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. robin says

    i love this idea. it is such a perfect way to teach children (and adults) why thanksgiving is such a wonderful experience. also, as a former 1st grade teacher, i think it’s a fun way to sneak in some writing for young kids. i think i’m gonna “borrow” this idea for my 5 year old daughter.

    to add to melody’s advice about making your own food. i did the same, using the fresh baby cookbook but the trays aren’t necessary if you have extra breast milk bags. fill the bags with food and freeze flat – they take up less room in the freezer. i always had a surplus of those bags and a limited amount of cupboard space to store those trays.

  2. says

    This is such a cute idea! We etched glasses for a friend’s birthday gift once. I’ve been wanting to try it again and this may just be the project to get my booty in gear!

  3. Mandy says

    I use glass etching to make personalized Christmas gifts last year on the cheeeeap. I bought super inexpensive glass platters and mugs at WalMart and Old Tyme Pottery, then for families put a Christmas stencil on platter or kids their initial on a mug. They turned out really well. I used contact paper and exacto knife to make my own stencil and reused it, worked pretty well. After awhile though the glass etch gave me a headache (I did about 20 pieces total), so I would recommend using in well-ventilated area and not around kiddos.

  4. Christy Grubbs says

    Another way to ‘etch’ anything from stainless steel to glass is to use frosted spray paint. You can use a stencil and spray the ‘frost’ spray paint to get the same etched effect.

  5. Lili says

    Lol about the a-hole. Me and my husband are the same way… never fail to laugh at a dumb joke, or potty humor. On the subject, our kid came home with a joke collection they made at school, and we are still cracking up over this:

    What do you call a fish with no eyes?…..

    A fsh.


    (Sorry, lol, had to share it with someone).

  6. Dottie says

    LOVE glass etching! Made this glass for my Dad, last Christmas..maybe a set of Clara for the Grands? First pic is the one I used, made into shadows on photoshop and taped to the inside of the galss with contach paper outside. Second pic is finished project.!/photo.php?fbid=1265385788456&set=a.1018561057992.2003880.1044113127!/photo.php?fbid=1265386028462&set=a.1018561057992.2003880.1044113127&pid=30820573&id=1044113127

  7. Courtney says

    All the moms I know that were already on number two (or three!) advised us to skip the purees completely. Everyone has said their puree fed kiddos are SUPER picky eaters, and their table-food-from-the-start sibling (usually child #2, once the parents chill out a little) will eat absolutely anything. We did a little research, and after our pediatrician literally told us purees are a gimmick we were sold. So far we’re having great luck! Baby boy will eat everything, and now that he’s gotten the pincer grip down he is a one man show! Plus it’s soooo much easier and cheaper for baby to eat the same dinner as Mom and Dad (and gave us a great incentive to always eat healthy home-cooked meals!). Good luck!

  8. says

    Glass etching always amazes me–even more now that I’ve done it a few times myself–it’s such a classy, high-impact look.

    A few weeks ago, I sprayed my office doors for privacy (I wanted to be able to remove it, so I didn’t use permanent stuff). For the words, though, I went with a vinyl company that would use my font because I could not see cutting out around each letter that meticulously. I’m really impressed with the way you tackled this, and am filing your approach away for next time.

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