12 Cool Things to Do With Empty Glass Jars (Other Than Just Recycle Them)
Glass jar crafts, gifts, and experiments that make art right out of the recycling bin!
What do baby food, pasta sauce, and jam all have in common? They all come in glass jars that you hate to toss in the trash or recycling bin. So don’t! Empty glass jars are ideal for all kinds of crafts, homemade gifts, and even science experiments that your family can create together. For an Earth Day project using recycled materials — or just a random Tuesday — here are 12 things you can do with glass jars instead of tossing them in the recycling.
1. Cute Animal Jars
Glass jars make great storage containers for art supplies, loose change, even paper flower bouquets. You can use them as is — or you can get crafty to make a more decorative vessel to corral your clutter. For example, turn empty baby food jars into adorable fox and bunny faces with this craft from Two Kids And a Coupon. They’ll bring a touch of spring to your desk or nightstand.
2. Glass Jar Wind Chimes
This glass jar craft has it all: beading (to improve fine motor skills), saving the planet, and finally doing something with that growing rock collection. Turn glass beads, a mason-sized glass jar, wire, and small stones into wind chimes to add color and sound to your balcony or backyard. Follow the instructions from Sustain My Craft Habit, but be ready for this activity to take teamwork. Little fingers will enjoy the beading challenge, but parents will need to supervise the wire winding and cutting.
3. Homemade Butter in a Jar
When my brother and I would get antsy at restaurants as kids, my parents used to hand us the little plastic creamer containers and tell us to shake them until they turned into butter. They never did. But your family can shimmy and shake their way to homemade butter, with a STEAM lesson from Hess Unacademy. This ultimate fidget activity proves how agitating heavy cream in a glass jar really can make homemade butter.
4. DIY Picture Frame Jar
This twofer is a craft and a gift, a picture frame and a vase. (Does that make it a four-fer?) Create a unique container out of an empty glass jar and your favorite photo with instructions from A Little Craft in Your Day. If allergies get you every time, you can skip the flowers and fill your photo gift jar with candy, affirmations, tea bags, or anything else that warms their heart.
5. Rain Cloud in a Jar
Calling all rainmakers! Use your glass recyclables to make a shaving cream rain cloud in a jar. This experiment from Hunny I’m Home teaches how clouds get saturated with water and then release that water as rain. In this case, you’re using shaving cream clouds, colored water rain, and a simulated world made of a water-filled glass jar.
6. Coconut Lime Mint Sugar Scrub in a Jar
You can reuse glass jars for homemade gifts, such as this coconut lime mint sugar scrub from Moms Who Save. Follow the recipe to make a DIY body scrub, and then package it in your cleaned-out glass jars. (Look for short, squat jars — perhaps from jam or salsa.) Add a cute gift tag and proudly hand off your unique gift to appreciative teachers, relatives, and friends.
7. Calming Glitter Jar
There’s something sooo relaxing about watching colored glitter swirl and settle in a jar full of liquid. It helps calm little brains struggling with big emotions. Make your own glitter jar for those frustrating days when Mercury is in retrograde and nothing is going right. Bonus: Glitter jars double as hourglass-style timers. Shake them up and tell the family they need to clean the living room before all the glitter has settled to the bottom of the jar.
8. Baby Yoda Night Light
The craft ideas are endless if you’ve got a glass jar and a battery-operated tea light. You can create tissue paper lanterns and even light-up aquarium jars. Personally, we’d go for these Baby Yoda night lights by The Tiptoe Fairy. Paint glass yogurt or baby food jars green, attach some felt ears, and you can fall asleep with an adorable Child flickering at you from your bedside.
9. Homemade Brownie Mix in a Jar
Last-minute gift-givers know that homemade brownie (or scone or soup) mixes are a clever gift idea for many reasons. One, you can gift goodies without having to bake anything. Two, they’re a super-easy DIY project that requires only measuring skills and tag-writing. Three, homemade mixes require only pantry staples and the empty glass jars cluttering your cabinets. Four, everyone loves food! Not only does Melissa Norris give step-by-step instructions on how to make the mix, she even offers a free printable tag — requiring even less DIY effort for a thoughtful last-minute present.
10. Glass Jar Fairy Garden
As far as we can tell, a fairy garden is a terrarium decorated with adorable accessories, usually involving woodland critters, fairies, or gnomes. And where do you create a terrarium? In a glass jar! Pretty Handy Girl shows you how to take your larger glass jars, plant them with succulents, and up the cuteness quotient with some mini mushrooms and a tiny deer. (See her website for the full tutorial.) Build it and see if the fairies come.
11. Snow Globe
Make your own character-filled snow globes out of recycled glass jars with this how-to from Creative Jewish Mom. Not only is this a fun craft, but your family gets to choose which figurines go inside. Plastic dinosaurs, Mickey and Minnie, random plastic characters from Happy Meals — if you’re not going to play with them, transport them to a magical wonderland where you can douse them with sparkly glitter snow again and again.
12. Lava Lamp
Physics is groovy, baby! Reuse glass jars to make psychedelic lava lamps, and learn a thing or two about science along the way. Kids will think watching the colored blobs rise and fall is far out. Parents can use the opportunity to discuss viscosity, density, and chemical reactions. Science in a jar for the win!
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