adventures in modern, urban domesticity

DIY Holiday

I will be the first to admit that I’m not crazy about the holidays.  Sure, I enjoy a holiday gathering here and there and the lights all around Columbus Circle are pretty, but the imposed cheer can get to you – especially when it starts in early November.  My favorite thing about this time of year are the small gifts:  my colleague who makes and decorates beautiful gingerbread cookies each year, the lovely homemade candy that I wrote about in my last post, and the random and wonderful things my husband brings home from his work colleagues:  olive oil, clementines and even a fancy bottle of gin.

Between our colleagues, neighbors and teachers, there are a lot of people to remember this season and the challenge is to make something either beautiful or delicious .   Our go-to gifts are biscotti and truffles, but this year I decided to go in a different direction.  I love forcing bulbs in the winter, but since buying 50 amaryllis bulbs would exceed our budget, I decided to go with paperwhites – which are a nice reminder of spring in the middle of winter.  Paperwhite bulbs + mason jars + colorful stones = fun Saturday afternoon with our daughters.   For what child doesn’t love to put rocks in jars?

Because paperwhites don’t require chilling in order to bloom and can grow without soil, they are the perfect choice for a project like this.  Just fill the jar 3/4 full with stones, add the bulb, and secure with the jar-top:

Dress with raffia, greenery and instructions and voilà: Happy Holidays!

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52 Comments on “DIY Holiday

  1. Val
    December 24, 2011

    I love this idea, thanks for sharing

  2. Ari
    December 24, 2011

    Those tasty truffles were the perfect Christmas Eve breakfast.

    • Yoltzi
      December 25, 2011

      I prefer gin in a fancy bottle.

  3. Karyn
    December 28, 2011

    Gorgeous! Well done 🙂

  4. Miranda
    December 29, 2011

    We did this for our teachers this year but didn’t use the Mason jars. I like them better. You need something with the weight of a jar at the base because these bulbs grow tall and tend to tip over if not supported properly. Thanks!

  5. Erin
    November 24, 2012

    Love these!
    What size mason jars did you use?

    • domaphile
      November 24, 2012

      Hi Erin- I used 8 oz jelly jars. They are the perfect size for bulbs, because they fit in the mouth of the jar and when you screw the top rim on, it keeps the bulbs from falling out. Enjoy!

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  7. Dana
    November 30, 2012

    I’ve never forced bulbs before… so forgive this foolish question….. but…. how much water does the recipient add? Just enough to cover the pebbles? Or to the top of the jar?

    • domaphile
      November 30, 2012

      That is a great question, Dana! The water should just go up to the bottom of the bulb – not submerge it. Something I would include in the tag, if I do this one again. Happy Holidays!

      • Dana
        November 30, 2012

        Thanks for clarifyinng! I think I will put together some of these for our charity’s bazaar next week! 😀

  8. sherry
    December 1, 2012

    Just wondering if you use water? If so…how much in the jar? Thank you

    • domaphile
      December 1, 2012

      Hi Sherry- Just fill the water to the bottom of the bulb- a crucial piece of info I left out! Thanks for posting and happy holidays!

  9. kristina
    December 1, 2012

    Really love this idea, saw your link on Pinterest. These are perfect gifts for my daughters to make for their teachers. Thanks for posting!

  10. Julie
    December 1, 2012

    Do you know if you can do this with onions? I found 4 in the bottom of my bag, that had started sprouting.

    • domaphile
      December 1, 2012

      I’ve never tried it with onions, but I bet you could! An edible gift!

  11. Lana
    December 1, 2012

    Do the bulbs come with the plant already sprouted? Or do you soak them first? Thanks for the great idea.

    • domaphile
      December 1, 2012

      You don’t need to soak paperwhites, generally they will start to sprout when they get light and some water (although I am not a paperwhite expert, that has been my experience). Cheers!

      • Lana
        December 1, 2012

        Hi, thanks for the reply! They are sprouted in the photos and look much more attractive that way. I’m just wondering if you have to soak them to sprout them and then transfer them to the jars.

      • domaphile
        December 2, 2012

        My experience was that I ordered the bulbs and when they arrived only a few had sprouted. I then proceeded to procrastinate the project for awhile and by the time I got started a few weeks later, the bulbs had sprouted on their own. Not sure why, but I think they were triggered by the warmth of my apartment. Either way, no water was involved until the jars were given to their recipients.

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  13. Ivy
    December 18, 2012

    I won’t be holiday gift giving but these are really beautiful as gifts anytime when these bulbs are available,and when in bloom great for centerpiece when all gatherered in a mass.I am an in home floral designer and one of my clients in Pebble Beach only wants whites and greens ,year round,I’m always looking fior new fresh ideas so they don’t get sick of my florals:) so thanks!

    • domaphile
      December 19, 2012

      Thanks, Ivy! Your job sounds ideal! And I think green and white in the winter are lovely. Happy Holidays!

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  17. GardenGal
    January 21, 2013

    I discovered a fabulous way of growing paper whites so they don’t grow tall and lanky with a tendency to fall over. it’s using alcohol, which stunts the growth! The method doesn’t affect the flowers. After putting them in a bowl with pea gravel,or other stones and filling with water to the base of the bulb, you leave them this way for ones week. You may have to top up with water. Then you drain the water mix up one part gin to five parts of water. Now each time you have to top up the bowl you use the alcohol mixture. You can use other alcohol, even rubbing alcohol, but that ratio is one part to ten parts of water.. No wine or beer, because of the sugar. I had fabulous results with the bulbs flowering, and they were just the perfect size.

    • domaphile
      January 22, 2013

      This is genius! I love the idea of cocktail-sipping paper whites! Thanks for sharing!

    • domaphile
      January 22, 2013

      Hi GardenGal – This is so clever! I love the idea of my paper whites sipping cocktails while growing to just the perfect height. Thanks so much for sharing.

  18. kimberlee
    January 22, 2013

    I will do this with amaryllis and hyacinths! Thank you for the idea for what to do with my excess of jars. 🙂

  19. Marie
    January 22, 2013

    This is a great idea! But I’ve never grown paperwhites before (or bulbs), do you just leave them in the jar to grow? Do you have to eventually transplant them? Sorry for the silly questions 🙂

    • domaphile
      January 22, 2013

      Hi Marie – I didn’t transplant the bulbs, but I think if you did, they might grow again another year. My tulips in the garden come up every year, but I’m not sure about paper whites (I am a bit of a bulb novice… I just like putting things in jars). Cheers, Heather

      • Cathy
        February 22, 2013

        Hi Marie and domaphile,
        For some reason paperwhites don’t generally come back (so “they” say). They’re kind of a one-shot deal. If it were me, I would still give it a try. Clean off the bulbs, keep them cool and dry and plant in the fall. If it works, then great; if it doesn’t, then so sad. You’re not out anything and you may get more years from them. On the other hand, paperwhites are so cheap you may not want to go to all the trouble.
        Good luck,

  20. Mary Howe
    January 24, 2013

    This is so neat

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  23. Cathy
    February 22, 2013

    Hello again,
    This is such a clever idea! Well done!
    The lower right corner of the stones looks like Jelly Bellys. lol
    All the best,

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  27. judith
    December 8, 2013

    where can i order the papewhites and peebles ? I live in Miami
    Great proyect thanks 4 sharing

    • Cassie
      December 9, 2014

      We have been able to buy Paperwhite bulbs at Home Depot. If there are any “dollar stores” near you, they usually carry a nice sized bag of colorful pebbles for $1! Also colored, rolled glass in different colors.

  28. Stephanie Toups
    October 16, 2014

    Would this work with tulip bulbs?

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  30. Vicki
    November 7, 2014

    With the mason jar and paper white project, what are the instructions that should be added to the jar? Also, can you just buy these bulbs in the store, put them in the jar and they are good to go, without any type of prep work?
    Thank you!

    • Cassie
      December 9, 2014

      Home Depot here in North Idaho still has Paperwhite bulbs and they’re on sale four for $5. The stones actually give the roots something to hold onto, that’s the main reason for them I think. I currently have Paperwhites growing in a gallon glass jar and they are secured in the jar with little spikes, so no stones or soil involved. I purchased cylindrical glass vases at our local Dollar Store, as well as rocks to make some gifts for friends this Christmas. I put toothpicks around the bulb to hold it in place. Once watered they sprout roots very quickly.

      The instructions I will put on my “gift Paperwhites” will read: Just add water up to the bottom of the bulb, and keep it watered. Do not submerge complete bulb. Keep in a lighted area, but not in direct sunlight. Flowers should bloom in 5 – 6 weeks!

      Good luck!

  31. Karen
    November 15, 2014

    Any possibility of getting a sample of the ‘instructions’ to include? I have no idea……… Love this project but I couldn’t tell them ‘how’ to do it. Thanks.

  32. Donna
    November 16, 2014

    Can this be done with amaryllis ?

  33. Geri
    November 16, 2014

    Where do you get the plant? Have never heard of Paper Whites.

  34. Ashley
    November 19, 2014

    These are a great idea to jazz up a gift card for teachers. I live in Florida, what other type bulbs would work & how do you order them?

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This entry was posted on December 24, 2011 by in ART-CRAFT-DESIGN and tagged , , , .


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