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13 Practical Uses for Mason Jars

A mason jar with a banana smoothie in it.
Liliya Kandrashevish/Shutterstock

If you think of mason jars as useless old things that cluttered your grandma’s kitchen, think again! They’ve resurged in popularity, especially as decor. While they do add a rustic touch at weddings or on windowsills, they still shine the most in more practical applications.

If your New Year’s resolutions involve things like saving money or living more sustainably, mason jars can help you reach those goals.

Here are the top ways these handy jars can play a useful role in your home:

  • Food storage: Even if you’re not a canning or jamming enthusiast, mason jars are a handy upgrade from grungy old Tupperware, and they tend to cost less than glass alternatives. Just avoid subjecting jars to rapid temperature changes, as they can shatter. They’re also ideal for dry goods and spices. They look great on your counter and keep contents fresh longer than other storage options. Plus, jars come in many sizes—you can use mini ones for your spice collection, and the larger ones for staples, like rice or coffee. Add chalkboard paint to the lids for a chic way to label the contents.
  • Wine storage: To avoid the oxidation that makes wine go bad, fill up a mason jar with any left in an open bottle, and then stick it in the fridge. The jar keeps the oxygen out, which keeps your wine fresh longer. This trick works best when you have enough leftover wine to fill up the jar.
  • Gift-wrap alternative: Mason jars are a great way to wrap gifts sustainably. Just pack a small gift in the jar, and then tie a fabric bow around it—no wrapping required! This works especially well for kitchen-related items (since jars are thematic), or moldable things, like a scarf, that you can stuff inside.
  • DIY cocktail shaker: You don’t need a cocktail shaker if you have a mason jar and at least two lids. Drill holes in one of the lids to make a strainer. Shake your drink with the regular lid on, and then switch to the one with holes to strain it into a glass.
  • Bathroom organization: Mason jars are ideal for corralling those pesky little things that clutter your bathroom counters and cabinets. Use them for skincare samples, makeup brushes, Q-tips—you name it! You can even drill holes in the lid and turn one into a proper toothbrush holder. They also make great containers for handmade lotions and scrubs.
  • Utensil or supply holder: You can use mason jars to organize or store anything, including kitchen utensils, cupcake liners, office supplies, or all the random stuff in a messy drawer.
A mason jar filled with colored pencils.
Sonal Garg/Shutterstock

 

  • Drinking glasses: Mason jars can be a cheap, simple way to upgrade your drinking glasses. They’re also easy to replace, so it’s less stressful if someone breaks one.
  • Meal prep: Jars aren’t just for leftovers. You can also use them to prep meals for school or work. Layered salads are a healthy choice, but there are tons of mason jar recipes online—just avoid any that involve cooking or baking in a jar, as they’re prone to shattering. Jars are also ideal for storing chopped ingredients until you’re ready to cook them, which can make your holiday or dinner party prep more manageable.
  • Shopping in bulk: Take along some large mason jars next time you go to the grocery store and hit up the bulk foods section. You can load up on nuts, candy, and more. Plus, bringing your own containers means you won’t go home with a ton of plastic bags.
  • String dispenser: If you use string, yarn, or twine for crafts or cooking, you know how hard it is to keep it untangled. A mason jar with a hole in the lid is the perfect way to store these supplies because you can pull out only the amount you need and keep the rest neat and tangle-free.
  • Vases: A regular vase can be expensive. Plus, they take up storage space when you’re not using them. A large mason jar makes a chic, easy vase anytime you need one. Plus, if you don’t have any flowers, you can use it for something else.
  • Thankfulness jar: Whether you want to encourage your kids to be more positive, or you need a reserve of positive thoughts yourself, a mason jar can come in handy. When you’re having a good day, write down some positive things, like things you’re thankful for or something good that happened, and put them in your jar. Then, pull out a positive note whenever you’re having a bad day.
  • 3-D travel scrapbook: Have you ever gone on a great trip and come home to find your pockets stuffed with train tickets, museum passes, beach shells, and other little mementos? You might want to save these things, but where? Instead of tossing them in a drawer where they might never again see the light of day, tuck them in a mason jar. You’ll have a cool, 3-D scrapbook of your trip that you can even display if you want.

Mason jars are handy for more than just rustic-chic decor. They can save you money and keep you organized. If you’ve accumulated a few over the years, why not put them to good use?

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a Seattle-based writer and editor with a Master's in Writing Studies from Saint Joseph's University. Her work has appeared in publications like Racked, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and Rum Punch Press. She was awarded a 2017 Writing Between the Vines residency.  Read Full Bio »

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