Friday, August 13, 2010

13 Ways To Fill A Mason Jar

Christmas Gift Ideas:

By Ellen Russell

Mason jars filled with mixes and goodies make great, inexpensive Christmas gifts for teachers, neighbors, bus drivers, coworkers, clients and many others. No doubt you have often seen, or even received mason jars filled with layered mixes for cookies and baking. Attractive and useful, the jars are well received. So what are some other ways you can craft these quick and easy projects, that might make your gift stand out a little?

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels Chocolate dipped pretzels are easy to make, and make lots. Using a double boiler, melt white, dark or milk chocolate. Use a table fork, specially designed dipping fork or skewer to remove pretzels and let harden on wax paper. Pack one flavor or layer two or more for an attractive and yummy gift.

Hot Chocolate Whether you make your own mix or repackage a bulk sized can from the store, cocoa mix is another filler that is useful and so appropriate during Winter weather. Fill the mason jar, top decoratively and tie on a bag of miniature marshmallows for an extra treat.

Soaps Are you crafty with melt and pour soaps? Even if you're not, shop for personal size miniature bars of soap in any theme to fill your mason jar gifts. Use a decorative facecloth instead of a fabric round to decorate the top of the jar. You'll give a gift that anyone can use, and it looks great in the bathroom, too!

Bead Kit Do you have fancy girls, children or bead enthusiasts on your Christmas list? How about making them a mason jar filled with all the essentials of their craft? Buy colorful plastic or glass beads in bulk, fill, and top. Tie a spindle of wire or string to the jar with a pretty ribbon, or tuck a narrow spool into the center of the jar full of beads. A gift your crafting friends are sure to love!

Potpourri Make your own or buy it in bulk. Fill the jar with great smelling, colorful potpourri. Under the jar lid and fabric round, place a circle of netted tulle. When your recipient wants to scent their home or office, they need only to remove the lid and replace the mason jar band over the tulle for a cover that will emit the wonderful smell while keeping you potpourri safe inside. Who doesn't enjoy a pleasant smell to freshen up their day?

Nuts Go nuts! Look for recipes for maple flavored nuts, curried nuts, roasted, or simply repackage a bulk bag of mixed nuts into a great looking mason jar. Tie on a ribbon or decorate for a gift your friends can snack on or use as holiday hors d'oeurves for guests.

Almond Bark Almond bark is a simple to make treat. All you have to do is melt chocolate labeled for candy molding or almond bark and pour over a wax paper lined cookie sheet spread with almonds (peanuts or any other nut an be used as well). When the chocolate hardens, break the bark into small pieces and fill the mason jar. Almond bark is similar to peanut brittle, but a little easier to make. Of course, peanut brittle works equally well.

Bite Size Cookies Cookies are an obvious inexpensive Christmas gift. It's the giving that makes them unique. Bake your favorite holiday cookies in bite size servings (reducing baking time as needed). Fill the mason jar with the popable morsels and decorate.

Molded Chocolates and Truffles You may never have known how easy it is to mold chocolates, but it truly is a simple process. Choose a holiday theme or one that suits the gift's receiver. Use a small or "bite size" mold. Using the double boiler again, simply melt chocolate, pour into molds and let harden. Package into the mason jars when the chocolates are cooled. (Tip: If chocolates are difficult to remove, place mold in the freezer for a few minutes. Let chocolates return to room temperature before packing in jars, or condensation will be a problem.)

Candy Any commercial candy can be a quick, simple filler for mason jar gifts. Don't underestimate how attractive a jar full of gumballs, mints, peppermint stars or colorful life savers can look. These won't cost you much, especially if you shop for bulk sized bags. Pack a small rectangular box or basket with raffia straw and three jars filled with different candies. It'll look so great, you don't even need to make a fancy top for the jars!

Snack Mix Looking for a healthy choice? Try a trail mix or dried fruit. They are just the right size and just the right "rustic" look to compliment your mason jars. Dried fruits and trail mixes are a much appreciated alternative for those watching what they eat for weight or health reasons.

Bath Beads Give a spa treat! Marble sized bath beads filled with moisturizing oils or relaxing and muscle soothing bath salts are not only a great gift idea, but make nice bathroom displays as well. Bath beads will need to be purchased commercially, but many melt and pour soap suppliers have easy to use recipes for making your own bath salts with a combination of fragrance oils and Epsom or sea salts. Package these two with the previously mentioned personal sized soaps in the basket and raffia style of the candy jars for a full spa set.

Baking Mixes You can't really talk about mason jar gifts without mentioning the layered baking mixes that started it all. Get out your favorite recipe, layer the dry ingredients and attach a recipe card with the ingredients and remaining baking instructions. Create a "before and after" twist on the theme by giving a jar of baked cookies in the bite size fashion, and a jar of the dry mix to enjoy later. A length of hemp or twine string tying on a cookie cutter is a nice additional packaging touch.

It doesn't all have to be about cookies, though! Give your friends and family an easy Sunday breakfast by mixing up the dry parts of a pancake, waffle or muffin mix. Make it a boxed set and include the syrup or coffee accompaniments! Brownies, quick breads and more, nearly any recipe will work!

Top It Off Attractive toppers complete individual mason jar gifts. A simple circle of a nice fabric in a plaid or holiday theme is really all you need. Place the upside down jar onto the fabric and trace your circle two to three inches larger all around to allow for overlapping the neck of the jar and a little hanging beneath the band for decoration. For a puffy top, put a small handful of cotton batting on top of the metal lid and under the fabric round. Add any ribbon or lace to suit.

Mason jars are back in style! Not only are they appreciated for their easy gift giving, but for rustic nostalgia and collections as well. New creative topping ideas come about every day. Search the web for your favorite technique!

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