DIY Vintage Halloween Apothecary Jars

I love Halloween, it’s almost my favorite holiday. But I’m not into the spooky Halloween holiday decor. So, instead, I’m going in the victorian science direction with these amazing DIY vintage Halloween apothecary jars.

Antique dresser with apothecary bottle display some with candles in them. Others with vintage apothecary labels, brass candlesticks, and antique books.

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DIY Halloween Decorations that Can Be Used Year Round

My biggest issue with seasonal decor is it’s only useful for a short time the entire year. And then there’s the need to store it for the rest of the year. But what if we could find a way to make decor that can be repurposed year round?

I’m always looking for creative ways to use decor in multiple different ways. Not only does this make more financial sense, but it helps to keep your seasonal inventory to a minimum.

Halloween display of old and new "vintage" apothecary bottles, brass candlesticks, candles, and antique books.
DIY Vintage Halloween Apothecary Jars are on display in my dining room on my antique dresser.

How Can I Use Vintage Apothecary Jars Year Round?

I’ve had a few creative ideas running around in my head, but these are my four favorites.

  1. Spice Rack. Use these jars to hold your spices in your kitchen.
  2. Bathroom Decor. Use them to store Cotton Balls, Q Tips, Bath Salts, Mouth wash, etc.
  3. Craft Room Storage. Unique storage for small craft supplies like buttons, glitter, ribbon, etc.
  4. Candle Holder. I plan to use a few of them this way anyway, but these jars make beautiful unique candle holders.

Watch this on Youtube:

Supplies for Your DIY Halloween Apothecary Jars

The best part about this project is it’s easy and can be done without much money invested.

*optional supplies

New apothecary type glass bottles purchased from Hobby Lobby after having been aged using a paint wash and a vintage tea stained label applied with glue.

Optional Add-Ons for a Spooky Effect

Step One – Find Your Glass Bottles

The best apothecary jar display will include bottles of different sizes. Varying heights and bottle shapes will make a more interesting display.

You can buy new bottles and make them look old and dirty, or buy antique or vintage jars that are already dirty. I bought a few of both! I love authentic antique jars, but they’re not always easy on the pocketbook.

New and old glass bottles in a halloween display with vintage apothecary theme, antique books, brass candlesticks with black candles.
DIY Vintage Halloween Apothecary Jars – Bottles made to look old purchased from Hobby Lobby.

Where Can I Find Glass Bottles for Halloween Jars?

I found mine in several different locations, but really, they’re everywhere if you’re looking.

  • Dollar Store. Namely the Dollar Tree. They have excellent $1.25 glass jars waiting to become glorious apothecary jars.
  • Thrift Store. A prime location for homeless old jars looking for the perfect DIY project.
  • Recycling Bin. Don’t forget to keep those glass jars you would otherwise throw out or recycle including wine bottles, olive oil jars, mason jars, spaghetti sauce jars, etc.
  • Craft Store. A personal favorite is Hobby Lobby, especially at 50% off. Or Michaels. But here’s a tip, don’t buy from the seasonal section unless it’s on sale. Check the glass jars in the back of the store for a better price.

Step Two – Making New Bottles Look Old

For this step, you’ll need black and brown acrylic paint, a paintbrush, paper towels, and a small bowl with a bit of water.

The quickest way to gather your bottles for Halloween apothecary jars is to buy them new. But then you’re left with the task of making them look authentic and spooky-ish with a fake dirty look. We’re going for the look of Dr. Frankenstein’s lab.

Or, if you’re like me, Ichabod Crane’s lab in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Supplies to Make New Glass Look Old

  • Craft paintBlack Paint & Brown Acrylic Paint
  • Paint Brush
  • Decoupage Medium of ChoiceSchool Glue or Mod Podge
  • 120 Grit Sandpaper

01 Scuff Sand to Add Texture

Most old glass has its fair share of scratches from years of use. Therefore to look authentic we need to abuse our glass jars a little. An easy way to do this is to take 120 grit sandpaper and rub the bottles down a little bit in varying directions.

Close up of new bottles with a black and brown paint wash applied sitting in a copper pan.
DIY Vintage Halloween Apothecary Jars – New jars made to look old with a paint wash.

02 Fake Dirty

  • First water down your brown and black acrylic paint using a ratio of 2:1 paint to water.
  • Then paint all over the jars.
  • Let it sit for a few minutes until it’s mostly dry and then rub most of the paint off.
  • Repeat until you get the dirty look you’re wanting.
  • Let your jars dry thoroughly before adding labels.

Step Three – Download Authentic Apothecary Labels

The best part of this entire project is the labels. I’m a sucker for victorian font type and old labels take me back to the days of actual apothecary storefronts. So, for me, it’s the historic element that makes this whole project.

Old and new bottles mixed together in an apothecary display with vintage labels attached.
DIY Vintage Halloween Apothecary Jars – Vintage apothecary labels with a tea stain glued onto the front of the new apothecary jars.

If you do a cursory search on Google you can find about a billion apothecary labels free and for sale, but never fear, I’ve done all the searching for you.

You can download these free vintage apothecary labels with their original script or a blank so you can fill them in yourself! Which makes them multi-purpose labels for real purposes year-round.

free printable

Vintage Apothecary Labels

This printable is for personal use only. However, feel free to share this post with friends and family so they can have these amazing vintage labels, too! The download will come with both blank and original text labels in a PDF sized 8 1/2″ x 11 “.

These printables are available as a free download in the Wonderland Subscriber Library. By simply entering your email address and subscribing you get full access. Please remember these are for personal use only.

Step Four – Tea Stain the Labels

For this step, you’ll need tea, hot water, a bowl, and your cut-out labels.

Such a quick and simple process, but adds the charm of that lovely old paper color.

How To Tea Stain the Paper Labels

  1. In a small bowl add several tea bags (I used six for a more concentrated color).
  2. Then add 1 cup of hot water.
  3. Let the tea steep for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Then dip the labels in one at a time.
  5. Lay them on a paper towel to dry for 10-15 minutes or until completely dry to the touch.

Step Five – Adhering the Labels to the Bottles

For this step, you’ll need a glue stick or double-sided tape, your paper labels, 120 grit sandpaper, and your glass bottles.

New apothecary bottles being made to look old with tea stained vintage labels sitting in a copper pan waiting to be put on display for Halloween

How to Adhere the Labels to the Glass Bottles

  1. First, choose which label will go with what bottle.
  2. Then apply adhesive to the back paying close attention to the corners.
  3. Finally, wrap it around the bottle ensuring its level, and press down hard.
  4. Then take your sandpaper and lightly distress around the edges.

For extra aging, you could always crumple the label up before applying it.

Step Six – Creating a Subtle Halloween Apothecary Display

I’ve discovered I have a love for creating these small vignettes when it comes to displays, especially holiday ones. They’re so easy to make and really do make an impact in the room.

If you love displays, table settings, and vignettes you should check out How to Create a Beautiful Decor Vignette, DIY Spring Garden Themed Table Setting, and How to Create a Handmade Romantic Tablescape.

How to Create a Visually Appealing Vignette

  1. First, pick a theme. I chose to go with the theme of apothecary or Ichabod Crane’s lab. And my overall Halloween theme this year will be The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
  2. Decide on the main components of that theme. Really stick with 2 or 3 elements. Mine was Apothecary Bottles, Candles/Candlesticks, and Antique Books.
  3. Then choose your color scheme. Since it is Halloween-ish I went with dark colors, black and red. Which are mostly displayed in the books and the $1.25 runner from Dollar Tree.
  4. Finally, stagger the scene with varying heights, sizes, and shapes. I used the books to add more height as well as the candlesticks. I also tried to make the bottle placement seem random.

My last piece of advice is don’t try to make it look too neat, a little bit of chaos is actually attractive to the eye in my humble opinion!

An antique dresser sits in my dining room covered in old and new glass bottles, candles, antique books, and brass candleholders.

Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope I have given you a bit of inspiration for this year’s Halloween (or many more to come!) and given hope to those of us who want to decorate a bit more subtly. So, let’s have a bit of fun and get into our “themes”!



Meet the Author

Hi, I’m Julie! Mother to five beautiful kids, Homeschool Educator, Writer, Handicraft & DIY Enthusiast, Photographer, Thrifter, and Furniture Restorer. Follow along for fun DIY projects creating a handmade home on a budget! Read more about me here→


  1. I do love decorations for any holiday. I also love creativity. I should have thought of it already but thanks for pointing out we can google search for printable apothecary labels!

  2. This looks absolutely incredible! I’m not typically a fan of halloween decor because it’s usually too gnarly or too tacky, but this display is gorgeous! Thank you for the great idea 🙂

    1. I agree! I love them in general. Especially since generally speaking I think bottles have been used as candle holders or make-shift oil lamps for eons.

  3. Love how you distressed these! I actually saw some cute jars in the Target dollar spot that would be perfect for this!

  4. Beautiful! I’m not really one to decorate much for Halloween but these would fit perfectly into our rustic, log home decor. Great idea!

    1. Oh, me too. The best part is when you light them all at night. Gives such a beautiful warmth and almost makes me feel like I’m back in time!

  5. Your display is beautiful! And I can totally see it for multi-purpose use and not just for the holiday. You provided such detail to even tea staining the labels! Great tip.

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