Ten Fantastic Fillers for Apothecary Jars

I really love apothecary jars. There is something so innocent – so refreshing – about an empty vessel just begging for a beautiful display. When I find apothecary jars at thrift stores for $3 or $4 each, I snap them up like crazy. You’ve probably seen me grab one in Goodwill and give a Tiger Woods fist pump because I’m so excited with my new score.

Because I know you love them as much as I do, I want to give you a little encouragement and a little push towards filling them with unique displays. People, it’s time to start thinking beyond pasta and pears, cotton balls and cotton swabs when it comes to filling your apothecary jars. Using your jars to showcase unique finds will give your vignettes much more personality than filling them with the lemons you bought for 5/$1 at the grocery store.

I’ve put together a list of 10 fantastic apothecary jar fillers that will hopefully guide you in the right direction to update those displays.

1. Vintage Spectacles – Just imagine the scenes that have been viewed through these lenses. Antique glasses are available at thrift stores, antique malls, estate sales, and even yard sales. Add two or three pairs to a simple jar, and you’ll have a display that everyone will want to “see.”

2. Soap – For an apothecary display in a bathroom, nothing beats a collection of beautiful soaps. Choose natural-colored soaps in the same hue, instead of in a color that matches your room. Find wonderful guest soaps at discount home stores, or use drugstore bargains, such as Aveeno or Ivory. Better yet, purchase monogrammed soaps to add a personal element to the display.

3. Vintage Photos – One of my favorite apothecary jar fillers is vintage photos. I have always loved the boxes of photographs I see in antique stores, and I decided that I wanted to replicate those displays myself. For my jar, pictured below, I found a selection of vintage photos online, printed them on cardstock paper, cut them out, and then tore the edges and creased the image until it looked appropriately worn.

Don’t you think they actually look like real photos? Because I knew that you’d love this idea, too, I assembled the photos into a .pdf file for you to use in your own displays. Find that document HERE. Am I the nicest person ever or what?

4. Vintage Hairbrushes and Combs – Along the same lines as the antique photographs, I would love a display featuring vintage hairbrushes and combs. You can find some really beautiful dressing sets in antique stores or online. Keep in mind that a child’s size set would probably fit into your jar easier than an adult’s size (unless you had a very tall jar).

5. Sea Shells and Starfish – A universal favorite apothecary jar filler is sea shells and starfish. Keep your shells in the same color scheme and only fill the jar halfway so that you don’t end up with too much of a good thing. Break the mindset that shells and starfish only belong in the bathroom. What’s with that anyway? Do we think shells can only be displayed where there’s water? Does the ocean remind us of the toilet? Weird, huh?

6. Knobs – Some of the most interesting (and cheap!) items to add to an apothecary jar are vintage knobs and drawer pulls. Find them for $0.25 a piece at places like the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store or yard sales. Your collection will be eclectic but will have a fantastic quality because the pieces are all variations of the same theme.

7. Rocks – Using natural elements in the home is very important, and nothing could be more natural than my son’s rock collection. Adding his treasures to an apothecary jar meant that I had a natural (and FREE) filler, and it is extra special to him because he got to use them to “decorate with Mama.”

8. Silver Cups – A few sterling silver baby cups displayed in a large apothecary jar would make such a sweet display. Stack them randomly on top of each other to create a tower. I’ve seen several of these little cups at Goodwill lately, so start hitting your thrift store in search for a few. They don’t even need to be in great shape – the more dings and scratches, the more personality they have.

9. Blown Eggs and Found Nests – What’s not to love about real birds’ eggs and nests displayed in a beautiful apothecary jar? In one of my jars, I used Spanish Moss in the bottom as a “nest” and then added 5 or 6 blown quail eggs on the top.

Check out these gorgeous egg displays – quail eggs on reindeer moss and Robin’s eggs on a found nest. I love them!

10. Indoor plants– Apothecary jars take on a whole new life when used as terrariums for indoor plants. Add plants purchased at home improvement stores or a local nursery.

You could even grow your own grass. Did you see Kimba’s wonderful wheat grass project?

A Soft Place to Land

Are you ready to find something unique and interesting to put in your apothecary jars? Little makes a jar more interesting than filling it with something completely unexpected. Tell me what you are going to add to yours!

Enjoy your beautiful life! Head over to The I
nspired Room
to see how others are making their lives beautiful, one simple way at a time.

Filed Under: Decorate Your Home, Project Gallery

About Lindsay Ballard

Lindsay Ballard is a former college mascot turned political geek turned DIY fanatic who is conspiring to live in a Technicolor dream world. Her designs are bold and graphic, while her spirit is fun and full of color. Lindsay chronicles her projects and design ideas here at Makely, where she shares daily tutorials and inspiration. Lindsay lives outside of Austin, Texas with her husband (Tom), children (Zack and Emma) and dogs (Jack and Duke).


  1. Awesome post!!! I just posted this morning about how I had to resort to using a tiny butter/jam dish to hold a bird’s nest b/c I can’t find an apothecary jar in our local thrift stores anywhere! Maybe people are wising up and holding onto them. 😉 Love them, and thanks for the link to the document.

  2. This is a great list. I’m seriously considering buying one just for plants. I love the look!

  3. Love this post, Lindsay! Great ideas!! I have one big one full of fake green apples. Bo-ring.

  4. wine corks! i don’t have an official jar but i have a bunch of wine corks! Thanks for the inspiration! Now i have to go find a jar!

  5. What a great idea! I have just the spot for one (or several)) of these. ; )

  6. twinklescrapbooks@yes! that's my child screaming! says:

    Love this post!! I am going to have to go apothecary jar hunting!
    tina :)

  7. I have tons of old family photos, many of them already scanned for reprints. I think I’ll print some and process them as you did the prints you found online and use them in a similar way in our guest room. Thanks for sharing the great ideas! ~~Rhonda

  8. Great ideas! My husband and I save the corks when we open a bottle of wine together and we write where/when/why on the corks.(Even if it is something as romantic as a day of yardwork) I love seeing them in my jar.

    Buttons and spools of thread look neat too.

  9. DairyQueen says:

    thanks for the inspiration! I’ve got some searching to do!

  10. The Graves' House says:

    i love how you can change up the look of these so easily. i love to change mine out with the season or my mood:)

  11. Nikki Cogg says:

    Yay I am SO GLAD you posted this this particular morning!! I am about to head out to Ikea and now I’m going to purchase one of their indoor plants to put in one of my gazillion apothecary jars! I also love the idea of the grass, I have some grass growing in a pot right now in my kitchen (it’s not quite living up to my expectations, but I’m new at planting) but I have 2 Ikea plants on one of my shelves and they’re thriving. Thank you again, this could not have come at a better time. Right now my jars are filled with moss (which my husband said looks exactly like marijuana… ??) and rocks with candles. Cute but boring. You’re great, keep it up!!

  12. So cool!! I have a jar at work just like the first one. I have mine filled with candy! I blogged about it to show the pictures. Check out my jar!


  13. I have two in my built ins and one is filled with colored votive candles and the other is filled with corks.

    Love the antique photo idea!

  14. Great ideas! I love them :)

    All the best,

  15. LOL! I love that they are strangers, too! There are some darling little kids and one cowboy guy who looks likes he was an outlaw in the Wild Wild West. I like to pretend that he had some crazy adventures back in the day and probably shot a fella because he looked at him wrong. 😉

  16. What great ideas! My favorite is the glasses. I have 2 jars now but an always looking for CHEAP ones in the stores. Thanks for the inspirations!

  17. These are great ideas! Thanks for putting those photos together-I love old photos and the stories they must tell!

  18. This is such a timely post! My mom had a box of 4 apothecary jars (1 large, 3 small) that had never been opened. So she gave them to me. They just been sitting on our buffet empty and blending into the background… Thanks for the great ideas!

  19. Beautiful! Have a glorious Easter weekend!

  20. Oh – such great ideas. I have been buying them up left and right and many are still waiting for treasures. :)

  21. Great ideas! Now I need to go buy a jar!

  22. Ok, I love that you have photos of strangers in your jar! I have been saving my thread spools when they run out, and so far have just stashed them in small jar. When I get more (only have 3 now) I think I will let them graduate to an apothecary jar. I saw a whole bunch at Hobby Lobby today too and was wondering what to put in them.

  23. We are thinking about growing something in ours. I love the mossy stuff on rocks!
    Thanks for the ideas!
    Have a wonderful Easter weekend!


  24. I really like the soaps and the seashells!

  25. ♥Amber Filkins♥ says:

    Great post!!

    I have lots of apothecary jars too. I just bought a new one on Wednesday for $.75!!

    I have soap, shells, moss, as well as practical things like Q-tips and cotton pads.

    Great ideas! I love the rocks & reading glasses ones. The rocks would work great around here, b/c Maddie loves to collect rocks!

    I LOVE that Pottery Barn picture with the bath salts in it. So lovely.

  26. Kara@ Creations by Kara says:

    Love the variety! I haven’t put mine out yet because I couldn’t think of anything to put in it. Your ideas are beautiful, and they have got my creative juices flowing as well. Thanks!

  27. Keeper of the Skies Wife says:

    I like the ROCKS!! My girls are 21 & 19 and I still have every single rock…tiny & large that they'd given me. I now know what I'm going to do with them! Thank you!

  28. What a great post, Lindsay! Thanks for sharing so many great ideas and beautiful pictures!

  29. Love the old photo idea! I may try that one. You have a lovely home!!

  30. I love the picture ideas, I always want to put them out but never knew how to display them without framing, this is a great idea, thanks!!

  31. One of my favorite fillers is scrabble tiles. I love the look of the letters in the jar!

  32. Man I need to find some of these jars, they are so amazing

  33. This is a fantastic post. You and your ideas are fantabulous!

  34. I filled my jar with old wooden spools of thread and used it as a book end in my sewing nook!
    Love your blog, keep the goodness coming!

  35. Great ideas! I like to fill my jars with BUTTONS and THREAD for the laundry room. Never thought of photos or plants.

  36. I have one filled with goldfish snack packs and one filled with funyuns… in the snack bags. They made a beautiful display during my son’s high school graduation cook-out so I decided to keep them around a little longer.

  37. I just filled one with my button collection and have it displayed in my laundry room. What was keeping those cuties hidden all these years?

  38. Rondell says:

    Fantastic post thanks for sharing, I did buy corks at Target and blue sea shells at Walmart…now I need more jars!!!

  39. just came across your blog via decorchick’s post about your apothecary jars! your ideas are inspiring! thanks for making me think out of the box…i mean jar :)

  40. I just found some amazing jars at a going out of business sale, and was wondering what to put in it. Now I have some GREAT ideas! As soon as we finish the remodeling stage of our new living/family./great room, then I can DECORATE! FINALLY!

  41. I was thinking about storing change in mine…one jar for each, quarters, dimes, nickles, pennies…Also…what about broken jewelry? Like when you lose an earring and don’t want to throw away the other one…or if you lose a rhinestone out of a pin…or broken chains etc…Someone mentioned scrabble pieces, I love that idea…what about puzzle pieces or game pieces from various games? Beads. Craft Supplies. Lipsticks. Marbles. Glass baubles. Sand and live fish maybe? To name a few!

  42. I have wine corks in one of my apothecary jars. It’s an interesting conversation piece.

  43. You are the sister I never had!! Just found you today and up til now my computer was fast enough, but the more I saw the more I wanted to see, and sorry there’s no jars left out there, I bought up most of them about a year ago for plants. You have so many fresh ideas and your final view is always just the right balance! Several of items, but not junky! Quite refreshing!!

  44. paula arrington says:

    I have 3 very LARGE apothecary jars on my large kitchen island—what are some ideas for three fillers that will coordinate, but won’t break the bank?

    • Melbrymer says:

      You could put cookie cutters or refrigerator magnetism them. Maybe even some vintage recipe index cards and miniature kitchen gadgets.

  45. Sue-on-the-farm says:

    Great post, love some of your ideas and there are great ideas in the comments as well. You should update the post and include all of the suggestions from the comments.

    Some ideas I’ve done: pine cones, acorns, “sea glass”, marbles, both the round ones and the flat ones. I have one small jar that holds 3 perfect fall oak leaves, I painted them with a few coats of gel medium to keep them from turning to dust.

    Some seasonal fillers: tiny ornaments, candy corn, chocolate eggs, .. now I have to go back up through the comments and write some notes from other people’s suggestions. Love the fancy soaps, wine corks and votive candles ideas.

  46. I love the idea of using citrus fruits. It’s hard to find things to fill my VERY large jars, and that would be perfect for Spring/Summer. I was inspired to search my house for something meaningful, and came up with the idea of using rolled up sheet music. Thanks for inspiring me!

  47. I love the idea of using citrus fruits. It’s hard to find things to fill my VERY large jars, and that would be perfect for Spring/Summer. I was inspired to search my house for something meaningful, and came up with the idea of using rolled up sheet music. Also, I seem to have an over abundance of colored tissue paper that would make a very cheap and colorful filler. Thanks for inspiring me!


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