DIY: Decorating Ideas with Apothecary Jars and Kitchen Canisters

Retro Staff Comments

We’ve been using jars and canisters to store kitchen goods for years, but there’s so much more we can do in the name of storage and decor!

Canisters and jars filled with food items.

Canisters and jars filled with food items.

Canisters and jars were made to be storage solutions and we all love them for that. But they can do a lot more than store flour, dried beans and crackers. They’re a terrific way to store non-food items like small toys, game pieces and marbles. Or crayons… Anyone with children knows that it’s a pain to find a place to put all of the loose crayons kids seem to accumulate. Storing them in a large apothecary jar keeps them together, in one place, and off floors where they can get lost or broken. (Saving your floors, as well as your sanity.)

Jars filled with toys, cotton balls and tacks.

Some of the many storage uses for jars.

Matching jars are an efficient and stylish way to store bits and pieces for hobbyists and crafters. Jars can be lined up on a shelf or table top, keeping things handy and looking organized at the same time. Remove the lid off a group of jars to store tall items such as paint brushes and rulers. Seamstresses can keep buttons, bobbins and pins handy in small jars, while being able to identify which jar holds what.

Jars filled with thread, buttons, crafting embellishments and more.

Clearly visible storage of necessities for crafters.

Collectors will love the practicality of jars, too. The quickest and easiest way to repurpose flea market finds is to place your miscellaneous small treasures in canisters and jars. Add charm to a countertop or table in very little time by placing knick knacks with a common theme on display in a newly purchased jar (you’ll find plenty right here), or one you may already have. Grouping three or more jars provides big impact and will have your guests thinking you’re a decorating guru!

Jars filled with knick knack collections for decorative purposes.

Collections display beautifully in clear canisters.

Arranging a selection of items within a jar can result in a beautiful and meaningful statement piece. One of the most personal jar decorating ideas is to make a collection of mementos to keep on a side table. Every time you see it, you will be able to revisit the pleasant memories of a vacation, a holiday or maybe the birth of a child. It’s also is a perfect way to personalize your home decor. Want to memorialize a special day? Arrange a few photos and a keepsake—a dried flower or a seashell—and tie a bit of ribbon or raffia around the top. You could also attach a tag with the date and a brief description of the event. Instant lasting memory!

Jars filled with fake snow and Christmas decor.

Christmas winter scenes in jars are easy to make!

For winter decor, making a snowscape in a jar or canister is easy and has the vintage feel of an old fashion snow globe. Just add fake snow (or sugar for jars that seal) to the bottom. Position bottle brush trees, miniature houses and other figures such as a Santa, snowman or deer. The result is a beautiful centerpiece for a table or sideboard with a luxe look that you didn’t have to spend a lot to get.

Display of jars filled with holiday decor.

Use holiday scapes for centerpieces and accents.


The easiest Christmas decoration ever is to fill a large Heritage jar with your Christmas cards and family photos as you receive them. This same technique can be used to make scenes for other holidays, such as Halloween and Easter. When the holiday is over, you can put the canister back into service holding food or other items, or swap out contents for the next season or holiday.

  • Of course, that’s just the beginning. You could repurpose canisters and jars for tons of things, like:
  • Creating a terrarium by filling the base of the jar with some potting soil, moss and a few small plants.
  • Filling with wine corks from bottles of wine enjoyed with friends. Write the date and who was with you on the cork.
  • Tossing in concert or movie ticket stubs so you can look at them later and relive the moment.
  • Filling with lace and adding a photo or heirloom for a vintage shabby chic feel.
  • Creating instant cloche: use a lidless jar placed upside down over a cherished object.
  • Filling with plastic fruit to add color and a country look to a kitchen counter or shelf.
  • Creating an Easter-scape using green jelly beans or basket grass as the base. Place a chocolate bunny in the middle and sprinkle colored foil covered eggs around it.


We know that once you get your creative juices flowing, you’ll come up with plenty of ideas too. Post a comment to share your ideas and be sure to include photos!

Last updated: Aug 08, 2014
Filed under: DIY & Upcycling Tagged with: Christmas Decor, DIY, holiday decor, repurposing, storage