The Autumn Gift Pantry™

Packaged Gifts of Noble Origin
“Every gift of noble origin
Is breathed upon by Hope’s perpetual breath.”

During this season of abundance and harvest, I am thinking of the many wonderful gifts I can compose from nature’s noble bounty. As special as these gifts may be, they become superlative when the packaging in which they are presented is artful, attractive and frugal.


The most attractive jars for jams, jellies and preserves are simple mason jars, which lend an old-fashioned charm. You can also use mason jars for a bevy of gifts other than preserves. I keep them on hand in a variety of sizes in order to send soup home with a friend, or to package flavored popcorns, nuts, well-dried fruits, homemade pancake mix, granola and the like. These traditional jars look even more lovely when their metal caps are embellished in an attractive manner. Boxes of mason jars are available in a variety of sizes at grocery or hardware stores, and are often quite reasonably priced. Or look for them at thrift shops, flea markets and yard sales. Keep in mind that if you will be using them for actual canning purposes they should have no chips or cracks, no matter how small, especially at the top of the rim.

APOTHECARY JARS: These may be collected throughout the year and added to your GIFT PANTRY™ and used to present gifts of food, or store-bought candies. (They're lovely for repacking candies and nuts bought in bulk.) I have presented this type of jar filled with individually wrapped chocolates and hard candies, as well as firm homemade cookies, sturdy fudge squares (you may wish to wrap these in cellophane or waxed paper beforehand), and nuts (flavored or plain). With an attractive ribbon around the rim, and a pretty tag hanging from the lid, you have a lovely token of your friendship to give to a neighbor, friend, hostess, or to include as part of a gift basket.

LACE DOILIES: Create a charming, finished gift package by tying lace doilies onto the tops of mason jars, using raffia, silken cord, or satin ribbon. You can easily make your own lace doilies by cutting rounds of lace from scraps you have on hand. Note: You can hem the raw edges, using a fray-reducing product (Fray Check works nicely) , or sew (or use fabric glue) satin binding along the edges.

WRAPPING JARS: If you wish to wrap the entire jar with paper or fabric (as opposed to merely the lid) take a square three times as wide as the jar is tall. For example, if the jar is four inches tall, you will need a twelve-inch square of paper. Place the jar on it’s side, about an inch away from the paper’s edge, and roll. Fold the ends of the paper that are under the jar first (neatly, so it stands properly) and fasten with tape. Next, gather the top of the paper and tie it tightly with raffia or ribbon. This will create a paper collar that will stand up and form a ruffle at the top of the jar.
JAR COVERS: Make your own jar covers by cutting circles from papers humble or grand—use parchment, handmade art papers, brown craft paper, plain white freezer or computer paper. Take this concept a step further, and photocopy old black-and-white botanical prints or silhouettes onto the paper --use these to cover your jar lids for an unusual effect. Commercial paper doilies and scraps of attractive fabrics look lovely as well.
Excerpt from Frugal Luxuries by the Season, Bantam, 2000