children · Crafts

Upcycling Baby Food Jars: An Advent Calendar

A simple truth: I get carried away with hot glue guns. What starts out as a small idea in my mind, it blossoms into a large-scale project 😉 My Advent Calendar came out of a whimsical thought – to have one big enough for all three kidlings to share. The past 4 or so years Ford, and then Walker, had a normal sized one, but it only held 2 pieces of tiny candy in each slot. It was too small now, though I am keeping it for Ford, I’ll save it for him when he is older. Or next year he can have it all to himself 😉

It all started with an idea – of recycling/upcycling baby food jars once again. 24 jars in total. Alistaire (and Walker…who loves to eat his brother’s food…) helped me get the jars ready –

And then this happened:

What started as a concept for 24 pretty jars turned into a Sarah-Creation. Because all advent calendars need a 2 foot tall flocked tree! No? Well, they should. (I should state this disclaimer: I once took a garage sale $1 bookcase, painted it luxe black, lined the shelves with crushed blue velvet, painted the interior gold and added black fringe….my taste has always been questionable – ask my husband about our 3 tier wedding cake holder decorated as a PNW forest with mini tent, backpacks and animals – and a mini lake.)

My point being that with a little work and some paint, ordinary ‘junk’ can be recycled and upcycled into something whimsical. I didn’t grow up celebrating Christmas, I don’t have set notions of what the holidays should be like. I had no traditions and do it for our kids more than anything – and I know Kirk enjoys it. For me…it is simply a season where I get an excuse to be crafty, to create and bake a lot of goodies and candy.

A mini tree topper completed it –

I love this shade of blue a lot (my wedding ring and earrings match it). I am still on the fence if I want to put up the big tree this year. With Alistaire furniture/wall cruising (he is now standing for up to 30 seconds without holding on!) all I could imagine was him making a mess of the tree. More so, I have no idea where to put it this year while we still have the pack n’ play downstairs. So the idea of a small tree, brightly decorated, yet above the baby’s reach sounded great. We shall see. But for once I got to pick out the colors I love (with Walker’s help of course!) A small and portable holiday scene? Perfect.

Each jar is filled with artificial dye free candy, ranging from candy-coated chocolate, peppermint candy, gum drops and chocolate coins. Walker loves to walk around the dining room table and take it all in. He happily pulls up a chair and tries to inch closer….

So how did I do it?

First I matched all the jars – I liked the shape of Safeway’s O Organics line, the stage 2 jars. Remove the labels, soak off the sticky residue in the way you like, then wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water. Let air dry overnight.

Fill the jars with candy or treats of choice. Secure the lids on, making sure they are even.

Using a small brush, paint the lids as desired, with craft acrylic paints. I used my old standby, Ceramcoat®, in Metallic Silver and 24K Gold. At $1.39 a container it is cheap and effective. I painted 2 coats total, giving them an overnight rest between coats. I painted 12 silver, 12 gold. As for how much paint? You will barely break in a bottle!

After they sat and dried fully, I applied tiny stickers I found in a scrap booking section, by Jolee’s Boutique. They are cute as can be. The ones I bought came in packs of 20, so I picked up 2.

For the tree:

Kirk had an extra shelf lying around, from an old IKEA storage shelving system. He cleaned up the edges on one of his manly tools I am scared of, then handed it over to me. I hot glued the tree’s base to the board (using a 2 foot pre-flocked/pre-lit tree that I opened up and did the branches beforehand). Once set, I draped a cheap tree skirt around it, glueing the skirt down on the edges to keep it neat.

Then I decorated the tree with mini-ornaments, I used 3 sets total. I also decorated below the tree with matching bead garland, then lined up the jars as desired.

I am not quite done, I still need to number the jars. My free-hand skills are not the greatest for painting numbers, so I need to find mini-stencils or stickers, that will take a trip to a large craft or scrapbooking store for that. If I get that done this year, great. If not, there is always next fall!

To store I am going to save a large cardboard box I can set it into, on a bed or large bubble wrap. When I think about this tree…it makes me want to not do a big tree. It is SO easy!

PS: The gingerbread house I built over the weekend is sitting in front of the tree now….and I love it!

PS2: In a Google search I saw a Pinterest Board on “Baby Food Jar Crafts” where my blog was pinned a couple of times. I had a huge smile knowing there are plenty of other weirdos out there like me 😉

PS3: How much did this project cost me? Ummmmm…..let’s not talk about that. It would have been frugal if I hadn’t bought the tree and ornaments. But hey, they were all 40% off! I paid about $16 for the tree, so it wasn’t “too” bad.


9 thoughts on “Upcycling Baby Food Jars: An Advent Calendar

  1. We have found that having a small tree is completely practical and adorable. We used to live in Gladstone, OR so gorgeous trees were affordable and plentiful. Then, Knox came along. I was in the throes of brand new parenthood his first Christmas so we didn’t decorate at all. For his second Christmas we had moved to Spokane where the nice trees are not so cheap and he was toddling/cruising so we got a tiny three foot tree and set it on a small table. This year we decided to keep the small tree just because. It’s not in the way, still looks nice and we didn’t have to buy anything else. However, we are considering buy a full size artificial (gasp!) tree after Christmas on clearance for future years.

    1. Exactly! Last year somehow I had the energy to put up the big tree but boy…taking it down while pregnant was tiring 😉 A few years back we bought a US made artificial tree, it has been nice and held up well 🙂 They are great for when the kids are older!

  2. Everything looks so beautiful and elegant. I would never had guessed they were baby jars.
    My children are not babies anymore; but I am going to purchase some and see what happens!!

    Your holiday decorations look great and the baby food on the face.., priceless 🙂

    1. I was thinking one could also use the 4 ounce little jam jars – sold with canning jars. They’d be nice as well. Although I love cooking and baking with stage 2 baby food – the bananas make the moistest breads!

  3. I love it! Expense is one of my problems with crafting. I end up buying a ton of items for 1 project, it is almost always cheaper to just buy the finished project. With that in mind I spent some time in Hobby Lobby yesterday with my 40% coupon. Wow, it added up fast. I’m almost finished with our advent calendar this year. 🙂
    We haven’t put our tree up but we are thinking if going with a small one, we normally decorate a 6 ft tree. Who knows.

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