How To Make Labeled Vacation Jars For Your Travel Keepsakes

Inspiration can come from the strangest places, so I wasn’t even surprised when I saw some cool old canning jars in a recent Pottery Barn catalog and needed to take a closer look. Upon closer inspection I realized they were antique bell jars filled with shells, sand, and even just ocean water with fancy labels that said things like “Mikonos” and “Fiji”. Adorable. So I looked around and realized I had at least one or two keepsakes from each and every vacay that John and I have spent together. Why not put them on display instead of in a box in the closet? So after a trip to Michael’s to pick up 6 canning jars (for just six smackaroos) I returned home and slipped the items into little labeled jars of my own.

Now we’re hardly as posh as the imaginary family who loves in the Pottery Barn catalog, so our labels (hand written with a fine point Sharpie on clear tape) boast locales like San Diego, Rehoboth, Madeira Beach, Alaska, and the Outer Banks.

But they’re just as charming lined up on a shelf in our sunroom near the back door (which we pass through at least five times a day). And it’s nice to glance at our little vacation time capsules on a daily basis instead of keeping them out of sight (and out of mind). I even made a little reminder of our old life in Manhattan complete with our last MetroCard, a buy-ten-get-one-free hot dog card from our favorite little hole in the wall, and matching business cards from the advertising agency where we met.

It’s nice to know that even when we go somewhere sans sand and shells, we can still stick little keepsakes (a ticket stub, a matchbox, a hotel key) into a $1 jar to fondly remember the trip. In fact, to document our Alaskan honeymoon, I used a rock from a hot stone massage that we enjoyed along with a tiny ceramic bear from a craft fair in Anchorage. I can’t wait until our modern day snow globe collection takes over our entire three-tiered bookcase… better start planning some more vacations. And since everyday objects work just as well as shells and sand, it’s no big deal if we don’t make it to Mikonos or Fiji for a while. Whew.


  1. says

    I love that idea! And that office in the Pottery Barn catalog is my dream office. I wish I had that much counter space to do my projects and everything else. I love it all.

    Great way to use what you have to make something fun for your house! :)

  2. KK says

    Such a great idea! You never cease to amaze me.

    Wal-Mart sells boxes of canning jars, too. And–as in almost everything at Wal-Mart–they’re cheap!

    We used them for candle holders at our wedding and tied raffia and a rusted metal heart around the top of the jar.

  3. Colleen says

    What a wonderful idea. And budget-minded too. I am the type that won’t buy an expensive souvenir, but I do collect hotel card keys, business cards, subway passes, matchbooks, rocks, pieces of driftwood, etc from our trips.

    I really like KK’s comment about using canning jars as decorations at weddings. I just met with our event coordinator at the craft museum we’re getting married at and I want to incorporate that idea into our decorating.

  4. says

    I read my PB catalogue at least twice when it came in. Great ideas. I always forget to think about ways to adapt ideas like that to make sense in my own life. But I love this. When I get my shelves for the new living room, I’m spicing it up with memory jars.

  5. YoungHouseLove says

    Yippie skippy. So glad the jar idea was a hit. So simple and so cute. I just love a quick project that doesn’t even call for “painting clothes”, don’t you?

    And Colleen, it’s safe to say that KK had one of the cutest weddings ever (which served as a HUGE inspiration to me when I planned my very own nuptials last year). So get ready for a big 1-year-anniversary wedding post on 7/7/08 detailing a bunch of my very own wedding-related projects and inviting comments about other fun wedding ideas (of which I know KK will have many!). Stay tuned…


  6. Colleen says

    Oh yeah! I can’t wait for the 1-year-anniversary post. And here’s wishing you an early Happy Anniversary!

  7. says

    cute! literally putting your memories in a jar :) I have a jar like that but I keep my yankee candle tarts in it.

    and Aimee, if you like the desk and workspace, but not the price, we made our own version of that desk.. you can see it in my blog (click on my name to go there)

  8. Traci says

    I love this idea!! My guy and I are living in Germany right now and each time we travel somewhere, I pick up little matchboxes, hotel & restaurant cards, etc and I’ve been saving them with no idea what I would actually do with them. Now I can make a lovely, inexpensive display of our travels! We also like to save wine corks from special trips, so I can toss those in the jars too. Thanks for so many wonderful ideas. I just love your site.


  9. says

    How fun is this. Thanks for the ideas. Traci, you can make a cork board for messages and photos also. Just buy a thin cork board and using hot glue, glue your corks to the cork board (they have a narrow frame around them). It is charming. We get a ton of comments on ours.
    Or you can glue them together for a trivet or glue them on a wide picture frame. IKEA has cheap ones that work really well.

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