Making Salt Dough Ornaments is a holiday tradition for us. They are fun, made from affordable ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen, are decorated with cheap supplies and look incredibly impressive hanging on your tree. Children love making them! Parents love hanging them! And yes, I’m fully aware of the umteenbazillion websites that post instructions for making them, but I don’t want to direct you to make step-by-step “Martha worthy” heirloom ornament gifts. I also don’t want to prod you into cracking the whip on your kids, forcing them to produce hanging snowflakes like a child labor sweat shop. Instead, on this page you’ll simply find the basic recipe and some fun decorating ideas for kids AND adults…and as I mentioned in the title, I DO have a sense of humor…a BAD sense of humor…sorry!
***Salt Dough Ornament Recipe***
1 cup Salt
2 cups Flour
1 cup Lukewarm Water
1. Mix salt and flour together in a big bowl.
2. Add water little at a time while mixing until a dough is formed.
3. Form dough into a ball and knead the dough. The more you kneed it, the smoother your dough…and ornaments…will be. Aim for at least 5 minutes.
4. Roll out your dough and cut with cookie cutters of your choice. Poke a hole in each ornament using a small straw (juice box straws are the perfect size!).
5. Bake ornaments at 200 degrees on an ungreased cookie sheet. The length of baking time can vary, depending on the thickness of your ornaments but it usually takes about 45 to 60 minutes. You could bake them at 350 degrees for a shorter time (usually about 30 minutes) but the ornaments are more likely to bubble and brown. Unfortunately our oven temperature fluctuates unpredictably, so you’ll notice lots of browning and bubbling on our ornaments. They’re no less fun to decorate though!
I highly recommend using Acrylic paint to decorate your Salt Dough Ornaments. It’s cheap: Only about $0.70-$1.50 per bottle. We only used one bottle each of Red, White, Black, Blue, Yellow, Green and Brown, costing us only approx. $5.50 in paint for our ornaments this year. Keep in mind that acrylic paint washes off with soap and water when it’s wet but dries permanent. So if there’s a spill: ACT FAST!
Use whatever paintbrushes are in your price range and that you’re comfortable with. All of them, from foam to natural hair, can be used with acrylic paint.
Clear Coat (optional)
If you want to extend the life of your ornaments and add a professional-looking glossy coat to them (especially effective when giving them as gifts!), I also recommend splurging on a can of glossy polyurethane clear coat spray. It’s available in the spray-paint section of most craft and hobby stores for around $3-$5 and shouldn’t be applied until the acrylic paint has had 24 hours to dry and set. Follow the directions in the can accordingly.
I say it all the time, but REALLY: There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do art! I covered our table in unfolded cardboard boxes, dressed my three-year-old in an old pair of pajamas that he could trash, gave him a paintbrush and some little cups (with a teaspoon of paint in each one) and let him go crazy. I didn’t even bother with a cup of water because I knew he’d probably just spill it and he had no interest in washing his brush between paint colors anyway! …Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It resulted in some cool “swirl” effects on a few ornaments!
My only suggestion to him was to give each ornament a solid-color “base coat” (front and back) before decorating them, to prevent the baked dough from showing. Luckily, he LOVED that idea. I did, of course, get lots of swirly green snowmen and blotchy red stars to hang on our tree, but each ornament is unique.
Upon Charlie’s request (when he saw me doing it to my own ornaments), I did add accents to a few of his (a face and arms on a couple snowmen, a black shaded “rustic” edging on his candycanes and a yellow “burst” on one of his stars) but in the most part, I was happy to leave it in his capable hands to paint the majority of the ornaments.
I promised you a bad sense of humor, so brace yourself!
Our boys (and my husband) have a certain expression they make when they’re deep in thought. We lovingly call it “The Portuguese Smile” because it was inherited from my husband’s grandfather. This little guy has it too.