17 Creative Ways to Reuse Grocery Store Glass Jars Around the House

Reduce waste and save money by reusing old glass containers. From storage and organization to crafts and gifting, the possibilities are endless.

By Kristen Mosier | Published Nov 29, 2023 12:57 PM

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A front view shot of male uni student friends standing in their kitchen, they are wearing casual clothing and preparing a meal together. One man is stirring pasta in a cooking pan as they add the sauce.

Photo: istockphoto.com

When pasta night is over, and the tomato sauce is gone, there’s no need to toss that empty jar. Reduce waste at home by reusing empty glass containers. From pickles to peppers, jams to olive jars, different-sized vessels can take on numerous jobs with a bit of creativity. And don’t worry if you’ve misplaced the top; some retailers (like this one) offer various size replacement lids.

For use as storage and décor to gifting and crafting, glass containers can get plenty of mileage after they’re emptied of their original contents. Clean them out, and then get started with these 17 ideas for upcycling glass jars.

RELATED: How to Open a Stuck Jar

1. Entertain in Style

Blueberry Mojito with lime and fresh mint. Iced cold summer drinks in glass jar.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Save empty jars for use when entertaining guests for meals and parties. Perfect for cocktails, iced tea, or lemonade , these jars will be appreciated by visitors for their unusual touch. Add the glass containers to a sundae bar to hold individual servings or to display different toppings. When guests leave, send them home with jarred treats.

2. Start Crafting

4 Diy Mothers Day vase with text from a glass jar, pink paint, sparkles glitter, stars and gold ribbon. Gift idea, decor Mother day. Step by step. Top view. Process kid children craft. Workshop.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Upcycled materials make crafting for kids and adults fun, easy, and eco-friendly. Paint the glass or turn an empty jar into a magical snow globe or fairy house. Use a large one to hold art supplies like markers and paint brushes. Need help figuring out where to start? Get 15 ideas for glass jar crafts from the Artsy Craftsy Mom.

RELATED: Craft Room Redo: Before and After

3. Display Flowers

flower, bouquet, wildflower, restaurant

Photo: istockphoto.com

Cut fresh flowers from the garden and pop them in an upcycled jar for a home accent piece or gift without spending a dollar. Customize the size of the bouquet to the size of the jar for a varied look. Take the design up a notch by wrapping twine around the neck of the jar.

RELATED: 6 Ways to Keep Cut Flowers Fresh Longer

4. Make or Hold Candles

Mason jar as decoration for valentine`s day.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Save money on candle holders and create ambiance around the house by reusing old jars to house favorite pillars or tealights. The craftier set can use empty glass containers to make candles by combining melted wax with essential oils. Don’t be afraid to reuse empty candle jars, but be sure to clean old wax out before adding the new mixture.

RELATED: 15 Ways to Light Up Your Decor With Candles

5. Try Your Hand at Quick Pickling 

Woman Preparing Pickles at Home

Photo: istockphoto.com

Turn cucumbers into pickles overnight in the refrigerator in upcycled jars. The empty containers are ideal for quick pickling, but not for long-term shelf storage where regular lids might not offer a secure enough seal as with canning jars. Homemade pickles are a perfect and thoughtful gift to take to a barbeque. Just be sure to sterilize the jars and lids before using them to avoid mold.

6. Store Dog Treats

This is a glass mason jar full of dog cookies set on a wooden shelf in the sunlight and offset to the right.

Photo: istockphoto.com

A large sauce jar is ideal for storing dog bones, especially when kept by the door for easy access after walks. Add a label with the family pet’s name for a personalized touch. Check out this fun tutorial by Bren Did for an easy upcycled pet treat container.

RELATED: 12 Genius Storage Bins and Containers That Will Keep Your Home Organized 

7. Store Bathroom Necessities

Cotton balls and cotton swabs in mason jars on farmhouse bathroom shelf.

Photo: istockphoto.com

There’s no need to buy fancy jars for storing toiletries. Give empty glass containers a new purpose in the bathroom for stowing items such as Q-tips, makeup brushes, hair ties, and cotton balls. They’ll also come in handy for creative types who enjoy making their own lotions and salt scrubs.

RELATED: The Best Ways to Update a Bathroom for Only $20

8. Organize a Home Office 

Clear Glass mason jars storing colorful office supplies on white desk

Photo: istockphoto.com

For at-home offices that require a bit of organization, a collection of empty jars in varying sizes offers a cute way to store desktop office supplies. Use larger ones to hold pencils or scissors and smaller containers for paper clips, thumbtacks, and staples. Clear glass jars make accessing supplies simple, compared to searching through a messy desk drawer.

RELATED: The Best Glue for Glass – Top Picks by Bob Vila

9. Store and Share Soup

Fresh and homemade cooked soup or stew in a jar served isolated on rustic and wooden table. Closeup view

Photo: istockphoto.com

Storing homemade broth and soups in the refrigerator is a terrific use for those empty jars. Just ensure the liquid is cool before pouring it into the glass container. Also consider reusing glass jars for delivering chicken noodle soup to a sick friend who needs a pick-me-up. Tie a “get well soon” note around the neck for a sweet touch.

10. Make a Change Jar

Coins spilling out of a blue canning jar on a wood surface

Photo: istockphoto.com

For a simple place to empty pockets, reuse a glass container as a family change jar. Keep it in a central spot, making it easy for everyone to contribute. For fun, have a monthly contest for who gets to keep the change after it’s been collected, or use it for a fun treat once it’s full.

RELATED: How to Etch Glass—and How to Fake the Look Using Spray Paint

11. Propagate Plants

Selection of fresh homegrown organic culinary and aromatic herbs plant in glass jars on wooden background, home gardening, close up, selective focus. Parsley and mint

Photo: istockphoto.com

Plant propagation involves taking a piece of an existing plant and making a new plant from it. The cuttings are placed in water—or, for succulents, left out to dry—and stored in a sunny spot while a new root grows. Clear containers are perfect for housing cuttings, allowing gardeners to monitor growth in order to know when the root is ready for planting.

RELATED: Plant Propagation 101: Easy Techniques for Beginners

12. Store Leftovers and Meal Prep

Woman preparing a nutritious and appetising meal in advance.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Save money on reusable food containers; instead, use empty jars for the job. Store leftovers or individual meal portions such as premade salads, salad dressing, smoothie ingredients, overnight oats, and desserts. Reduce the use of plastic bags by using jars in the fridge to marinate meat or store cut vegetables.

RELATED: Canning Supplies You Need to Preserve Your Garden’s Harvest

13. Get Creative With Gifting

Variety of gifts of chocolate chip cookie dough and macadamia nut recipe mixture of ingredients for baking cookies for Christmas. Tied with a red ribbon and candy canes. Selective focus with blurred background.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Stash away empty jars for last-minute gifts. Take cut flowers to hosts, or fill a jar with chocolates. Consider layering a jar with the ingredients for something yummy, like this cookie mix recipe from Detoxinista, or make a s’mores kits for friends. For kid-friendly gifts, try homemade play dough or a bubble solution. Add personalized tags or paint the jar for a fun touch.

RELATED: The 30 Best Craft Kits for Adults

14. Build a Terrarium

Wild and Free: A Jar Terrarium with Unplanned Plant Life close up.

Photo: istckphoto.com

Bring nature indoors by creating a mini-terrarium. Add charcoal to keep it fresh, plus potting mix, moss, pebbles, and small plants like air plants or succulents to build a tiny world inside a glass jar. For a whimsical accent, include small figurines such as unicorns and fairies. Leave it open for a drier environment and closed for a more humid ecosystem.

RELATED: The 14 Best Terrarium Plants for Miniature Indoor Gardens

15. Store Pantry Items

Well stocked pantry with a variety of pots and cans.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Take pantry organization up a notch by storing dried goods in empty glass jars. Foods such as rice, dried beans, and coffee will last longer when stored properly with tight-fitting lids. Add labels to items like herbs, spices, and loose teas.

RELATED: 14 Instant Fixes for a Total Pantry Makeover

16. Keep the Garage Organized

A row of wooden shelves in a old dusty work shop full of glass jars and screws in the old shop keeping everything stored.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Clean up a messy tool bench and make finding needed items easier by displaying fasteners in clear jars—separating nuts, bolts, and screws into different containers for garage organization. To save space, mount jars below a shelf by screwing the covers into the bottom of the wood.

RELATED: How to Drill a Hole in Glass Without Breaking It – Advice From Bob Vila

17. Pass Them On

Close up photo of woman hands separates empty jars in a wooden crate at kitchen desk.

Photo: istockphoto.com

There’s a saying: One person’s trash is another one’s treasure. Those who love the idea of reducing waste but don’t need their empty jars might want to consider passing them on. Post the empty vessels on a local Facebook group or message board, or pass them on by sending guests home with jarred leftovers.