Don’t You Just Love Mason Jars…
Updated October 2016 – If you are looking for a thoughtful and frugal Christmas gift – look no further than the simple Mason Jar. Recipes and ideas abound on Pinterest. Lucky for us, the jars have come back into favor and they can be found anywhere. Check the grocery store, online, or your grandma’s cupboard. These 20 Mason jar gift ideas will get you started and get you prepared for the holidays.
Convert your favorite bean or soup recipe into a meal in a jar – make some for yourself (for food storage and easy dinner night) and give some away as gifts this year. Your friends and family will be happy to receive them. Here’s the recipe for Bountiful Black Bean Soup, a family favorite.
Assembly and layering tips
Right container, right size – wide mouth canning jars (Amazon) are much easier to fill than standard jars. Plus, canning jar lids seal tightly to keep flavors in and moisture out. Old or new jars, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure they are clean and can seal tightly, and that there are no residual odors clinging to the lid.
Invest in a Wide-Mouth Canning Funnel. This simple investment will save you time and keep you from wasting ingredients. The layers will settle more neatly, and jars will be easier to fill.
If the recipe calls for it, sift the flour. This will help it will pack down more tightly in the jar than flour scooped straight from your storage container.
Tamp the ingredients tightly as you go. I purchased this brown Tart Tamper from Norpro.
Think about the layering effect you are going for. Remember, this is a functional as well as a visual gift. You might divide the brown or white sugar into two portions. When the layers reach the middle of the jar, pack half the sugar into a thin layer and tamp down. Add pretty ingredients like cocoa or chocolate-covered candies, and then add the second half of the brown sugar to seal off the section from more powdery ingredients.
There are two schools of thought on the order you pack the jar.
(1) Some people layer the recipe ingredients “small to large” according to texture, placing powdery ingredients like flour mix at the bottom of the jar, and then adding larger ingredients like oatmeal next. The largest ingredients, like nuts or chips, would go at the top of the jar.
(2) When making soup recipes, some add the noodles or rice first and then let the small ingredients fill the spaces. This might not be as visually appealing, however, if your recipe calls for more than 4 cups of ingredients, this might be the way to go.
Soft materials, strongly-flavored ones, or additions that are not part of the cooking process (like herb mixes or marshmallows), should be wrapped in plastic wrap before adding them to the top of your Mason jar gift. This will make them easier to remove.
While not necessary, if you are giving food, use a FoodSaver to vacuum seal the jars. This will remove air from your finished Mason jar gift and help it have a longer shelf life. Be sure you include the gifts shelf life on the label – 1 year without the vacuum seal and up to 5 years with it.
Don’t forget a pretty tag! You need to give the instructions for baking or assembly. Head on over to PicMonkey, a free online service, and create one of your own. Here’s a tutorial to get you started.
Gifts in a Mason Jar Ideas
- Potpourri– Here’s a Christmas inspired recipe for Simmering Potpourri from DIY Maven
3 cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup whole cloves
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons dried lemon peel
2 tablespoons dried orange peel
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Mix all ingredients and store in an 8-ounce mason jar. Directions for use: Place 1/3 mixture at a time (make you get one cinnamon stick and one bay leaf) into a medium saucepan, add 1 quart of water. Simmer on low heat, adding water as needed. You can purchase all these items at The Bulk Herb Store or Botanical Interests.
- Sewing kit – This is so cute! Head on over to the dollar store for supplies and follow the directions at Wait Til Your Father Gets Home to learn how to make the stuffed tops.
- Apron in a Jar from Pleasant Home.
- Sugar scrub – Creamsicle Sugar Scrub from The Gunny Sack.
- Warm wishes – 365 sayings in a jar from Gifts U Can Make.
- If you have a gardener in the family, make this cute herb kit in a jar from The Country Chic Cottage.
- Try this manicure kit in a jar idea from Weekend Craft . com
- Another gardeners gift might be this terrarium in a mason jar from All Parenting.com.
Just the mix – no layering required
- Pancake Mix– Convert this yummy recipe from Baking Nana. Consider adding 1/3 cup + 1.5 tablespoons of powdered milk to the jar and listing 1 -1/4th cups water to the recipe. Less for your gift recipient to purchase when they are making breakfast.
- Cornbread Mix – Triple the recipe and convert this Jiffy recipe from The Frugal Pantry to a jar. Make it with water by replacing the 1/3 cup milk with 3 tablespoons powder milk and 1/3 cup water.
- Chocolate Cake Mix – from Budget Savvy Diva. Convert this recipe by holding the shortening for the gift recipient.
- Make your own Bisquick – biscuit mix with this recipe. This is my most used recipe from the book Make-A-Mix by Karine Eliason.
- Scone Mix Recipe from Little House Living. You will have to half this recipe to fit it in one jar.
- Make your own tea mix and package it up in a mason jar with this idea from The Gunny Sack.
- Cookie Mix in a Jar – You are sure to find just the right recipe at All Recipes.
- Fudge – Peppermint Candy Cane White Fudge from Something Swanky.
- White Chocolate Chunk Brownie Mix from Southern Food. About.com.
- These Spiced pecans look great and are easy to make.
Full Meal Deal
- Cheesy Sausage & Tortellini Skillet Meal from PreparednessMama.
- Chicken, Broccoli, Cheese, and Rice Skillet Meal from PreparednessMama.
- Chili in a Jar from Self-Reliant School.
Can It Up
- Salsa – What do you do with 25 pounds of tomatoes? Make salsa and share it!
- Pumpkin butter – this is my favorite recipe Early American Pumpkin Butter and I’ve been making it for years.
- Homemade Jam is an easy and yummy holiday gift. Find recipes at PreparednessMama.
If you’re not the PicMonkey creative type try this post at Limeshot. They have Free Printable Mason Jar Labels that look very cute and would be a great addition to your gift. You can find more at Botanical PaperWorks and vintage looking round labels at World Label