Tutorial: How to Make Gifts in a Jar for Friends and Neighbors: Soups, Cookies and More!

by Bonnie in , Comment — Updated February 15, 2020

Have you heard of gifts in a jar? They’re popular these days, for good reason! This style of gift is easy to make in bulk (say, if you want to give holiday gifts to a dozen neighbors). They’re also incredibly affordable. There’s an endless variety of items you can package up in a jar. In this post I’ll give you a full tutorial on how to make a gift in a jar so that you can make cute, charming, budget friendly gifts for the loved ones on your list! 

What is a Gift in a Jar? 

Tutorial: How to Make Gifts in a Jar for Friends and Neighbors: Soups, Cookies and More! 13
Source: goodhousekeeping.com

Before we dive into the specific details about how to put a gift in a jar together, let’s go over the basics. A gift in a jar is just what it sounds like — it’s a present that you are giving someone, packaged up in a cute mason jar. A typical gift in a jar that you might have seen contains layered dry ingredients for a dish of some kind, like oatmeal cookies, hearty bean soup, or ranch dressing or dip.

However, there are other varieties of this gift idea, too. You can make gifts that aren’t edible, such as a sewing kit in a jar, or a spa/pampering type of gift (think sugar scrubs, bath salts, or homemade bath bombs).  These gifts aren’t only limited to dry goods, either. You could also package a homemade salsa, sauce, jam, body scrub, or even laundry detergent in a jar. The sky is the limit! 

Inspiration and Ideas

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Source: fabulesslyfrugal.com

Now that you know the basics, let’s get a little more specific. If you’re planning to make gifts in a jar for the loved ones on your list, it’s time to decide on what you want to put inside of your jars. Consider who your gift is going to. Will you be giving to families? College age kids without ovens? Ladies that love to be pampered? A big old mix (if that’s the case, I recommend going with hot chocolate — everyone likes chocolate, right?). Keep your recipients in mind, and browse this list of ideas to see what jumps out at you. 

  • Cinnamon pancake mix
  • Belgian waffle mix
  • Banana muffin mix
  • Oatmeal chocolate chip cookie mix
  • Whole wheat chocolate chip cookie mix
  • Blonde brownie mix
  • Double chocolate brownie mix
  • Sugar cookie mix
  • Hot chocolate mix (mint or candy cane flavored)
  • Chai tea mix
  • Rosehip tea blend
  • Chamomile relaxing tea blend
  • Alphabet soup ingredients
  • Hearty five bean soup ingredients
  • Thai coconut curry soup ingredients
  • Ranch dressing and dip spice mix
  • Play doh ingredients
  • Bath bombs
  • Sugar scrub for skin

As you can see, the options are pretty endless. If you think that an edible gift is the way to go, think about your favorite recipes. What are some of the dishes that you make that are big hits at parties? That’s a good indication of a recipe that will work well for a gift in a jar, especially if there are five or more dry ingredients in the recipe.

Put It All Together 

Once you have your idea in place, it’s time to put the project together. Set aside at least a few hours for this. You want your gifts to look thoughtful and intentional, not thrown together! Here are your steps.

Collect Supplies in Advance

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First you will want to collect jars and sterilize them. Run them through the dishwasher and dry them thoroughly before starting the project.

Next, gather the ingredients you will be using. This will depend on the project you have decided upon. Calculate how much of each ingredient you will need. For example, if you are planning on making peppermint hot chocolate mix for the twelve houses on your block, multiply the volume of each jar times twelve so that you know the exact  volume of mix that you need to prepare).

Write these numbers down, and shop for your supplies. Once you have your ingredients on hand, set up a clean and organized work space.

Use Quality Ingredients

Tutorial: How to Make Gifts in a Jar for Friends and Neighbors: Soups, Cookies and More! 19

Here’s a great tip: make sure you are using high quality ingredients for this project. Your friends, neighbors, or coworkers will think of you when they get around to using your gift. You want it to be a good experience for them. So when you’re standing at the grocery store deciding what cocoa powder to buy, absolutely spend a few more dollars and get the good stuff. 

Presentation Matters

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Source: ahundredaffections.com

Fill each jar with the dry ingredients. Layering looks really nice! Have you ever seen colored sand jars? The red, green and blue sand forms stripes inside the jar, and the effect is very artistic. Your gift in a jar can have that same look, if you’re intentional about how you put the ingredients into the jar.

Think about the way you layer the ingredients; place contrasting colors and textures next to each other to create a neat artistic effect. Fill each jar to the brim, so that the ingredients won’t shake around. If you’re making more than one or two jars, I recommend putting together a test jar first so you get the proportions just right, and then starting an assembly line. 

Once you’ve sealed the jar with a lid, add a colorful, pretty label (either hand-crafted or printed) to the jar. If you don’t have sticky labels on hand, you can always make a small hole in a piece of thick paper, and tie it around the top of the jar. The important thing is to make it look good! Spend some time on this step, because presentation really matters. 

Add Instructions and Personalize

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Source: realgiftideas.com

Your last step is to add instructions for the gift recipient. If your jar contains the dry ingredients for an edible dish, include the recipe. If you created a spa-inspired gift, give the recipient instructions for how to use the product (for example, a sugar-scrub can be used in the shower or bath to exfoliate the skin).

Include an expiration date so your recipient knows how long they have before the product will spoil. Last but not least, personalize your gift! Write a short note to your neighbor, friend, or family member, that is tailored to the occasion. 

That’s it! Now you know how to put together this budget-friendly, versatile gift. Isn’t it tempting to use this idea for everyone on your list? Leave a comment below and let me know which idea is your favorite! 

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