Homemade Christmas: Holiday Gift Jars

For the last few weeks, my kitchen has been quite the little factory. First, it cranked out 2 dozen individual portions of Maple Walnut Cake for the Eat My Blog event, which went very well and raised over $3,000 for the LA Foodbank! We were thrilled, and I have heard this is going to become a bi-annual event, so I’ll let you know when there’s another. Here’s a picture of the finished product:

I no sooner scraped the batter from my blender when our homemade Christmas preparations began…

As far as gift giving goes, my choices usually fall into these categories: gifts I’ve made, gifts someone else has made or a perfectly suited store-bought item. Wandering in a sterile mall searching for the gift inspiration to strike depresses me a bit. Yet, browsing on Etsy.com (a website that serves as a giant on-line craft show) or baking a pie makes the whole thing feel more meaningful, sustainable and honestly… more fun.

I remember as a child that I didn’t often get the hot, trendy toy. Somehow Santa noticed when my urgent requests immediately followed a new holiday commercial. And I am grateful for all the years of garage sale toys from Dad and cross-stitched ornaments from Mom. Was it hard for them to stay true to their meaning of Christmas? I don’t know, but on Christmas morning, surrounded by lovingly wrapped packages, under our beautiful homemade ornament, colored-light tree, I didn’t miss the latest talking Barbie for a second. And that’s not to say I never got an expensive gift, but when I got one, it was usually in support of an artistic or personal endeavor, like boots for my horse-back riding lessons, a camera for my interest in photography or most recently, a bright orange Le Crueset pot for my cooking. John laughed the first time he had Christmas at my parent’s house. The Schrecengost’s open gifts one-by-one. It takes 5 hours. The stops for food are just as much a part of the morning as the opening, and mom is not afraid to wrap up a pack of gum to make sure the new guy has just as many packages to open as the rest of us. Personality is not lacking in the Schrecengost family Christmas!

With that said, gifting has to equal my available energy. No one should have to go into their energy reserves, or at least not too far, to create a nice Christmas. I like to pace myself and keep the pack of gum idea in my back pocket, a trusty & entertaining standby. This year, I had medium energy. So, I settled on jars of nuts. They keep well. They hold up to shipping. And they make a perfect gift for your dear friend, landlord or yoga teacher. And throw them in as a stocking stuffer for those who are lucky enough to receive several packages from you. Everyone feels special when they crack open their very own jar of nuts.

You could essentially fill these with anything that says “treat.” Roasted, salted, plain whole nuts or even some sort of candy would work beautifully. I filled mine with pecans & cashews that I soaked & dehydrated at a low temperature. This process makes the nuts more digestible. I want to tell you all about this technique, and I am going to do so in a future blog with a little video about dehydrating. But for now, it’s the jar assembly process explained below…

Holiday Gift Jars

1/2 pint regular or wide-mouth Ball Mason Jars
Rafia or Ribbon
Decorative Paper
Card Stock
Hole Puncher
Spray Adhesive
Nuts or Candy

1) Decide on a Color Theme: Green or red work nicely for Christmas, but think outside the box too. A deep brown would have a rustic holiday feel as well. Also, choose what kind of treat to use for inside the jar.

2) Sourcing Supplies: Purchase 1/2 pint regular or wide-mouth Ball Mason Jars at a local hardware store. I order mine from Ace Hardware. When ordered on-line, Ace ships them to a store near you, free of charge, that you can pick up at your convenience. Purchase decorative paper; found in the scrap-booking section of a craft store. If you can’t find decorative paper, wrapping paper would work here as well. Purchase rafia or pretty thin ribbon from a craft store. Purchase colored card stock (thick paper) from a office or craft supply store. Purchase spray adhesive from a craft store. Purchase or make the treat for inside the jar. I purchase my nuts in bulk from my local health food store.

3) Prepping the Supplies: Give the jars a wash in the dishwasher. Then lay them out to dray on a dish cloth for a couple hours until no moisture remains.

4) Cutting the Tops: Using the inner circular lid as a stencil, trace the lid to create a circle on your decorative paper. Cut out the circle, but cut 1/4″ inside of your stenciled line to make the paper circle slightly smaller than the lid.

5) Assembly: Fill the jars with the chosen goodie. Put the jar together per usual, but line up the decorative paper circle on top of the circular lid before assembly.

6) Creating the Tag: On the internet, google “Christmas tree clip art” or any other image that suits your fancy. Using your word processor or Photoshop, create a simple message. The tags can also be hand-written for a personal effect. The writing should be small enough to fit inside a 2″ x 2″ square. Once written or printed, cut notes into a 3″ x 3″ square, slightly larger than the 2″ x 2″ finished size.

7) Tag Assembly: Using spray adhesive, mount the 3″ x 3″ notes onto the card stock. Let dry for 2 minutes. Cut the notes into the final 2″ x 2″ size. Now the notes will have a thickness to them, and they will have a beautiful colored backing. Using a hole punch, punch a hole in the upper left-hand corner.

8) Final Touch: Using rafia or ribbon, loop the string through the hole and tie a knot slightly above the note, leaving 1/3 of the string on one side and 2/3 on the other. Then wrap the ribbon around the jar and tie it in a bow close to the note.

May peace & love fill your holiday season…

Merry Christmas!
xo Organic Spark


  • My Farmhouse Kitchen

    Molly..I just love this…everything looks so good..I just love the homemade…so thoughtful..I just baked some cookies for Buddy's vet….

    I see you over at Country Girl..Dawn and I have become really great blog buddies since last summer..She is so nice..I just love her..and we have so much in common…we think we are twins…

    Blogging has been so much fun this year..

    I'll be back to visit soon and wish you a peaceful Christmas…


    December 19, 2009
  • Morwenna Ellis-Philips

    Such a great idea Molly and I too adore making gifts for Birthday's and Christmas. I am sure that people appreciate them so much, sometimes even more than shop bought gifts!
    Your gifts look beautiful and very tasty :) I have just made 22 jars of chutney, 6 of lemon curd and 50 chocolate truffles! I hope everyone likes our homemade gifts xoxo

    December 19, 2009
  • Fayinagirl (means Free One)

    Homemade goodies always mean so much more than mass-produced, store-bought gifts to me. Lovely idea.

    Have a very special Christmas. =)

    December 19, 2009
  • SereneBabe

    It'll be ages before I do something as ambitious as this (yes, with a 6.5 year old and a 9 month old, it feels too ambitious). But, I just wanted to say that I love your blog. And, my childhood Christmases were very much the same. Still are at my parents house… everyone pays attention as one person opens one gift, then another person opens one, etc. with many, many food breaks.

    Everything you do is so aesthetically pleasing. Thank you.

    December 20, 2009
  • Molly Chester

    You guys are so sweet! Thanks for your encouraging words. I hope you all have a merry & peaceful holiday season1



    December 21, 2009
  • madness rivera

    ah man, Mol, these look great. Say, where'd the time go to make my homemade holiday gifts? UG. Oh well. I like looking at yours though. Love your Eat My Blog work. That's important baking! And the maple cake is just, well, icing . .on the . . .cake.

    December 22, 2009
  • sm

    these look lovely.
    it's interesting, i've been seeing a lot of bloggers posting about giving jars of home-made goodies – specifically nuts, like these – this year. as wonderful an idea as they are, i can't help wondering how many poor souls with peanut allergies are going to have an awkward moment opening gifts on christmas morning…
    i guess it's very important to know who you're giving what to!

    December 23, 2009
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    I have a friend that love seeds but it's so difficult to me find something that she really like it so I always made jar like those for her in Christmas time.Generic Viagra Buy Viagra

    September 7, 2010
  • Anonymous


    September 21, 2010
  • […] Purchase 2-Quart Ball Mason Jars (sold in packs of 6) and 1 ft of Screen for a Screen Door. The Holiday Gift Jar blog explains a simple way to order the Ball jars online. The jars will run you about $10 for 6. […]

    February 19, 2011
  • […] these jars can be used for fermenting vegetables, making beet kvass, storing leftovers, creating gift jars and […]

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