10 Festive Uses for Glass Bottles and Jars

Photo (cc) by James Cridland

Jars of jam and bottles of booze can help you through the holidays even after the food and drinks are gone.

Those emptied glass containers can be repurposed into decor that will spruce up, illuminate and scent your home — or perhaps that of a party host or other gift recipient.

The options are many and the costs are few, as the following 10 project tutorials illustrate.

1. Snow ‘globe’

Photo: Bitz & Giggles / bitzngiggles.com
Photo: Bitz & Giggles / bitzngiggles.com

This illuminated snow scene started with a miniature penguin and pine picked up for less than $1 at a Wal-Mart, but you can build one around your objects of choice. (Here‘s a nonilluminated one made with a miniature antique car and tree, for example.)

Bitz & Giggles recommends the illumination, which requires little more than a battery-operated tea light candle:

The little light casts just the right amount of glow to light up the scene inside the jar. You have to make one of these this year. It is so simple and so much fun.

2. Stained glass

Photo: Mason Jar Crafts Love / masonjarcraftslove.com
Photo: Mason Jar Crafts Love / masonjarcraftslove.com

This project from Mason Jar Crafts Love also benefits from optional illumination — “they’ll look great at night with a candle inside,” the website notes.

As for the Mondrian-style staining, only three types of art supplies are needed: Gallery Glass window color, peel-and-stick lead lining and liquid leading.

3. Terrarium

Photo: Apartment Therapy / apartmenttherapy.com
Photo: Apartment Therapy / apartmenttherapy.com

Almost any glass vessel can be used for a terrarium, with more creative options often also being more frugal — like the old coffee pot option seen in Apartment Therapy‘s tutorial.

From miniature garden gnomes to toy dinosaurs, a variety of items can also be installed as decorative finishing touches.

4. Dispenser

Photo: The Red Chair Blog / theredchairblog.blogspot.com
Photo: The Red Chair Blog / theredchairblog.blogspot.com

If your liquid hand soap or dish soap is still in the plastic dispenser it came in, try unscrewing the pump piece and matching it up with a more attractive glass container.

The Red Chair Blog explains:

Did you know that the screw-on plastic dispenser tops from store-bought soaps, shampoos and lotions will often fit on glass bottles? Finding the right bottle may require a bit of experimentation, but once you find a bottle the right size, you can create a unique, eco-friendly DIY soap or lotion dispenser in seconds.

5. Tissue holder

Photo: Landee See Landee Do / landeeseelandeedo.com
Photo: Landee See Landee Do / landeeseelandeedo.com

Mason jars can also serve as tissue dispensers made to match your home’s decor.

As explained in Landeelu‘s tutorial, it requires only a scissors, cutting blade, decorative paper and paint:

The beauty of the good ole mason jar is that you can paint it, tint it, spray it, etc., to make it any style you’d like it to be. And with the addition of any style of scrapbook paper you can customize it even more.

6. Reed diffuser

Photo: Food 52 / food52.com
Photo: Food 52 / food52.com

This trendy air freshener, which transmits scented liquids into the air via wooden sticks, is an easy DIY project.

Almost any glass container will work as long as it has a narrow opening to help disperse the scent slowly, according to Food 52. As for the scent, a mixture of water, vodka and essential oils do the trick with the aid of bamboo skewers.

7. Air freshener

Photo: The Burlap Bag / theburlapbag.com
Photo: The Burlap Bag / theburlapbag.com

If a DIY reed diffuser still involves too much work or cost for you, consider a baking soda-based air freshener like this one from The Burlap Bag. All it takes is baking soda, essential oil and a lid (or a makeshift tinfoil lid).

8. Candle

Photo: A Piece of Rainbow / apieceofrainbow.com
Photo: A Piece of Rainbow / apieceofrainbow.com

It takes little more than vegetable oil and floral elements to turn a spare jar into a custom candle that could do Martha Stewart proud.

According to A Piece of Rainbow‘s tutorial, a variety of oils — such as commonly available cooking oils — will work.

9. Tiki torch

Photo: Gerardot & Co. / gerardotandco.com
Photo: Gerardot & Co. / gerardotandco.com

Recycled wine bottles can be converted into outdoor mounted Tiki torches as shown in a tutorial by Gerardot & Co. According to the branding company, the project was the result of frustration over an apparent dearth of “affordable and atypical” Tiki torches.

The tutorial calls for several additional pieces of hardware used to mount the torch, but the mount is optional. Apartment Therapy reports that a free-standing version can be made for less than $4 and fueled with citronella instead of torch fuel.

10. Electric lamp

Photo: The Undomestic Goddess / undomestic-goddess.com
Photo: The Undomestic Goddess / undomestic-goddess.com

If you’re comfortable taking a drill to glass, check out a photo tutorial at The Undomestic Goddess or Household Hacker‘s video tutorial for converting an empty bottle into a functioning lamp fit for gifting.

In these two instances, it’s a Jack Daniels bottle lamp. But you can use your choice of bottle.

For more DIY projects based on empty containers you likely have lying around, check out “16 Handy Uses for Plastic Bottles and Jugs” and “10 Clever Uses for Old Tin Cans.”

How would you put an old glass container to new use? Share your tips in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

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