DIY Remembering Summer Mason Jars

Every summer my family takes a week long vacation to Mt. Desert Island, Maine. Summer is my absolute favorite season of the year, and spending time at Mount Desert Island is a highlight. It truly is a place of wonder and natural beauty.  I’ve been vacationing here since I was a teenager and I still have not come close to hiking every trail, seeing every body of water, or exploring everything there is to see. Bringing my own children here now that I am a parent myself has made Mt. Desert Island even more special.

One of our favorite things to do while we are on vacation is to collect things.

I love collecting Christmas ornaments and interesting handmade items created by local artists.  I tend to be drawn to wood, stone and glass. My children however, are collectors of little objects of nature…such as shells, rocks, pieces of wood and leaves. When I say they are collectors, I really mean they are hoarders (insert winky face).  I swear that my kids collect their own weight in “found objects”! Before we head home at the end of vacation, we go through everything and wean the take-home down to a manageable size. Then they get packed up in a box (some always tend to make it into my daughters little carry bag without my knowing about it, she’s slick like that), and brought home where we then… forget about them. Why do I forget about our treasured family mementos? Until this year I’ve never known WHAT to do with them.

This year was different– I was inspired to create keepsake jars. Like most “from scratch” moms, I am a mason jar fanatic (you know you are too). I literally have boxes of them in my mudroom, just waiting to be used for food storage or some kind of creative use. They seemed like the perfect vessel to house a little piece of our vacation that we could gaze upon each day and reflect on our perfect summer memories.

Want to create your Remembering Summer Mason Jars? Let me show you how!

Remembering Summer Mason Jars

Items Needed:

  • Mason Jars (or another glass vessel) – I used a regular mouth, pint size mason jar. I also used a medium sized glass container which I bought at AC Moore, just to show the project in something other than a mason jar. You can really use anything you have on hand, although mason jars are the best! I love these mason jars for crafting, food storage, and other random things around the house. I always find a need for them, and they are affordable, too.
  • Collected mementos – such as rocks, sand dollars, shells, periwinkles, acorns and crab shells.
  • Decorative sand – I used Art Sand from the craft store, in colors chosen by my kids (I don’t trust regular beach sand to not have “things” in it, nor do I want to bring sand home with us from vacation). My daughter chose purple (they didn’t have pink), and my son chose a natural sand color. I found this 3 pound container of sand (6 different colors) for a great price online…free shipping, too!
  • Ribbon or tulle, for added color, or if you are planning to hang your jar (may be omitted if you will be placing the jar on a table or shelf and do not want ribbon visible). I found this motherload of great tulle online for a great price.
  • Blank sticker for marking the date or vacation info on the bottom of the jar).


1. Sort through the items that you and your kids have collected and discard any broken, unusable or unsafe items.

2. Wash and allow your mementos to dry.

3. Prepare your mason jars and make sure they are marked with the date / year / or vacation info on a sticker at the bottom of the jar.

4. Lay out your items and  split them into as many piles as you have containers (for us, this was two).

5. Carefully pour a layer of sand into your first jar, we put in about 2 – 3 inches so we’d really be able to see the color at the bottom of the jar. Hint: I find that by using a rolled up paper plate as a makeshift funnel, I am able to control the sand going in so it doesn’t stick so much to the sides.

6. Add your mementos, arranging them in a fashion that suits your tastes.

7. Tie the ribbon or tulle around the top of the jar for a decorative effect. If you are hanging the jar, you will need to tie a length of ribbon or tulle to opposite sides of the “neck” ribbon or tulle, then tie the ribbon around the neck of the mason jar.

8. Take a photo of your finished DIY masterpiece! There will be a point where you will dismantle it, but you can add the photo to your scrapbook or photo album to have it for all time.

9. Place your DIY Remembering Summer Mason Jar where everyone will be able to enjoy it in the house. You will be brought back to where you were when the items were collected every time you look at them!

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