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. Samantha VanArnhem says

    I’m a long time follower/first time commenter but after having to think on my feet for an explanation to give my four year old during my laughing fit after reading the “not saving the a-hole” comment I figured why not start now!

    Seriously, we are very close to putting our house on the market so I’m anxiously awaiting all of your tips and tricks to get this baby sold!

    And I love the tip to use tape for this project – never would have thought of it!

  2. kelly says

    that is so cute, what a great way to start family traditions!!
    i am also a scrapbook paper fanatic. basic grey being my favorite line. i don’t scrapbook but find all kinds of uses for the paper!!

  3. says

    Love the etched jar–I’ve been wanting to try etching for ages now!

    I am doing a “25 days of the little things” challenge, where I write down one little thing that makes me happy each day until Thanksgiving. I, too, am storing them in a glass jar (though mine is just a plain canning jar with paper covering the top). Love it!

    • says

      Hey Cadie,

      We’re guessing you might be able to get sheets of vinyl or already-made vinyl stencils at the craft store (like Michael’s) but you could also use contact paper to cut your own out (as other people have mentioned here in the comments). Good luck!


  4. says

    That turned out really cute! Instead of tape, you guys might want to try vinyl contact paper next time. That’s what I use, and it holds up well. Thanks for the tip about taping your template on TOP of the stencil to cut it. That’ll make my next project a breeze.

  5. Angie K says

    What a really great idea! I never thought of using tape for something like this, it’s almost a ‘duh’ moment! I have an etching project I’ve been putting off…I think I might get to it!

    Also love the idea of a time-capsule’eque thank you jar. I think I’m stealing this one, my kids are going to love it! :)


  6. says

    Starting solids advice…check out for some inspiration! We just did mushable things like avocado, banana, and roasted sweet potato…we’ve now graduated to chicken in tiny pieces (nine months still no teeth)
    And of course, I love the Thanks jar and was considering implementing something along those lines myself.

  7. Leslie Ann says

    Hello, I live in Richmond VA as well. I have been meaning to purchase some etching cream, and I was wondering where you found your 50% off coupon.

    • says

      Hey Leslie Ann,

      We always get a 50% off coupon at the register when we buy something that’s usually good for buying one item the following week. So whenever we’re there getting something crafty we always are sure to save the coupon and go back for something else we’ve been wanting that’s half-price (in this case it was etching cream). Hope it helps!


  8. jbhat says

    I think this is a sweet new tradition to start for your family, and I like that you had no qualms about letting go of the a-hole. Would that all of life’s a-holes were that easy to get rid of.