The Making of a Happy Jar

You are probably no stranger to this idea. I have a tendency to be three steps behind the current trends, but last year when researching décor ideas for my wedding, I came across images of the happy jar. This is a crafty project inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love, & Big Magic among others). The idea is to repurpose a jar and fill it with slips of paper on which you write thoughts of things that make you happy.

Around the New Year I was inspired to make a happy jar for someone close to me. This past year has been one of her most difficult, and she still faces daily struggles, often wondering at times why she should even get out of bed.

Many of us have experienced situations in which a loved one was lost and suffering, and it hurts to see them this way and to know we are limited in the ways we can help. Making the happy jar was a small thing I could do that might help her, especially in the moments when all she sees is the dark side of things. The happy jar would be there full of memories, laughs, and reminders of why life is worth living.

I am not a crafty person, but this was very simple. Here is what I did to make my happy jar:

1) I browsed images online to find visual inspiration and ideas.

2) Once I had my plan, I made my supply list and went shopping at Michael’s and Target. I got decorative paper, stickers, twine, a small paper cutter, and a glass jar (since I didn’t have a spare jar to repurpose).

3) I cut the decorative paper into 2×4 sections and then folded them in half to make square note cards. This process was tedious, but there was also something quite Zen in the repetition.


4) I did not want to give an empty jar, so I thought of happy things specific to the person for whom I was making it.

This was the best part. I thought about her travels, favorite foods, memories she has shared with me, and movies she loves to quote. It was like pulling together pieces of a puzzle that together created a picture of someone unique, complex, and amazing.

5) Before adding them to the jar, I folded the cards twice. This makes the paper patterns more visible and the jar more aesthetically pleasing. It also prevents people from seeing what is written on the note cards by just looking in the jar, allowing for more privacy. I tied up the remaining cards in stacks with twine.

6) The last step was adding sticky letters to the outside of the jar. I chose white so as not to distract from the colorful paper inside the jar.


It is a simple project that serves a greater purpose and helps us to remember that there are so many wonderful things in this life and helps others remember this as well.



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