25 DIY Gift Ideas, Starring a Mason Jar

Charming all-occasion presents, right this way...

September  5, 2019
Photo by Julia Gartland

Mason jars were invented in the 1850s to preserve food, by a man named John L.—you guessed it—Mason. Some 150 years later, they have the world right where they want it.

Thank sites like Pinterest and Etsy for the proliferation of these glass containers, and their accompanying fitted lids, as planters, storage containers, and cocktail glasses. The world is powerless against the allure of tiny, self-contained kits and wide-rimmed vessels. (Just ask our recent beer pong championship.)

They also double up as the most clever receptacle for a DIY gift. Because the only thing better than receiving a customized gift is the ability to reuse its packaging in any number of ways. Here are 25 gift ideas starring a mason jar:

1. Vanilla Sugar

Fill a jar with several cups of granulated sugar, and stick a split vanilla bean in the center (or two if you're feeling extra generous and/or owe someone a big apology). Let everything mingle at least a week before gifting—the longer it sits, the better.

2. Tiny Terrarium

Check out a guide like this one, from Gardenista, to put together a closed terrarium—aka a self-sufficient ecosystem of tiny plants that, when displayed prominently, makes it look like you've read one of those trendy design magazines at least twice. (Go on, make an extra one to keep.)

3. Infused Olive Oil

Combine high-quality olive oil—the good stuff you'd break out for salad dressings—and a flavoring agent, like toasted red pepper flakes, roughly ground peppercorns, lemon rind, or chile peppers. Let it sit covered in a cool spot for about a week before straining out the solids, and rebottling the oil. Don't forget to let your recipient know it should be kept refrigerated.

4. Limoncello e Pepe

"Adding slightly crushed peppercorns along with the lemon peels adds some spice and warmth, a little tickle at the back of your throat, which I really love in a digestif," writes Recipe Developer Emma Laperruque. "I call it limoncello e pepe. Or, after a glass, ’cello e pepe!"

5-9. DIY Baking Mix for Cakes, Cupcakes, Pancakes, Muffins, or Waffles

It's like giving the gift of baked goods, but better, because in this instance they come with some flexibility! Combine the dry ingredients for your favorite cake (or cupcake) batter, and bottle them up in an airtight jar for gifting. You could do the same with a pancake mix, muffin mix, or waffle mix. Don't forget to include a note with the fine print on which wet ingredients need to be added, and how long to bake.

10. Spiced Nuts

Nothing says "you should invite me back for next year's holiday party" quite like a jar full of homemade spiced nuts. Make them by tossing a few cups of your favorites (or a mix—I like cashews and walnuts) with oil and a spice mix you're into, and toast on a sheet pan until the nuts become fragrant.

11-16. Handmade Candy, Like Tootsie Rolls, Chocolate Bars, Brittle, Cow Tails, Truffles, or Caramels

Pre-solve someone's last minute dessert emergency. (Psst: If you choose something sticky, separate layers with a swatch of parchment paper.)

17. Paperwhites

Paperwhites defy everything we thought we knew about flowers. Their bulbs can bloom indoors, in partial or filtered light, and without any soil. Add a few inches of pebbles to the bottom of a mason jar, fill with water to the top of the pebbles, and nestle the bulb on top so the roots are dangling down into the water. As the paperwhite blooms, it'll shoot up above the lip of the jar and produce big, white flowers.

18. Mood Lighting

Add a freestanding candle to a jar for an attractive, oversized votive. You can secure the candle to the floor of the jar by melting the bottom of the candle before pressing it in.

19. Custom Snack Mix

Channel your inner Chex-Mix expert and come up with your own ideal ratio of salty things to crunchy things to cheesy things. Or, take a cue from one of our favorites:

20. Coffee Beans

A mason jar makes a handsome house for those fancy coffee beans you were going to give everyone anyway.

21, 22, & 23. Cookies, Marshmallows, or Chocolate-Covered Pretzels

We're talking a literal cookie jar. No further questions.

24. Jam

Your recipient's future toasts, yogurt bowls, and scones will thank you. Follow a recipe, or riff freely:

25. A Spice Blend

Bestow upon your loved one the gift of speedier weeknight cooking, with a premixed spice blend. Chicken everywhere will benefit.

Do you have a clever mason jar gift idea? Let us know in the comments!
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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.