These animal jars are my absolute favorite way to package up a treat. I especially love using them in parties to hold candies, food and to give away as favors (pie in a jar, anyone?). They are really inexpensive to make, and your guests get to keep a fun memento of their day!
They are also perfect for storing crayons, small toys and all kinds of goodies in them, such as paper clips and washi tape at your desk.
Here they are dressed up at a circus party with some gold ribbon and filled with animal crackers. Placed in an old trunk or basket, they make fun party favors.
Any type of plastic figure works well here. You can use safari animals like I chose, Army men, bugs, dinosaurs, fossils … the options are endless.
DIY Animal Mason Jars Tutorial
Things you’ll need:
- plastic toy animals*
- jars, either purchased mason jars or old food jars (think salsa jars, baby food jars, etc.)
- solid lids**
- crazy glue or a strong, quick-setting adhesive (not expanding)***
- spray paint****
- newspaper, drop cloth or a large box
- a well-ventilated space
- a timer
- Lightly sand the bottom of your animal’s feet and the lid where the animal will stand (not the entire lid, mark with a sharpie if that helps). Your animal will adhere better to the lid.
- Wait an hour or whatever the directions on your glue recommend. Once the glue is dry, inspect your animal to make sure the bond is secure, touching up if needed.
- Now you are ready to paint (see painting tips below). Paint your figure and lid with one light coat. Set your timer for 15 minutes. Check dryness and adjust drying times as needed (15 minutes works in my part of the country, but temperature and humidity all play a role). Repeat until fully covered and dry.
- Place the lid on your jar, fill and enjoy your DIY animal mason jar!
* I used safari animals from U.S. Toy, but I have also used these horses and unicorns in the past. They have just about every type of animal/bug/figure imaginable, and they are the perfect size for wide-mouth jars. You just need to make sure your figure is around 4″ or less and fits on the lid you are using.
** I prefer solid lids for these projects so they are food safe, but you can use the banded lids that come with mason jars. In that case, you would need to glue the band and lid together with a bit of glue. I just would be wary of putting food in a jar with a glued lid.
*** Avoid glues that expand. They get puffy and bubbly, and it looks like you spit all over your jars. You will thank me later.
**** I prefer to use matte or semi-gloss paint, but if glossy is your style, that works too. Rust-Oleum is my favorite brand, and their glitter line is amazing. If you use glitter spray paint, please, oh please trust me and do not buy that junk sold in the hobby stores. Unless you like possessed cans of spray paint that spit and hiss at you for five minutes like something out of The Exorcist. Rust-Oleum’s gold glitter spray paint will change your life.
DIY Chalkboard Animal Mason Jars Variation
For a fun variation, use chalkboard spray paint (available in hobby stores). Write “Thank you!”, the name of whatever you store in it, the sound the animal makes or use as a place setting and write a child’s name on the lid. You could even write on the animal’s side instead of the lid if the figure is smooth enough. I have no idea what sound a rhinoceros makes, so “Thank you!” it is.
To make, follow the same steps above for painting, using chalkboard paint instead. When gluing the animal on the lid, set it back a bit instead of dead center. Once painted, this will give you room to write “Thank you!” or whatever you wish with a chalkboard pen.
Tips for Spray Painting
- Spray painting is not for the impatient, and it is hard for me. I want it dry now. So I tend to spray paint when I have a million other things to do and set a timer. It keeps my mind off of the drying time and alerts me when it is time for my next coat.
- Spray your object one coat at a time. Spraying over and over before fully dry and spraying too long is what gives you nasty drips. Trust me, one light coat at a time. Set your timer for 15 minutes. Repeat until finished.
- Avoid spraying during the winter months. If you have to (Kansas is a frozen tundra, and sometimes I can’t wait that long), let your spray paint come to room temperature in your home before using. Do not use cold paint. Spray in your garage (not ideal, but whatevs.), and leave the garage door cracked to eliminate fumes. Use a small fan pointed at your object during dry times. When drying, set your timer for 30 minutes. It takes longer to dry. When done, leave you door open for a few moments to get out those fumes. This cold weather method works well for me.
- I keep an old cracked kiddie pool and spray paint in that. It is large, keeps overspray contained and doesn’t blow around on a breezy day like newspaper or a drop cloth does. You can also spray in boxes.