Gifts in a Jar: 12 Gift Ideas for Under $15

It’s time to put a lid on it. Stocking stuffers, presents under the tree, gifts for friends, gifts for teachers, and gifts for everyone else on your holiday gift list can all add up to mega moolah. Before you know it, you’ve got the spending ‘sads’ from trying to please everyone.

So why not put a cap on costs this year by giving a few gifts in a jar? You won’t hit the glass ceiling with these jarring gift ideas and you may just uncork some great ideas for that special someone. By being a little creative, rescuing a few jars from your recycling bin, and thoughtfully thinking of ways to gift those on your list, it’s possible to give generously without breaking the bank. Plus, each present comes self-contained in it’s own packaging so there is no wrapping paper required. (And they’re cute.)

Here are 12 gifts in jar for under $15:

1. Plush Pet in a Jar

Have you ever seen a ship in a bottle? Why not stick a stuffed animal in a jar? Or better yet, bottle a goldfish in a bowl! Seriously?

This is a Webkinz fantail goldfish. Each Webkinz stuffed animal comes with a secret code which unlocks a virtual online world. Not only do the kids get a toy to play with, but they get to interact with its avatar in an online game — two gifts in one! Layer in a little candy (fish food) and tell that fish where to go. Bottoms up! Gulp!

Kids love this kind of gift. It’s mostly silly, kind of funny, and the jar is filled with tasty candy.

Canned tuna? Finding Nemo? Fresh flounder? Gone fishing? I’ll stop now…

Adding it up:

  • Webkinz Plush Pet: $9.99 (any stuffed animal will do)
  • Big Jar: $2.00 (dollar store)
  • Candy: $1.50
  • Total Cost: $13.49

2. Truck in a Jar

If your little tyke is less into stuffed animals and more into trucks, then go ahead and drive a fine automobile right into a glass jar.

I dare you to open your pantry and look at the glassware you’re storing. Over the years I’ve made gifts in a jar from reused mustard jars, Ikea jars, dollar store jars, quart mason jars, and super cute 1/2 pint wide-mouth canning jars.

You may need to paint the lids, so be sure to use food safe paint.

Adding it up:

  • Red Fire Truck: $1.00 (from the dollar store)
  • Mustard Jar: FREE (recycled)
  • Candy: $1.25
  • Total Cost: $2.25

3. Unique Gifts for Men

Enough with the toys for kids. Let’s look at some toys for the big boys. In 50 Gift Ideas from the Dollar Store I rounded up a few frugal gifts for the fellows, including: a multi-bit screwdriver, bungee cords, and a tape measure.

Add a little coffee in a used mustard jar and you’ve got a simple stocking stuffer for the man (or men) in your life. If you have the budget, go ahead and add a Swiss Army Pocket Knife or a Leatherman MultiTool to cap off this great gift.

Adding it up:

  • Coffee: $5.00
  • Six-in-One Screwdriver: $2.00
  • Tape Measure: $2.00
  • Bungee Cords: $1.00
  • Mustard Jar: FREE (recycled)
  • Total Cost: $10.00

Bigger Budgets: Add a pocket knife or multi-tool for a cost of $25 and up.

4. Gifts for Her

Go ahead and treat the gal in your life with a Spa Day in a Jar. Big spa days get a quart mason jar, while smaller sessions deserve a pint sized container.

Adding it up:

  • Cotton Buff: $2.00
  • Exfoliating Glove: $1.00
  • Loofah Sponge: $1.00
  • Foot Scrubber: $1.00
  • Nail Brush: $1.00
  • Tea Lights: $2.00
  • Journal Agenda: $2.00 (mark the Spa Day!)
  • Yummy Chocolates: $2.00
  • Ikea Jar: $2.00
  • Total Cost: $14.00

Bigger Budgets: Add a Spa gift certificate for a cost of $10 and up.

5. Gifts for Gardeners

Gift the gift of a green thumb by helping someone special start a DIY square foot garden. Those living in smaller spaces can also grow veggies using the container gardening method. Yum!

Use a jar for this gift or find yourself a small planting pot and fill it with seed packages, gardening gloves, and smaller sized tools. Any garden supplies store will carry these gardening essentials to get your gift growing. If you’re a seed saver, give a more personal gift by adding your garden bounty to the basket — see How to Save Heirloom Tomato Seeds for the instructions.

Adding it up:

  • Ikea Pot: $2.00
  • Assorted Seeds: $2.50 and up
  • Garden Supplies: $5 and up
  • Total Cost: $9.50 and up

Bigger Budgets: Add a book or some tools to round out this gift for an additional $20. Some good choices include: The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible (10th Anniversary Edition), All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!, and a 3-Piece Softouch Garden Tool Set.

6. Crafty Gifts in a Jar

Craft supplies can range in price from the super inexpensive to the super pricey. You’re paying a mint for anything with Martha Stewart’s name on it, and next to nothing for dollar store finds.

This is a gift where you can really cut costs or go full out. The trick is finding the right sized jar for the task. Craft supplies are great stocking stuffers for kids and can be given as gifts for teachers too.

Adding it up:

  • Paint Brushes: $2.50
  • Paint: $1.00 and up
  • Crayons: $1.00 and up
  • Markers: $2.00 and up
  • Construction Paper: $2.50 and up
  • Quart Mason Jar: FREE (recycled)
  • Total Cost: $9.00 and up

Bigger Budgets: Buy better quality paint, pencil crayons, or add a special book specific to the craft.

7. Jar Gifts for Athletes

Some sports are easier to stick in a jar than others. For example, please don’t try to gift a hockey stick in a mason jar. A fully inflated football is another toughie to fit, but one of those squishy Nerf footballs is probably a go.

Gifts for runners, walkers, marathoners, swimmers, and cyclists are easy to fit into a jar. Smaller items like energy bars or gels (I like Clif Bars), swim caps, goggles, race laces, and tire tubes are handy items most endurance types would appreciate. You could even skip the jar by placing these items in a wide-mouth water bottle.

You don’t need an athlete in the family to give fitness gear. Those living a healthy lifestyle through walking, yoga, and other fitness activities would enjoy this gift too!

Adding it up:

  • Energy Bars or Gels: $1.25 each (X5)
  • Swim Cap: $2.00 and up
  • Tire Tube: $2.50 and up
  • Water Bottle: FREE (won at a race)
  • Quart Mason Jar: FREE (recycled)
  • Total Cost: $10.75 and up

Bigger Budgets: Add a store gift certificate, buy a set of swim googles, stick in a pair of running socks, or give a gadget — a pedometer (under $20) or quality heart rate monitor (under $35) are great gifts for walkers and those looking to live a healthy lifestyle. Count those steps!

8. Pet Stuff in a Jar

Dog walkers, pet owners, and other furry friends can be gifted with a jar and some gear. Dog collars, cat toys, and pet treats all fit neatly in a variety of different sized jars.

Adding it up:

  • Pet Treats: $5.00 and up!
  • Grooming Gear: $2.50 and up
  • Collar: $2.50 and up (dollar store find)
  • Pet Toys: $5.00 and up
  • Mustard Jar: FREE (recycled)
  • Total Cost: $15.00 and up

Bigger Budgets: Give a grooming gift certificate or send a puppy (and the pet owner) to obedience training.

9. Pie in a Jar

Looking for a unique hostess gift? Bake up a tiny pie in a jar.


Get the instructions: How to make Pie in a Jar

These cuties are single servings of fruit pie made and baked in tiny mason jars. Pie in a jar is frugal to make, awesome to gift, tasty to serve, and fun to eat.

Adding it up:

Super Saver, Bigger Budgets: Save a few bucks by making your own pie crust or by using fruit preserved from your garden. You’ll spend more money if your pantry is bare and need to stock up on all the ingredients.

10. Food Gifts in a Jar

This one is easy. Promise. Give the gift of chocolates, candies, nuts, or dried fruit in a jar.

Be sure to complete this gift in a jar with a pretty bow, ribbon, and a cute gift card — download these 6 Printable Gift Tags or Greeting Cards for free.

Adding it up:

  • Mustard Jar: FREE (recycled)
  • Candy, Nuts, Chocolate: variable
  • Total Cost: $15.00 for several jars

Super Saver, Bigger Budgets: Buy candy, chocolate, and nuts in bulk to save money. Spend more by gifting wrapped chocolates and other tasty candies.

11. Recipes in a Jar

Why not give a recipe in a jar this year? There are endless ideas and ingredients to layer in a simple mason jar. Soup mixes are super for those who like savory ingredients, while jars containing layered mixes for cookies, muffins, S’mores, and brownies are yummy for those with a sweet tooth.


Get the instructions: 8 Homemade Gifts in a Jar (with recipe tags)

Adding it up:

  • Quart Mason Jars: $1.65 each
  • Recipe Ingredients: variable
  • Total Cost: $15.00 for several jars

Super Saver, Bigger Budgets: Use the ingredients in your pantry to save money. Buy high-end organic ingredients to really push the budget.

12. Cook in a Jar

Don’t laugh me off the internets, but in case you haven’t noticed I have a serious love of mustard. Dijon, sweet, honey, and seedy are all types of mustard I enjoy daily. So gifting food that sells in a jar is not a bad present for those foodies who love something specific.

Or just give a bottle of wine for $15 or under — most come corked in a bottle. ;) Carl often comes home on a Friday night with a $10 Malbec for fun, so finding a budget vino is very possible.

Adding it up:

  • Mustard: $5 and up
  • Bottle of Wine: $10 and up
  • Total Cost: $15.00

Bigger Budgets: Head to a specialty food store and find that French cheese, Belgian chocolate, or region-specific wine. Bundle the food gift with a book if the giftee is working on their culinary skills. I like Jamie’s Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals.

Squawkback: Got a favorite gift in a jar? Better question: do you love mustard? :)

Your two cents:

  1. Maria Barker December 14th, 2010

    I have many jars that I can’t bring myself to throw away. I am really going to study this post to see what inspiration strikes. Thanks!

  2. Katie Mae December 14th, 2010

    I have a bunch of canning jars (I was going to make more pickles this summer but didn’t quite get to it) sitting around. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. nancy (aka moneycoach) December 14th, 2010

    Lovin’ the one for pets — and toss in a squeeky toy: doggy heaven. Added bonus to all of these: the recipients have a glass (sanitary, useful) jar at the end, too.

  4. Doctor Stock December 14th, 2010

    Well I know what I won’t be getting… you little plush pet in a jar. Wow… when this page opened up *BAM* right in my face with those big eyes. Now the food gifts… that’s more like Christmas to me.

  5. Significantly Simple December 15th, 2010

    Great ideas! My kids would go nuts for the goldfish in a jar! :)

  6. Anis'ia December 15th, 2010

    This year, I put bulk popcorn kernels, candy, and hot chocolate mix in jars for my family. Everything fit nicely into a basket, and I added paper bags (as per your microwaving gourmet popcorn post… LOVED it!) and a couple of popcorn bowls from the dollar store and $0.37 IKEA mugs for the hot chocolate. That, with an IKEA fleece blanket and a Classic Cartoons DVD, and my peeps have many frugal and cozy nights-in ahead!

  7. beth December 15th, 2010

    700×18? did you start track riding?!

  8. Theresa December 15th, 2010

    Wonderful ideas! I am going to use the spa jar idea. One year my sister gave everyone little mason jars at Easter filled with mini eggs. Great idea except that the jars had previously held homemade chili sauce. The mini eggs tasted like chili and I never had the heart to tell her. Use new jars for food items……saves embarrassment.

  9. Rosanna December 16th, 2010

    Great ideas Kerry! I am surely going to use some of them for my next gift-giving! Merry Christmas!

  10. Kristina Strain December 16th, 2010

    This year I hauled out my saved collection of clean mustard jars to use in Christmas giving. Every year I like to give something small to our neighbors, so I made enormous batches of sea salt caramels and packaged them in the jars tied with a tag and a ribbon. I decoupaged the lids with decorative papers to dress them up.

  11. Money Rabbit December 20th, 2010

    Wow, what a fantastic idea. Here’s what I love about it:
    1. It’s so personal, and very useful
    2. Completely recyclable! Something I hate about the holidays is how much wrapping paper gets thrown out.
    3. It’s preeeetty!

  12. you be the bank December 22nd, 2010

    awesome!! cheap, thoughtful. how can you go wrong!

  13. J December 24th, 2010

    Great ideas – thanks for the inspiration and pictures! I have a gazillion mason jars, and today finished “superhero in a jar” (9 yr old boy), and “princess in a jar” (6 yr old girl) for my boyfriend’s nephew & niece.

  14. The Penny Hoarder December 30th, 2010

    Very cute. Thanks for sharing these. I really like the one for pets too.

  15. Tara December 31st, 2010

    Hi there,
    Just wanted to say happy new year,
    and thanks for good tips that helped me achieve my goals this year.
    In particular, I’ve used recipes, gift ideas, and tough love about finances
    thanks to you!
    cheers
    Tara

  16. Gene December 7th, 2011

    I was going to post a pun, but you wisely covered them all in your opening. Well played, Kerry, well played.

  17. Sandra December 24th, 2011

    Cute ideas! And I ADORE mustard!!!! I probably have three or four types in my fridge right now!

  18. Alice November 11th, 2012

    I have a given away a jar of pralines to my boyfriend a few weeks ago. Not any pralines, you can’t buy theese in your ordinary chocolate store, but delicious bacon pralines!

    Jupp, it sounds crazy, but it’s a bit crazy giving away things after all, right?

    Unfortunately, our friends liked the strange chocolate so much that it weren’t much left for us.

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