Holiday Gifts: 8 Homemade Gifts in a Jar (with free printable gift tags)

Homemade gifts in a jar are a fun, frugal, and easy holiday gift to share with loved ones. Over the years I’ve made several homemade Christmas gifts in a jar for friends, family, and neighbors.

There are endless possibilities with what can be placed in a jar. Soup mixes are super for those who like savory ingredients. Jars containing layered mixes for cookies, muffins, and brownies are yummy for those with a sweet tooth. I’ve also given quality chocolates, bulk candy, and nuts in decorated jars. (For more inexpensive gifts, click Holiday Gifts: 10 Frugal and Homemade Gift Ideas.)


Gifts in a jar are easy to make. Just take a glass jar (canning jars, mason jars, or even recycled mustard jars), layer with ingredients, and then top with a gift tag. Combine a bunch of jars together to make your own gift baskets. How’s that for a frugal gift idea? To help you get your jar-on this holiday season, I’ve created several free printable gift tags for download. You supply the homemade goodness.

Here are 8 frugal holiday gift ideas (and recipes) in a jar:

1. S’mores in a Jar

Kids love to help make and eat S’mores in a Jar. If you’re into seasonal gift recipes, find some marshmallow Peeps to match your holiday.


Or get fun and use teddy bear graham crackers to line the jar for decoration.



Layer in a large wide mouthed 1 quart mason jar:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (one sleeve of crackers, crushed)
  • 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows.
    • Or substitute with 8 Peeps and 1/2 cup miniature marshmallows for seasonal fun. Line the jar with Peeps facing out.
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips or mini Hershey Kisses or M&M’s
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

Printable Gift Tags:

Download Printable Gift Tags: S’mores in a Jar (PDF)

2. Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Jar

This recipe makes about 36 cookies.


Layer in a large wide mouthed 1 quart mason jar:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Mix flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Pour mixture into a 1 quart (1 liter) mason jar and pack down. Mix oatmeal in a blender. Pack on top of flour in mason jar. Add white sugar and pack down. Add brown sugar and pack down. Layer chopped nuts on top of brown sugar. Finish layering jar with mini or regular chocolate chips.

Printable Gift Tags:

Download Printable Gift Tags: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (PDF)

3. Ultimate Chocolate Brownie Mix in a Jar

This recipe makes one pan of chocolate brownies.


Layer in a large wide mouthed 1 quart mason jar:

  • 1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Any combination of: mini chocolate chips, mini M&M’s, junior mints, chocolate candy bar
  • 1/2 cup almonds

Layer ingredients in 1 quart mason jar. Tap gently on the counter after each layer before adding the next. Add additional mix-ins to fill any small gaps if necessary.

Printable Gift Tags:

Download Printable Gift Tags: Chocolate Brownies (PDF)

4. Chocolate Chip Muffins in a Jar

This recipe makes a single batch of muffins.


Layer in a large wide mouthed 1 quart mason jar:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, or substitute raisins, dried cranberries, or nut.

Combine sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder. Place in quart mason jar. Add chocolate chips.

Printable Gift Tags:

Download Printable Gift Tags: Chocolate Chip Muffins (PDF)

5. Chai Tea Mix in a Jar

This recipe makes 2, 6 ounce jars.


Layer in 2, 6 ounce jars:

  • 1 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/4 cup black tea leaves
  • 12 cardamom pods
  • 4 2 inch pieces of cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp dried lemon peel

Divide all ingredients and layer equally between 2, 6 ounce jars.

Printable Gift Tags:

Download Printable Gift Tags: Chai Tea Mix in a Jar (PDF)

6. Chicken Noodle Soup in a Jar

This recipe makes a pot of soup.


Layer in a 1/2 quart (2 cup) glass jar:

  • 1/4 cup of red lentils
  • 2 tbsp dried onion flakes
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chicken bouillon granules
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill weed or dill seed
  • 1/8 tsp each celery seed and garlic powder
  • 1 cup medium egg noodles
  • 1 bay leaf

In a 2 cup glass jar, layer from bottom in the order listed above.

Printable Gift Tags:

Download Printable Gift Tags: Chicken Noodle Soup in a Jar (PDF)

7. Minestrone Soup in a Jar

This recipe makes a pot of soup.


Layer in a 1/2 quart (2 cup) glass jar:

  • 1/4 cup red lentils
  • 1/4 cup green split peas
  • 1/4 cup barley
  • 1/3 cup beef bouillon powder
  • 2 tbsp parsley flakes
  • 3 tbsp onion flakes
  • 1/3 tsp thyme
  • 1/3 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/4 cup macaroni

In a 2 cup glass jar, layer from bottom in the order listed above.

Printable Gift Tags:

Download Printable Gift Tags: Minestrone Soup in a Jar (PDF)

8. Bulk Candy, Nuts, or Chocolate in a Jar

Choose your favorite bulk candy, nuts, or chocolates and layer in a glass jar of any size! Use any recycled glass jar to contain any amount of bulk candy confection! Once filled, decorate and add a pretty gift tag!


Free Printable Gift Tags: blank template

Download Printable Gift Tags: Blank Printable Gift Tags (PDF)

There you have it, holiday gifts in a jar. I hope this gives you some gift ideas for the holidays. All of these recipes are good last minute gift ideas as well. So get creative and see what you can come up with. Jar’s the limits!

Looking for more holiday gift ideas?

Got any great jar ideas? Perhaps stuffing a glass jar with a toy or another gift? Go ahead, share your jarring gift secrets!

Your two cents:

  1. Unspender December 2nd, 2008

    I’ve been toying with the idea of giving recipes-in-a-jar for a while so this will come in handy. Thanks! Now I want some soup…

  2. Seth December 2nd, 2008

    My wife started doing this last year. Everyone that received one loved it! I’m going to send her this way to check out your ideas, as they look delicious and beautifully presented. Thanks for including nice recipe tags as well!


  3. Kerry December 2nd, 2008

    @Unspender The soups look really pretty all layered in jars. Lentils look lovely.

    @Seth So happy you like the recipe tags. I boggled some brain cells trying to make them just right. :D

  4. Susy December 2nd, 2008

    Love it! I have 2 of those gift mixes in a jar cookbook. On year my sister and I got together and made tons of these to give out to everyone. They all loved them! I often make a patchwork soup in a jar mix (made with split peas, lentils & barley) and give as a quick soup recipe to be used with the holiday ham bone!

  5. Marcia December 2nd, 2008

    Thanks for these! I’d been trying to come up with some good, frugal Xmas ideas (for the family who doesn’t want anything), and these are GREAT!

  6. Vered - MomGrind December 2nd, 2008

    What a beautiful idea. And especially appropriate this year with the now-official recession.

  7. Robin December 2nd, 2008

    Wonderful. Thanks.

  8. Sagan December 2nd, 2008

    I love it!! Thanks for this.

  9. Lance December 2nd, 2008

    Geez, these look delicious – I don’t know if we could make them up, and then NOT make them right away! And, they do really look like great ideas, especially for that hard to buy for person…

  10. Beverly December 2nd, 2008

    There’s always the pros and cons to a recession but maybe we will all learn how to give the little things that are personal made by us this year. These gifts are wonderful ideas!

  11. MoneyMateKate December 2nd, 2008

    Thanks for including one for Chai Tea – very unusual, straddles both the “healthy” and “treat” realms, and I wouldn’t have thought that one up on my own!

  12. Kacie December 3rd, 2008

    These are fantastic! I would love to give or receive any of these.

    This year, I already have supplies needed to bake cookies and send them to people, but I’ll have to come back to this post next year and try some out!

  13. brooke December 3rd, 2008

    These are great! I did a printable calendar for everyone this year & last and it went over really well. The template I use is here

  14. Foodaholic December 3rd, 2008

    Great ideas! Definitely good on the wallet.

  15. Heather@TheGreenestDollar December 3rd, 2008

    Thanks for these great ideas! They look gorgeous and I’ll definitely be sending my readers to your site to check them out. The one on chai tea is definitely unique; I might have to make that one for myself!

    Thanks again for the wonderful gift ideas.


  16. Elizabeth December 3rd, 2008

    This year, for my friends with dogs, I will be making homemade dog treats and putting them in jars for gifts.

  17. jacks December 3rd, 2008

    hi, this is a silly question, but…
    when youre doing the ones with like the brownie or cookie mix…
    would it be hard for the person to take out of the jar the flour?
    i’m just a little bit confused, maybe someone could explain to me
    thanks :)

  18. bkd December 3rd, 2008

    These are really cool! I never thought of this.

    Just to let you know (it’s kind of a pet peeve): “chai” means “tea”, so when you say “chai tea” you’re essentially saying “tea tea”. It’s kind of funny, though.

    thanks for this! and I have a suggestion/question: for the jars with recipes, would we have the stuff already made and put in the jar, or would we have an ingredient?

  19. bkd-07 December 3rd, 2008

    These are really cool! I never thought of this.

    Just to let you know (it’s kind of a pet peeve): “chai” means “tea”, so when you say “chai tea” you’re essentially saying “tea tea”. It’s kind of funny, though.

  20. rjleaman December 4th, 2008

    Nice variety! I’ve always been a fan of gifts-in-a-jar but never strayed far beyond the soup and cookie realm. Muffins and brownies will nicely expand the gift-giving horizons… and I’m making a Chai mix for myself!

  21. Kellyg December 4th, 2008

    I honestly thought that cookies (and whatever) in a jar was outdated. But seeing that people like these gifts, I may consider doing them myself.

  22. rjleaman December 5th, 2008

    Kellyg, a thoughtful, useful, homemade gift of food is never “outdated” IMO! :-D

  23. FF December 8th, 2008

    This looks fantastic! A great little treat for the holidays is always wonderful. Great frugal ideas for gifts.

  24. Lisa December 8th, 2008

    Great ideas and thanks for the tags. Homemade gifts are always apprecitated.

  25. ConsciouslyFrugal December 8th, 2008

    I’m definitely going to link this post on my blog and will make some of your suggestions for gifts this year. So, so, sooooo cute! Thank you!

  26. Ben December 13th, 2008

    It’s an interesting idea, but won’t your friends feel like they’ve been shafted by you when they receive a jar full of cooking ingredients and a piece of paper?

    I think it is best to buy your friends booze for christmas.

  27. Cindy December 19th, 2008

    What a great website!!! Thanks so much for all the awesome recipe ideas. Also thank you for the recipe tags.

  28. tui January 11th, 2009

    Popping in from stumble and wanted to let you know your page was imformative and really pretty. I love your presentation.

  29. leslie November 13th, 2009

    I just wanted to vouch for Ben’s point. I made a couple of these for some friends last year and although they were appreciative, they all said that they’d rather have the already-made cookie than the ingredients.

    Also, make sure your friend’s have the necessary items to bake the things before you give them the jar! (I ended up just making the cookies that i gave to my friend because he didn’t have any type of good baking sheet and it’d be silly for him to go buy one just because of my gift.)

  30. Tracey November 15th, 2009

    These are great gifts! I’m a full time working mom of 5, and I have friends who also work full time. To have a mix already measured out in the cupboard is so handy. All my kids’ teachers will be receiving a brownie mix or cookie mix along with a couple of sachets of Tim Horton’s Tea Bags.

    Thanks for the recipes.

  31. Brigitte November 24th, 2009

    Love the information on your website and particularly this page about how to make gifts from in a jar! I would like to ask your permission to use one of the photo on your site for a healthy holiday gift article and handout I am developing. I would of course give it proper accreditation and recommend your site for more awesome ideas. Thank you for your consideration!

  32. Wendy D. Cruz April 23rd, 2010

    I love it, my 6 yr old daughter had lots of fun filling the jars and now i have to go buy more jars….thanks

  33. Kerry April 23rd, 2010

    @Wendy So happy you found some frugal family fun!

  34. Sally December 1st, 2010

    I like the Brownie Mix but what is Vanilla Sugar? If you could email me with the answer I would really appreciat it.

    Thanks, Sally

  35. Jill December 7th, 2010

    Hi there! I love your cute ideas; am totally implementing a few for Christmas this year. When I went to download the oatmeal cookie tags, it said the file was damaged? It could be just me, but I was hoping you could either repost or email to me? Thanks!

  36. Kerry December 7th, 2010

    Hi Jill, I just tested the file and it downloads perfectly. I think your reader needs an update. Please go to to get the latest free Adobe Reader download.

  37. Jamie B. September 30th, 2011

    I LOVE these and love the printable tags too!!! I hope you don’t mind I’ve featured this in my hub:

  38. Jen November 26th, 2011

    These are great! 2 Quick Questions about the brownies . .
    1. What is Vanilla Sugar?
    2. When you say “Any combination of: mini chocolate chips, mini M&M’s, junior mints, chocolate candy bar” How much should it equal out to in order to fill the jar to the top? 1 cup? 1/2 cup?


  39. Gail November 27th, 2011

    Found your site while searching for recipes. I saw a bunch of these nicely packaged jars for sale at the store today and thought I can totally make this myself. Woot! Woot!

  40. Laura December 4th, 2011

    Probably Silly Question- for the S’mores recipe, it says 1 1/2 cup of crushed graham crackers but they say you can use teddy grahams for cuteness- would it still be 1 1/2 cups of teddy grahams? Just want to make sure :) Thanks for any and all suggestions!

  41. Lyzz December 10th, 2011

    These are SO stinkin cute!!! I LOVE the chai tea recipe!!! I may be making all of these cute ideas this year! Thanks!
    PS Where can I find “cardamom” pods?

  42. Gail G December 12th, 2011

    I tested the S’more recipe and while it is really cute in the jar, it definitely does not make 12 servings. Any suggestions?

  43. Margie December 7th, 2012

    Same question as Laura, if using Teddy Grahams, how many would you need. Very cute idea. My grandkids will be making jar gifts for their parents, at my house. They love crafting so this will be a wonderful time for them, as they create these gifts. Thanks so much for all of your ideas! Three grandkids and two parents that will be 6 jars of fun!

  44. Lili@creativesavv December 22nd, 2012

    Our favorite in-a-jar gift is Chocolate-Chocolate Chip- Peppermint Stick Cookie Mix. It’s a chocolate dough with chocolate chips in it, all layered by ingredient. Then the top layer is separated by a piece of plastic wrap — crushed candy canes. Very festive for the season!

    Kerry, have a very Merry Christmas!

  45. Jules @ Lovely Las Vegas December 27th, 2012

    Very cool and creative! And I’m sure delicioso, too. : )

  46. marylee November 8th, 2013

    Wondering if there are recipe-card style recipes available for these jar ideas. Our Practical Application Life Skills students make and sell these type of items to staff and parents for Christmas. They follow step by step and use an assembly line system to fill the jars. It was a huge hit last year and we need more ideas and we start in two weeks!

  47. carole January 7th, 2015

    Our daughter-in-law and grandkids made us the soup in a jar this past Christmas. We were thrilled and I made the pot yesterday. I messaged her for the recipe and she linked me to your website. I will definately be using this site in the future. I love that you have included incredibly beautiful tags. Thank you!

  48. Andrea October 26th, 2015

    I love the idea of the soup jars but what do you do with the lentils? Wash and dry them? How do you dry them? Thanks!

  49. Mati October 29th, 2015

    As soon as I saw these, I immediately went to my pantry to see if I had the ingredients for some of these… I have enough supplies stockpiled that I can make LOTS of each of these (just need the jars!)…problem is, I don’t have enough friends for all I want to make…LOL! Thank you!

  50. sharon November 3rd, 2015

    I love this idea but I fail to see it as a complete in a jar treat if you have to use milk and eggs.. or any other liquid. I was wondering if you ever made any up that used powdered milk and eggs so the receiver only has to add water? Not everyone has milk and eggs on hand all the time. Just add water would be great for people on restricted incomes as well.

  51. Penny Toodlican November 17th, 2015

    looking for ideas for christmas and would like to try this with me students. I every year i do cookies with them but want to try something different.

  52. Joan Correll November 25th, 2015

    Thanks so much for the recipes and labels for the cookies in a jar. I save jars all year long and love giving this as gifts to neighbors, thank you’s when invited to a home for a meal. I run out of ideas and love the creativity of others.
    Have a Happy Christmas.

  53. Megan December 12th, 2015

    These are only frugal gifts if you have the stuff stockpiled already- There are no bulk stores where I live, so amassing the ingredients and canning supplies was expensive for me. Of course, I also bought dehydrated veggies to put in mine, cuz I felt like chicken buillon and noodles jn a jar was kind of a cop out. But the end result is delicious, and doing it was very fun

    @Sharon about the powdered eggs and milk- Baking with them isn’t quite the same as with the real McCoy, so you would need to tamper with the recipe a lot. If you can’t do the baked goods, soups are almost always good choices. You could even make it into a full gift basket and provide the family seeds and small tools to ‘grow your own noodle soup’! Celery can grow small bunches when the stalk is left in water, and short carrots can grow on a window planter, assuming low income=small living space.

  54. Cindy December 14th, 2015

    Im trying to assemble the S’mores in a jar and I can’t get everything to fit. I have the 1 quart jar and the measurements exactly as the recipe states. I packed the brown sugar and graham crackers at the bottom, the m&m’s obviously won’t pack and the marshmallows are busting out the top and I still have another half cup to go. Is there a trick to this?

  55. Robyn December 25th, 2015

    Omg! I’ve been searching for an hour for mason jar gifts with printables! Thank you so much!

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