For the last ten years, my mom’s side of the family has taken part in what we call “Homemade Christmas.” One year we decided that buying the same old things for everyone every year was pointless and costly, and the kids really couldn’t participate in the “giving” part. So my mom and her sisters decided that everyone would make gifts for everyone, rather than buying.

At first, I loved it. When I was a wee preteen with absolutely no social life and smart enough to avert studying, I had plenty of time to create elaborate gifts for each and every person. As the years went on, we down-sized to “Secret Santa Homemade Christmas,” where the kids each picked a name and only made gifts for one other kid. Well, this year is “The Tenth Anniversary” of Homemade Christmas, and it was apparently unanimously decided that we would make gifts for everyone. That’s about thirteen homemade gifts.

If I was still in high school, this would have been no problem. However, I’m in graduate school trying to get a draft of my thesis completed before New Year’s Eve and getting through finals. I (sort of) jokingly said that I was going to just bake cookies for everyone. I recently decided that this was actually a good idea, but I needed to spice it up a little.

This year, every member of my family will be getting a personalized, painted, and decoupage-d mason jar filled with delicious homemade cookies. It’s a win-win: they get scrumptious cookies made from scratch, and awesome jars to do whatever they want with after the cookies are gone.

Required Items:

  • Mason Jar(s)
  • Acrylic paint of your color choice
  • Sponge brushes
  • ModPodge (or glue/water mixture)
  • Pictures (on paper) to decoupage onto the jars
  • Shellac Spray
  • Ribbon (optional)
  • Chalkboard Paint (optional) for lids

The process:

  1. Buy mason jars (if you have to make a bunch, order a case from Amazon. It was only around $10/case of a dozen)
  2. Using a sponge brush, dab on the acrylic paint color of your choice until the jar is completely covered. Repeat until desired coverage is achieved (1-2 coats)
  3. Once the paint is COMPLETELY DRY, decoupage the pictures onto the jar. If you don’t know what decoupage is, Google it.
  4. Once the decoupage is COMPLETELY DRY, spray the shellac onto the jar (make sure you do this OUTSIDE).
  5. Optional: Paint the lids of the mason jars with chalkboard paint (usually takes 3 coats).
  6. Optional: Tie a pretty ribbon around the mouth of the jar.
  7. Bake cookies of your choosing, place in jar.
  8. Give tremendous homemade gifts to everyone.
  9. Look like the most awesome and domesticated member of your family.

You can say it: I’m a genius.


A born-and-raised Jersey girl with a chronic case of wanderlust, Samantha spends her days reading, writing, and planning adventures. She currently teaches classes at the community college while living at home with her parents, trying and failing to become a part of the proverbial real world. Her dream is for someone to pay her for writing and traveling, but in reality she'll probably be teaching forever. Follow her mundane musings on Twitter @SamanthaG2012, and check out her personal blog,

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