The Art of the Gift

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The Art of the Gift 


The art of the homemade gift is fading. I remember as a kid making many of the gifts I gave.  In fact, my first tween girlfriend, Julie Lowry,  was the recipient of my basement made agate necklace.  With the help of my crafty neighbor Christopher’s rock tumbler, I fashioned a large polished stone from the corn field onto a cheap silver chain and presented it to her at the Skatin’ Place on a wintery Saturday night in 1976. She loved it, and gave me my first kiss stained with orange Bonnie Bell Lip Smacker.   It makes me sad that the tradition of making home spun gifts is dying.  Yet, I remain hopeful! If you think about it, the art of cooking and baking is one of the last vestiges of the self-made offering.

What I love about my cupcake in a jar, is it that it makes the cupcake more presentational and glam.  Simply take your favorite cake batter (mine is hands down my Chocolate Zucchini Yogurt cake) and fill your mason jar a little over ½, set on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 until complete (about 20-25 minutes). You don’t need a water bath for this I promise.  Allow the cupcakes to fully cool.  Decorate with frosting, candies, sprinkles or shaved chocolate…whatever floats your boat.  Attach your lid and tie a string around the top with an eating utensil and BAM!  You have a killer gift made with heart.  When I serve this for dessert, everyone makes happy sounds when presented with this on the table.  It’s a childhood smile in a jar!

Frosting Cupcakes in Jars

Frosting Cupcakes in Jars

Cupcakes in jars

Cupcakes in jars





  • November 20, 2013 - 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Yummy…. I think I’ll make these for Christmas. :-)

  • Angela
    November 20, 2013 - 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Love this idea Coop. I make home made bits and bites for my work mates every year. I put them in Mason jars with Christmas material wrapped around the lid and tied with a bow.
    I know when I get a hand made gift it is so much more meaningful to my heart <3

  • Sue Williams
    November 20, 2013 - 3:17 pm | Permalink

    My relatives love handmade items. I try to pick things that unique to the person

  • mel stowe
    November 20, 2013 - 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I have always loved the cupcake in a jar. The first time I saw them was when you had them at Ohio Country Living fair. My faves.

    • November 20, 2013 - 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Mel, so glad you love them. I think they just are happy little desserts!

  • Annie
    November 20, 2013 - 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I think I’m going to make these with my pumpkin cheesecake cupcakes that I “invented”! They will look so cute for Thanksgiving!

  • Tam
    November 20, 2013 - 3:21 pm | Permalink

    This is a great gift idea!! I think I’ll do some of these this year!! I make scarves and the people that receive them always seem to appreciate that they got something handmade.

  • Betty Ann aka BA
    November 20, 2013 - 3:24 pm | Permalink

    These are on the menu for next sisters and nieces “meeting”!
    And, they will make for some awesome hostess gifts for the holiday! Thanks, Cooper!

  • Judy Schoonover
    November 20, 2013 - 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Funny you should write about this. The girls decided when they were here in the summer this Christmas would be hand made gifts all around….all of them have been crafting and giving things away for years. Me, I am not crafty but you do know how I love to bake so that has been my offerings…and I sooooo agree, something put together with love beats anything you can buy in a store. You give of your heart….I have never made cakes in a jar but i do make chocolate cake in a mug in the microwave and serve it hot…pretty yummy, too

    • November 20, 2013 - 4:07 pm | Permalink

      I just dumped my microwave out…never again. Oven baking is bettah!


  • Pat
    November 20, 2013 - 3:57 pm | Permalink

    They say the way to a man’s ♥, is through his tummy? But, I have my own theory on that one!
    Perhaps I should try cupcakes and see what happens? Happy sounds all around! (smile)
    Ho, ho, ho….!

  • Susan
    November 20, 2013 - 4:24 pm | Permalink

    These look great, Cooper! I have always loved handmade gifts – both giving and receiving. I know some cupcake lovers who will be thrilled to have these over the holidays! Thanks for sharing!

  • Heidi B
    November 20, 2013 - 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Cooper’s Cheesy Balls are going to be served at our Thanksgiving dinner this year! So excited to introduce them to my family.
    Thank you Cooper for sharing this great recipe!

  • November 20, 2013 - 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I agree whole heartedly – home made gifts ate THE best. And baked goods at the top of the list!! ~ Dori ~

  • November 20, 2013 - 5:05 pm | Permalink

    I love these cupcakes in a jar! Will try for sure!
    I just happen to be on a mason jar kick these days. I plan on etching a set of 4 for my mom and dad for Chanukaah. I am a HUGE make it myself gifter. It’s what EVERYONE expects from me and they are disappointed if I don’t come up with something new,, specially for them each year. Sometimes my brain hurts! ; )

  • Debbie W
    November 20, 2013 - 5:28 pm | Permalink

    We were just talking about handmade gifts the other day. In lieu of that, we’re helping some school kids make their teachers gifts – remember pine cones smeared in peanut butter and then rolled in bird seed for our feathered friends? We’re going to make them fancy and put them in crinkly cellophane bags with a little fake snow dusting tied up with burlap twine. Very cute and easy and a gift anyone would love.

  • November 20, 2013 - 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I looove doing this, trying to think up something new every year. This year my bay leaf tree is finally going gangbusters so I found pretty little jars and filled them with my home-grown bay leaves and tied ribbons on it. I am an artist so I made labels for them too. Last year I found REALLY pretty glass jars with corks, so I put a big hot red pepper inside each, filled with vodka, and sealed with red melted cheese wax. Red ribbon of course, then a label that said, “Fire Shots 2012.” They rocked the party. :)

  • Amanda Keeton
    November 20, 2013 - 5:43 pm | Permalink

    I love the concept of giving a homemade gift- you’re giving that individual your time, energy, and love all wrapped up into one pretty, yummy package. I’ll have to test this out first (my baking fails are legendary!), but hope to be able to share this with my loved ones this year!

  • Donna
    November 20, 2013 - 5:57 pm | Permalink

    This is so true. I have memories of orange lip smackers. This was my fav, my mom kept me in stock of this flavor. Anyway. Thanks cooper.

  • November 20, 2013 - 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing the adorable story! I remember rock tumblers and Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers! Oh, and my first kiss :) I agree, homemade gifts are the best and who wouldn’t want a childhood smile in a jar!? Sincerely, Nancy Ann

  • November 20, 2013 - 6:34 pm | Permalink

    I make homemade syrups and give them as gifts in lovely, funky bottles I find here and there. My fav is Gingerale: syrup to taste
    add soda water and ice, lemon slice (vodka?)
    3 cups raw sugar
    6 cups water
    1/2 cup peeled sliced fresh ginger root
    1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
    1/2 tsp. nut meg
    bring all to rolling boil
    reduce to simmer and let it simmer a few hours
    (makes the place smell like grandma’s)
    cool, strain into bottle(s)
    let ginger pieces cool overnight and enjoy candied ginger pieces

  • Paula Biggs
    November 20, 2013 - 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Loved the cupcake in a jar! Mitzie won one a few years ago in Columbus! We always made gifts as kids.. When I first got married we didn’t have a lot of funds, so I baked all different types of breads for everyone. Pumpkin, Banana nut, cherry almond, apricot pecan etc. Everyone loved it! I even tackled a fruitcake for my Dad!

  • abby
    November 20, 2013 - 7:07 pm | Permalink

    love the cupcake idea! I grew up with my mom baking so many different things for gifts for the holidays. I love baking this time of the year and that gives me the chance to give gifts to so many more people than I would if I had to go out and buy gifts. I myself love getting baked goods as gift!

  • Kathy Kahn
    November 20, 2013 - 7:18 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely love to give and receive home made gifts for Christmas or anytime!!! When my kids were little we would work on projects (Christmas center pieces made from a Birch tree log, slipper socks, ornaments for the tree) and sometimes we would bake cookies for days, so that the kids had presents to give to family members. They were so proud!! I have carried on the tradition with my Grandchildren. This year we are making wreaths and picture frames. I love the cupcake in the jar idea!!! What a special tasty treat!!!!!

  • Heidi Semder
    November 20, 2013 - 7:39 pm | Permalink

    A Dr Pepper Bonnie Bell Lip gloss cupcake. Oh my, does that lipgloss bring back memories. I am making these for sure.What wonderful creative ideas you have! Thanks Coop! Here’s a Dr Pepper smack for ya!♥

  • Vicki Mcgahee
    November 20, 2013 - 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Excellent recipe and gift! Def going to try these! Thanks!

  • David DeVito
    November 20, 2013 - 8:39 pm | Permalink

    What a great idea! No mess either. These will be going to a few dinner parties with me this holiday season… throughout the year!

  • beni barfield
    November 20, 2013 - 8:47 pm | Permalink

    I love the cup cake in a jar.

  • Lu Ann
    November 20, 2013 - 9:20 pm | Permalink

    This is a memorable way to serve a cupcake, and your blog takes me back to when I was a child in the 70s, when the words “all skaters, change directions” was a common phrase I heard on a Saturday night at the Saints West Roller Rink. And you just know I was wearing my Strawberry Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers, and my hair was freshly washed with Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific shampoo. My Mom made a lot of lemon meringue pie and strawberry shortcake back then. Maybe I should try making some lemon meringue or strawberry shortcake in a jar at my next holiday party.

  • Meri
    November 20, 2013 - 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Great gift idea…you had me at mason jar! How can you go wrong with that? Homemade gifts are the best…made with love and care. Thanks, Coop!

  • AnneMarie Fendler-Horsley
    November 20, 2013 - 9:58 pm | Permalink

    While I strongly promote handmade Christmas gifts, or gifts purchased a local crafts fairs…..I also promote the same kind of gifts for Birthdays, Anniversaries, Weddings or ANY occasion that you truely want to touch the heart of anyone near and dear to you.
    Last July I asked a friend if I could “repurpose” the gift she had made me, a most big and beautiful Ruby colored beaded necklace that I would NEVER beable to pull off. I explained to her about my friend Kelly and how PERFECT it would be for her. (1) She so apprieciated that I asked. (2) She was touched that HER talants were going to be “played” foreward. Yeah…Win/Win!
    Kelly loves ALL things old, I had a green glass mason with a hinged glass lid, lined it with pretty parchment stating a sentiment and tucked in the necklace.
    She understood the history of the necklace (I’m too honest sometimes) I got the BEST hug of anyone that day!

  • Jeanmarie
    November 20, 2013 - 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Repurposing of a mans shirt into an adorable apron is a lovely idea for a hommade gift!

  • Marty
    November 21, 2013 - 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Love it Cooper. And my daughter was quick on the draw, at your show at Stone Mountain, when you had a few give-aways. That was 2 years ago. You some very awesome dishes and treats! May your Holidays be the best Ever!

  • November 22, 2013 - 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE handmade gifts, and like to give them when I can. You’re right, it is a dying art. I would love to try these cupcakes!! Sadly, though, many people don’t appreciate a handmade gift. I have a few handmade gifts I’ve made on my blog!

  • christina sullivan
    November 27, 2013 - 6:18 am | Permalink

    Love it all Cooper! :) (;

  • christina sullivan
    November 27, 2013 - 6:19 am | Permalink

    Love it all Cooper! :) (; music, food ect ect

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