Reuse baby food jars: Tea light candle holders

This project has been in the making for quite a while now in our household.  I have been saving up Little One's food jars. (Although, we did break a few jars while we were 'saving' them.) These little jars are quite sturdy and oh so cute, I have a hard time throwing them away, even if it is in the recycle bin. With the last batch of saved up jars we made these photo glitter globes. (Link Here). Now that we had enough to come up with a new project, I wanted to make something holiday themed as well as colorful. 

So, we painted the jars and made them into tea-light candle holders/lanterns. Of course, they make decent votives, without doing anything to them. But a splash of color never hurt anybody, right?

 I did experiment with a few different paints and textures before settling down on my perfect formula (which ended up to be the cheapest one too...). Grab some plain old white glue (yes! you read that right...white glue) and some of your kids' paints (I used crayola) and get ready to paint those little jars!

First, remove all stickers from the glass jar. You might be left with little bit of glue residue. You can use a remover like Goo Gone. I scrubbed the jar thoroughly with dish soap and slightly scraped the glue with a knife. That works too.

Now for the paint prep. I first tried paint made exclusively for glass. I had 2 problems with glass paint.

1.  If you want an even coat of paint, like a tint on your glass, the best way to do it is to pour the paint inside the glass and turn the jar around so that the paint spreads evenly. I did not want to do this because I was going to use my jar as a candle votive and did not want the painted surface and the candle flame to be on the same side.

2. When I painted on the outside of the jar, I had to use a brush and that left visible brush strokes and I was not a big fan of that look.

Acrylic or oil paints don't paint on glass unless you coat it with a primer and there goes the translucence of the jar.

So I mixed up some plain old white glue and inexpensive kids' paint. You may also use Mod Podge. Of course, Mod Podge provides a stronger bond. But here's why I did not use Mod Podge:

1. It is slightly more expensive that Elmer's glue.
2. Both Mod Podge and Elmer's aren't water proof. So I was going to clear coat the jars  no matter what glue I used, so it didn't matter what glue I used.
3. Mod Podge was out of stock in the house!

So, pour some glue into a paint cup and add some color. I used the kids' crayola colors. Blend the mixture well and let it sit for about a minute. If you start painting right away and 
not let the mixture sit, it is going to drip and will leave drip marks on your jar.

Paint the sides and neck of the jars first.

Let it rest upside down on a paint proof surface. then paint the bottom of the jar. 

Let it dry. The glossy coating of paint and glue will turn into a matte tint on your jar as it dries. You can stop with just one coat or go for another coat once this dries. The second coat will make your jar a little more opaque. (I did 2 coatings)

This is what happens if you paint right away after mixing and don't let the glue-paint mixture sit for a minute.

Now, you may or may not want to coat the jars with a clear coat depending upon your usage. Even if you had used Mod Podge Outdoor, it is water resistant, not water proof. 

So to truly make it water proof and protect the layers of paint from scratches or water splashes, I used a clear coat spray. Depending upon the kind of finish you are looking for, these are available in matte, satin and glossy finishes. 

REMEMBER, you do not want any of this to get on the inside of the jar. So, place the jar upside down in a well ventilated area and spray evenly.

Use them as you wish. Fill it up with water and use it as a small vase.

Or paint them orange and make a Jack-o'-lantern. I used a black sharpie to draw the features.

Or, place a tea-light candle inside and light it up with a long stemmed lighter.

Finally, I decided to use some craft wire and add handles to the jars to give them a lantern look.

I wasn't quite able to capture the finish in the pictures...but the tinted glass with a matte finish looks REALLY good!


  1. Those tea light candle holders are adorable and look like so much fun to make! I want to make some too! Thanks for the easy steps and directions on how you made yours! I love you blog and all the crafty ideas you have on here!

    Jessie |

  2. That looks like so much fun! My wife would definitely enjoy doing some of these as a projects. We can always afford to expand our candle lantern collection! I may have to try this out this weekend. Thiago |

  3. painted the jars and made them into tea-light candle holders/lanterns. Of course, they make decent votives, without doing anything to them. But a splash ...

  4. These candle lanterns would be a really fun project for my preschool class this fall. We are currently looking for ideas for crafts for Halloween. I think this would be really fun for the kids especially seeing them glow, they would really love it.

  5. he last batch of saved up jars we made these photo glitter globes. ...

  6. That is a super cool idea to pain baby food jars like that and make them candles. I appreciate that you have supplied "how to" instructions. I am not sure I would have thought to paint the jars with Acrylic paint as you suggest doing.

  7. That is a fun use of a baby food container. I love tea lights. They are a fun way to decorate for sure. I'll have to remember this when I have a baby. I can put all those containers to good use.

  8. I am delighted to come to such a wonderful blog. I am really very impressed to read from top to bottom. I read every single line and understand the essence of every single word. I appreciate all efforts.
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