Wednesday, December 16, 2015

a holiday project: using jars for more than jam

 Jars for gifts... of course you can fill your jars with homemade goodness like jams and jellies... or even purchase them ready made at a local farmer's market.  But have you ever thought of using a jar and filling it with cookies?  Or homemade candies?  Even homemade bath salts (keep reading for a recipe)?  Yes, anything that can fit in a jar can be gussied up for the holidays.

You may remember that I used jam as party favors at the farm themed baby shower last summer... I even used these same little berry baskets.  They are inexpensive and easy to fill and fuss with.  For this, I'm getting some little jars of jam ready for a family get together this weekend as well as some for a few co-workers next week.  I brought out all of my supplies... baskets, filler, tags, little spoons, ribbon, twine and my secret jar weapon... cupcake liners!

Cupcake liners make the BEST jar toppers ever!  They come in every color or style imaginable, for every event or holiday you can think of... and get this... they are the PERFECT size to top a jar!  No cutting, no nothing!  You just remove the ring on the jar, add the liner and screw the ring right over the top.  Sooo much easier than fabric too.

For this one I had a cute Santa liner and a polka dot on white.  I have to admit, I do have a collection (in fact a whole drawer) of cupcake liners.  When I see cute ones, I pick them up.  If you look at these jars you see that the liner even makes a cute little finished edge below the ring.  We used these at my niece's wedding here at Red Gate Farm with brown liners and actual circle stickers in the same color so we could stamp on them.  The ideas are endless.

Next up was to pick a couple of baskets... add some filler, tag, tiny spoon and I'm almost done.  So quick and easy.

At this point you can add ribbon to keep the jar in the basket or even put the whole thing in a cellophane bag with a bow.

For me it was ribbon all the way... tied both directions to keep those jars in place!

 And that bath salt idea?  Well a number of years ago I came across a recipe for Almond Milk Bath.  I make it most years and it is very easy with just a few ingredients and a food processor.  I like to gift it in a jar with a little wooden spoon or scoop tied onto it.

You can change the almond for any essential oil or other natural flavoring.  I favor the almond, vanilla or a citrus like lemon or orange.

Almond Milk Bath
1/3 cup powdered milk
1 cup Epsom salts
1/3 cup borax (I've been using the same box for years now)
1 teaspoon almond extract (or other extract or essential oil, may need less depending on selection)
1 tablespoon gelatin (or one envelope)
paste food coloring, if desired

Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse well.  Pour onto lined cookie sheet (I use foil) to dry completely.  If using food coloring go very, very easy... just a touch on a toothpick as you don't want to stain someone's tub!
 Fill up your jar!

Cookies, bath salts, candy, nuts or even just jam... think about filling a jar with a bit of love and sharing it with others this holiday season.

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Please, feel free to leave a comment... it really makes my day! Chris