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Jam jars can be used for a whole lot more than just storing jam in – and if you immediately recycle your jars once you’ve finished their contents, you’ll kick yourself when you see what you could have done with them.

With Christmas fast approaching, we all know what pressure there is for us to find the perfect gifts for our friends and family. However, giving them something you made yourself could mean much more than forking out your hard-earned cash – and your loved ones are sure to cherish it.

Need some inspiration? Read our top gift ideas that can be made from a simple jam jar (once you’ve finished the jam). All prices correct at time of writing – 20/10/2014.

Decorative candle

Nothing makes a home feel cosy at Christmas quite like a candle. However, some candles can be surprisingly expensive to buy – especially if they come in a decorative container.

Instead of splashing your cash on a ready-made candle, you could have a go at making one yourself. Follow our tips below:

Blue Homemade Candle

What you’ll need:

1 jam jar, thoroughly cleaned

12oz of your choice of wax (see below)

OR 2-pack of candles £3.50

Waxed wicks, pre-cut £2.49


As with all of the following gift ideas, begin by thoroughly cleaning your jam jar. You don’t want any bits of old strawberry ruining your hard work! Make sure the glass is dry too before you start crafting.

You can either buy candle wax or melt down your own from an existing candle (either one you’ve bought or an old one you have to spare). Check the weight of the former contents of your jam jar on its label before you remove it (most are between 320g and 340g) to work out how much wax you’ll need (about 12oz for a standard jar).

If you buy the wax, there’s a host of options to choose from. You can get a block of basic candle-making wax like this 1lb (453g) bar from Hobbycraft. Alternatively, you could go for beeswax for something more natural.

Begin by melting down your wax. Half fill a saucepan with water. Take a clean tin, such as an old soup or baked beans tin, place it in the water and bring to the boil. If you have bought wax pellets you can tip them straight into the tin, but if you’re using a block of wax or candles you’ll need to grate them – you can just use a cheese grater or vegetable peeler for this.

Once the wax is melted, carefully pour it into your jam jar stopping 1 cm before the lip. While the wax is still liquid, place your wick in the jar, carefully moving it to the centre and holding it upright. So you don’t burn yourself, you could tie the top of the wick to a pen or straightened-out paperclip and place this over the top of the jar with the wick held upright in the wax.

When the wax has set you can use your candle. To make it extra special, you could decorate or personalise your jar using glass paints (like these washable ones that let you correct mistakes if you make them). The end result should be a beautiful and unique candle – and once the candle has burnt down, your friend can keep the holder.

Photo frame

What do you mean you can’t make a photo frame out of a jar? Actually, jams jars make great picture frames as they show the photo off well and protect it from damage. Making your own is also a lot cheaper than most of the frames on sale at the shops.

Photo Jar

What you’ll need:

1 jam jar, thoroughly cleaned

A photo of your choice (4x6)

Small piece of fabric of your choice (whatever you have to spare at home)

Ribbon to decorate (again use what you have at home)

Fabric glue (£3)


Begin by checking that your photo is slightly shorter in height than your jar. You may need to trim it to fit.

Gently curve your photo and slot it into the clean and dried jar. Push the picture against the wall of the jar so it can be seen clearly through the glass. Now screw the lid on.

You could stop there, but to make it a little more special, take your lid, place it on the reverse of a piece of fabric and draw around it with a pencil. Remove the lid and draw a second circle around the first one that is 2.5cm larger than the first. Cut this out with fabric scissors and fix it to the lid with fabric glue, taking care to smooth out any bubbles.

Screw the lid on the jar and tie a piece of ribbon around the neck. You now have a quirky photo frame – and it may not have cost you a penny to make!

Sewing kit

If you have friends and family who themselves have a passion for crafts, they’ll doubly appreciate a Christmas gift made by your own fair hand. This homemade sewing kit could be ideal.

Pin Cushion

What you’ll need:

1 jam jar, thoroughly cleaned

Small piece of fabric of your choice (whatever you have to spare at home)

Ribbon to decorate (again use what you have at home)

Stuffing (£3) or cotton wool balls (£1.47 or 2 for £2.50)

Fabric glue (£3)


Draw around your jam jar lid on the reverse of the fabric, and then draw a second circle around this that is about 5cm larger. Cut out with fabric scissors.

Place a small handful of stuffing or cotton wool (it works best if you comb cotton wool through your fingers to tease apart the fibres) in the middle of the fabric making sure it is no larger than the size of the lid (use the first circle you drew as a guide).

You can then place this on the top of the lid and carefully fix it in place using fabric glue. Make sure you’re still able to screw the lid on to the jar. You can then tie a piece of ribbon round the neck. Fill the jar with any sewing bits your friend will need – they can use the cushioned lid as a pin cushion.

The best thing about this gift is that it doesn’t just have to be used as a sewing kit. Your friend could use it as a secure jewellery holder too, and use the cushion to keep hold of any loose broaches and badges or even earrings.

If you’re thinking of making your friends or family a gift this Christmas – even if it’s not out of jam jars – don’t forget to share it with us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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