Gifts in a Jar

Nothing says Christmas quite like homemade gifts in a mason jar, right? I’d love to blame my love for jars on Pinterest but I think my obsession predates Pinterest by at least a decade. I wanted to do something different this year for my coworkers instead of the jar cookies I made the last two years. But, I just couldn’t make up my mind on what to make. I ended up making three different things and letting people choose.

Roasted Garlic Butter

I found this idea over at whipperberry and it is fantastic stuff! This was the least expensive of the three gifts. It did take the most time but it was still super simple and had the house smelling awesome. The only thing I would note is that at first I tried to smash the butter and garlic together on my cutting board and that turned into a big mess. I scraped it off and tossed it into my mixer which worked MUCH better.

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Vanilla Chai Tea

There are recipes all over Pinterest for this stuff that are all very similar. I used this one specifically. This was the most expensive of the three gifts, especially if you don’t already have the spices on hand. Also, I had to throw out my first batch because I had a Pinterest fail moment and didn’t use instant tea. Oops! But, at that point, I was invested (and had an adorable helper!) so I decided to try again. I’m not a big tea drinker but everyone seems to like this stuff and it smells amazing. One coworker joked that she wasn’t even going to drink it, just leave it at her desk with the lid off and use it as potpourri. Lol.

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Exfoliating Sugar Hand Scrub

I don’t remember where I got this idea in the first place or I would include the link. But the stuff is so simple it’s almost embarrassing: mix Dawn hand renewal dish soap a little at a time into sugar until you have a thick paste. That’s it. The hand renewal soap keeps the soap from being drying vs using regular dish soap. It seems like a girly gift on the surface. But, the dish soap cuts grease and the sugar really scrubs. It is perfect for cleaning up after working in the yard or other messy tasks. This is certainly the simplest of the three gifts, and may actually be even cheaper than the garlic butter (I didn’t calculate exact costs). You can literally whip this up in about 90 seconds and it looks, smells, and feels great. Just don’t post it on the Internet like I am how little effort it actually required and your coworkers, neighbors, kids school teachers, etc. will be none the wiser!

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That’s it. A can of chipboard tags from Target, some twine, and I’ve got 23 coworker gifts in about 2 hours and for under $50 (not including the cost of the spices in the tea, those set me back about $30 but now my pantry is fully stocked.)

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Let me know if you give these a try. And leave a comment with your favorite quick and easy homemade gifts. Bonus points if they are in a jar! 🎅

Jar Cookies

I want to share with you another one of my new favorite Christmas gift ideas.  I made these last Christmas for friends and co-workers and they were so well liked, I made them again this year.  I think they would also make a perfect Valentine’s Day treat or hostess gift.

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Last year I made this recipe in the original form using 1 quart mason jars (pictured) for several friends.  To keep costs down, I used 1 pint jars (a half batch) for my co-workers since I was making a bunch of them.  Back during the summer, I decided I would make these again this year.  To cut costs on my jars, I started saving our Prego spaghetti sauce jars.  Below is a table with the ingredients for each size jar.

jar cookie recipes

To make the jars, just layer the dry ingredients in the jar in the order listed and shown in the picture.

A few notes:

*  The original recipe for the large mason jars didn’t fill the jar as full as I liked.  I want the ingredients nice and tight so that if the jar gets tipped, the layers stay in place.  Two things I found helpful were to tap the jar lightly on the counter after adding the flour so that it settles a little and you can fill that extra space with other ingredients (instead of allowing it to settle on its own later).  Also, just use a little extra of the chocolate chips, cranberries, and walnuts if you need to.

**  I’m not sure if “heaping” is quite the right word for the measurements on the spaghetti sauce recipe.  Just make sure you’re generous with the amounts, don’t level off your scoops, otherwise you’ll come up a little short and not have a nice full jar.

One more thing, tamp down the brown sugar around the edges with the back of a spoon before adding the next layer.  This will give a clean line between ingredients.

Once you have all the dry ingredients in the jar, attach a note with the following instructions:

“Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, beat together X tablespoons softened butter, X egg, and X tsp. vanilla until fluffy.  Add entire jar of ingredients and mix well (cookie batter will be stiff).  Drop cookies onto greased cookie sheet.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges begin to brown.  Makes X cookies.  Store in a cool dry place up to 3 months.”

Refer to the table for the ‘X’ quantities appropriate for what size jar you are making.  I also usually include a list of the dry ingredients on the tag if I am giving them to people I don’t know well, in case anyone has allergies or anything.

The original recipe said you can store them up to three months.  But, I happen to know one co-worker who didn’t make last year’s cookies until about a week before he got the next year’s!  Not that I’m recommending that…  But, the fact that you can store these for a few months and use them later (after the initial tide of Christmas goodies rolls out) is one of my favorite things about them!

I had one co-worker tell me he had a great time making the cookies with his kids (10 yrs. old) and another tell me he had fun making them with his mom (75 yrs. old).  Now that’s what I call a versatile gift!  I hope you enjoy!

Total Project Cost:  less than $5/jar depending on how much you spend on the jars and what size you make

Total Project Time:  not long, less than an hour for 6