Fun, Easy Christmas Recipes - Ornaments to Bake - Great Family Fun!

Family activities are such fun, especially during this festive season. One of my favorite Christmas crafts, besides making wreaths and Christmas greeting cards, is playing with salt dough modeling clay. Kids particularly love rolling out the dough and using cookie cutters to create their ornaments - almost as much as they love painting and decorating the baked ornaments.

Some folks think holiday fun and Christmas ornaments cost too much money - well this fun activity will certainly prove that you can have a ball and create beautiful, handmade ornaments for only pennies each. I came across the recipe for this fun, easy, kid-friendly craft some years ago in a ladies' magazine, but lost it when we moved. It wasn't until several years later that I found the recipe again. Sometimes, I make up a few smaller batches in different colors, instead of painting the Christmas ornaments after baking. The colors are not so bright when they are premixed into the dough, but the softer effect is quite lovely.

Unbaked ornaments - photo from recipesfromhome-online.com
Unbaked ornaments - photo from recipesfromhome-online.com
Add colored layers for detail - photo from diyalert.com
Add colored layers for detail - photo from diyalert.com
Painted cookie-cutter ornaments - photo from seablueseegreen.com
Painted cookie-cutter ornaments - photo from seablueseegreen.com
Beautifully sculpted ornaments - photo from adelle.com.au
Beautifully sculpted ornaments - photo from adelle.com.au

Basic Salt Dough

Please note - this modeling dough is NOT edible.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 cups salt
  • 1 -1/2 cups warm water

Instructions:

  • Combine the salt and flour in a large mixing bowl
  • Gradually add the water, kneading until the dough becomes elastic
  • Add more flour if dough is sticky - if it's too dry, add more water, a few Tbsp at a time

For colored dough, you can put a few drops of food coloring, or a few drops of watercolor paint to the water before adding the water to the dry ingredients.

Once you've got your dough at a consistency you can work with, bring on the rolling pins, cups, bowls, straws, cookie cutters, plastic utensils, and let the fun begin!

Roll out the dough about 1/4 inch thick, and use cookie cutters, cups, or plastic toy shapes to cut out your ornaments.

Add interesting texture by scoring your ornaments lightly with the tines of a fork or lemon zester. Pressing a grater gently into the dough. This embossed design will also add an interesting texture to a basic shape.

You can use straws or pencils to wrap strips of dough around and make curls, spirals, and puffed shapes.

Add narrow strips of dough to the basic shapes for decorative trim. You can further decorate the trim strips by lightly poking shallow hole with the point of a pencil or toothpick.

To make your own dough buttons, roll small pieces of dough into round shapes and flatten them. Add tiny indentations to simulate button holes.

Once you have completed decorating your ornaments, set them aside to dry - at least overnight - or bake at 200 F until dry.

When you paint an embossed design, try a dark color, or gold paint, in the indentations, and a lighter on the raised parts.

Decorate the dry ornaments with sparkle glue, sequins, buttons and touches of glitter.

You can also spray completed ornaments with paint sealer and sprinkle with glitter before the sealer dries.

If you use un-tinted, plain dough, you can paint your creations after they dry.

Decorate your painted ornaments with tiny buttons, glitter glue, sequins, etc., and let dry. Painted ornaments will need to be sealed with clear varnish.

Gingerbread Cookies - photo from cool-kids-craft-ideas.com
Gingerbread Cookies - photo from cool-kids-craft-ideas.com
Fun ornaments - photo from funroom.com
Fun ornaments - photo from funroom.com
Delightful sheep - photo from birminghammommy.com
Delightful sheep - photo from birminghammommy.com

Old-Fashioned Wood-Look Ornaments

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 cups salt
  • 2 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 -1/2 cups warm water

Instructions:

  • Combine the salt and flour in a large mixing bowl
  • Gradually add the water, kneading until the dough becomes elastic
  • Add more flour if dough is sticky - if it's too dry, add more water, a few Tbsp at a time

This recipe adds some powdered mustard to the mix, which causes the dough to darken slightly during baking. When ornaments made from this dough are baked (at 200 F) they have a lovely, rich brown color, just like old wooden ornaments.

You can heighten this effect by using a lemon zester to add a slight grain to the uncooked ornament.

The darker color of salt dough also works beautifully for salt dough "Gingerbread" Men and Ladies.

Shortbread cookie look-alikes - photo from chiccookiekits.blogspot.com
Shortbread cookie look-alikes - photo from chiccookiekits.blogspot.com
Charming angel - photo from www.artfire.com
Charming angel - photo from www.artfire.com

Tips and Tricks for working with Salt Dough

Salt dough ornaments can be left to air dry, but curls, swirly bits, and puffed areas may need to be propped up from underneath with crumpled tissue to prevent them collapsing before they are completely dry.

Use a toothpick to make a hole in the unbaked ornament so you can attach a ribbon for hanging after the ornament is dry.

You can also attach a metal loop for hanging the ornament if you prefer. Press the hook or loop into the unbaked dough. Once the salt dough is dry, it becomes very hard.

Decorative pieces and add-ons (such as buttons on a Gingerbread Man) can be added before baking. Brush the back of the add-on with water or a very runny mixture of water and flour.

Avoid using glue if the piece is to be baked, as the glue is not meant to be heated. The heat of the oven will release chemicals in the glue, as well as create a very bad smell.

Freshly baked salt dough stays hot for a long time. Make sure the ornaments are completely cooled before being touched by little fingers.

Decorations and add-ons can be baked separately and then glued in place with white glue. Pieces may need to be braced in place until the glue dries.

It is possible to store your salt dough in a sealed container in the refrigerator, but it will only keep well for a couple of days.

Remember to spray sealer on the ornaments out of doors, to avoid inhaling the fumes.

Wash your hands and utensils thoroughly after making the ornaments. Salt dough might make little hands itchy if allowed to dry on their skin. As well, it will be very difficult to remove from any baking utensils after it has hardened. I have lost more than one cookie cutter to the salt dough "cement monster."

I am always impressed by how creative people can be, especially children, when turned loose with a batch of salt dough and some basic tools. Kids and adults alike have such fun playing with the dough and making lovely Christmas ornaments. I hope you enjoy this creating your own special ornaments and building many happy memories of fun with your family.

© 2010 RedElf

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54 comments

tnderhrt23 profile image

tnderhrt23 5 years ago

Crafty well-written hub...I wanna try this with my grandkids!


cashmere profile image

cashmere 5 years ago from India

Absolutely brilliant. Edible ornaments!

And they look gorgeous too.


rsusan profile image

rsusan 5 years ago from South Africa

Thanks for your hub, RedElf! My godchildren are going to love this!


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I have done these types of salt dough ornaments as hobby momentos for friends and family years ago. I remember they were loved and kept for as long as they lasted. My mother even kept one that was falling apart and I never did replace it though I had promised...so they are well worth the effort!

Thanks for reminding me of a fun craft and it works for everyone on a budget! For instance, a tree done completely with au naturelle dough cookies and ribbons looks very old-fashioned! i never did get around to doing that...maybe one day... :)


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

tnderhrt10, your grandkids will love this craft - actually you'll all have a lot of fun making cool ornaments.

Thanks, cashmere, I think I might give them a go again this year, just for fun.

rsusan, my pleasure - you'll all enjoy playing with the dough, I'm sure.

Right you are, scribenet - they are so inexpensive to make - a real triple hitter: cheap, fun, and beautiful!


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 5 years ago from Bishop, Ca

Great stuff, RedElf! Gotta love the sheep.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

RedElf, I think this is a really a great idea and these things are so much fun to do with your children. I really liked this craft. Nicely presented.


debbiesdailyviews profile image

debbiesdailyviews 5 years ago

This is the best and easiest recipie I have ever seen.

I am going to adapt it to make little things all year round.

Thank you


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much, lorlie! Baaaa - my personal favorite ;)

Thanks so much, Pam - I loved my kids clubs every week - watching those little ones have such fun learning and growing.

Thanks, ddv - One of my first projects was a wreath of pears, berries, and apples that quickly turned into an all-season centerpiece.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Kinda makes me wish my kids were little again....we could have a ball!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

akirchner, I threatened to rent someone else's kids whenever Disney came out with a new movie. Maybe ou can rent some neighbors' kids :D


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

WOW! This hub is AWESOME. Those salt dough ornaments look so attractive.

Merry Christmas!

Rosie


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

They aregreat and I love all these things. Thank you for sharing.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks, Rosie - they are awfully cute, aren't they! The detail on some of them is truly amazing.

Thanks so much, friend Hh - always a pleasure to have you stop by :)


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 5 years ago from Canada's 'California'

I tried my hand at this many moons ago - they turned out nicely, but weighed a TON!! LOL Another great hub - you have to be most creative/crafty person here!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

Yes, that's the one drawback they are VERY heavy. Thanks so much, Enelle - I have been given a lot of really good ideas over the years :D


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

Your ornaments look good enough to eat. You must be reading my mind - I am going to try to do something similar with my student this holiday season. I'll probably be covered in salt dough but it should be fun.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America

This is a good Hub to keep. Some of the ornaments are like those we made in 2nd grade in the classroom. Thanks! - Rated up.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

Great hub...beautiful cookie ornaments. They're not edible, as Cashmere said, are they?


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

I'm sure you'll have a lot of fun with it, Gals!

Thank you, Patty, for the rate up as well!

Thanks, alekhouse, and you are right - these ornaments are not edible.


SJKSJK profile image

SJKSJK 5 years ago from delray beach, florida

Thanks for great ideas to do with the kids


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

SJKSJK, you are most welcome - so happy to help!


Runway profile image

Runway 5 years ago from New York

Oh, I am definitely going to try this! the cookies are beautiful, might be too pretty to eat!


LVN profile image

LVN 5 years ago from Bellevue, Washington

I use to make salt dough ornaments when my boys were young. It looks like I ought to pick it back up with my grandchildren. Thanks, I forgot how fun they were.


lovetherain profile image

lovetherain 5 years ago from Untited States

These are awesome, and fun to make! I have my own recipe and my kids make dough ornaments every year:)


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

I am sure your grandchildren would love to make salt-dough ornaments with Grandma. Thanks for stopping by to comment, LVN

I love making salt-dough ornaments, lovetherain - you are building some great memories with your kids. I guess I'm just gonna have to rent some kids this Christmas ;)


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

Runway - you wouldn't want to eat these cookies - the salt dough is not meant to be edible.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

When I was growing up, my mom made salt-dough ornaments and we helped her paint them. It was so much fun! I tried with my own kids a few years ago, too. Great hub and thanks for reminding me of the fun of homemade ornaments.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks, stephhicks! I am thinking of making some more this year, just for old-time's sake.


ketchup101 profile image

ketchup101 5 years ago from Philippines

This is fun! Thanks for this great hub. My small cousins will love these cookies and maybe they could join me for making them. :)


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much, ketchup101. I'm sure your cousins, and their parents will be thrilled with the results.


GlstngRosePetals profile image

GlstngRosePetals 5 years ago from Wouldn't You Like To Know

Wow I really enjoyed reading your article and I love doing activities with my children so I think I'm going to make some salt dough myself and make some decorations for the tree..


shahadat73 profile image

shahadat73 5 years ago

wow!! thank you for a nice hub


00zzy 5 years ago

hey belive it or not i am going to try and make some of them weeeee thank you for this


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

Have fun makign your ornaments, GRP! I'm sure they will turn out beautifully!

shahadat73, so glad you enjoyed the article!

Have fun, OOzzy!


Pamela Garner profile image

Pamela Garner 5 years ago

I love this! Thanks! I'm not sure how into it my 3 year old will be, but I might try it out and keep it around to do with him sometime soon!! Or maybe he'll be totally into it now and I'm underestimating him. Time to give it a shot!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

Good luck - if nothing else, he'll have fun helping roll out the dough, and playing with the cookie cutters! Nice to meet you, Pamela Garner


WillSteinmetz profile image

WillSteinmetz 5 years ago

Very entertaining hub. I'll give it a try this Christmas.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much, Will Steinmetz. It's a real family fun craft.


A.CreativeThinker 4 years ago

Very nice hub RedElf. I really love those ornaments and can't wait to try some myself. Thanks for sharing Take Care :)

Regards,

A.CreativeThinker


RedElf profile image

RedElf 4 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much, A.CT. Salt dough ornaments are super fun for the whole family.


Lilly 4 years ago

Wow these are awesome


RedElf profile image

RedElf 4 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much, Lilly - they are a lot of fun to make.


xethonxq profile image

xethonxq 4 years ago

This is fantastic!! I'm sooooo going to try these things with my nieces. Thanks for the ideas and the instructions!!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 4 years ago from Canada Author

xethonxq, you and your nieces will have lots of fun making these ornaments. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


SanneL profile image

SanneL 4 years ago from Sweden

I didn't know that by adding mustard powder to the dough, it will get an old-wood effect, and with the help of a lemon zester, it will add a slight grain to the uncooked ornament. This could be made into great vintage looking Christmas ornaments, I love it! I am definitely going to try this.

Voted up and useful.

Thanks!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 4 years ago from Canada Author

The recipe I found, way back when, called for the mustard powder. It gives a softer color than food coloring, and makes achieving the vintage look much easier.


formosangirl profile image

formosangirl 4 years ago from Los Angeles

RedElf, Great idea!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 4 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much, formosangirl. We have a lot of fun making Christmas crafts every year!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

What a great idea! Santa could just pick the yummy cookies right from the tree!!:)


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Really nice to see this nice hub highlighted the week before Christmas. Busy little hands are happy little hands. :)


RedElf profile image

RedElf 4 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much, RTalloni - that's the plan :D Keep those little hands busy!


A.CreativeThinker 4 years ago

Great hub as always RedElf! These ornaments are so lovely and fun to make. Best wishes to you and yours for Christmas and the new year. Take Care :)

Regards,

A.CreativeThinker


RedElf profile image

RedElf 4 years ago from Canada Author

A.Ct, thanks so much for stopping by to comment. Always lovely to see/read you :D

Merry Christmas to you and yours, as well! See you in the New Year!

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