Decorated Jars for the Winter Philly Food Swap

December 8, 2011(updated on October 3, 2018)

packaged rhubarb liqueur

Last night was our Winter Philly Food Swap. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society was so kind to host us and 35 swappers braved the rainy night to come out and trade their goodies. I brought two half pound bundles of my burnt sugar toffee, two half pints of fermented hot sauce that I made some months back and four small jars of rhubarb liqueur that I’ve had cooking since last April (made using this recipe as a guide).

Not wanting to bring naked bottles and wanting something a little more elegant than my standard Sharpie scrawl, I spent the moments before I left for the swap figuring out how best to label my jars (I’m something of a last minute girl). I was pleased with what I ended up devising and thought you all might like a peek at what I did.

I made a little label on white card stock and cut it out with pinking shears. Then, using some stripey bakers’ twine, I secured the label to the jar by wrapping the twine around and around. What I like about this is that it adheres the label to the side of the jar without using any adhesive. It is such a pain to remove sticky residue from jars when it’s time to use them again.

It’s not perfect, but worked fairly well in a pinch. If I do this again in the future, I’ll make sure to leave far more white space on the label, so that I don’t cover up the writing with the twine.

What’s your favorite way to label jars for holiday giving?

Sharing is caring!

Posted in

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

31 thoughts on "Decorated Jars for the Winter Philly Food Swap"

  • I use plain white glue (school glue) to attach paper labels (usually hand-drawn, because I’m remarkably lazy and don’t like to fuss with my printer). It holds well, but slips off easily with about 2 minutes of soaking in plain water, and no residue on the jar.

    Pigment or good Sharpie markers with very fine points work well–they don’t smear with the slight dampness of the white glue, or damp hands when I’m grabbing jars left and right.

  • I love the candy cane twine – what a clever idea. I love decorating all my pickles and jams, especially for Christmas. I did some lovely ones for halloween this year, and I’ll be posting up my Christmas creation sometime soon. Still hunting for some really fab fabrics for the lids.


  • The jars are so cute! I just checked your recipes page… don’t see the burnt sugar toffee, it sounds great:@)

  • I think they look super cute this way. I like putting a label on the top with just a raised glue dot, it can come off pretty easily when the jar is empty but it doesn’t go on the glass.

  • Love the twine idea as well, I stick to the traditional way, ribbon with little cards wrapped around the neck to label. If it’s just for our consumption at home, We write on the lids. We throw those out any way!

  • They’re lovely, Marisa! I am a big fan of no adhesive, for no other reason than I like people to be able to re-use their jars. I hate scraping glue off a jar!

  • The labels are very nice! New to your blog, I have noticed recently that you have posted pics with jars that have screw on lids. Can you explain or direct me to an older post about how to can with these. Is it the same as using canning lids with rings?

    1. Lori, if you’re referring to the jars in this photo, I didn’t can in them, I simply screwed the lids on after pouring the liqueur in. I don’t have a post on using them and I’ve not had a great deal of success in using them for canning, so I actually don’t recommend them.

      1. Perhaps Lori is wondering about the white plastic storage lids that are shown in some of your other photos? She can probably find a box of them where other canning supplies are sold. Be aware that they are only for storage and not for canning.

  • Clever idea! I just started canning and I just label each jar by writing on the lid with a Sharpie. I store the jars in their original boxes, and I just slide them off the shelves in my basement and read the lids to see what I have. When I gift them I just wrap them in colorful cellophane (or even wrapping paper) and tie a knot at the top with wire-edged ribbon.

  • I put my labels between the jar lid and the rim. The edge of the rim keeps it secure, and there’s no adhesive or chance of it slipping off! I have a photoshop template I use when I’m swapping, and for the holidays I’ll get creative with holiday scrapbook paper.

  • Hi Marisa, I agree about the one-piece lid – huge failure rate. Wondering what the jars are, though – so cute! What brand? Where did you find them? Lyn @

      1. I live in Italy (fortunately) and the only jars we have available here are the Quattro Stagioni type with one-piece lid (unfortunately). I have mixed results with them: all my pickles sealed but 8 of 20 ketchup didn’t….go figure? I agree that their cute but would give anything for some good old 2 piece lids without paying a fortune in shipping!

        1. thanks, Marisa. Is there any chance the two-piece lids would work on these (since they can be bought separately and I always have a supply of them).

          1. They wouldn’t work on the five ounce jars, as they have a smaller opening than our regular mouth jars do. I think the two-piece lids might fit the larger jars, though.

  • I loved the way you labelled your jars, and I’m bummed that in the crazy rush I didn’t snag some of that delicious-looking rhubarb boozy! Oh well, next time…

    Thanks again for helping to organize this event, it was so much fun!

  • Maybe next time punch holes in the edges and thread the twine through? Then you could run two pieces to tie them on without covering the middle of the label? They are very cute though.

    I bought a 4 pack of the Quattro Stagioni type from TJ Maxx this year, as they were pretty cheap and I intended to use them solely for gifting preserves. I had 100% sealing rate (thankfully as I was petrified to try them out) using two in different batches. Two have applesauce and two have marmalade.

  • it is really beautiful, this way of decorating the jars!
    I usually write directly on the glasses, with a white or silvery pen. its easy to get rid of, by just using a sponge, and it looks nice too!

  • I have a freind who makes ber at home and he puts his labels on by dipping them in milk. He swears it works, but I ahve not had an opportunity to try it.

  • I just put labels on the lids after the jars cool. Not supposed to re-use lids anyway, and Avery makes a 2-in circular label that I can use for both regular and wide-mouth jars.

  • Those are adorable. I am going to an event this weekend with a secret gift exchange and planning on giving three jars of preserves. I think I’ll try your idea, I don’t have that cute baker’s twine, but I know I’ve got something lying around that will work in a pinch. Love your site and your recipes.

  • I was selling my jam and baked goods for awhile on Etsy and I had much the same challenge of how to elegantly label the jars, preferably without stickers. For the jars, I actually printed and cut round labels from light cardstock and I’d just tuck them between the ring and the flat lid. Most of the time, they stay in place until you’re done using the jar and separate the lid from the ring. I suppose a dab of hot glue might keep it in place even better and would be easy to remove (or discard with the flat lid).

    For non-jars (or sometimes just tucked under the screw band of a jar), my favorite is tea-stained tags. You buy those old-fashioned buff-colored yard sale tags (the ones with the strings) at an office supply store. You then soak them in a strongly brewed bowl of tea and lay them to dry overnight on paper towels–overlapping them to some extent to create random stain marks. The result is a beautiful rustic aged tag and string that you can write on with a marker and tie around a food-grade cello bag or whatever your gift is. Add some brown raffia or brown wrapping paper and it looks great.

  • I bought several sheets of sticker paper – it goes through my printer, then I cut out a circle the same size as my canning lid. Since the lids are not re-usable, no one has to worry about peeling the sticker off when they’re done.

  • Hello, I like the idea that you used the red & white string, bright and colorful. I also like the string idea because it buffers the jars, just a little, while in transit. Thank you for sharing this idea.