It seems like it never fails. No matter how hard I try each year to prep early and plan ahead at Christmastime, I somehow always end up falling behind schedule. Maybe it’s those 5 extra minutes a day I
waste spend gazing at the pretty glow of my Christmas tree lights, but somehow time gets away from me and I end up scrambling in the eleventh hour to “finish up” in time for December 25th.
This year was no different. I will give myself the excuse that I did have a couple of sick kids home with me at the end of last week which prevented me from staying completely on track. But, nonetheless, I know for darn sure that date on my calendar doesn’t change, sick kids or no sick kids! I needed to get stuff done this week and that’s why I ended up staying up way past my bedtime into the wee midnight hours finishing up those last-minute gifts for co-workers, friends, teachers and family members who we celebrated “early Christmas” with over the weekend.
In the end, it was so worth it, to see the looks on everyone’s faces when they opened their “handmade with love” gifts. And since I am lacking in sleep, and thinking a nap is sounding pretty darn good right about now, I think I’ll keep this post short and quickly show you just a few of the items I made as gifts this week. All of them involve mason jars or coffee mugs…my other two loves in life – aside from my husband & kids – and are super-duper easy-peasy lemon-squeezy to create and fit within a modest budget.
Mason Jar Bird Feeder
- small mason jar (no lid needed)
- wooden spoon
- clear tape
- strong ribbon
I started with securing the wooden spoon to the bottom of the mason jar, positioning the spoon about midway on the base of jar, with the spoon side facing toward the opening of the mouth of the jar. A few pieces of clear tape was all that was needed to hold it securely in place.
Then I used two 3′ pieces of green burlap ribbon to tie around the jar and made a knot securely around it in 2 places like this. It also hides the clear tape from showing along the bottom.
And again with 2 knots at the tops of each “set” of ribbon. This created a nice even way to hold the jar level when hanging it from a tree branch.
Lastly, I added birdseed in some pretty little treat baggies and inserted it into the mouth of the mason jar.
The birds will be able to use the spoon rest as their perch for eating the seed inside the jar all winter.
Perfect gift for the bird enthusiast or nature lover in your life – and we have many!
Mason Dessert Jar
- multiple 1-quart sized mason jars with lids
- wooden spoons (optional)
- dry ingredients for whatever recipe you’re creating (see recipe below for what I used)
- recipe cards
- ribbon, gift tags & jingle bells (optional)
A long time ago I found this really awesome book at a craft fair that has multiple recipes for layered dessert gifts in a jar. I have enjoyed using it to create many a tasty gift over the years.
It even includes cute little pre-printed recipe cards you can cut out and easily attach to your jar, which contain layered dry ingredients needed for baking the recipes. The gift recipient adds the wet ingredients required, such as egg, butter, or vanilla. These are not only fun to make, but I have found them to be thoughtful gifts to give to teachers or co-workers who I know are busy folks and would benefit from a quick & easy dessert.
The jars I made this year were for these Holiday Hustle-Bustle Butterscotch-Oatmeal Cookies. For your convenience, you can print off the recipe here.
- 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 2 cups biscuit and baking mix
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, cream the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla.
- Add the dry ingredients from the jar and stir until well blended.
- Shape into 1-inch balls.
- Place on greased baking sheet.
- Bake 10-12 minutes or until cookies are a light golden brown.
- Transfer to wire racks to cool.
I needed to make 4 jars as teacher gifts this year, and these dry ingredients were enough to layer & fill four 1-quart canning jars. I did need to really pack down each layer good and tight before moving onto the next layer. But believe me, it all ends up fitting in there!
Once the dry ingredients were all layered in the jar, I added a wooden spoon, ribbon, tag with their last name initial, a jingle bell and the recipe card, which I stamped with a “Merry Christmas” greeting on the back.
Now our hard-working teachers will have a simple, yummy cookie dessert they can quickly throw together and enjoy during this busy holiday season!
Hand-Painted Coffee Mugs
- plain white or black coffee mugs
- ceramic paint pens
Lastly, I made these custom, hand-painted coffee mugs for quite a few people as gifts this year. I have made these in the past, and the process is almost too easy to believe. I purchased a bunch of plain white and black coffee mugs from either Goodwill or the Dollar Store and then decided what I wanted each of them to say for each person I was gifting them to.
For my children’s godparents this year, I gave each couple a set of mugs with the verse, “My cup overflows with your blessings. -Psalm 23:5” I wanted the ladies’ cups to be a bit more on the pretty side and the mens’ cups to be a bit more masculine. So I went with 2 different designs for each. (I failed to get a good up close image of the men’s cup)
The key to doing these hand-painted mugs is using a porcelain art pen and if you mess up, you can simply wipe it away and begin again. It really isn’t entirely permanent until the paint “sets” in the oven.
Then you bake them at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, allowing them to cool completely in the oven before taking them out. Even though this sets the paint, I still recommend only hand-washing the cups, and not putting them in the dishwasher for preserving the overall look of the mug.
I did a whole other round of these mugs to give my husband’s co-workers as gifts this year, and unfortunately, I did not get any pictures of those. It was LATE when I was cranking those out and grabbing a camera to take photos just didn’t strike me as a necessary task! But since my husband’s staff work super-duper hard all year round and practically eat, sleep and breathe off their caffeine intake, their mugs all had sayings like, “No Coffee, No Workee” or “First Coffee, Then Pallets” written on them. Each of them got one with their name on the other side and a $5 Starbucks card to go with it.
So, now you see why I have been dreaming of mason jars and mugs at midnight! No, it’s not the title of the latest Christmas movie on the Hallmark Channel…although it seems like it could be, and after watching so many of them on TV lately I feel like I could literally write my own script and send it to them to use for next year. It would be easy to do because it’s the story of my life right now!