Frosting A Glass Jar For Thanksgiving (A New Tradition!)

Sherry is a diligent gratitude journal keeper, so with Thanksgiving around the corner we thought it would be nice to adapt her daily practice and create a so-thankful activity that we both could have fun with. And that’s where this 99 cent apothecary jar from Salvation Army comes in (it was originally $1.99 but we scored it during a 50% off glassware sale).

We’ve both been itching to take on a glass etching project, and seeing this one on How About Orange just about put us over the edge. So we ever-so-creatively (kidding) decided that we wanted to etch the word “thanks” on the base of the jar. But we didn’t have/were too lazy to get a stencil (nor did we want to be limited to off-the-shelf fonts) so we decided to make our own.

Our homemade stencil consisted of a simple computer print out of our text (in Helvetica) scotch taped over a piece of painter’s tape stuck to the back of our wooden cutting board. I promise this will make more sense in a moment.

With everything taped down, I used an exacto knife to cut out my letters one by one – all the way through the painter’s tape, but not through the cutting board (I’m not that strong). Oh, and yes I decided not to be picky about preserving the hole in the “a.” But we did crack up when Sherry said “I don’t think we need to save the a-hole.” I know, we’re like fifth graders over here.

With the “stencil” cut, we then disposed of the paper print-out guide and slowly peeled the painter’s tape from the cutting board, being careful not to rip the tape or let it stick to itself. Once it was safely off the cutting board, we stuck it right onto the glass jar. Ta-dah! Tape stencil mission complete.

The hump in the “h” got a little wonky, but other than that we were pleasantly surprised by how well our makeshift stencil was holding up. And with a couple more strips of tape on the sides (just to be safe) we were ready to apply the etching cream without having to worry about getting it in the wrong places.

We picked up this Armour Etch cream for $6.50 at Michael’s (thanks to a 50% off coupon) and broke out this tiny paint brush to apply it.

After letting the cream work its magic for about 1.5 minutes, we washed it off in the sink and removed our tape stencil. We had a tiny smidge of bleeding between the “k” and “s” but otherwise it worked out beautifully. The instructions made it unclear how long we should keep the cream on (since that depends on your “stencil” material). But because our tape wasn’t as durable as a vinyl stencil might be (ie: etching cream probably could have eaten through it in a few minutes) we just kept an eye on the backside of the stencil through the glass and washed the cream off & immediately removed the tape when we noticed that the edges weren’t looking as crisp as they had in the beginning of the cream-application phase (since the etching cream was probably starting to break down the tape at that point). Amazingly, it turned out really well. Especially given our what-are-we-doing method of trial and error. Now we’ve got the perfect little spot to collect our “thanks” this month.

See, the plan is to each write something that we’re thankful for on these small colorful cards that Sherry cut out of scrapbooking paper from Michael’s (for 50 cents a pop, we got three autumn-esque sheets). Even though we’re starting a bit late, our goal is to write one per day all month long so by November 30th we’ll have accumulated sixty notes of gratitude (we already wrote extras to make up for the lost time). Oh and we have a no peeking policy so we won’t know what each other has written until the end of the month. That should be a fun little family reveal.

We’re also thinking at the end of the month we’ll punch holes in the cards so we can store the collection on a ribbon or a binder ring. That way when we break out our “thanks jar” next year we can relive all of the things that we were grateful for in 2010 and create another collection of things we’re thankful for that year. Who knows, it could become a great little family tradition with Clara and future kiddo(s) adding their thanks to the pile when they’re older. And we love that we’ll have a yearly account of everything that we’re grateful for. Kind of like a diary, but less high maintenance since we only have to scribble one small thing down each day for a month.

Do you guys have any fun Thanksgiving traditions? Any glass etching stories of success or horror? An acute attraction to printed scrapbooking paper like my wife? She can’t be the only one who geeks out in the paper aisle.

Psst- Big deal. Clara’s turning six months old and we’re about to start solids. Ahhh! Check out our roundup of cute kid plates, bowls, bibs, and placemats over on Babycenter, and feel free to chime in with starting-solids advice.


  1. Katie says

    I absolutely love this idea! Are you sharing your gratitudes with each other when you put them in, or will they be a surprise when you empty the jar later?

    Random question alert: When you decided the blog was big enough for one person to work on it full-time, how did you decide it would be Sherry?

    • says

      Hey Katie,

      We are trying to keep the gratitudes secret until the end of the month when we empty it – though we have to admit we’ve spotted a few of them already when taking the photos for this post. Oops!

      Oh, and to your other question. Sherry became the blog’s first full-time employee because she was already working from home as a freelance copywriter, so it was a natural transition for her to phase out some of her client work and focus more time on the blog, rather than me having to quit my office job cold turkey.


  2. Patti says

    Can I just say I love you guys? I’m grateful for you!
    On Thanksgiving we go around the table and everyone says what they’re thankful for…always lots of laughs and sometimes a few tears. Oh and yes, I’m a stationary/paper geek! My favorite store is Papyrus.

  3. Brigid says

    I totally agree about the HP printer commercial – I think of Clara every time I see it! Too funny. It’s definitely the expressions :)

    I can’t wait to try this etching cream – this is a good way to make personalized gifts for the holidays/birthdays too!

  4. Elizabeth says

    I didn’t know glass etching could be so easy! Thanks for sharing.

    Oh, and I must say that I cracked up when I read the “a-hole” line. I’m such a kid at heart. :)

  5. Shaye says

    I love the jar idea. Several years ago, I bought clear glass Christmas ornaments for my nieces and nephews and personalized them using contact paper and the glass etching stuff. The kids loved them, and it was cheap! The contact paper held up really well, and was still pretty easy to exacto–just FYI.

  6. Melody says

    very cute idea!

    Baby feeding advice…make your own! I have done it with both of my boys and will with my 3rd as well. It is so easy and SO much cheaper! I make my own until they are ready for 3rd foods and I usually buy those. This is the kit I bought when my first child was born…great buy!

    you really only need the cookbook and trays though..

  7. says

    Eddie Ross had a tutorial for etching a mirror (with a silhouette!) ages ago and I’ve been wanting to try it. I think he did use vinyl for his cut-out so that might help with the bleeding next time you tackle this. And the sentiment of a jar full of gratitude is so sweet.

    • says

      Hey Jillian,

      Oh yes, any surface that you think you could remove the tape from without ripping the tape or having it stick permanently to it should work. So even a plastic stray or melamine plate should work (with cardboard just be careful it doesn’t stick to the tape instead of cleanly peeling off).


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