|| home || archive || index || about us ||


Farmers markets

Food festivals

Food tours


December 2014

Mary's Modern Homemaking

Gifts That Keep on Giving
By Mary Frances

Mary's Modern Homemaking archive


Inexpensive canning jars come in all colors to brighten a container gift.


I love container gifts. Or you might know them as gifts in a jar. No matter what you call them, they are the best. They are the gift that keeps on giving.

First there is the container. It is a gift from the heart rather than the wallet. A reusable container not only lasts a lifetime or more, but every time you open the cupboard you are reminded of the person who gave it to you.

When I married into the Watson family we had a sister-in-law, Betsy, who was so down to earth, and everything she did was heartfelt.

It was our first Christmas together as a married couple. Late one December night the doorbell rang and there stood Betsy with her husband, Russ.

Betsy said, "I am sorry to just drop by like this, but we are out and about. Hope you do not mind."

"Of course not," I replied. "Do come in."

As soon as coats were hung up, she and I headed to the kitchen to raid the refrigerator. We put together a cheese and cracker platter. We added some warm drinks and settled in for a visit.

It wasn't long before she reached into her oversized purse and pulled out a beautiful bag with pretty tissue paper peeking over the edge.

"I hope you don't mind us giving you your present early," she said. "We're not sure just how to spend Christmas Day, so we thought we'd drop it off early."

As I unwrapped the bag, a glass jar full of colorful candies was revealed. After 30 years I still have the jar and use it every day. Betsy is no longer with us, and I miss her. But I think of her every time I see the jar.


Betsy's gift of long ago is now filled with cocoa mix.


Canning jars are inexpensive and come in many different sizes. Every year the Ball company recreates a vintage color so you can get colored jars, if desired. The jars also come in regular-mouth or wide-mouth so you can use them in a variety of ways.

Everything from cookie mixes to soap can be put in those jars. The small 2-ounce size is perfect for spice blends such as apple spice or meat rubs. Even homemade lip gloss looks lovely in mini jars.

One day while I stood in line at the grocery store, I saw the lady in front of me with dry beans, spices, and jars. She explained that this year she was giving her mother's chili recipe. She would fill jars with the exact amount of dry beans, fill a snack-size bag with the necessary spices and place inside the jars with the beans, and attach her mother's recipe to the outside with a ribbon—and done!

While the container can be a gift in and of itself, what's inside should be equally exciting. This is what I call instant gratification because it is usually ready to eat or use. Make it fun and indulgent and pretty: a mix of candies, Swiss Miss cocoa mix (or make your own!), small soaps, or bath salts all look beautiful and enticing.

Container gifts are not just for the holidays. How about a hostess gift? Or know someone not feeling well? Fill a jar with dry soup ingredients, attach the recipe, and voila! homemade soup to cure what ails ya.

Or maybe you have a friend who's discouraged. Fill a container with chocolates and a tea bag or two, and attach an uplifting poem. Help chase the blues away.

Whatever the occasion, there is a jar and a recipe for that.

All year round, enjoy the gift that keeps on giving!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


You can get more ideas for using jars by revisiting the Mary's Modern Homemaking article, Canning Jars: Good for More Than Canning.


Mary Frances lives in Ravensdale, Washington, and loves finding healthy ways to keep her castle clean. She believes that what we clean with can be just as important to our health as what we eat. When she's not cleaning, Mary Frances battles the blackberry vines in her yard. Also enjoy Mary Frances's blog, All American Gal.


Mary's Modern Homemaking copyright 2013.
Yummy Northwest copyright 2003-2013.
All rights reserved.