There are hundreds of crafty ideas online for reusing old glass jars but most of them are kind of… momsy (sorry, mom!). You can crochet little cosies for them, stencil hearts onto their lids and paint on chalkboard labels. Turn them into tealight lanterns, button containers and succulent holders. All worthy projects no doubt, but you’re not going to win any innovation awards for those DIY jobbies.
These four ideas struck us for their functionality and inventiveness. They’re guaranteed to make your life a little easier whilst injecting a bit of fun.
1. Salt and pepper shakers
This idea from the folk over at Martha Stewart (where no empty ribbon spool or pretty sweet wrapper goes unused) is incredibly simple. You know those dinky little jam jars you sometimes steal at hotel breakfasts and restaurants? They make damn cute salt and pepper shakers. Simply stick a piece of clear tape over the lid and mark out a grid of evenly spaced holes. Then pierce them with a sturdy thumb tack or nail, remove the tape and you have your new set of dispensers. Seal up the holes with another bit of tape to avoid spillage and throw them into the picnic basket. Or try doing the same with a larger jar for a giant salt shaker to use in cooking (just remember to leave enough space at the top for the salt to shake).
2. Glow-in-the-dark lights
This one’s for the kids, who can chip in and make their own, too. Paint the inside of a jar with glow-in-the-dark paint (most good art supply stores stock them). Hungarian blogger From Panka With Love uses a stippled dot pattern to striking effect but you can do anything that tickles your fancy. The only tricky bit is angling your brush to paint inside. Once the paint is dry, shine a lamp into the jar to “charge up” the paint. Then hit the lights; cue “ooh’s” and “aah’s”.
3. Just-add-hot-water instant noodles
OK, the jar here plays a supporting role. The real star is the lovingly prepared Asian-inspired meal inside. Conceived as a healthy alternative to the MSG-laden food of your youth, this recipe for instant noodles requires minimal prep time at home and makes for a hearty lunch at work. For the most basic version simply combine par-cooked noodles, a bit of vegetable/chicken/beef base, some raw sliced veggies, and a few seasonings inside a jar. When you’re ready for lunch, add boiling water, wait a few minutes and you’ve got a flavourful, slurpy meal. Experiment with endless variations to keep things interesting.
4. Christmas snow globe
At home on the range in South Indiana, Cassie from The Broken Plow builds her own greenhouse, makes maple syrup and saws her own wood log coasters. One thing at a time for us city folk – beginning with her tutorial for making your own Christmas decorations. All you need are an empty glass jar (duh), some plastic or wooden Christmas decorations such as trees, reindeers or Father Christmas figurines, liquid glycerin (found at any pharmacy), glitter and clear silicone waterproof sealer (available at any hardware store).
Avoid any objects with metal for your globe as they will rust and turn the liquid murky. Squeeze a thick bead of waterproof sealer around the inside edge of the lid, which will seal in the liquid. Add a dot in the middle to stick down whatever object you’re using. Fill the jar with water, leaving about 2cm of space at the top, then add a half a teaspoon of glycerin and stir it. Add your glitter, turn your lid upside down (with object now dried) and screw it onto the jar tightly. Invert the jar and voila, you have your own homemade snow globe.