Painted salt dough ornaments

Contents

Supplies for Salt Dough Christmas Decorations

Salt Dough Christmas Decorations

In the first part of this 2-part salt dough ornament post I shared the salt dough recipe and how to bake it here. In this post I’ll give you my best tips for painting and decorating salt dough ornaments with kids.

Let me start by saying that these were made as a collaboration between me and my 3-year old. I love how they turned out, and how my 3 year old can proudly share gifts from her heart with her friends.

Note: This list contains affiliate links

  • Acrylic Paint. This set gives you a wide variety of colors.
  • Small paintbrushes. A set like this will give you a variety of brush sizes and choices.
  • Table cover
  • Glitter. Martha Stewart makes a set that comes 12 colors.
  • Apron
  • Water jar for cleaning brushes
  • Rag for drying the wet brushes
  • salt dough ornaments

Less you think everything comes together like magic over here, I found that this project involved a lot of *stuff* and have eight tips that will make it more fun and less headache…

Set up your Ornament Painting Station

  1. Gather your materials ahead of time.
  2. Cover the table. Acrylic paint will not easily come off of surfaces and clothing.
  3. Set this up outdoors. Always a wise move if glitter is involved.Even if it’s freezing, it’ll be worth it. No glitter? Indoors will do the trick.
  4. Palette: Use a paper plate for a palette and squeeze small amounts of paint on the plate.
  5. Paint: Use acrylic paints. Don’t mess around with tempera. Acrylic is archival and the ornaments will look beautiful when you take them out year-after-year. FYI: Acrylic paint will not wash out of clothing.
  6. Add some shine. Use glitter or metallic paint. Make it sparkle. It’s the holidays, after all!
  7. Limit the palette. I limited ours to red, white, and green. For Chanukkah, you could use blue, white, and silver. With young children, fewer paint choices make things simpler.
  8. If you follow these steps, when you’re done, all you should have to clean are the brushes and hands.

How to Make Christmas Salt Dough

N got pretty good at painting the ornaments while maintaining minimal contact with the paint.

She wanted to use glitter glue, sometimes all by itself and sometimes on top of paint. The beauty of having a ton of blank ornaments is that they’re ripe for painting experiments. No two ornaments were the same.

Painting the glitter glue was fun, too.

And then we pulled out our entire glitter collection! There’s no stopping us from…

…dumping the glitter like snow, all over the ornaments and workspace. Once more, so happy that I took this project outside. And lucky that it wasn’t a cold or windy day.

And there they are, ready to be strung with ribbons and hung somewhere festive. The glitter sticks right to the acrylic paint, but as a final step, you could seal these with clear acrylic medium like this, which would help keep all the loose glitter on the ornament and off of everything it brushes against.

Salt Dough Ornaments

Making salt dough ornaments are the perfect Christmas craft activity for kids. Not only can kids help to make the dough, they can also paint and decorate the ornaments too. Kids will love making their very own photo salt dough ornaments to give as gifts for Christmas. They can also be great keepsake ornaments to hang on your Christmas tree! We love that you only need a few ingredients from your kitchen to make them too – flour, salt and water! We’ll show you our favorite way to decorate them and make sure you read the tips on how to seal them. Sealing will help preserve your salt dough ornaments for many years to come!

RELATED: 25+ Salt Dough Ornament Ideas

These salt dough ornaments are similar to these which we did last year. The main difference with these ornaments is that we are using a cookie cutter that is shaped like an ornament! So you’re going to get the look of a real bauble and then you can even add a circle cut-out in the center to add a photo (which we love!).

The photo version adds a special personalized touch to the ornament. Parents and grandparents will love to receive this salt dough photo ornament. It will be an ornament they treasure every year as they place it on their Christmas tree!

Ingredients for Salt Dough Ornaments

You’ll only need flour, salt and water to make your ornaments. We do recommend sealing them when they are finished painting. You can seal with either a mod podge or a clear glaze spray.

How Long to Knead Salt Dough

You will definitely need some elbow grease to knead your salt dough. We like to knead for at least 10 minutes to thoroughly mix the dough. Once you start mixing the dough it will be very dry and flaky. Just keep kneading until it turns into a dough-like consistency. If you find it too dry, add a little more water. If it’s still a little sticky, add a little more flour.

Baking Temperature for Salt Dough

We like to bake our salt dough ornaments at a very low temperature. This helps to reduce any puffing you may encounter when baking. If you raise the temperature and notice puffing simply dial back the temperature again.

You’ll need to bake for a long duration when baking at a low temperature. You can also air dry for 24 hours and then bake which helps reduce the baking time required. We do recommend some baking in the oven to ensure all moisture is removed from the ornaments.

What Paint to Use for Salt Dough Ornaments?

We prefer to paint with acrylic paint. For an even brighter ornament, find a glossy acrylic paint. This will give the ornament a little bit of sheen.

How to Seal Salt Dough Ornaments

Once you are done, don’t forget to seal with either mod podge or a clear glaze spray. We like this spray for a durable finish. Adults should do the spraying and always follow directions of the product chosen. Sealing the final ornaments will help stop them from cracking in a few years.

Are Salt Dough Ornaments Safe for Pets?

No. Please keep all salt dough ornaments away from pets. If you plan on hanging on your Christmas tree, place high enough that any pets will not be able to reach them. Due to the salt content in the dough, the ornaments can be toxic to pets if they consume them. They are not toxic if touched so if you want to get a paw print ornament done that is fine.

– 4 cups flour

– 1 cup salt

– 1.5 cups warm water (maybe a little more)

– Ornament Cookie Cutter – we used this one

– Acrylic Paint

– Glitter

– Clear Glue

– Gold Twine

– Clear glaze spray or mod podge

Watch the full tutorial video here before you get started!

How to Make Salt Dough Ornaments

1. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Adults will need to do the baking part, but kids can help decorate!

2. Combine your flour, salt and water and mix. Knead for 5-10 minutes or until your dough is soft. If your dough is too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time. If your dough is too sticky, add a little bit of flour back in.

Tip: Add extra flour to your kneading surface, rolling pin and cookie cutters to help stop the ornaments and dough from sticking.

3. Once you’re done kneading, roll out the dough to about 1/2 cm thickness. If you make your ornaments thicker, they will take much longer to bake. We recommend thinner ornaments to reduce baking time.

4. Using your ornament cookie cutter, cut out your shapes from your dough. Use a smaller circle cookie cutter to cut out the center of some of your ornaments. To make a hole for adding twine in, use a straw.

5. Bake for 2 hours at 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you find your ornaments are still a little doughy on the bottom, put them back in for another hour. If they are still not dried through after this you can leave them to air dry overnight on a cookie drying rack. Check them in the morning and if they need to still dry out more, you can place them back in the oven for another hour.

The baking time will vary greatly depending on the size and thickness of your ornaments. Larger ornaments will take longer whereas smaller ornaments will take less time. To reduce baking time, you can also let them air dry for a day before baking.

Tip: To avoid puffing, make sure your ornaments are not too thick and your temperature is low (250 degrees Fahrenheit)

6. Once cool and completely dried, paint with acrylic paint. We used gold acrylic paint for the tops of the ornaments.

7. You’ll want to seal your ornaments before adding your glitter. Make sure your ornaments are completely dried through before sealing. Spray with a clear glaze spray (adults only) or finish with mod podge.

8. Now add clear glue on top of your ornament and shake glitter on top until you fill the ornament with glitter. For the photo versions we just put a few lines of glitter across the ornament.

9. Glue a photo to the back of the ornament. We would recommend hot glue (adults should do this part) to ensure the photo stays if using a laminated or a real photo. If printing photos from your computer you can use regular glue.

10. Once you’re done, add your gold twine for hanging them on the tree.

Salt dough ornaments are some of our favorite ornaments to make for Christmas! Not only is this a great gift idea for kids to make for Christmas, they will also enjoy making them!

More Salt Dough Ornament Ideas

See how we made these Christmas salt dough ornaments but with different Christmas cookie cutters!

Looking for more fun Salt Dough Ideas?

See over 25+ Salt Dough Ornament Ideas – these are such cute keepsakes!

These Salt Dough Handprint ornaments are our most popular salt dough ornament.

We love these salt dough star ornaments. They are easy to make and have a natural-look to them without any paint!

Pin this for later!

Christmas Crafts? These are Not Your Mama’s Salt Dough Ornaments

Use your imagination!

Remember the salt dough ornaments you made in preschool? Well, the projects one can create with salt dough have come a long way, baby. You can make realistic gingerbread cookie stars, rustic disks stamped with quotes or vintage images, glow-in-the-dark ornaments, or even keepsakes with your baby’s handprint. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination. So get out your rolling pin and dig in to create ornaments that will be beautiful both as gifts or hung on your own tree.

Basic salt dough recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • ½-1 cup water

Making, baking, shaping

To make ornaments, combine dry ingredients in a bowl, mixing well. Add one-half cup water and mix. Continue adding more water and mixing until you get a play dough-like consistency. Knead the dough with your hands until smooth.

Divide dough in half, wrap one half in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Place the other half of the dough on parchment paper and roll out with a rolling pin, using a non-stick cooking spray such as Pam as needed to prevent sticking. (Using spray instead of flour helps to prevent the ornaments from being discolored with flour.) Once the dough is about ½ inch thick, cut out shapes with cookie cutters just as you would real cookies. To create the hole which will be used to hang the ornament, a disposable drinking straw can be used to “punch out” an opening.

Cutting out the shapes directly on parchment paper will save the shapes from becoming distorted when moving them to a cookie sheet with a spatula. Bake at 250 degrees for three hours. Ovens can vary, so check after two hours by poking an ornament with the tines of a fork. If the “cookie” gives at all, it’s not done. Cool shapes completely before painting.

Gingerbread variations

Add two tablespoons of cinnamon and two tablespoons of cocoa powder to the flour/salt mixture in the basic salt dough recipe. Combine the dry ingredients before adding the water. Knead the dough with your hands until you get a play dough-like consistency. Roll out the dough and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Instead of sprinkling with flour to prevent sticking, use a nonstick cooking spray on your work surface and on the dough itself as needed. Don’t forget to cut out the holes! Bake as directed.

To decorate, apply white 3-D fabric paint as you would frosting and sprinkle with white glitter. Using the “chunkiest” glitter you can find will add to the effect of sugar on the frosting. If you make gingerbread people, you can use a variety of colors to decorate.

Set up a stamping station

Stamping salt dough gives these ornaments a rustic, vintage look. Start by cutting out small and large circles with cookie cutters or quart and pint canning lid rings. Cut the circles out directly on the cookie sheet or parchment paper for easy transfer. Be sure to cut the hanging holes in each shape before stamping. To stamp, ink the stamp as you would normally, then press the stamp into the dough. It’s a good idea to practice on a piece of scrap paper first. Use letter stamps to create holiday phrases or spell out names. Try a variety of stamps, even non-Christmas symbols such as music notes, birds, or branches. Dark green, black, and brown show up well after baking. Once the dough is stamped to your liking, bake as directed.

Once the ornaments are completely cooled, you can add more ink to the edges. Using a makeup sponge, rub ink along the edges of each circle to add to the distressed look. You can also paint the ornaments with a light coat of watercolor paint for a muted touch of color.

Glow, glow, glow!

Add two tablespoons of glow in the dark paint to the basic salt dough recipe and mix well. Then roll out the dough and cut into shapes as usual. Because these ornaments will glow, you don’t want to cover the surfaces with a lot of paint. Try stamping before baking, or enhance the ornaments with a light dusting of glitter adhered with white glue after baking.

Turn out the lights to see the ornaments glow softly.

3D decorations

Using the basic salt dough recipe, roll out and cut into Christmas cookie shapes. Poke the hanging holes in each, and then bake as directed.

After the pieces are cool, use 3-D Fabric paint to add the decorative details to create a frosting-like look. Create lines or dots with the paint, or squirt on the paint and spread with a plastic knife. Top with white glitter to resemble sugar.

Create a clever chalkboard

Baked salt dough ornaments have an uneven surface, making it hard to create a “real” chalkboard surface. But you can still create the look of chalkboard by painting baked ornaments with matte acrylic in black. When the paint is dry, add a message with a white paint pen, or white 3-D paint. Try writing a phrase such as: “A+ Teacher” for a unique teacher gift!

Silver and gold

A coat of shiny gold or silver paint will add class to an ordinary shape. After the baked pieces are completely cool, mom or dad can spray paint them in silver or gold. You could even up the glam by gluing on plastic jewels. A strong glue like E-600 will hold up over many holidays.

Merry memories

For a baby (or fur baby!) keepsake ornament, roll out your salt dough to a 1-inch thickness. You will need to need a thicker dough to make a good mold. Make a deep impression of baby’s hand, foot (or your fur babies paw in the dough). Because you never know exactly where baby’s hand or foot will land, I recommend making the impression first, before cutting out the ornament from the dough. Add baby’s name and the year by stamping the dough with letter/number stamps, or simply writing in the dough with a toothpick. Poke a hole for hanging, then use a butter knife to cut around your work. Cut a big circle, rectangle, or a free-form shape. Bake the ornament as directed, checking after two hours, the thicker dough will need a longer cook time. Or, for a fun family memory, use large wreath or christmas tree cookie cutters to cut out ornaments. Have each member of the family make a fingerprint in the dough. After baking, paint the wreath or tree in green and use a finer brush to paint the fingerprints red.

Beautiful bedazzling!

Bedazzle your ornaments with glitter using glitter glue or by brushing the ornaments with white glue, and then sprinkling with glitter.

Once you’ve made a batch of beautiful ornaments, don’t forget the ribbon! Try using a length of twine or raffia as a hanger for the vintage stamped ornaments, or a shiny gold or silver to complement the more elegant pieces. Whatever you use, just thread the string or ribbon through the hanging hole in each ornament and tie a knot to create a loop.

Wonderful watercolors

Instead of acrylics or puffy paint, try decorating baked and cooled shapes with watercolors. The trick with watercolor paints is to use just a tiny bit of water and lots of paint, so that you don’t soak the salt dough. Watercolor paint gives these ornaments a lovely, muted look. And it’s an easy, less messy way for kids to help create ornaments.

Salt dough ornament tips

Refrigerating the dough for one hour before rolling it out will make it easier to work with. Cutting out shapes and stamping directly on your cookie sheet is helpful, because you won’t risk distorting the shapes while transferring the ornaments to be baked.

Baked salt dough is pretty hardy stuff, but if you want to add an extra layer of protection, spray your finished ornaments with a clear varnish such as Krylon.

Photo from: 10 Easy DIY Holiday Gifts for Party Hosts, Friends and Neighbors

We have a new favorite dough around these parts …. Playdough is still our go to for most things, and of course our couldn’t be easier no cook playdough recipe still gets used almost weekly. But this new dough in town has some interesting fun added features – You can bake it and paint it. So, what is this new dough? Well, it’s actually not new … but new for us … Salt Dough! Oh the fun of painting salt dough!

If you were like us and hadn’t really experimented with salt dough, you may wish to start. It is so so easy to make, easy to mold and shape, easy to bake, and easy to paint! I had thought it was good for big kids – but it is also great for little ones.

To make salt dough you only need 3 ingredients: Salt, flour, and water. We use the recipe from The Imagination Tree. You can get the measurements for the recipe and a simple how-to right here from The Imagination Tree.

Once you have created with the salt dough and baked it, you can paint it!

Painting Salt Dough

Painting salt dough is very easy. We have done some experimenting with the best paint for salt dough. We have tried acrylic paint, tempra paint, and water colors. Truly, all worked! But the winner for best paint for salt dough? Water colors – by far!

Painting salt dough with water colors is really a great activity for little kids and big kids. It is very forgiving and the paint easily spreads on the salt dough with added water. Sam, my preschooler enjoyed painting salt dough hearts. He painted them easily, and then painted some polka dots on top too. This is another reason why water colors are the best paint for salt dough – it soaks into the dough drying quickly, allowing for second coats very quickly. Ideal for preschoolers!

Madeline, my 11 year old, also liked painting the salt dough with water colors. She made a planet for a project she was working on. The water colors were definitely the best paint to use on the salt dough for blending. The paint was easily blended on the dough with a little added water. It was also very forgiving, allowing for paint to be covered up if it turned out the wrong shade.

I love art projects that all of my kids can do together. Painting salt dough was a great one! A nice change from our regular playdough AND from our regular painting!

Please consider liking us on Facebook for more creative learning activities for your little ones! Thank you!

We have a long standing “love affair” with salt dough, it is something that we come back to over and over again. Many of our salt dough crafts we don’t even “bother” sharing with you here, as they are variations on the same theme or the children simply modeling, exploring and having fun with salt dough. But now, with Christmas approaching, I thought it would be great to pull together a set of salt dough craft ideas for kids – as for me, salt dough is kind of a “classic Christmas craft” – who hasn’t made salt dough ornaments using cookie cutters in the past? And if you haven’t, it is time you made some!!! Once again we share a crafty chat video – all about salt dough- but I also demo, how very quick and easy it is to whip up a batch of salt dough with our classic salt dough recipe. We also discuss some OTHER salt dough craft ideas – though ornament making is still my very favourite, there are plenty of other things you can make from this super versatile craft material!

Salt dough is also great for the classroom, as it is inexpensive to make and you can air dry it over a few days.

Salt Dough Crafts Video & Simple Votive Demo

Would LOVE for you to pop over and Subscribe to My YouTube Channel! Lots of quirky, crafty fun!

Further Salt Dough Craft Ideas for Kids:

So first of all we share our Saltdough recipe – simple

To make salt dough, all you need is 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt and UP to a cup of water. You can also add good quality food colouring to dye your saltdough before drying! When we say “cup” .. any cup works, so long as you keep the proportions the same.

If it is a hot summers day, dry your salt dough out in the sun, turning occassionally. If crafting in Winter, speed up the drying process by heating in the oven at 50C. Remember to turn regularly.

Also, if you are making anything for hanging – i.e. with holes, remember to “re-poke” the holes during drying, to avoid the holes closing up. Salt dough as tendency to “spread” like cookies and the holes can close.

Use coloured salt dough to make easy and bright shell pendants.

Salt dough beads

More Salt Dough Pendants with these cute Kawaii Peas in a Pod Pendants!

Similarly you can make some fabulous Salt Dough Emoji Beads!

Microwavable Salt Dough LOVE necklace

Though THESE Autumn leave bowls were made using clay, I have seen the SAME PROCESS used to make saltd ough leaf bowls. Wonderful.

Adorable Pine Cone Hedgehogs!

Created wonderful Colour Leaf Impressions

A wonderful “classic” Salt Dough Foot or Handprint keepsake – these can also easily be turned into Christmas Tree ornaments.

Similarly these Footprint Hearts are super popular!

Similarly these thumbprint hearts are adorable!

Simple Salt Dough Votives – these are SUPER easy for kids to make and are great as little Christmas Votives or for Diwali – watch the video for our “how to”, really SO EASY to make!

Salt dough Gift Tags – make them for any ocassion, these are little Wedding Gift Tags. Awww.

Thanks Giving Pendants

Salt dough Lady Birds – they make for a great counting set

Salt dough baskets

Salt dough bread for the toy kitchen

Lots more salt dough play food here!

Salt Dough Snowmen

Salt Dough Penguin

Salt Dough Pen Box

Salt Dough Egg Cups

Salt Dough Medals

Modelling your favourite Book Characters

Salt Dough Wreath

These double up as Valentine’s Decorations or for Christmas

Or combine your hearts with buttons! Such sweet Button Heart Decorations!

Lovely Heart Fridge Magnets. So pretty!

Conversation Heart Necklaces!

Dias de Los Muertos Ornaments (Pin only!) – though you will need these (US Readers) cookie cutters and UK Readers these cutters (affiliate links)

Salt Dough works great as Fridge Magnets:

Valentines’s or Mother’s Day Fridge Magnets

Give a Hug Fridge Magnets

Cute little Crab and Turtle Fridge magnets

And here the “classic” 10 Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments

For Christmas, you may want to give our Cinnamon Salt Dough a go. SOOO lovely!

Summarising the Salt Dough Ornaments shared below!

As mentioned Christmas is a great time to have a go at Salt Dough ornaments. Start off simple with the classic “cookie cutter ornaments” and then get a bit more adventurous and see what you can create?!

You can achieve a great amount of detail – e.g. look at these wonderful Salt Dough Santas!

(Get some cute Christmas Cookie Stampers here – US/ UK)

Similarly, get the felt tips out, make your basic Salt Dough Recipe and create some of these fabulous Santa Star Ornaments. Just so fun!

Salt Dough Stars – nice and simple! Kids LOVE this!

Sea Glass and Button Trees

Combine Salt Dough and Stamping

More Salt Dough Stamping

Salt Dough Owl

Salt dough ornaments with seeds

Salt Dough Patterns – use doilies or similar!

Love these quirky characters!

Salt dough sun catchers

More Beaded Ornaments

Star Wars Ornaments (I know someone who will love these!) You will need a set of these Star Wars Cutters (US Readers) or these cutters (UK Readers) – affiliate links

Salt Dough Easter Ornaments… not just for Christmas!

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Use this recipe to make salt dough ornaments that double as personalized gift tags – both kids and adults will love this EASY craft.

Skills Required: Beginner. You’ll make salt dough according to the recipe, cut your shapes, and then bake it. Then you’ll paint and Mod Podge the resulting ornaments. Anyone can do this project without prior experience.

I have a confession to make: I LOVE wrapping gifts. Presentation may not be everything, but it’s worth a lot in my book. When I can add a unique, handmade, and thoughtful topper to my gifts, I’m definitely going to take the time to do so.

In addition to gift wrap, I also love Christmas ornaments. Especially something personalized, that I can make myself. “So what,” I thought, “if I can combine the two together?”

DIY Salt Dough Ornaments

These initial salt dough ornaments, sealed with my new favorite Mod Podge (Sparkle!), are perfect for adding a personalized touch of fun to your gift wrap! Then, of course, you can hang them on your Christmas tree instead of throwing them away as you would a typical gift tag.

How to Make Salt Dough

Salt dough is easy to make with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen! Our salt dough recipe is made with flour, salt, and water. It’s *really* easy and you can’t mess it up. The only thing I ask is that you don’t eat the dough, or let your children eat it. It tastes terrible anyway!

Preserving the Ornaments

You have a few options for preserving your ornaments. Before you do any preservation, you’ll want to paint them (if you want to use paint). You can paint the entire ornament or partial . . . and I recommend acrylic paint.

After that you can do one of two things. You can seal the ornaments with Mod Podge (giving them a few coats) or you can use a spray sealer. Or both. In this project, we’re using Sparkle Mod Podge to both seal the ornament and add a bit of bling to the project. So Mod Podge serves double duty in this instance!

The finish you use to preserve the salt dough is up to you – pick Satin, Gloss, or Matte depending on what you like. My personal favorite (besides the Sparkle) is a Satin finish.

How Long do Salt Dough Ornaments Last?

If you preserve your ornaments properly, they can last for years. I have some dough ornaments from my childhood, so they would be at least 35 years old. They are still in great condition and there’s been no disintegration whatsoever!

Salt Dough Ornament Recipe

Gather These Supplies

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 3/4-1 cup water
  • Initial cookie cutters
  • Mod Podge Sparkle
  • Paint for dipping (if desired)
  • Twine or ribbon for hanging

Step 1: Make your dough by mixing your flour, salt and water. If your dough is too dry, add a bit more water, if it’s too wet, just add more flour . . . salt dough is very forgiving; it’s hard to mess it up!

Step 2: Roll out your dough and cut out your initials. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Step 3: Use the end of a skewer to poke a hole at the top of each initial for hanging. Bake at 250 degrees for 2-3 hours. Let cool.

Step 4: I decided to dip my ornaments in gold paint (which I added to a cup and mixed with about a tablespoon of water to thin), but you can decorate your ornaments with glitter, craft paint, or anything else your heart desires. Dip your initials, and let dry on parchment paper.

Step 5: Once dry, add a coat (or more) of Mod Podge Sparkle to help seal the ornaments and give them a bit of shimmer.

It’s as simple as that! These are so fun and easy to make, and it’s a great kids’ craft, as well!

Thank you so much for letting me share my salt dough ornaments with you all today! You can find lots of other tutorials and inspiration on my blog.

Materials

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 3/4 – 1 cup water
  • Mod Podge Sparkle
  • Paint for dipping (optional)
  • Baker’s twine
  • Parchment paper

Tools

  • Cookie cutters
  • Scissors
  • Cookie sheet
  • Oven

Instructions

  1. Make your dough by mixing your flour, salt and water. If your dough is too dry, add a bit more water, if it’s too wet, just add more flour . . . salt dough is very forgiving; it’s hard to mess it up!
  2. Roll out your dough and cut out your shapes (in this case, initials) with the cookie cutters. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
  3. Use the end of a skewer to poke a hole at the top of each ornament for hanging.
  4. Bake at 250 degrees for 2-3 hours. Let cool.
  5. If desired, dip ornaments in paint or glitter. Let dry on parchment paper.
  6. Once dry, add a coat (or more) of Mod Podge Sparkle to help seal the ornaments and give them a bit of shimmer. Let dry.
  7. Use baker’s twine to hang.

And if you are interested in making some additional gift tags with salt dough, get inspired by these faux cookie gift tags. You can cut any shape into the center that you like:

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One of the most popular holiday-themed posts on my blog is my tutorial for how to make cinnamon ornaments—they are easy, smell wonderful, and are a super fun craft for the whole family. But if cinnamon isn’t your thing, another great option for homemade ornaments is to use salt dough.

One distinct advantage to making salt dough ornaments is that I can almost guarantee you already have all the supplies you need in your kitchen. All you need to get your ornaments going is all-purpose flour, salt, and water. It’s a great craft for those days when you just aren’t quite sure what to do with the kids (or adults). No special materials or equipment required. Just mix, cut, bake, decorate, and hang!

Why do you need salt in salt dough ornaments?

Before I dive into the (really simple) directions, I want to answer a question you see a lot when talking about salt dough—why salt? Well, there are a number of reasons. First up, the large volume of salt makes this dough not-so-tasty, which is a good thing when you have the littlest elves helping you and they are determined to take a sample taste of the craft project. While the dough isn’t toxic, it isn’t exactly recommended anyone eat it. After all, consuming raw flour has been linked to e. coli outbreaks.

Secondly, and probably most importantly, salt is an excellent preservative. If you left the salt out of the recipe below, and just mixed together water and flour, you would end up creating a near-perfect little homestead for mold to set up shop in—not so great if you want to keep these ornaments in a box in the basement for the majority of the year. Salt is such a great preservative, that I have a salt dough ornament that hangs on my Christmas tree that I made as six-year-old in 1989! That’s a 30-year-old ornament, friends. Add the salt to preserve these ornaments for long-term memories.

What ingredients do you need to make this salt dough recipe?

The recipe for these ornaments doesn’t get any easier. You need exactly three ingredients to get you going (scroll down to the bottom of the post for a printable version):

  • All-purpose flour (4 cups)—I recommend sticking with all-purpose flour here because it’s affordable, it’s easy to work with, and it creates the most consistent color. Bleached all-purpose flour is best, but unbleached works, too. Since you aren’t ingesting this at all, go ahead and get the bargain basement generic brand flour to save yourself some cash. Save the whole wheat flour for making muffins or baking bread!
  • Table salt (1 cup)—Again, make sure to add the salt to preserve these ornaments! Just like with the flour, go with the generic brand table salt here—reserve your high-end Himalayan sea salt for cooking.
  • Warm water (1 1/2 cups)—The warm water helps the dough come together a little bit easier. Plus, you’ll knead the dough with your hands, and warm dough is so much more comfortable to knead in the winter!

What tools will you need to make salt dough ornaments?

Chances are, you’ll have all the tools you need to make these ornaments already in your house. Here’s a general list of what we used to make the ornaments pictured here:

  • Mixing bowl and large spoon
  • Parchment paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie cutters
  • Forks, steel wool, rubber stamps, other textural items—optional, to add texture to the ornaments
  • Straw or toothpick—for poking a hole for the ornaments to hang from
  • Baking sheet
  • White spray paint—optional, for giving the ornaments an even background to decorate
  • Glitter, glue, paint, Mod Podge—optional, for decorating, or leave the rustic salt dough ornaments
  • Polyurethane spray (like this one) or Mod Podge—optional, for extra preservation power
  • Ribbon—for hanging the ornaments

How do you make salt dough ornaments?

Alright, let’s make these ornaments. You’re going to be blown away by just how easy this is!

Step 1: Mix the Dough

Grab your large mixing bowl, and add in the flour and salt. Stir until well combined. Then, slowly stream in the warm water while stirring. Keep stirring until you’ve added all the water.

You’ll get to a point where it is too hard to stir with a spoon. Put it down and use your hands to get in there and mix it well.

Once the dough starts to come together, keep kneading with your hands for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable (just like making a pizza!).

Step 2: Roll Out & Cut Ornaments

Put down a large piece of parchment paper, and place a good-sized chunk of dough in the middle. Place another large piece of parchment on top, and roll out the dough until 1/8″ thick. You want to err on the side of a thinner dough. Too thick, and the ornaments tend to split or break easily because of air pockets that get trapped in the middle. I’m a believer that all body types are beautiful, but in this instance, thin is in.

Remove the top sheet of parchment, and then using cookie cutters, cut into the dough—do not try to remove the cut out pieces! You want those to stay on the parchment.

When you’re finished cutting the pieces, peel away the excess dough, leaving behind the shapes on the parchment.

I like to put texture into my ornaments, so this is where I bring out any random object that has a fun texture—forks, straws, steel wool, other cookie cutters, scissors. There are no rules! You can also use rubber stamps.

And then, take a drinking straw, and poke a hole in the top of each ornament for a ribbon to hang from. Make sure to blow out the plug in the end of the drinking straw before you go to the next ornament. Trust me, I’ve ruined a good stainless steel straw or two by forgetting the dough inside and having it drying rock-solid inside!

Step 3: Bake Your Ornaments

Transfer the whole parchment paper and shapes onto a baking sheet. Bake the ornaments in a 300°F oven for about an hour. This isn’t an exact science, because inevitably, your shapes won’t be 100% even in thickness. They are done when they feel hard. They are really done if they start to brown (no worries, that’s something we can fix later!).

Let the ornaments cool completely before proceeding to the next step.

Step 4: Paint and Decorate Your Ornaments

Now we get to the really fun part—decorating! If you prefer the rustic, classic look of the salt dough, you can hang the ornaments as-is. But I think part of the fun of making salt dough ornaments is getting out the glitter and making a holiday mess.

Before I start decorating, I like to mist all of my cooled ornaments with a thin coat of white spray paint. This helps cover up any irregularities in color (like when some got too brown from baking), and I think it helps the ornaments looks more like clay than hard bread. A light coating will dry to the touch in just a few minutes so you can keep decorating. Of course, this part is totally optional!

Once the spray paint is dry to the touch, I paint using acrylic paints and brushes (puffy paints would also work wonderfully). I like to use the textural spaces to help guide where I put paint—but it’s really up to you to get creative on how you want to decorate. Where I want glitter, I use Mod Podge or school glue. It’s a fun, carefree way to spend a holiday afternoon!

Step 5: Seal and Hang Your Ornaments

Once all your decorating is dry, it behooves you to seal these ornaments so they last a good, long while. While the salt does an excellent job of preserving the salt dough itself, sealing the ornaments will help keep all the decorations you just lovingly applied looking great for years to come. I like to use spray poly, but coating each one in a thin layer of Mod Podge would also do the trick.

I just do one coat on each side and let it dry completely. I like to use matte or satin finish poly so the ornaments still feel like unfinished clay, but if you dig the glossy look, use semi-gloss or glossy poly or Mod Podge.

String up the ornaments using pretty ribbon or twine, and then put those beautiful new ornaments on your Christmas tree! These also make wonderful, thoughtful gifts. We tend to make either a batch of these or my Cinnamon Ornaments each year to give as stocking stuffers to friends and family.

How do you make a salt dough handprint?

Salt dough ornaments are a great way to mark major milestones in your life! This is a salt dough ornament we made to mark our daughter’s first Christmas using her hand print. Her hand was so tiny. *sniff* *sniff*

To make a salt dough handprint (or footprint):

  1. Roll out the dough as directed above, making it slightly thicker than you would for regular ornaments.
  2. Evenly press the hand or foot in the dough.
  3. Cut around the handprint or footprint using the rim of a bowl or glass. You might be tempted to do the other way around (cut out the shape first, then get the handprint), but trust me on this one—wiggly, squirmy babies do not know how to center their hands into a shape! You’re better off having a large piece of salt dough to “catch” the print, and then cutting out around it.

I recommend making more than one of this precious heirloom! Salt dough is incredibly affordable, so you can make lots of “copies” for just pennies more. I speak from experience here. While salt dough preserves well, it is still breakable, and I dropped and broke our handprint ornament from our daughter during her second Christmas. I would have been heartbroken if I didn’t have two others stashed in storage. Happy holidays!

Looking for more fun holiday crafts? Check these out:

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • Glitter, paint, and ribbon, for decoration
  • Polyurethane spray, for preservation

To Make Dough

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Slowly stream in the water while stirring until it comes together. Finish mixing together with hands. Knead until dough is soft, about five minutes.

To Bake Ornaments

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Place half of the dough between two large pieces of parchment paper. Roll out until 1/8″ thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment.
  2. Using cookie cutters, cut shapes (leaving them on the parchment). Peel away the excess dough. Transfer the parchment with shapes to a baking sheet.
  3. Using a straw or toothpick, poke a hole for ribbon or an ornament hanger. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until hard.
  4. Once cooled, decorate using glitter and paint. To make sure the ornaments last a long time (I have one from 30 years ago!), spray with a light coat of polyurethane spray. Thread on a ribbon and hang on tree.

Share it or save it for later

Learn how to make classic salt dough ornaments with the kids—with baking, painting, and storage info. This method is straight forward, easy, and thorough—and they a perfect kids holiday gift for grandparents, teachers, and loved ones!

These homemade ornaments are a staple of childhood and I love doing this Christmas activity with my kids each year. We make salt dough handprints, ornaments, and sometimes, just any old shape they want to. It’s an easy project that we can do together—and then share as kid-made holiday gifts!

Salt Dough Recipe

Making salt dough at home is as easy as combining three pantry staples together into a dough. It’s fairly fool proof (as long as you follow the measurements!) and is a recipe that even little kids can help make.

Ingredients in Salt Dough

To make this recipe, you’ll need table salt, all-purpose flour, and water. That’s it! (I buy store brand, cheap flour for this since project to keep it very budget-friendly.)

How to Make Salt Dough Ornaments Step-by-Step

Here’s a look at how to make the dough for this salt dough.

  1. Measure out the flour and water. (photo 1)
  2. Add the water. (photo 2)
  3. Stir with a wooden spoon. (photo 3)
  4. Keep stirring until the dough is mostly together and is hard to stir any longer. (photo 4)
  5. Knead a few times with hands to bring the dough together. (photo 5)
  6. Place dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll out. (photo 6)

TIP: You can divide the dough in sections so multiple kids can have their own dough to work with.

How to Cut Out, Bake and Decorate Salt Dough Ornaments

Once you start rolling, here’s a look at what will follow.

  1. Roll out, changing directions occasionally, until about 1/4-inch thick. (This may not get precise if you’re working with kids and that’s okay!) (photo 1)
  2. Stamp cookie cutters. (photo 2)
  3. Remove the dough around the shapes, then either transfer the whole piece of parchment paper to a cookie sheet OR transfer just the shapes to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. (photo 3)
  4. Poke holes so you have a place for a string to hang as ornaments. (photo 4)
  5. Press in a hand to make a handprint, if desired. (photo 5)
  6. Bake, let cool and decorate! (photo 6)

TIP: Re-roll any remaining dough after Step 3 here to make additional ornaments.

Salt Dough Handprint Ornament

Capturing a handprint in salt dough is a perfect grandparent gift, or a keepsake ornament to make for your own tree. I love pulling out our little collection year after year. Know that getting a good print may take a few tries if doing a baby’s hand!

TIP: Check the size of your round cookie cutter against your child’s hand to make sure that it’s big enough. You may need one that’s 4-5 inches in diameter.

Best Paint for Salt Dough Ornaments

If the kids are wearing smocks, the table is protected, and you are reasonably sure they won’t paint all over their hands and faces, I like using regular acrylic craft paint since it holds up best on crafts. With younger kids who may wind up wearing more of the paint, I’d recommend tempura washable paints.

TIP: We put our paint into the base of old egg cartons since we always have those on hand. You can also use paper plates.

How to Preserve Salt Dough Ornaments

To help preserve your finished dried ornaments, you can coat with a layer or two of Mod Podge or spray with a sealer. Either work well. I’d recommend coating or sealing both sides, so do one side and let it dry, and then do the second side. If using the sealer, do it in a well ventilated area without the kids too close by.

TIP: To store these ornaments from year to year, you’ll want to wrap in bubble wrap. Store in a container that won’t be banged around, dropped or exposed to excess moisture.

Tips for Making the Best Salt Dough Ornaments

  • Use paper lollipop sticks or a skewer to make your holes.
  • Use a 4-5 inch round cookie cutter to make handprint ornaments.
  • Tie on baker’s twine or thin ribbon to hang as ornaments.
  • Try to get the dough to an even thickness before baking so the ornaments bake evenly.
  • Bake for the time indicated and then longer if your ornaments still feel soft. They should be firm to the touch without much give.
  • Let cool fully before painting.
  • If you want to paint the background of a handprint ornament, do that before you paint the inside of the hand. Let dry before adding a second color. Some people like to paint the whole thing white or cream to give it a more finished look.
  • Use acrylic craft paint for older kids who can be trusted with paint and tempura washable paints with younger toddlers.since it holds up best on crafts. With younger kids who may wind up wearing more of the paint, I’d recommend.
  • To help preserve your finished dried ornaments, you can coat with a layer or two of Mod Podge or spray with a sealer.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this project, so please comment below to share!

These take a few hours to bake and cool, so plan to do the rolling and painting in two separate sessions either morning and afternoon or on two different days.

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup table salt
  • 1.5 cups water
  1. Mix the ingredients together in a large bowl using a wooden spoon. When it becomes too stiff to stir, use clean hands to bring the dough together.
  2. Knead a few times until the dough is uniform and soft, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Divide dough into 2 or 4 sections and roll out to about 1/4-1/2 inch thick between two sheets of parchment paper. This will help prevent sticking.
  4. Cut out with cookie cutters. Transfer shapes to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Repeat rolling and cutting out shapes to use up the dough.
  6. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
  7. Do a 4-5-inch circle and press in a child’s handprint if desired.
  8. Use a paper lollipop stick or a skewer to make a hole to hang as an ornament.
  9. Bake for 2-2.5 hours or until firm to the touch.
  10. Remove from oven, let cool, and paint if desired with acrylic or washable tempera paint.
  11. Once paint is completely dry, seal with Mod Podge if desired.

Notes

Divide the recipe in half to make a smaller portion of dough if desired.

Use paper lollipop sticks or a skewer to make your holes.

Use a 4-5 inch round cookie cutter to make handprint ornaments.

Tie on baker’s twine or thin ribbon to hang as ornaments.

Try to get the dough to an even thickness before baking so the ornaments bake evenly.

Bake for the time indicated and then longer if your ornaments still feel soft. They should be firm to the touch without much give.

Let cool fully before painting.

If you want to paint the background of a handprint ornament, do that before you paint the inside of the hand. Let dry before adding a second color.

Use regular acrylic paint for older kids who can be trusted with paint and washable tempera paint with younger toddlers.

To help preserve your finished dried ornaments, you can coat with a layer or two of Mod Podge or spray with a sealer.

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