Tin Can Treats {For Mother’s Day & Teacher Appreciation!}

I have three boys: ages 5, 3, and 10 months.  There’s a chance I might be biased, but I happen to think they’re the most charming, adorable, and intelligent kids on the planet.  They’re also kind of loud.  And busy.  And they destroy things.  Lots of things.  They have a need to eat, run, and make sound come out of their mouths pretty much 24 hours a day.  If it wasn’t for the fact that I cope with stress by eating, I would have the body of super model from all of the running around I do.  I love my kids like crazy.  They make me laugh constantly and I love being a stay at home Mom.  But as all Mothers know- it’s not easy!  There are days when the only thing that gets me through is Diet Coke, stashes of chocolate, and the knowledge that I have shows on my DVR waiting for me after those little angels fall asleep.

So on that note- I’m always trying to think of fun ways to supply Mother’s with much needed goodies on Mother’s Day because every Mom needs a secret stash right??  I’d made these tin can treats before at a church craft night and completely forgotten about them until my sister was talking about them recently.  They’re so fun- I’m going to show you how to customize a tin can and fill it with goodies or trinkets of your choice for the recipient to crack open.  (**And since so many of you expressed interest in making these for Teacher Appreciation Week, I’ve made up some tags for that as well, see links at the end of this post!**)

Supplies Needed:
canned fruit with tab tops, suggested size 7-8oz
candies for filling
tissue paper
hot glue gun
decorative paper
side can opener or safety can opener (optional)

You can make these with any size can you can find with a tab top.  Technically you don’t even need the tab top, but if you’re using my printables you do.  Plus a tab is just way more fun!  I like the little mini cans, the 7-8 oz size, which is about half the size of a standard tin can if you’re trying to visualize.  Look for generic brand fruit in cans this size; they’re super cheap!  Make sure to use cans from something like fruit or fruit juice.  You don’t want the insides of your cute treat cans to smell like beans or chili!

Step one: Remove labels from cans.  Use a can opener to remove the bottom end of the can.  It’s the side without the tab top folks!  A side can opener works great here because you won’t have the sharp edges and the pieces will be a breeze to glue back together. If you plan ahead, you can eat the fruit along the way in your normal meals.  If you plan at the last minute like me, you can dump it all in your blender, blend it up, freeze it in ice cube trays, and use for smoothies.  Or it’s great poured right into Popsicle molds.

Tip: If you’re using a traditional can opener, make sure when you are removing your lid, you don’t remove it completely.  You want to leave it attached at one point like seen in the picture above.  Wash the cans well with soap and rinse clean.  Make sure to dry completely.

If you use this type of can opener, your life will be  much easier:

See how nicely it takes the lid off?

And it fits back on seamlessly, with just a small amount of glue

Step 2: Time for the fun part!  Fill those cans up with any form of deliciousness you choose.

My coping mechanism of choice:

Leave about 1/2 inch of head-space at the top of the can.  Another reason I use small cans is because you need quite a bit of candy to fill these if you’re using something small like M&M’s.  But you could use little wrapped chocolates or candy bars or whatever.

Step 3: Fill the empty space with a little tissue paper.  This is important and you’ll see why in the next step.

Step 4: Use hot glue to reattach the bottom of the can.  If you use the safety can opener, this part is simple, and it takes very little glue.  If you use a traditional can opener, like I did in these photos, it isn’t hard, but it’s a little tricky.  I find it easiest to bend the lid back down flat and then fill in the open space with glue.  This is why the tissue paper is there- to catch the glue that goes through so it doesn’t end up stuck to the treats.

Now.  I consider myself to be relatively handy with a glue gun, and fairly crafty, and I have never managed to glue the lid on without it looking like a complete mess.  The good news is that it doesn’t matter even if it’s ugly like mine because once you see how cute the finished product is, you’ll understand why no one will be looking at the bottom!   So just leave the can sitting like this until the glue is dry.

Step 5: Cut a piece of decorative paper the same height as the can.  Wrap it around and attach with tape, double-sided tape, or a glue stick.

Step 6: Tie a few matching ribbons on the tab.

At this point you’re ready to go!  These cute cans are ready for giving, and people will be SO surprised when they open up the fresh can and find goodies inside!


In honor of Mother’s Day I thought it would be more fun to put this on the front:

I’ve made a version of this tag for teachers as well-
get the download at the end of this post!

How fun are these??

You can print the labels out on colored paper to match your theme

And if you don’t feel like being silly, I also made a generic “Pull my tab” label suitable for any lovely lady in your life!

Now go get creative!  You can really put anything in a can- how about this one with a small un-scented candle (so it doesn’t scent your candies!), a Reeces PB Cup and a set of ear plugs?  My kind of survival gear.

I have some really fun variations for all kinds of holidays and events- but we’ll focus on one day at a time!


Download free printable tags here:
Mother’s Day Tin Can Labels: Silly
Mother’s Day Tin Can Labels: Generic
Teacher Appreciation Tags

Also we have
Christmas Edition
Father’s Day Edition
Valentine’s Day Edition (coming soon)

Sara Wells
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. These are so cute. I will be making them for teacher appreciation week. I also have about 10 other ways to use them. I am off to Bed Bath and Beyond to buy a new can opener too.

  2. Love this idea! I especially like including a candle and a few sweet treats. You could also add a gift certificate for a something special, if desired.
    Thank you for sharing!

  3. This is awesome! The possibilities are endless! Thank you for an awesome idea!!!!

  4. I think this would also be so cute for teachers! I’m always on the lookout for teacher gifts! Obviously, one would have to make different labels, but still!

  5. I sent some cookies to my daughter in a large pear can last night. A friend was flying there and was willing to cart them for me. I used the can opener that doesn’t cut the lid, it removes it without any sharp edges. The can didn’t have a pull tab, but I was okay with that! I slapped a label on it and ta-dah! I’m hoping the cookies arrived in perfect condition due to their nifty container, and it was all because I saw your cute idea 🙂

  6. I am going to do this and fill them with hersheys hugs and kisses…I think they still make the hugs! Super cute. Thanks for the idea!

  7. I love this! I work at a school and instead of giving these to moms I think I’m going to make them for the teachers! There are days when they REALLY need a little pick-me-up and these are adorable! Thank You!

  8. LOVE this Idea! A great project for the moms in my MOPS group! Love your site! Can’t wait to buy you cookbook, hopefully soon.

  9. Im so happy I have stumbles across yor blog. It sounds like we are in the same boat. I have 3 boys 5, 3, and 8months. And its is so true the only thing that keeps me holding on is my Dr. Pepper

  10. Thanks for the cute idea! My mom loves Mike &Ikes, so I think I’ll stock mine up with those. I do have a question, though. If, by chance, your hot glue gun is out of glue, your stock of glue sticks for the gun is empty, and all you have at home is Elmers white glue, does that work too? Or does it really need to be hot glue because of the thickness of the lid?

  11. Absolutely ADORABLE!!! Do you have any cute sayings for May Day or Birthdays?
    Love your creativity!!

    1. Ah, those don’t come with tabs. :/ It just clicked about 15 seconds after I posted. Hey, why DON’T 28oz cans have tabs, huh? Someone needs to get on that.

  12. HAHAHA. I was like “why would i give my mother 100 calorie peaches, first of all thats kinda weird, and wouldnt that be saying something about her weight?” and then i saw the candy….
    LOL, I’m so strange. Anyways, THESE. ARE. SO. CUTE. I will seriously be considering these for my mom. SO CUTE.
    Thanks for the awesome Idea!

  13. Diet Coke and M&M’s … also my EXaCT coping mechanisms of choice!!! Now, to figure out a way to fit a frosty cold diet coke in those cute little cans 🙂

  14. Love this super cute Idea and I agree, I’d like to use these for teacher appreciation and will be looking for the upcoming label.

  15. great idea, but be careful if you put a candle in there with candy you might end up with sented candy.. We had that experience several years ago when my mother sent us Christmas candy in the same box as some Avon soaps. the smell of the soap totally infused the chocolate and made it taste awful.

  16. I absolutely LOVE this idea! I’m so making them for Mother’s Day and my sister’s birthday coming up. Thanks for the inspiration!

  17. So I was looking for a craft for the nursery kids in our ward and this will be great! But I was thinking trace their hands and cut them out put them around the can and fill it with hugs and kisses and on the tag put happy mothers day! Hugs and kisses Childs name:)

  18. I didn’t look through all the comments, so I’m sorry if this is a repeat, but DO NOT place edibles in the same container as scented products (including candles, incense, or even fabric softening sheets). The scent transfers to the food and it is disgusting. My sweetie got me a big box of my favorite (and not inexpensive) Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory treats for my bday, and only kept them in the same paper bag until he got home to wrap them (in separate containers) later that night. It was such a torture–I couldn’t NOT eat the chocolates…so I struggled through the grossness. That’s not my idea of stress relief, do NOT do this to a mom you actually like! LOL!

  19. So cute. I made these for neighbor gifts for Christmas a year or two ago. I found the hot glue set too fast, but standard old craft glue like Aleens works great. I just put some weight on the lid and let it dry.

  20. Wait, are you sure you weren’t at my house? My 3 boys are 7, 5 and 2 and it sounds EXACTLY the same! ha ha

    This is such a cute idea. It may even be easy enough that hubby could help the boys make these himself. You guys are so creative!

  21. Fantastic idea, for lots of different gifts( Holidays)Love it!
    I see a lot of “Tab Tops” in our future!
    Thanks for sharing!

  22. Love this! I also have three boys the exact same ages as yours! Great to know I am not alone!

  23. I love this idea too bad here in Canada we done have pull tabs on our cans for the most part. Next time my husband goes to the states I’ll have him bring me back some1

    1. Kelli – check Campbell’s chunky soups. They’re bigger but work for larger treats! 🙂