One of the favourite craft projects in our house is homemade salt dough! My bigger ones love making salt dough ornaments, and I love that I always have the supplies on hand to mix up this salt dough recipe.
Last Christmas we’ve spent a day making salt dough ornaments for our tree. It’s a wonderful family activity that ends with us having beautiful ornaments that will last for decades!
The recipe for these ornaments doesn’t get any easier. You need exactly three ingredients:
Plain/ 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.
Table salt (1 cup)—Again, make sure to add the salt to preserve these ornaments! Just go with the generic brand table salt here.
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!
Chances are, you’ll have all the items you need to make these ornaments already in your house. Here’s a general list of what we used to make our ornaments:
Mixing bowl and large spoon
Parchment paper/silicone baking mat
Toothpick, straw or skewer—for poking a hole for the ornaments to hang from
Craft glue to make a varnish for the ornaments
Paints and paintbrushes
Ribbon/twine/wire for hanging the ornaments
In your large mixing bowl, place the flour and salt. Stir until well combined. Then, slowly pour 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 mix it well, like you would any other dough.
Once the dough starts to come together, keep kneading with your hands for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable.
Now that your salt dough is made, you can use it just like you would modelling clay to make sculptures, or you can roll it and cut it out to make ornaments or salt dough handprints. This time we made Christmas ornaments:
If you’ve ever rolled and cut out sugar biscuit, you’ll be an expert at doing with the salt dough! (This is my daughters favourite part)
Here’s the process:
Sprinkle a little flour on your parchment paper or silicone baking mat and roll out the dough until 2-4mm thick. You want to err on the side of a thinner dough because if it is too thick, the ornaments tend to split or break easily because of air pockets that get trapped in the middle.
Then cut out your shapes using cookie cutters, and put on your silicone baking sheet or you baking tray lined with parchment.
Take a skewer, toothpick, stainless steel straw, or any other pointy/pokey object, and poke a hole in the top of each ornament for a ribbon to hang from.
Bake the ornaments in a 120°C oven for 1-2 hours depending on the siege and thickness of your decorations. 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 (don’t worry if they do go a bit brown, you can just paint over the brown bits!). Let the ornaments cool completely before decorating.
I used acrylic paints and gave my children their regular paints and brushes. I stuck with the colour scheme of the room the tree is in, and my kids used the toddler method of all the colours at once – but it’s really up to you to get creative on how you want to decorate.
Once all your decorating is dry, you need 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 decorated looking great for years to come.
Make the “varnish” with one part glue to two parts water. I just do one coat on each side and let it dry completely in between. We used our cake cooling racks for this.
String up the ornaments using pretty ribbon or twine, and then put those beautiful new ornaments on your Christmas tree! These could also be used to make wonderful, thoughtful gifts