The perfect container for a variety of homemade gifts is the humble glass jar, which you can use for virtually anything.

Homemade Elderflower SyrupIf you’re stuck for present ideas, one option could be making something yourself. Homemade present is sure to be appreciated, as the recipient will see the effort and love that’s gone into the gift and with a bit of imagination, you can make it look better than shop bought. The perfect container for a variety of homemade gifts is the humble glass jar, which has seen a bit of a renaissance lately, with vintage and retro being in vogue at the moment, so you can see them used for virtually anything. So why not jump on the glass jar band wagon and try one of our gift ideas.

The easiest gifts in a jar to make at home, especially if you have a garden and grow your own vegetables or fruits, are various preserves or butters. These are a perfect indulgent present for almost anyone – and it’s much easier than you might think, as for most cooked concoctions such as jam, marmelades, or sauces you don’t even need to boil the jars to preserve them – just preheat the glasses (for example if you are sterilizing the jars by boiling, just use them straight when you take them out), fill them with the hot cooked mixture and immediately stand upside down to cool. This in itself will create the vacuum necessary to preserve the contents for you. This process will work well with the Bormioli Rocco Quarto Stagioni jars, which come with a one piece lid with an inbuilt rubber seal, which allows the air to escape, but doesn’t let anything in, plus you can screw them on securely, so all your content won’t come out when you turn the jars upside down. This should only be done with larger jars, as the smaller ones might cool down too quick and the vacuum might not form properly. For something really indulgent, why not try this decadent fig, bourbon and vanilla jam, which is delicious on a toast, but is also a perfect accompaniment for cheese boards.

Fig, Bourbon and Vanilla Bean Jam

  • 1.5kg fresh figs (brown or purple varieties work better)
  • 1.2kg pounds granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 9x 250ml (half pint) jars

Sterilise the jars and lids (you can wash the jars in the dishwasher, but not the lids, it would compromise the seal). Cut up the figs, mix with sugar, lemon juice and bourbon, simmer slowly until the mixture becomes syrupy, then blend the figs with stick blender until smooth (or whatever consistency you prefer), split vanilla bean, scrape the seeds into the figs and add the pod. Stir well and simmer until thick, stirring occasionally. Once you’re happy with the consistency, remove the vanilla pod, fill the mixture into the jars, leaving space on top (don’t fill jars over the bottom line of the screw top and close them tightly (but don’t overtighten). Boil the jars in water bath for 15 minutes. The jam will last for a year, if stored in a cool dry place.

Cake_Mix_In_A_JarIf you do not have a garden, don’t despair, you can make a whole variety of other things and then pop them in a jar to look pretty. You can bake various delicious biscuits, decorate them and then simply arrange them in a jar and attach a handmade gift tag. The seal on the jar will ensure the biscuits will stay fresh and delicious. Or you can go a step further and instead of actually baking it, just fill the jar with a mixture of dry ingredients, for the recipient to bake themselves. This might be a fun present for young students who have just moved out and aren’t too comfortable in the kitchen yet. Don’t forget to add step-by-step instructions as well as what wet ingredients need to be added.

For your bestie, or perhaps your other female family members, you might like to try to spoil them with an indulgent homemade sugar scrub, perfect for a relaxing, sweet smelling bath with a bit of scrubbing to let the blood flow and enjoy all the benefits of the essential oils that are added. You can mix and match any essential oils, but to get you started, why not try this recipe below.

Cinnamon Vanilla Sugar Scrub

Simply mix ½ cup of white sugar, ½ cup raw cane sugar, ¼ cup of oil (olive, almond or coconut work best), ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract or essential oil, 2 -3 drops of cinnamon essential oil and a dash of ground cinnamon. Mix all ingredients except oil together and then add oil in a slow stream while mixing, until you are happy with the texture and consistency, pack in a jar add a handmade label and voila – your gift is ready! If you want to get a little bit more adventurous, you can give this a go.

Lemony Sugar Scrub Exfoliating Soap

Melt ½ cup of grated quality soap (or soap base) in a double boiler (if you don’t have a double boiler, simply place a small metal bowl over a saucepan of boiling water), add ¼ cup of oil of your choice (almond, coconut or similar), once melted and well combined, add 3 -4 drops of lemon (or other citrus) essential oil, few drops of vitamin E oil (optional), mix in 1 cup of sugar. You can also add a drop of food colouring to your mixture for different coloured soaps. Once the sugar is added, the mixture will harden very quickly, so you should have a silicone mould ready to pour the mixture in. You can use any silicone mould you would use for chocolate or ice, you can make just simple cubes, but other shapes might be fun too. You can also just scoop out piece and shape them by hand, or roll out into a sheet and cut with cookie cutters or knife. Once done, let the mixture set in a freezer for about 30 minutes, then place them in an air-tight container and attach a gift label. These soaps will keep for 3 months.

Another clever gift – and so easy to make – is to repurpose a jar as a soap dispenser. Just save the pump bit of any normal soap dispenser you buy in the shop, make a hole in the centre of the lid, glue in place and fill with soap of your choice. To make this extra special, you can spray the lid and the pump with a metallic spray to unify the look of them.

There are so many things you can do with a simple jar, the only limit is your imagination, and your gift is always going to look great. For more gifts in a jar, try Pinterest or similar websites.


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Justine Murphy

Justine is marketing director and co-owner of Kitchen Warehouse. She loves entertaining and will not refuse a good glass of wine.

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