A while back I wrote about twelve things you could do with an old shower curtain liner. In the same spirit of saving money and cutting down on waste, I now offer you fourteen things you can do with an empty jar. Of course, what you’re able to do with a jar will depend on the size of the jar. A big spaghetti sauce jar can be used differently than a baby food jar. But in general, here are some ideas for all those jars.
Glasses: I’ve been in several restaurants where the beverages were served in Mason jars. It brings a country feel to the meal and it’s a cheap source of glassware. A plus: Jars are harder to break than fine glassware.
Vases: A big jar makes a great vase, especially if you tie a ribbon around it or decorate it in some way.
Gifts Maybe you make a great sauce, jam, or dip. Make your best recipe, put it in a jar, and give it away.
Paint uses: When the kids (or you) want to paint, fill an old jar with water and use it to rinse of the brushes between colors. You can also use a small jar to store opened paints for later use.
Organizers: Big or small jars can be used to store everything from paper clips to bulk food items. You can use a big jar as a pencil holder on your desk, too.
Bug houses: When the kids want to catch fireflies, caterpillars, or other creepy crawlies, use old jars as bug homes. Just don’t forget to punch holes in the lids so the poor bugs can breathe.
Piggy bank: Cut a slit in the lid wide and long enough to accommodate money and you have an instant piggy bank.
Decorative display: Maybe you have some seashells you want to display. Put some sand in the bottom of the jar, drop in the shells and you have an instant reminder of your beach vacation. You can do a similar project with dried flowers from a wedding, matchbook covers from your travels, potpourri, or any other small object that you value.
Picture frame: Roll the picture, stick it in the jar and let it unroll. When it conforms to the shape of the jar, you have an interesting picture frame.
Votive candle holder: Baby food jars are great for holding small votive candles.
Planter: Put some small pebbles in the bottom of the jar to help absorb excess water. Add in some soil and then plant herbs or small flowers. Put it on a windowsill or sunny desk and you have an instant garden.
Rolling pin: A large jar makes a great rolling pin in a pinch. Just don’t press down so hard that you shatter the jar in your hand.
Keep things fresher: Many things we buy come in packages that allow them to go stale rather quickly. Take your items out of their original packages and put them into jars. This works great for pet treats, snack foods, cereal, and baking items like sugar, flour, and salt.
Holiday craft projects: You can put a Jack-o-lantern face on a jar and light it with a candle at Halloween. You can put ears on a baby food jar and make an Easter bunny. You can decorate a jar with Christmas designs and set it out filled with Christmas candy. Use your imagination and turn your old jars into festive holiday projects.
Regardless of what you want to do with your jar, you’ll probably want to remove the old label first. The best way I’ve found to do this is to soak the jar in warm water for a few hours or overnight. The labels should come right off. If there’s any glue left behind, try using nail polish remover (the kind with acetone) to remove the glue. Once you’ve got the label off, don’t forget to thoroughly wash and sanitize the jar, particularly if you’ll be using it for food. A clean, label free jar can then be used for any number of creative projects.