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How to Make Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments
Cinnamon Ornament Crafts
Traditional Craft for an Old Fashioned Ornament
Cinnamon ornaments are an old fashioned Christmas craft that is fun to do as a family activity or with a small group of children. The ingredients are simple -- just cinnamon, applesauce, and glue. Mixed together, these ingredients form a non-edible but highly fragrant dough that can be cut into Christmas shapes with traditional cookie cutters. This is a no bake, easy craft that is suitable for preschoolers to adults. Let them air dry for three to five days and string them on the Christmas tree with some bright red ribbon. They both smell and look like Christmas!
Cinnamon Applesauce Ornament Dough Recipe
The ingredient list is short. This is so easy! Just four (or even three) things:
- 4 cups cinnamon
- 3 cups applesauce
- 1/4 cup white glue
- [optional] 4 Tablespoons of allspice, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, or a combination of these
This recipe makes approximately 50 2½-3 inch ornaments. Use inexpensive ingredients -- bargain cinnamon and generic applesauce. I found the best deal on cinnamon at Costco. No need to bother with imported or organic foods. These are not to be eaten. Save your fancy foods for the table.
Ground cinnamon is very fine and will easily create clouds of cinnamon "smoke" if you throw it around. Gently pour the cinnamon into measuring cups so that you don't end up with a face full of spiced dust. Although most people love the smell of cinnamon, a huge whiff of straight cinnamon dust into your nostrils is unpleasant at least and possibly painful to more sensitive people.
When mixing your dough, stir gently so that the applesauce can wet down the cinnamon and keep it from blowing around.
Special Notes and Tips
Be aware that some children with sensitive skin my feel a slight burning sensation from the cinnamon dough. Unless they have a serious allergy, this burning will immediately go away after washing your hands. Be on the look out for children who are complaining of burning or tingling in their hands after handling the dough.
Wash with warm water and a sponge or wash cloth to rub off the dried dough. Wearing an apron is a good idea to protect clothes from stains.
Step by Step How to Make Cinnamon Ornaments
Measure the applesauce and put it into the bowl first. Make a well in the applesauce so that when you add the cinnamon it will have something to stick to and not fly back up into your face.
Mix thoroughly. When it becomes too hard to mix with a spoon, go ahead and use your hands to mix it like playdough. You can also put it on the countertop and knead it like dough.
If you are making multiple batches, don't be tempted to mix it all together unless you have a huge commercial mixer. It's too hard to mix, and you'll need a huge bowl. Instead, stick with making separate batches of dough. The 150 ornaments pictured below were made from three batches of the recipe above.
Press your dough into a disc before rolling with the rolling pin. Use steady pressure so that your dough is rolled to an even thickness. You don't want a gingerbread boy with a thick head and thin arms or an angel with a dip in her belly!
Aim for a thickness of ½ inch or slightly less. Our ornaments that were ¼ inch thin did dry quickly -- a plus. But they are very fragile both when wet and when dry. For those reasons, I recommend a thickness closer to ½ inch. Ornaments thicker than ½ inch seem a little bulky and not as attractive.
Photo Guide to Thickness
Cutting the Dough for Cinnamon Ornaments
Lay out your cutters on the dough, using the most of your space by arranging them close to the edges of the dough and to each other. Press down, making sure to use the correct cutting side of the cookie cutters.
(Metal cookie cutters without handles are often confusing to children. The side you hold has a small rim folded over. That side is thicker. Do not cut with that side since it is not sharp and will make the edges of your ornaments ragged. If your cutters are this type, you may even want to use Sharpie markers to indicate the side you hold.)
Using a circular motion with your hand, shift the cookie cutter around to gently loosen the dough from the counter-top. This motion is is like what your hand would to do loosen a bit of grime on a dirty plate -- round and round. Lift the cookie cutter slowly. Sometimes the dough comes with it and sometimes it remains on the counter-top.
If the dough is still inside the cookie cutter, gently push it out from the top. Go slowly! If it is on the counter-top, gingerly raise up an edge and lift the entire cookie. Don't start from a tiny detail on the shape such as a reindeer's antler. You will probably pull it right off. Instead, start lifting at a large edge of the shape.
Lay the ornament onto waxed paper, reshaping it if necessary. The last step is to use a drinking straw to make a hole somewhere in the ornament for stringing ribbon later. make sure to create the hole some distance away from the edges or your hole may rip through. (If your straw gets filled up, simply squeeze the dough back out. Kids love this part.)
Simple Shapes With Wide Edges Work Best
Drying the Cinnamon Ornaments
There is no need to bake. You just need time for them to air dry and a place to lay them out. If you are making a lot, try layering cardboard on a guest bed as I did (see photo below).
Flip them over once a day until they are thoroughly dry. The color will fade to a lighter brown as they dry. Obviously, thicker ornaments will take longer to dry than thin ones. If you are in a hurry or the weather is a bit damp, direct a fan to blow on the ornaments. As a side benefit, the smell of cinnamon will permeate your house!
Find a Flat Place to Let Them Dry
When fully dry, string some bright red ribbon through the hole you made and hang your ornaments on the tree.
Storing Cinnamon Ornaments
The ornaments can last for a few years if kept dry. I recommend a tin with a tight fitting lid. Repurpose a cookie tin that you get for Christmas this year for storing your cinnamon ornaments. Eventually, they will crumble or mildew. But I've used some cinnamon ornaments for up to five years.