DIY Busy Jars for Holiday Get Togethers

The holidays are in full swing! Whether you invite friends and family in to your home or visit them at their homes, spending time together is a huge part of the spirit of the holidays. But sometimes, as the adults sit and visit, the kids get bored and need a little something to keep them entertained.


I created these “busy jars,” using items found at my local Goodwill of Orange County store, to keep the kids busy with simple toys and small crafts. The jars can be kept at home and brought out when you are hosting a holiday get-together, or take them with you when you’ve been invited somewhere else!


One evening I dropped by my favorite Goodwill of Orange County store in Tustin to see what I could include in these activity jars. Although you never know what you will find when you shop in a thrift store, I know that I’ll always find something unique and inexpensive at Goodwill. This OC Goodwill Boutique makes thrift store shopping easy and fun. The store is super organized and I always know right where to look for things.


Set up more like a boutique than a traditional thrift store, I love to take my time and go through each section. The housewares area is easy to navigate and full of great items. The clothes are also easy to peruse which makes it easy if you are trying to find specific pieces or just browsing and hoping to find hidden gems.


Mason jars are always available at thrift stores and this trip was no exception. I like to keep empty jars on hand at home as they are super versatile. I like to use them in place of plastic storage containers and they also work great in all types of crafts. You can use them as a vase or as a cup. You can paint them, frost them or leave as is. I knew they would be the perfect things to use for these busy jars. And when I came across these kid-focused grab bags, I knew they exactly what I was looking for to help keep kids entertained.


Each grab bag was only $3.99 and contained similar things. I knew I’d be able split them up to create a few jars. The mason jars were $1.29 each.


First, I opened each grab bag and removed the packaging from almost all of the individual items. Without the extra material, the items will fit better inside the jars. It will also cut out some of the trash that would end up on the dining table when the kids actually use them. I had to leave out a few items that were just far too large to fit in the jars, but those can be brought out separately if needed.


I took the larger items and placed them in the jar first. If possible, create a jar for each kid at the table. This will just ensure that there will be no fighting or arguing. If you are only creating a few jars, and there are more children, try to really mix up the items in each so that it’s all different and there is more to explore.


Each grab bag included a set of small markers, small activity books or notebooks of paper, and character erasers that come apart and can be put back together. They also included stickers, which I cut down from the sheets to individual stickers. Glow sticks, sticky stretchable monkies and a deck of Crazy 8’s rounded out the items.

Continue adding toys until you’ve used all the items from the grab bags or you can’t fit any more.

Also, personalize the jars so the kids know whose is whose. I used simple letter stickers but you could also paint or etch a name or initial on the mason jars.


Finally, add a little extra flair with yarn, ribbon or sequins.


Bring these jars out as the kids start to get restless and they will help keep them entertained while you get to continue enjoying your company.


Busy jars are easy and inexpensive to put together. And they aren’t just perfect for holiday dinners. Grandparents can have these ready out their houses when their grandkids come for a visit. These would even be great for a road trip although you may want to put them in something other than a glass jar.

Created by: Sharon Garofalow of Cupcakes and Cutlery

Follow along with her other DIY projects on FacebookInstagramPinterest and Twitter!

One comment

  1. What a great idea! I’ll be making some of these for our holiday get togethers. Thank you for the inspiration!

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