What to Do with Empty Glass Jars – Upcycle Glass Jars

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I'm sure everyone has used spaghetti sauce from a jar at one time or another (at least I'd like to think I'm not the only one!) I actually happen to use this "sauce from a jar" ALL THE TIME- no homemade spaghetti sauce here! Although, I did make some awesome Alfredo sauce today, so I guess spaghetti sauce could be next. Maybe.

So, what exactly have I been doing with all my glass jars after all their mediocre sauce is gone? Upcycling them, of course! I've been using them to store my dry goods (pastas and grains), or other different things. A thorough wash is all you need to get these babies working for you!

Maybe you've already seen my upcycled storage jars if you read my Kitchen Cabinet Organization post, since that was when they did made their first appearance, looking something like this:


Obviously, I spray painted some of the lids but two weeks ago I added labels with a little chalkboard spray paint!

Look at them now!


These have been my perfect solution for dry goods storage. I really dislike the boxes pasta comes in because they take up so much room and have to be stored sideways, not allowing you to see which pasta is inside.

Now I have all my "storage jars" neatly stacked on a three tier wire shelf I found at the dollar store. I can easily see their goods and the chalk labels are just fun to look at!  

To make the labels, I simply used tape to get the rectangle shape I wanted.


And then, used this cereal box (that already had this perfect cut out circle once I removed the DVD it came with) to protect the un-taped areas while spray painting. I didn't even have to remove my pastas since I spray painted nowhere near the lid and the cereal box caught the spray paint.


And there you have it! You can have some pretty cool glass storage containers with just a little cleaning and spray paint! And you can use them for more than storing pastas or grains, too!

21 Ideas to Reuse and Upcycle Empty Glass Jars

I personally use the empty glass jars to store different pasta types. But if you don’t like that, there are hundreds of other ways you can upcycle empty glass jars.

Decorative Purposes

Here are a few ways you can use empty glass jars for decorative purposes:

1. DIY Snow Globes


This is a pretty cool project to try, especially if it is Christmas Season.

For the simple dry snow globe version, all you need is empty jars, plastic ornaments/decorations, super glue, fake snow and glitter.

To make this project it is pretty simple. All you have to do is glue the decorations to the back of the lid, fill the jar with snow and glitter and then close the lid. That’s it!

If you want to go a little bit extra, you can try and go for a water version. Fill the jar with water and drop a few drops of glycerin or baby oil, which will help the fake snow to fall slowly instead of sinking. For this version, just make sure the decorations are waterproof and are proper glued. Also, when closing the lid, make sure it is sealed to prevent any leaks.

This is a funny and easy crafting project for you to try, especially if you have kids and is Christmas Season.

2. Use as Flower Display Vases

Another cool decoration use of empty glass jars is to use them to display flowers. I like wildflowers a lit and every time I pick some, I put them in empty jars and leave them around my house.

You can add some extra decorations to the jars by putting a few pieces of lace and ribbon tied around the jar. To make them look even better, you can line up three jars on a windowsill display or even paint them completely to look like vases.

3. Use as Light Hangings


I came across this project while surfing on Pinterest but I have never had the chance to give it a try.

You can use your empty jars as Tea Light Hangings to hang them on your garden or trees. It gives a magical touch to your garden and is actually pretty easy to do.

Just put some soft wire around the jars to use it as a hanger and then you can put small candles inside to use as lights.

Another way of using your jars as gardening lanterns is to put the light bulbs inside the jars. This will work with any jar size and all you need is a pair of scissors, spool of twine and knowing how to make knotting.

Craft a hanging formation twine, fitting around the jar and allows it to hang freely. There are several models you can try, depending on how confident you are with tie knots. After the jar is secured with the twine, you can choose to put small candles inside or use them as hanging lanterns using the standard lighting kits and using the glass jar as a unique cover.

It is a really easy and cheap at the same time, way of decorating your garden for your next birthday party, wedding or BBQ.

4. Use as Photo Displays

Here’s another really cool idea to give a whole new look to your living room.

You can use them as photo displays to show your family photos in a unique and cool way.

You need to get some translucent vellum paper from your local store and print the most memorable photos onto them using the printer.

Then, trim and stick the printed photos inside the empty jars and pop some candles inside for a beautiful glowing photo frame.

5. Fabric Wrapped Jars

You can make some cool fabric wrapped jars using your favorite fabrics and some glue. Choose the fabric, pick some craft glue and a pair of scissors.

To make it happen, start by cutting the fabric into strips, on the width you like. In order for the fabric to stick better, you should dip the strips into glue to cover both sides. Start placing the strips into the jar, until it is completely covered.

Let the fabric-covered jar to fully dry before trimming any extra piece of fabric away. You can use the fabric wrapped jars to put some candles inside, producing some soft glow, highlighting the fabric.

Food and Edible Purposes

Here are a few ideas on what to do with empty glass jars for food and edible purposes:

1. Serving Cocktails and Punch

Using empty jars to serve drinks is very popular at the moment. It went viral after a few lifehacks on YouTube and now a lot of bars are using them to serve their drinks.

They look cute and cheerful and they are very practical too. You don’t need to do anything extra, just give them a nice wash and you are good to go. You can look online for ideas what cocktails to do and how to serve them but It totally depends on your imagination.

2. Cookie Jars

Probably one of the most known purposes the empty jars are used for: to store cookies.

Everyone loves cookies but no one loves them when they start getting soft because of air. That’s why using jars to store cookies is a very good idea, especially if you have the lids.

The airtight container will keep them fresh and crispy, making them look appetizing too.

After you are done eating the cookies, store the leftover ones inside the jar and make sure the lid is fully closed and sealed, so no air goes inside, keeping the cookies crispy and fresh.

3. Salt & Pepper Shakers

Another cute addition you can add to your dinner table is to use glass jars as salt and pepper shakers.

All you have to do is to drill a few small holes into the lids to make your own salt and pepper shakers.

You can use small jars for being more suitable to your dining table or use larger jars if you are planning to keep them in the kitchen for easier cooking.

Learn how to make yours over at A Pretty Cool Life.

4. Milkshake Presentation

Actually, empty jars are very popular when it comes to serving milkshakes. Since most bars like to give a nice and cool presentation of their drinks, so the client is satisfied and shares the images online, the usage of empty jars has increased dramatically for such purposes.

You can try and replicate the same presentation at your house for a nice looking and delicious treat. One simple recipe is to put some jam in the jar and then just simply top it up with some milk. And that’s it! Stir it well and instant milkshake!

5. Jarred Birthday Cake Jars

This is a little bit of a fun thing to do since you are going to make birthday cake on empty jars. It is kind of a new twist on an old classic.

Bake the cake as needed and let it cool. When cooled, cut it in circular pieces, big enough to fit into the jar. Keep adding layers of cake then top with icing. Keep going with one layer of cake and one layer of frosting.

Serving birthday cake on empty jars not only it will make it look good and cool but it will taste great too.

Fun Purposes

You can repurpose your empty jars and use them to create cool and fun projects. Here some of these ideas which I find it interesting:

1. Twig Vases

You can create some simple, natural looking twig vases for your table top. Just make sure to choose the appropriate size jar to serve as your vase and you are good to go.

Collect the twigs and sticks from the backyard and cut them down to a size suitable for your jar, a little bit larger. You can use pruning shears to trim the stick or any other tool which you find easy to get.

Then, using a hot glue gun, start gluing sticks to the jar in a circular pattern. Once the glue is dried, you have created a fun and functional vase.

2. Emergency Candle Jars

This is more of a survival purpose but can also be used for decorative purposes or just for fun.

To make this happen, you will need a bag of soy wax flakes and candle wicks. You can find these supplies at any craft store.

To make these jar candles, start by placing the wicks in the jars. You need to melt the wax properly using a double broiler or the famous two pot cooking method (using a smaller pot fit inside a larger pot filled with water). I recommend you to use the two pot method since it is easier for everyone. After you have setup the pots, boil the water and add the wax flakes to the smaller pot. You will notice that the flakes will start to melt gradually.

When fully melted, pour the wax into a spouted container to make the filling candles process much easier. Keep in mind to center the wicks and allow the wax to cool and harden eventually. Keep the candles in a dry and cool place until you need them during a power outage or just for fun.

3. Bird Feeder Jars

You can use your empty jars to create a few bird feeders. Not only you can do good and feed the birds but it also adds as decoration for your outdoors.

To make this project, use a small metal chicken feeder attached to the glass jar. This way you can create a fully functional bird feeder for the backyard. You can fill the jar with your favorite bird seeds. The chicken feeder mechanism is attached to the jar by screwing it in. You can use a knotted twine to hang the jar in a tree or somewhere in your garden.

This is a very cool project to try which will do good to the birds and also serve as a decoration for your backyard.

4. Room Freshener

Another great repurpose of empty glass jars is to use as natural room freshener. You don’t have to use any chemical sprays but go for a more traditional natural way: using fresh herbs or favorite fruit freshener. You can choose to buy them from the store or use your own if you have a garden at home.

To make natural freshener, boil with two quartz of water, the herbs or fruits of your choice with a small dash of vanilla extract. Let them boil and simmer. After it has finished boiling, add the mixture to a glass jar and secure It with a lid.

You can occasionally open and close the lid as needed or just use a vented lid to release the fresh smell of the herb mixture to the room. When you notice the smell losing its power, you can just re-do it once again and replace the mixture from the jar with the fresh one.

5. Memory Jars

Use your empty glass jars to create personalized containers for your friends or family for any celebration.

Use a bottle of puffy paint to write a name, a message or symbol and let it dry for a while. You can use a colorful spray paint to color the outside of the jar and spice up the design. If you want to fully cover the surface, it may need several coats. Also, always let the paint dry for a while before applying another layer.

In addition to these, you can add some souvenir, like seashells, pebbles etc. to remember you the trip or holiday. Also, you can create some small photos and put them inside too. Feel free to experiment and get creative to create a fully memory jar based on the occasion.

You can place the memory jars into weddings, birthday parties or give to your loved ones to keep them for years to come.

Practical & Organization Purposes

Here are a few practical and organization purposes for you to upcycle glass jars:

1. Pencil Sharpener Jar

If you use pencils a lot or you are an architect or painter, then you definitely should try and make this DIY pencil sharpener.

To make this happen, you need to have an electric drill. Make a hole in the center of the jar lid around the same size as the pencil sharpener. Glue it on the opposite side of the lid, so it will fully align with the hole.

Screw the lid back to the jar and use it as a handy pencil sharpener. The shavings will be kept inside the jar and you only need to remove them after it is full.

This will be a very useful project especially for those who do big crafts projects often and are annoyed from emptying the tiny sharpener every time they sharpen their pencils.

2. DIY Matchbox

Making DIY matchbox using empty jar would be a very practical solution. It is always a good idea to use your empty jars for a more practical solution rather than just using for decorative purposes.

To make this happen, you need to have some sandpaper and your own jar. See the image below for reference how to make it.

This DIY matchbox are great to keep outside to light candles during the Summer or start up the fire during Winter.

Read the Burlap Bag article for an easy-to-follow guide.

3. Soap Dispensers

Another great practical solution to turn your jar into is as a soap dispenser. It is easier than you might think, especially when you compare it with a few other solutions on this list.

To turn it into a soap dispenser, drill a hole into the lid and pop a plastic pump through it. Glue the plastic pump in place and that’s it! You have your own soap dispenser from empty jar. You could use it for shampoo and conditioner too.

These are some of the ways you can use to upcycle your empty jars. I hope it helps you if you didn’t know what to do with empty glass jars.

What would you store in these? I'd really like to know!

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