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Meet Brooklyn’s Martha Stewart and her $3 gift idea

Ball Jar Cookies
A DIY gift: cookies in a jar

Mari Irizarry is the Martha Stewart of Brooklyn. Or that’s what I thought when she handed me this gorgeous ball jar cookie recipe at her holiday party last weekend.

The crafty 31-year-old youth media educator filled it with all the dry ingredients needed for a few batches of old-school Oatmeal Craisin Spice Cookies, a recipe that’s one of Irizarry’s all-time favorites.

They’re not exactly health bars, but I was so touched by the gift that we’re sharing it with you, at this Etsy time of year. All the recipient has to do is add the wet ingredients. So, for some butter, egg, vanilla, and five minutes of my time, I got the gift of homemade cookies and the scent of baked goods wafting from my oven, too.

Irizarry’s inspiration came from spying a similar seasonal item in a Williams-Sonoma-type store. “I was shocked by the $20 price tag. Then thought, ‘Oh, I can make that,’” said Irizarry, whose childhood Betty Crocker Alpha-Bakery Cookbook sparked her mad baking skills. She still remembers that “it cost $3 plus proof of purchase from a bag of flour.”

For her DIY recipe redux, Irizarry ordered jars from “a cheap Amazon affiliate at about $1 a piece for a set of 12, and the ingredients, she figures, tally the whole thing up to $2.75 per perfect little gift.

What’s priceless? She’s labored over the precarious ingredient-layering process, so those of us wanting to replicate the layer-cake presentation don’t have to. “I learned after an annoying amount of trial and error which order works best. The sugar is really the problem. It’s important to put the craisins on top of it. Otherwise the sugar granules cover everything else up,” she says. Here’s Irizarry’s recipe and instructions for making your own cookie jar.

The ingredients you’ll need to fill one jar:
1 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (more if you like them spicy)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
about 3/4 c. of craisins
2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
(or if you don’t have brown, you can just use 3/4 c. light brown sugar)
1/2 c. white sugar

Brooklyn's Mari Irizarry making her holiday cookies in a jar

Tip! To layer the ingredients in the jar, use a piece of parchment paper like a funnel to slide the ingredients in neatly. (Or you will coat your kitchen with ingredients and be cranky, says Irizarry.)

The order of the ingredients:
Mix the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda together. This will be your first layer. Then mix the brown sugars together for the second layer. Make a little well in the brown sugar. Add the white sugar for your third layer, then the craisins and finally the oats.

Attach a nice little tag with the following instructions:

Oatmeal Craisin Spice Cookies
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Empty jar of cookie mix into large mixing bowl and thoroughly mix. (You might need to use your hands.)
3. Mix in 3/4 cup softened butter or margarine. Stir in one slightly beaten egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Mix until completely blended. You might need to use your hands again. Shape into balls the size of walnuts. Place on the parchment-lined cookie sheets 2 inches apart.
4. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes on a cookie sheet. Transfer cookies to wire racks to finish cooling.

Got any DIY gift ideas that run about $5? Tell us, here!