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{Tutorial} Upcycled Jars Keep the Warm Holiday Spirit Year Round


One of my most favorite things about the Christmas season is the lighted tree.  We have an artificial, pre-lit tree so all those beautiful glimmering white lights are always perfectly spaced.  I love getting up in the darkness of winter mornings and turning on the tree.  The light is so soft and perfect I’m almost disappointed when the sun comes up.  Almost.

I needed to create something to display those gently glowing white lights year round.  But nothing ruins that warm fuzzy glowing feeling faster than seeing that green cord trailing along my light colored wall and carpet. I needed to create something that hid that cord and I needed to do it with what I already had in the house.  Jars!  As you may know I have a thing for jars.  I also have a thing for fabric.  So I had everything I needed:

  • Empty cardboard fabric bolt (fabric stores will happily give you these)
  • 1/2 yard of scrap fabric
  • Small strand of Christmas lights (mine was 15 ft)
  • Jars of various sizes and shapes
  • Box cutter or knife blade

1.  Get your cardboard bolt and tear the ends off.


2.  Arrange your jars as you’d like them, but DO NOT space them more than 2 inches apart.  If they are spaced more than 2 inches apart your lights will not fit nicely and your board will not sit flat.  Turn them upside down on the bolt and trace around the lip of each jar.


3.  Cut out each circle.  I found it easiest to knife cut through all layers across the circle, then use my craft blade to cut around the edges.  My set my craft blade to a shorter setting and cut the cardboard in 2 seperate layers.


4.  Your cuts don’t need to be perfect.  Set your jars in to make sure they all fit.  Everything will be covered in fabric so don’t worry if something seems a little wonky at this point.


5.  Set your cardboard on top of the fabric.  Trim short ends 1-2 inches from the edge of the cardbaord.  If you aren’t sewing, simply wrap it up as you would a gift and secure with tape.  Sewing directions follow in step 6…


6.  If sewing, flip fabric so the wrong side is up.  You’ll be sewing everything inside out.  Bring ends together and pin (just a few pins will do).  Fold both ends over in the same direction.  With a fabric marker, draw a line in the crease of this fold.


7.  Remove the cardboard from the fabric.  Use the line you just drew as a guide.  Sew the long end and ONE of the short ends.  You’re basically creating a pillowcase.  I am using my serger in these photos but sewing will bring you the same results.


8.  Set your cardboard on top of your newly sewn fabric. Roll down the open end of your “pillowcase” so the fabric is just 1/2 – 1 inch longer than your cardboard.  It’s better to have your fabric be too long than too short, so err on the side of caution.


9.  Pin if you’d like or just sew down this fold.  Slip your cardboard into it’s snug new case.


10.  Press to find each hole.  With your craft knife, cut an X into each circle.  These don’t have to be too big.  Now with scissors, cut the Xs in the TOP LAYER only all the way to the edge of the circle.


***We’re almost done!  Now it’s time to assemble everything!***

11.  Plug in your lights to make they work.  Think about where you want to place your creation.  I want mine on top of the piano.  I plugged in my lights to see how far they would reach and to determine where my first light on my strand would hit.  That first light on the strand wouldn’t quite make it into a jar so I knew I had to unscrew that bulb and not take it into account when determining how many lights would go into each jar.  NOTE: bulbs can be unscrewed so they do not light up but cannot be removed from the strand completely or none of the bulbs light up.


12.  Now we have to do a little math.  Stop!  If I can do this so can you!  Determine how many lights you have to work with.  I had 49 on my strand but because I wasn’t counting that first bulb I knew I was working with 48.  I set out my jars and divided up those 48 lights based on the size of my jar.  No magic formula here, I just made up some numbers and worked it out.  Set your jars into your board and set the numbers to other side in the same order.  This way when the jars are gone and you starting threading your lights in you know how many to place in each hole.


13.  Thread your lights into each hole according to your count.   I used a small piece of tape at the beginning of each new hole to keep the lights from popping out of their assigned hole.  This is why it was so important that jars not be spaced more than 2 inches apart.  Once your threading is done, flip your board over and corral all the lights into their jars as you place the jars back into their base.


***You’re done!  You did it!  It’s Beautiful!***

You can leave it as is or cover the jars in fabric or paper.


This is what I love about this project!  You can easily cover the jars with different materials for each season.  I found a lace table cloth at a thrift store in South Carolina while I was visiting family for Christmas.  It costs me ONE whole dollar.  I cut a 6 inch piece off the bottom and it was more than enough to cover each of my jars, which I simply secured with tape.  You could easily sew covers you think you’d like to reuse throughout the seasons.

You can make your own lace covers out of paper.  See this super easy tutorial for more on that.  I’m already thinking of seasons ahead and how I can continue to use this year round…

  • Autumn – dried leaves, small twigs and other treasures we collect on hikes
  • Spring – fingerpainted masterpieces (we do a lot of outdoor nakie painting during outdoor nakie weather!)
  • Summer – long blades of grass tied simply with twine
  • Winter – evergreen springs and pinecones