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10 Ways to Reuse a Glass Jar

by Tiffany in Crafts

10 Ways to Reuse a Glass JarGot any empty glass jars? Get creative and find ways to reuse them!

1. Beach in a jar – This is a fun project for kids who have visited the beach recently and gathered seashells. We just went to Florida and YES we brought home seashells and authentic Florida sand. Simply put some sand in the bottom of the jar (colored play sand works great for this) and add the seashells. A larger shell can be glued to the lid for a finishing touch. Letting the kids paint the shells first is another fun way to add some color.

2. Lantern or candleholder – This is a good project for a glass jar of any size. The kids can use glass paint to create a stained glass look. Use the candle for dining outdoors in the evening…add a citronella candle and you have a bug deterrent too.

3. Use glass jars as paint containers. Just fill with a little paint and away you go. They last longer than plastic, they don’t stain, and since you are reusing something you already have, they are practical too.

4. Flower vase – Glass jars make charming vases. You can give them a layer of paint or a ribbon if desired. Then have your kids pick some wildflowers and you have a lovely arrangement.

5. Snack jars! I like to keep nuts, raisins, shredded coconut etc. glass jars when I can. They stay fresh and they aren’t in close to proximity to plastic.

6. Bank – Jars make great banks. Simply cut a slot in the lid to put change in, and let your child decorate the outside as he or she chooses.

7. An i-spy jar – Fill the jar with rice and a few secret objects like a coin, a paperclip, a button, a bead, a small toy, dice, etc and have kids see if they can find all the treasures. Of course make sure to keep and eye on young ones when doing this. ;)

8. Jack-o-lantern jar – This is a great Halloween project. Cut shapes for the eyes, nose and mouth out of masking tape, and place them on the jar. Paint with orange paint, and remove tape when dry. Add a candle or small light to make it glow.

9. Candy jar – This can be decorated any way your child likes. Fill it with candy or other favorite snacks and give it as a gift, or keep it on the coffee table for guests to enjoy.

10. Planter – Put pebbles in the bottom of a small jar, then fill with potting soil. Plant herb or flower seeds, and put in the windowsill.

Got any more ideas? Comment and let me know!

  • I love this post! I like to keep homemade margarita mix ready to go in an old incredibly well washed spaghetti sauce jar.

  • Carrie

    I like the stars. Those are cute. We don’t have any regular glassware in the house, we just use old jars. The peanut butter ones are my favorite size for that. And now that we’re trying to be plastic-free, all the different sized jars come in handy.

  • Dr.Daisy

    We love reusing plastic jars, I use a variety of them in my craft room for beads, buttons, etc and they look decorative as well:) Great post!:)

  • To Think Is To Create

    Great post! Now I need ideas on what to do with a giant glass apple juice jug (i.e. narrow top). Only thing I can think of is a piggy bank. :/

  • They are great to hold a button collection.

  • very nice. now…what do we do with all the nalgene bottles that have bpa in them!? need a list of uses for those….!!!

  • Jenna

    Wow — great ideas! Very creative!

    I love the idea of re-using jars to store gifts!

  • Alicia

    Your ideas are so great! I wash them out and keep them for grease. Instead of dumping any in a drain or into the trash, I keep them under the sink and when they are full, throw them out! Keeps my drains clear and my trash can clean.

  • melinda s

    Super ideas!!! Another great way to reuse!!

  • danielle

    Just stumbled across your site and it is AWESOME. I work with National Wildlife Federation and we would love to talk to nature mom’s and ask them questions on how you are getting your kids outside! Like in! I’d love to hear from you if you get a chance.

  • Tiph

    We nail the lids of jars to a board on the wall, and then screw the jar into it, to store things like nuts and bolts…

    Also, you can use glass jars as drinking glasses… they make a great alternative to plastic cups which leach things into your water. (an good idea for adults, obviously!)

  • Amy

    Love that photo of the etched glass jars with the stars. What a cool project that would be, and just in time for 4th of July! I think it could make an awesome Christmas gift too with some great soy candles in ’em!
    I love these ideas! I think I’m going to go pull some of my glass jars out of the recycling bin. What was I thinking??? :)

  • Miss Lynar

    I thought I was the one of the only “reuser” out there. Thanks for the idea about the snacks, I will definately use that one.

  • Rapunzel

    Great ideas! I re-use and recycle glass every chance I get since I hate plastic and have slowly been replacing my plastic storage bins with pretty glass jars. :-)

  • I love the ideas. I’m stocked up on baby food jars these days so I like the hints. This month on my blog––I’m focusing on going green tips. I’ll try to link this page. But feel to leave a comment on any of my posts with your ideas.


    Yes! I agree with another’s comment here: PLEASE RE-USE your old jars … even as DRINKING GLASSES!!! They’re free, after all, and the best part — they’re recycleable whereas drinking glasses CANNOT be recycled. (It has to do with the additives to drinking glasses. Same goes with window glass and baking ware.) Don’t buy any drinking glasses if you can help it. We shop all the time with an eye on “oh, this would be a good [drinking] glass!”

  • I reuse them as jars. HA! Not very imaginative, but they hold my salsa, sauces, soups and so forth. Plus I can send them home with dinner guests without a worry about getting them back. I also use a large jar for sun tea.

    When making gravy, I put my flour and some of my pan drippings into a jar and shake it so I can avoid lumps. I guess that means my gravy is shaken, not stirred. The same technique works for salad dressing. And since you can’t have a beverage in my car without a lid – bamo!

    My kids have “allowance jars” as someone else here mentioned. They decorated their jars. When we find spare change, we have a family activity jar and use that for movies, ice cream, and all such discrete indiscretions.

    Glad to stumble onto your blog!

    • Abbey

      My mother and grandmother also have a “gravy jar”, actually when I moved out on my own one of them (I think it was my grandma) actually gifted me an old jar specifically for making gravy!

  • Carrie

    We drink out of old glass jars. For some reason we seem to break “real” glasses, but the glass jars last forever!
    Lately I’ve been using them to help “baby” plants root.

  • Inge

    I am saving all my CLASSICO-pesto and tomato sauce jars. Both sizes have the same size lid, I just love them, they have ounce-marks in 2 sides of the jar and whem you put one on top of the other they don’t slide. Just awesome. There is cornstarch, dried herbs, raisins, dried mushrooms, candied ginger, breadcrums and so much more…. I save only glass jars with lids they have some “grip”, even the tiny ones.
    [URL=]The picture[/URL] shows only one side of my cubby.

    The “bank” idea I like too.

    Very many wonderful ideas here. Thanks

  • James Saunders

    Does authentic “New Mexico” sand work to? i have some shells from a lake and want to use them

  • ‘Becca

    Great ideas! I’m going to link this article to mine linked behind my name, where I rave about how wonderful glass jars are for storing leftovers, and also give some ideas for re-using other things.

    Tiph wrote: “Also, you can use glass jars as drinking glasses… they make a great alternative to plastic cups which leach things into your water. (an good idea for adults, obviously!)”
    Actually, I grew up drinking from glass jars, and although I was a clumsy kid I didn’t break them all that often–they’re pretty thick–and when I did, it was a good lesson in why to be careful, which helped me learn to avoid spilling drinks. My son has been drinking from glass since he was under a year old; he’s more graceful than I am and has NEVER broken a glass or dish by accident, only the 2 times he got mad and threw one!

  • April

    These tips are for multiple sizes of glass jars with lids. Baby food on up to large.

    You could use them for terrariums, fish bowl, children’s small toy pieces, cotton balls, Q-tips, store little leftover pieces of bar soap until you melt it together to make a new bar, leftover pieces of candles to melt and just pour back in and add a new wick.

    As for the piggy bank, you could paint it, turn it on it’s side and add legs and a snout, etc.
    You can always poke holes in the top and catch fireflies.

    Decorate or paint lid, give as gifts filled with pre-made baking or soup mixes.

    Dog treats that come in those resealable bags that don’t actually reseal, you can out in them. You could even decorate or paint it with the dogs name, bone shapes, the word treats.

    Decorate for holidays, fill with jelly beans, candy corns, peppermints, decorate lid and set out. Or the guess how many game and win the jar of candy at a party.

    To store Chuck E Cheese tickets if saving up for something big. Or leftover tokens. (small baby food good for this)

    I filled some with colored noodles, different colored layered beans and put them on top of my kitchen cabinets as decoration.

    Marbles, dice, game pieces- spices/herbs, homemade hot chocolate mix. The list goes on and on!!!!!

  • Christine

    Put potpourri inside, and cut out a small piece of fabric (great for old favorite shirts you hate to just toss) ontop for a lid, and wrap it with a tight rubberband or ribbon. These are great gifts for most anyone who loves scented decorations.

  • Jeanne

    I love the recycling of the jars. Does anyone have suggestions as to how to get the odor out of the lids? Especially lids from pickle jars – even the dishwasher does not eliminate it.


    • Yvonne

      Baking soda can work on some odors. I am currently soaking the lid to an apple juice bottle in some baking soda as we speak. Hoping it works. I want the bottle for a water bottle. I have to drink water out of something with a lid or my cat helps himself. I think there was another household solution to getting out the smells, but it hasn’t come to me. I was searching for it when I came across this. Good luck with the pickle smell. It is very resilient. I know I have gotten some to be practically scentless, yet that garlic dill smell sure does linger.

  • Bob


  • Heather B.

    I attend Humboldt State University and many students use their glass jars for transporting water, tea, coffees, smoothies, etc. I have also seen a few students use them for their lunch, like they would a plastic tupperware container. Now what’s really awesome is some clever students even have knit covers for theirs so they won’t have to worry about them breaking! It’s all about making the world a better place and you can see all that firsthand here at HSU. :)

  • Dee

    Both my daughters have jars with the sand and shells we found at the beach.

    My sister (when she was younger) did something with a jar that used masking (paper like) tape torn into small pieces. She pasted a picture on the outside of the jar and then used shoe polish to color the pieces of tape (she used brown) and then covered the whole jar with the tape. It made it look vintage like. My mom still has it and looks good even after 25 years.

  • Kim

    I like using the classico jars for pudding shakers.

  • alice


    ive got a very large glass jar that i would love to fill with something as a present for christmas ( trying to make all my presents this year to save!) but my problem is that its for a 30 year old man who doesnt like sweets. i would love any ideas!


    • heather

      Maybe fill it with a non-sweet baked item like potato latkes? or does he like donuts? Make italian donuts (called Zeppeli I think they are spelled).They are not sweet, just have powdered sugar on them if you want to add it at all. If I think of anything else I will reply again.

    • Maybe a bean soup jar… aka layers of dried beans, dehydrated onions, garlic, spices, etc… most everything you need to make a bean soup or split pea soup.

      Like these:

  • carrie mistretta

    I have made cake in a jar for solders over seas… u just clean out the jar’s really good and pour half way with cake batter when you have them all filled put in a cake pan add some watter to the bottom of pan and bake at 350 till you can poke a knife in and pull it out clean. most the time i dont send icing but some times i do when i get the personal cakes you microwafe i dont use the icing that is with it so i will send them with the jar!
    I have also gave home made bath salts in the smaller jars and cookie mix, I store all of my nuts and left over spinkels . I love my Jars!

  • Being the Pacific Northwest (where everyone’s motto is “reuse, recycle, reduce”!), we reuse a lot of our for hundreds of things. Most recently, I have been getting requests for my hand poured candles made in the small glass baby food jars. A big seller here! Decorate it up & they make great baby shower gifts. We also have started doing wedding-themed & seasonally themed ones too. Seems to be a big hit! We even offer a “recycling discount” for customers who bought a candle, used it, & bring us back the jar to reuse.

  • HomemadeMother

    Love all these ideas. I re-use glass jars instead of plastic tupperware to store leftovers, pack food in lunches for my husband, on-the-go snacks for myself and the kids.

  • rae

    great ideas! did you mention the star lanterns there? is that glass etching? i love them and would love to make some!

    one of my favorite blogs, wee folk art, shared a mason jar cover to insulate (and protect) your drinking jars. it is wet felted. here’s the link:

  • lynn

    I have a pickle lid in a bag of baking soda, week 4 now, I tried vinegar and bk soda together too. the dishwasher a few times, I want to use that big jar!!!! maybe a different lid will fit it

    • Megwxn

      you can use enamel paint to cover the old lid. It will dry shiny like the original, but without the words!

  • Lhanson111

    What did you use to frost the jars in the photo with the stars?

    • aporter_2001

       Glass etching cream. You can get it at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby.

  • zee best

    I have a 10month old daughter so i have tons and tons of those glass gerber jars, i hate throwing stuff away i could reuse. so for her first birthday i was thinking of using them for jello! and since her theme is elmo, i was thinking of putting a little fish in the jello since elmo loves his goldfish :D

  • Layla

    I have made hand soap dispensers out of mason jars and if you get some nice looking pumps and paint the jars, they look great. You can really use any glass container of your choosing as long as the pump reaches the bottom, the possibilities are endless!

    • I have always wanted to try that.

  • Andrew Wain

    Jars are variety of sizes and shapes.Strength and rigidity.Easy to clean.Effective closure and resolves are applicable.Colored glass, especially amber, can give protection against light when it is required.