hunt, gather and host: quick jams and preserves party

For the last few craft parties we have hosted, we’ve become veterans of knitting and egg-decorating projects. Our latest crafty afternoon was inspired by a friend’s fig tree that we stumbled upon at a backyard soirée a few months ago in Los Angeles. Taking Paul Smith’s advice, we found “inspiration in everything,” and the idea for our next party was born. The remainder of the day was spent planning and getting excited about an afternoon of making fig preserves, compotes and jams. While we waited for our figs to ripen, we researched bottles, read up on canning and picked our recipes. Though figs may have come and gone by the time you’re reading this, we hope it inspires you to use whatever is in season where you live. — bbbcraft sisters

The full party details and instructions continue after the jump . . .

We began by picking more than 200 figs from the tree and carefully washing them. We had ordered a variety of bottles online, and we pulled together every variety of tool or supply we owned to adorn the final product: stamps, hole punches, fabric, stickers and ribbon. We used figs for place settings, and we asked our guests to contribute some crafting supplies (and wine!) so that there would be a wide variety of materials to decorate the bottles with once the jams and compotes were complete.

We assigned jobs to everyone and began with a simple fig jam that we also served to our guests on a cheese plate. We put together a couple yummy fig-centric snacks and moved on to our compote and spiced preserves.

Some guests stayed in the kitchen chopping and cooking; others sat at the table and started to create custom-made stamps and labels for the jars.

Because we had so many people who would each take home a few jars of jam, we decided not to preserve traditionally for long-term storage. We simply spooned the jam into the jars and put a two-month expiration date on each (as instructed by our recipes). Many guests had parties to attend the following week and thought this was the perfect hostess gift. If you are making jars for yourself to keep throughout the year, it is better to seal the jars using the traditional preserving method (there is a very good book written on this topic by Design*Sponge’s own Ashley English).

After the jars were set outside to cool, we sat at the table for more snacks, wine and a lot of discussion over jam labels about creative ways to mark the expiration dates and dress up the jars.

Photographs by Amy Blessing. Food by bbbcraft and Après Fête. Styling and crafting by bbbcraft.

  1. Rachel Tatem says:

    Yum! I will take 4 of everything… yes, 4. I don’t pretend with good food

  2. This is such a delightful idea for a summer party! I’m in the middle of a huge kitchen remodel so I can’t do it this year, but I’m going to remember this one and try it next summer! Thanks for sharing the pictures and wonderful ideas!!!

  3. Emily Helmus says:

    Just bought some black turkey figs from the store the other day. I’m having fun experimenting with them. So far, I enjoy them best with just a little honey and a dollop of homemade yogurt cheese!

  4. Sarah says:

    Are the recipes link-able?

  5. denise barba says:

    Any chance you could link to the recipe used to make the fig jam?

  6. ca says:

    If everyone decorated their own jars, how/why are the labels all in the same handwriting?

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      the bbb craft sisters photographed their projects for this piece, so the writing is their own.


  7. rebecca says:

    Such a clever idea for a party! This time of year there are so many fruit trees just full of good food that goes to waste so this is a great idea, I’ll have some of the balsamic and fig please!x

  8. Ellen says:

    Beautiful pictures! Funny there’s no recipe, so I’ll share mine.

    -Big soup pot of figs
    -1 lemon, zest, cut in half and strain to catch seeds and add juice and rinds to mixture
    -1 tbsp sugar or to taste

    Cook over med heat, maybe 10-15m.

  9. The BBB Craft Sisters says:

    Hi everyone!

    The fig and balsamic jam is from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home. We recommend the book if you don’t already have it, but the jam recipe can be found online:

    Have fun!

    bbbcraft sisters

  10. I have such a weakness for figs since my old childhood home had a tree. I used to sit on our outdoor table while my mom picked them and handed them to me to eat. This party is right up my alley! Hopefully someday I’ll get to throw on as lovely!

  11. I made my first batch of fig jam ever earlier this summer. Just happen to pick up black figs at the market and had no clue what to do. I was thoroughly delighted with the results, especially because it was so easy to make.

  12. Emily says:

    Figs as place card holders? Such a great idea! I also love how differently you styled the jars. Thanks for another great post bbbcraft sisters!

  13. Nuha says:

    oh my goodness, these are so cute!!

  14. Samantha Connell says:

    Thanks for the beautiful photos and inspiration. I had to laugh about the handwriting comment….aren’t people funny?? Love your posts. Thanks

  15. pamela says:

    GREAT POST! My figs are getting ripe. Do you have a resource to purchase those cute jars that you used. Thanks!

  16. Stella says:

    Delicious! Love figs – will have to try this out :)

  17. I love this idea! What a great way to use up a surplus of just about anything! I’m thinking a massive going away / have too much random fruit in my fridge so let’s make jam party, personally …

  18. Kate says:

    I make a lot of raspberry jam every summer and I can never find interesting jars that I can buy in bulk. Any ideas?

  19. pamela says:

    I found this resource on the web for the cute jars.

    Happy jamming!

  20. Donna says:

    Any chance you have the fig and honey compote recipe? My friend has a huge fig tree and we are always looking for recipes! We will put that one on next year’s list :)

  21. ellie says:

    Love this idea! Where can I find those adorable little wood-like spreaders?? thanks!


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