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Holiday Fun in a Jar!

Holiday Fun in a Jar!

The latest in the news is that consumer spending is up. Nope, the recession hasn’t ended. And, no, there aren’t any more jobs today then there were yesterday, or the day before that, or the day before that … Consumer spending is up because people have apparently become comfortable with their penniless situation. They have grown weary of being frugal, of holding back from the joys of buying, and have reached into the cavernous depths of their pockets to buy the latest new gadgets, gizmos, and whoosits for all of their friends and family this holiday season.

For many, though, this is still the season for the frugal, for the re-user, the conservationist, and the all around tightwad. If your pockets are so cavernous that you’d fall in before finding anything to spend, and you haven’t become any more comfortable with these tricky times, why not give your loved ones a jar with some really cool stuff in it. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Those brownie and cookie mixes in a jar are so passé. Nobody uses them and they just end up stashed away in your relatives cupboard. That hot cocoa mix you so lovingly put together sit unmade while the Swiss Miss takes center stage on a chilly night. Believe it or not, though, your friends and family will be glad to receive something delicious, or creative, or just plain useful that won’t require them to spend any money on more than just the basics.

To get you started on your “really cool stuff in a jar” giving frenzy, here are a few food recipes, and even some non-food recipes. Read on, experiment and enjoy.

Hearty Bean & Barley Soup Mix in a Jar
There’s nothing nicer than a hot bowl of soup on a winter’s day. That’s why layered soup in a jar makes a great holiday gift for both the experienced cook or the hungry busy bee with little time to prepare a home-cooked meal.

1/4 cup lentils
1/4 cup dry green split peas
1/4 cup pearl barley
1/3 cup bouillon powder
1/4 cup parsley flakes
1/4 cup onion flakes
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup alphabet pasta or “flakes” pasta

Making the Jar:
In a one-pint jar, layer the ingredients from bottom to top in the order given, then seal the jar. Decorate the lid with an some ribbons an/or attractive scraps of fabric.

Cooking the Soup:
In a saucepan or large crockpot, combine 8 to 10 cups of water, a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes, and the soup mix. Add two chopped carrots, one celery stalk, and two to four medium potatoes, chopped. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until the peas and beans are tender.

Biscuits for Fido in a Jar
A great gift for your friend or relative who has a dog (or two), and is looking for ways to let their best friend know just how much they care. You can also decide to make this recipe ahead of time and fill the jar with biscuits you’ve made.

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup bran
1/2 cup powdered milk

Making the Jar:
In a one-quart jar, layer the ingredients from bottom to top in the order given and seal the jar. If you wish, tie a dog bone-shaped cookie cutter around the neck of the jar with some ribbon.

Preparing the Biscuits:
Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl combine 1 egg. beaten, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 2 jars strained baby food (any flavor, all natural and no preservatives), and the dog biscuit mix. Knead on a floured countertop until the dough is smooth. Roll out dough to 1/2″ thickness. Use cookie cutters or a small drinking glass to cut out the biscuits. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 20 minutes. Let biscuits cool. Share with your favorite four-legged friend.

Collage in a Jar
This is a great non-food jar gift for a creative friend. It can also be a gift that’s shared with the whole family as a group activity.

Magazines, newspapers, or picture books
2-3 sheets of blank 8 1/2 x 11 construction paper
Glue stick
Sewing Scissors
1/2 gallon mason jar

Making the Jar:
Roll up the blank construction paper and put that in the jar. Take the magazines, newspapers, or picture books and cut out images and text you think your friend or relative would enjoy. Put the images in the jar. Add in the glue stick and sewing scissors. For a fun addition, throw some glitter or sequins.

Story in a Jar
A similar idea as the collage in the jar, a story in a jar is for the budding writer at your holiday gathering.

Magazines, newspapers, or paperback books
Several blank notebook pages
Glue stick
Sewing scissors
1 pen
1/2 gallon mason jar

Making the Jar:
Roll up the blank notebook paper and put the pages in the jar. Take the magazines, newspapers, and paperback books and cut out words, phrases or whole sentences. Take these slivers of text and fill the mason jar until you can’t anymore. Add in the glue stick and sewing scissors.

Have other ideas for “really cool stuff in a jar”? Share them below!

Happy holidays! Always remember that the magical things your hands can assemble are usually the best kind of gift you can give.

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  • Chapis says:

    I tried making a hot cocoa one but it came out blah :/ t tried the recipe b4 gifting it! Good thing though. I’ve made a manicure set & sewing kit, thise came out nice. Oh and the mason jar pump one for dishwashing liquid. Pintrest 🙂

  • Mary McIntosh says:

    Just wondering how long the biscuits will stay fresh?

    Would like other dog recipes as I cook very regularly for mine. Is oatmeal with enough milk to moisten ok?

  • Molly Margosian says:

    I love receiving gifts like these! Now, I know how to assemble one!

  • If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

    Reading Farmers' Almanac on Tablet with Doggie

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