Gifting from the Kitchen in Style {the QECH way}: Tricked Out Canisters

Homebaked goodies are a delicious frugal gift this time of year (that everyone loves, even if they groan at the thought of one more sweet treat), but there’s always the dilemma of how to present them. You saved all that money by making the gifts yourself, only to go and spend a fortune on the packaging? Doesn’t make sense, does it? That’s why I’ve learned to put together some pretty creative – and even elegant – packaging without spending a dime. I just scrounge around my house and come up with junk that does a decent job of containing my kitchen creations, and then dress it up a bit for the occasion.

It looks a lot better than it sounds, I promise.

Last week, I showed you how to make a cute little muffin (or truffle) holder using a humble egg carton. This week, we’re going to take a plain old can to new heights of fashion it never even dreamed existed.

And it doesn’t matter what kind of can. Ideally, it should be large enough to hold approximately a dozen cookies (although vegetable cans would make cute little mini-gifts, too), so we’re thinking more along the lines of a canister. For example:

  • coffee tin
  • oatmeal container
  • formula can
  • large can of pumpkin puree
It can be metal or cardboard, doesn’t really matter. Just so long as it’s cylindrical, hollow, and capable of containing cookies, it will work.
Here’s how you turn it into a rock star:
First, clean the container. Nobody wants your coffee grinds in their Christmas cookies. Sometimes a simple rinse will suffice, especially if it’s a more fragile cardboard container. As long as there’s no residual dust or goo from the original contents, then you’re good to go.
If it has a wrapper, peel it off. It will just get in the way.

my naked can

Grab some kind of decorative paper, like:
Here’s the trickiest part of the whole thing, so pay attention:
You will need to cut your paper to fit your canister. I used scrapbook paper this time, so that’s what we’re going with in this example (but I’m sure you can figure out how to adjust these instructions to any kind of paper you choose to use!).
First, measure the height of the can, then mark that measurement on the back of your decorative paper.
Use a ruler to help you draw a straight edge the length of the paper, using this measurement as your guide. Cut the strip of paper.
Glue each end of the strip of paper and press it firmly onto the canister, wrapping it around as tightly as you can, and smoothing out any wrinkles as you go. My piece of scrapbook paper didn’t quite fit around the circumference of the canister, as you can see.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, you have several options:
  • Make a focal point out of the blank space by using some complementary paper to fill it in. You can even write a greeting here or use it as a gift tag, or use it as a backdrop for a  big dramatic bow.
  • Cut another strip of the same paper and glue it over the gap for a more seamless look.
  • Find a larger piece of paper that will fit all the way around.
I went with option #1, as you can see. If you want to do the same, here’s how:
Measure the space, adding about 1/2″ on either side, and cut out your piece of complementary paper. Glue it on, smoothing out wrinkles as you do. You may need to clip it on with some clothespins to hold it in place until the glue dries. You can leave it at this, and simply tie a big bow around the canister, and centering it here. Or you can add some embellishments if you have a lot of scrapbooking materials. I took yet another piece of complementary scrapbook paper and centered a square of it on this patch. I wrote “Merry Christmas” on it to add some festive flair.
Here’s what it looks like with a bow. I think it doesn’t even need the Merry Christmas label, but it’s too late now.
On to the last bit now. If your container has a lid, you will want to decorate it, too. This part’s a little bit tricky, too, because you’ll want to cut out a circle that fits inside the rim of the lid. Trust me, it won’t work to try and glue a circle that goes all the way to the edge. The best way that I found to do this is to set the lid upside down on a surface, and place the paper (decorative side down) on top of it. Feeling the inner edge with your fingers, trace your pencil around it. Cut out this circle, then glue it (decorative side up, naturally) on to the top of the lid.

Yes, I know, I should have chosen papers that complemented the lid color!

If you don’t have a lid, or don’t want to deal with the lid, no worries! The solution is quite simple. Simply poke a hole on either side of the canister, about an inch down from the top. Make sure the holes are lined up halfway through the diameter of the can, so it won’t wobble when you’re done. If you have a metal can, you will need to use a hammer and a sharp nail to make the holes, but if your can is cardboard, any sharp object will do the trick. (Just be careful, I dont’ want you to poke your eye out!) Once you have your evenly spaced holes, thread some ribbon through them and tie a bow to form a handle. Cover your treats with tissue paper or a tea towel.


This is a pretty QUICK project, too (unless you have to dig out all the papers from their hiding spot like I did).
It’s also very EASY, and very forgiving. Pretty paper covers a multitude of errors!
Very CHEAP, almost free (especially if you use clearance scrapbook paper!).
HEALTHY all depends on what you put inside it!


  1. So creative, Anne! I love it. :) I always forget to save my containers and just recycle them. I’m a mega purger, haha!

  2. My mama has done this my whole life. :-) I was raised by a frugal mother…..she rocks.
    And your bow rocks too. Why can’t I tie bows like that? I’m a bow reject.
    Stacy Makes Cents recently posted..Chocolate Granola Cookies

  3. This is one of my favorite posts of yours! The is such a great idea! No need to buy tins! I may have to start saving my canisters! Your pics look SO professional!! I am pinning this! And…you know where I think you need to submit this little diy project…it’s a winner for sure!
    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker recently posted..DIY Unique Christmas Gifts: Homemade Alphabet Photography Art (at Homemaker’s Challenge)

  4. This is a great idea! My sis-in-law did this one year, but I’ve never taken the time to try it myself. Thanks for the guide!
    Christy, The Simple Homemaker recently posted..Balancing Novel Writing and Homeschooling, Plus a Kindle Giveaway

  5. Cute idea! Have something similar coming soon! Didn’t think about using coffee or oatmeal tins. I have used coffee cans for love buckets we made for valentines day last year!
    Rachel @ day2day joys recently posted..A little bit of Sweet, a little bit of Spice: Gingerbread Recipes

  6. Ok this is really great. I struggle with creative ideas so I rely heavily on others to influence me. Thanks for the idea! And like Stacy said, I am not that great at bows….will have to practice!
    Nikki @ Christian Mommy Blogger recently posted..Comment on A Handmade Christmas: Handprint Christmas Wreath by Nikki


  1. […] brownies, snack mix, or whatever your specialty is, package them attractively and affordably (try these gorgeous upcycled gift canisters), and distribute to everyone on your list. If you make it a tradition, you don’t have to rethink […]

  2. […] but you can dress-up your old containers. This past Christmas, I had a lot of fun transforming old formula canisters and even egg containers into lovely gift-giving receptacles. Use them any time of the year with […]

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