lessons in adventure, aimlessness and alchemy

DIY Gift: Jar of Inspiration and Whimsy

A few weeks ago, I was feeling particularly overwhelmed by the standard slew of deadlines, writer’s block, family drama, health concerns and a seemingly un-ending parade of inconvenient trivialities.

I was overwhelmed. Completely.

And then my boyfriend came to the rescue with this winning piece of wisdom: “you have to be more like an American Gladiator in the human cannonball with all this shit.”

(Insider info: my boyfriend likes to employ outdated pop culture references in everyday conversation.)

Umm, what the f are you talking about?!

(More insider info: I usually have no idea what the hell he is talking about.)

Frustrated at my “huge” knowledge gap, he navigated to YouTube to put the issue to rest.

For those of you who share my naivety, THIS is what he was talking about:

According to my boyfriend, all of these little things were causing me to lose my balance and fall.

“You can’t let the little stuff build up and catch you off guard. You’re fierce. Only a direct hit can knock you off the mount.”

Now I don’t think he’s going to be penning a self-help book anytime soon but it was actually good advice (albeit strangely delivered.)

Unfortunately, just a few days later, a direct-hit came in the form of an email: My amazing Aunt had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer.

An overly muscled man with long, glowing locks in a unitard might as well have swung from a rope and kicked me in the chest.

I felt pretty helpless and pretty depressed.

So what do I do when big, bad reality gains the upper hand?

Why I DIY and craft the shit out of it, of course.

Starting with a fierce gift for my Aunt.

Here’s a tutorial for my Jar of Inspiration and Whimsy.

This DIY gift requires the crafting skills of a kindergartner but it is always a huge hit with recipients and a ton of fun to make.

Bonus: you probably already have most of the supplies you need.


Decorative Jar

Rubber Bands





1. Find A Jar. I think choosing the jar is my favorite part of the whole process. The options are expansive and eclectic. Michaels Arts and Crafts sells new Mason Jars for super cheap and this is definitely a great and convenient option. However, I have a bit of an obsession with objects that have stories—I wanted an antique jar or at least something sort-of/kind-of used. I checked out a couple thrift shops and a few antique stores and ultimately fell in love with a collection of candy jars from the 30s-40s (or so read the tag.)


2.  Choose your paper color scheme. After taking my jars home, I pulled out a bunch of paper in varying colors and tried to pick out a color scheme. My Aunt is pretty earthy so I avoided the brighter papers and settled on a simple palette: muted green and ivory cream.


3. Cut your paper into strips. If you’re a perfectionist, you could use a paper cutter to get uniform strips but I am NOT a perfectionist. I like having the strips range slightly in length and width and I think straight-ish is good enough. So with my scissors, I started hacking up the paper and created my message strips. (PS Is there anything better than the sound of scissors roughly cutting through thick paper. Aww the little things.)


4. Determine what to write for your messages. From there, it was a matter of choosing what to write which is entirely based on the persuasions of the maker, the occasion and the recipient.


-Good Memories

-Qualities you admire about your recipient

-Daily challenges (ex./ read a chapter of a book, write a love letter, pay a compliment to a stranger, complete a sun salutation as the sun is setting.)

-Writing/Journaling Prompts


The options are endless which makes this a great gift for anybody. It’s all about tailoring your messages so they’re the most personal.

5. Write your messages on the strips. For this particular jar, I relied almost exclusively on funny/inspiring/clever/reflective quotes… So I set to writing my chosen quotations, strip by strip. I played around with the typography: some messages were in cursive and others were boxy—obviously you can do uniform handwriting but I wanted a little something eclectic.


6. Curl the message strips. Once you are done writing, it’s time to start curling your messages. Using a pen (or pencil) wrap each strip around individually.



7. Secure the message strips. Slide the strip off the pen or pencil so it remains curled tightly between your fingers. Use a rubber-band to secure the strip and ensure it doesn’t unravel.


8. Repeat steps 6 & 7 until all your strips are curled and secured with rubber bands.

9. Leave the message strips banded for 12 hours. This will allow enough time for the structural integrity of the paper to change so that it will stay curled permanently.


10. Remove the rubber bands from the message strips. Expect them to open up a little bit.


11. Put all curled message strips into your jar.

12. Decorate your jar. I used a burgundy tag, my label-maker and some twine to keep it simple but there are endless possibilities. I’ve also played with glass paint and stencils when I’ve used new jars to make it more interesting.



3 Responses to “DIY Gift: Jar of Inspiration and Whimsy”

  1. jacqui inglis

    Thank you for a lovely, thoughtful and completely “do-able’ gift for someone like me who likes to be “crafty,” but doesn’t usually excel at it. I don’t even have to post my sesult on a pintrest page of craft fails 🙂
    With Gratitude,


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