Last Easter, I made an epic giveaway for my guests. I had one of these at each adult seat (I made baskets for the kids) and their 30+ year old eyes brightened like never before. These can be made for dollars a piece and are so worth it when you’re finished.
- Cylindrical jars with lids (not tapered jars)
- Small, plastic animals/figurines (one per jar)
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks
- Bright candy to fill the jars (about 2 movie-sized boxes per jar depending on size)
- Color-coordinating ribbon – about 1″ in height – enough to wrap around the jar a few times and make a bow
The following are not shown:
- 1 can of primer spray paint (1 can is good for probably 36 lids or more with 2+ coats)
- 1 can of colored spray paint (I prefer glossy). If you’re doing multiple colors, you’ll need 1 can of each color and you’ll have some leftovers.
- Respirator mask
- Bright light – like a work lamp
Saving and prepping your jars
Once I knew I wanted to make this project, I started saving tall round jars from things like olives, marinara sauce, applesauce, etc.
Run them through the dishwasher a few times to get the smell of the original item out of there, and scrub out any nasties left in the lids. Sometimes if you have a stubborn smell like olives or pickles, you may want to pour white vinegar into the jar (you can cut it with water a bit if necessary) and let it sit for an hour or so to really kill the smell.
Peel off labels where you can (soaking in warm water helps if they don’t come off easily), and remove the remaining gunk with Goo-Gone.
I saved enough jars to make about 100 of these things, so if you don’t want your husband getting irritated with the amount of jars you keep in your basement, just save enough to make as many as you need. If you’re like me, there will always be more jars coming through the house.
Finding the Right Animals
Turns out quality-looking, inexpensive, small plastic farm animals can be difficult to find. I found the ones I used on Amazon for about $5 for a bag of 12. You need to make sure they’re not too large for the cap, but also that they have a large enough base for you to glue them on without a risk of knocking them off once you’re done. Also, make sure there aren’t visible seams, or a ton of strange animals you won’t use, so before you buy, take a look at the close up photos on the site if you don’t get them in a store.
Once you have your animals, use your glue gun to glue their little feet to the lids. Make sure you get rid of the excess glue-strings so they don’t get painted too, otherwise it’ll look like a colorful spider took up residence on your lid.
Position each animal on the appropriate lid before gluing.
See his little spiderweb glue strings?
Spray Painting – get excited!
Once those are dry, go to the garage (or a well-ventilated area where you’re allowed to spray paint) and get your paint on. Also get your work clothes on – inevitably you’ll end up with spray paint on your hands which may get onto your pants. Not that I’ve ever done that…
- Primer is a huge help – I really think it’s necessary for any project to make sure you get an even base coat.
- Find your painting surface and then cover it up. This could be a few layers of newspaper on top of your garage floor. Or a doubled-up sheet of plastic over your work table in the garage. Just make sure you’re protecting your “table” surface completely. I like to put cardboard under the paper/plastic to add extra protection.
- If you have little blocks of wood, or something similar, that you can put under each lid to lift it off the paper (but not touch the edges of the lid) this would be ideal. This elevates the project and keeps the edges of the lid from being spray painted to the paper, thus eliminating ripping the paper from your painted lid and ruining your paint job.
This scrap piece of drywall edging was the best I could do in a pinch, but the ideal situation would be something lifting all edges off the surface.
- If you’re painting them all one color, place the lids a few inches apart on the covered painting surface.. If you’re using different colors, make this same set up for each color. Or, use the same set up but wait until you’re done with one color to switch to the next.
Important: Wear a face mask when spray painting! There’s no excuse not to protect your airways and lungs.
There are basic dust masks which you could use, however they do little to nothing for spray painting. In fact, if you use these, you’ll probably blow your nose when you’re done and see whatever color you were using on the tissue. True story.
I prefer a monster respirator mask because I know it’s keeping that crap out of my lungs – and after years and years of spray painting, I know my older self will thank me. If you don’t plan on doing a lot of spray painting or other dangerous particle work, there are less expensive masks that are much thicker than the dust mask that may work just as well for short term use. I’ve only used the thin blue ones and the respirators, so I don’t have any feedback for you on these mid-range types.
- Once you have your mask on, turn a bright light onto your project area so you can see what you’re doing. This will help you see everything clearly and thus keep the paint from being spotty.
- Give each lid a few coats of primer. It is SO important that you do this in layers – if you get excitable about spray painting (it’s very easy to do, I understand), you’re going to get pools of paint that will take forever to dry and look horrible. Just give it a light coat around the whole lid and walk away. Go back in a few minutes and give it another coat. Repeat a few times until it’s fully grey.
- Next comes the color. Once your primer is fully dry, tackle the color. This may take longer than you think, so be patient. And LAYER! Same instructions as above.
Once you have them painted and dried, you’re ready for candy! I mean it – go have some candy. You’ve earned it. But save some for the jars.
For the candy filler, I went to the grocery store and the dollar store and bought a few types of candies – Sweettarts, Bottle Caps, jelly beans, Jujy Fruits, Sour Patch Kids, Skittles, etc. and mixed them all in a large bowl. Using a serving spoon, I scooped the mixed candies into each jar and popped on the lid.
Surprisingly, 6 boxes/bags only filled up 3 jars.
I also hoard ribbon, so I have a box full of different colors, types, materials, etc. It’s hard to go to Michael’s when they have an entire bin full of $1 ribbon and not get any!
Wrap the ribbon around the jar a few times before tying the bow. This helps keep it tight and stay on the jar.
I start with one wrap around.
Then, I take the ends and pull them in the opposite direction to give it kind of a twisted look in the back.
Bring it back around to the front…
…and tie a knot.
Tie your bow.
Then trim the ends.
The reason I mentioned not using tapered jars at the beginning was because I thought I’d be cute and use one of those Bonne Maman jam jars with the tapered, faceted sides. The bows had no interest in staying on those jars and I didn’t want to glue them. It just makes it easier if it’s a cylindrical jar.
- Don’t mix chocolate candies with tart candies – it makes everything *kindof* taste like chocolate and *kindof* taste like sweet tarts. Unless you’re into that sort of thing. Then go for it.
- No tapered jars.
- Paint slowly – even as a spray painting veteran, I go a little too quickly sometimes.
- Satin ribbon looks best (see photo at the start) in my opinion, though sometimes it’s expensive, so use what you have!
Have you made these? Do you have any tips or suggestions you’d add?