff that in some cases are as good as or better than new items. Focus on vintage stuff, like out-of-print books or an antique knick knack. In any case, it's worth a look.

      6. Just buy for kids. Christmas gifts are really the most fun for kids. While adults love getting gifts, of course, it's not as important to them. Instead, just buy gifts for the kids on your list. The adults will get over it, or better yet, be happy they don't have to find room for the stuff they probably never wanted in the first place.

      7. Volunteer. Volunteering your time to help a charity costs you nothing but time, but it is completely satisfying. It also helps remind you what Christmas is really about — the spirit of giving, not the spirit of buying. With this reminder, you can give people the kind of gifts that really matter: love and kindness, not consumer goods.

      8. Wrap with magazines or newspapers. Save money on expensive Christmas gift wrapping, and use old magazines or newspapers to wrap your presents. It's free (you already have the magazines), it's recycling, and it looks cool.

      9. Give home-made coupons. This is one of my favorite gifts, because it costs nothing but it shows you care. You can give people coupons promising that you'll wash their car, babysit, give them a massage, clean their rain gutters, or whatever you can do that they would like.

      10. Freebies. It doesn't get any cheaper than free. Be sure to check The Bargainist for totally free items and free after rebate items. If you have a lot of people in your life to buy for, you may be able to stock up on a bunch of the same item without spending a dime.

    • experience days profile image

      Sarah Firmin 

      8 years ago from England, UK

      These are really nice gifts - nice and cheap, but really personal. The layred ingredients are great for kids too - not as thrilling as a PS3 but fun to do and you get cookies at the end of it :-)

    • modern housewife profile image


      8 years ago from Indiana

      Love your article. I give canned gifts away at Christmas, but am wanting to get into "gifts in a jar" like cookie or brownie mix. I have a hub page on the history of canning. I am going to add a link to your hub!


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