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. Can also do this with a soup can. Use a safety can opener to open the top. Wash the can well, fill with goodies and glue the top back on and add a label. We used them for Primary birthday cans. Put some shredded paper, little rubber duck, eraser, etc. The kids loved them. We also used them for YW birthdays.

  2. I found this tutorial and promptly brought home some cans to make gifts for my kids teachers and then found out that the cans I bought didn’t have the right bottom to actually get them open with a can opener. Your cans have a rim just like the top of most cans. Mine had a smooth bottom. Boo. Thought it might help others if you mention this in your tutorial.

  3. I’m thinking this is a great idea for a girls choice dance invite. Leave the fruit cocktail label on, put a treat and invite inside, and have the intended date’s mother ask him to make the fruit salad for dinner. He opens the can, voila! My daughter will love you for this (an my mom, too, who will be getting one for Mother’s Day this year). Thanks!

  4. Love, love this! Thank you for such a fantastic idea. I found your blog through Crystal at Moneysavingmom.com So glad I did and plan on visiting your site more. BTW, if you still need an awesome, safety can opener, contact me– am a stay-at-home mom with a Pampered Chef business. These can openers are the best!

  5. WAH! Why did this have to be SO cute? This morning, I was cleaning out the can and I sliced my right ring finger with the edge! I need to invest in those safety edge can openers too. 🙁

  6. Awesome! I went right out and started buying the stuff to make these. And I was so excited to get started, I forgot what I was doing and pulled the tab on the first can of fruit instead of opening the bottom. *le sigh* Oh, well, fruit’s good for you. 😀

    (Also, I’m filling a couple with gum for friends who are on serious diets. Just so you know, a stick of gum fits perfectly in these cans.) 🙂

  7. Use a SAFETY CAN OPENER then there are no sharp edges to deal with. These can openers split the ring around the edge and the ‘lid’ almost snaps back on. I still glue them but use a clear liquid glue as it is just to hold it in place.

    Love them

  8. Working on mine right now. Can’t wait to see how they turn out. Going to give them to my son’s teacher on Friday. Thanks for the labels and the great idea!

  9. This is such a cute idea!! I wish I had time to make these for my daughter’s teachers!

  10. Cute idea! My kiddos are 6, 3 and 10 months….I can totally relate! Only the older 2 are girls…so drama on top of noise!

  11. I love this idea and I love how simple and inexpensive! When I read your your blog I realized I could have written the same blog! Love it!

  12. I went and bought the cans yesterday but thought I would get some fruit and some vegetables so we can eat them faster. BUT – the veggies are not in the same type cans so I’m going out today to get more fruit for the rest of the cans. Thank you for making the labels for the teachers. I love this treat!

  13. This is such a cute idea! I was just thinking about what we were going to do for the kid’s teachers. I think I’ve found it!

  14. That is so clever! Thanks for sharing. I’ll take a can full of m&m’s over peaches anyday! I love your comment about Diet Coke, stashed chocolate, and DVR shows…I can so relate!!!

  15. Absolutely adorable… Im making these for all my mommy friends, sisters and would love to make the teacher appreciation gifts also. Do you have a download for the printable tags? 🙂 Thanks for sharing such a cute idea!

  16. Love this! It’s teacher appreciation week so I’m going to do the one with earplugs for my son’s teacher 🙂

  17. I love this idea!! I didn’t have “fancy” paper and wanted to try to avoid buying anything extra….I did have plenty of scraps of wrapping paper though – it worked great!! 🙂

  18. I love this!! Thanks for sharing…every time I think I’m really crafty, I see something else online that makes me go “OmG!, how did I not think of that?” Love it.

  19. I have done this. i used one of those safety can openers that remove the whole bottom so no sharp edges and then you can just glue the bottom back on.

  20. Wow! My husband is the artsy one, but I think even I can do this! Thanks for sharing, my 4 sisters and Mum are going to be soooo surprised when I gift these!!

  21. Love this. Going to make one for my daughter-in-law who is expecting our 9th grandchild in the fall. Also think the little fruit snack cans will make cute and very unexpected place favors for a bridal shower I will be giving this summer.

  22. I made these last year with my Sunday school kiddos and blogged about them as well a while back. I like how yours turned out here and I love the ribbon you added to the top! Very, very cute! This year we are making them again only with dirt and a seed planted in them for moms day. When mom opens it up she just needs to start watering them and in a few weeks flowers will bloom. Very fun ideas out there. Happy week end! =O)

  23. I just finished making these for my mom and sister, they are gonna love them!! I’m also considering making these for the ladies in Relief Society. And on a side note, I got your cook book 3 days ago and I am in LOVE with your tortilla chips. I made them last night with season salt instead of regular salt and we dipped them in our cheese soup…YUUUUUMMMY!! And today we made them with cinnamon and sugar…my new favorite treat!! Totally delicious! You ladies ROCK!!!

  24. Very, very cute. Now I want to make these for all my friends. Love the label. So clever and funny.