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Salt Dough Ornaments

Salt dough ornaments are the sweetest little homemade gift! You can make them for the whole family or classroom with hardly any effort and there are plenty of fun personalization options. Kids will have a great time making these!

Click HERE to save this recipe for Salt Dough Ornaments to Pinterest!

Making Salt Dough Ornaments

When my daughter, Madeline, was in elementary school she received a homemade salt dough ornament from one of her friends. I thought that was the cutest idea for kids to gift to one another and something that doesn’t cost a lot of money.

Christmas crafts as gifts for school friends aren’t something I’d really considered before – surely buying stuff was easier? But after she came home with that adorable ornament, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

In years past, usually on a snowy afternoon when everyone is tired of playing in the snow, we whip up a batch of these cute Salt Dough Ornaments to hand out to friends. We keep it simple with solid colors, and classic shapes like Christmas trees and snowflakes, but red and white candy canes or yellow bells would be super cute and festive, too.

Salt Dough Ornaments are actually really easy to make and are the perfect activity for kids to do during the month of December. Especially on days that are too cold or snowy to play outside. Usually those days are abundant here in Colorado.

When Kevin and I got married, we decided on decorating two Christmas trees each year — one downstairs in the formal living that is all matchy-matchy and perfect.

It sits in front of the windows and looks so pretty with the tree’s white lights and ornaments in shades of blue, silver, and gold glowing through the windows at night. Even though it is a decorator tree, there are a few special-to-me ornaments on it that just happen to fit the color scheme, and every year we try to add a couple new ones.

Upstairs in the hallway outside of the kids game room is a tree with all of their collector ornaments. That tree contains all of the cute handmade things the kids made in class in years past, and multi-color lights. It’s totally tacky in the best way possible.

This year, we made a couple extra of these salt dough ornaments to put on our memory-filled tree and I look forward to more in years to come. I don’t think making salt dough ornaments is an activity that kids will ever really grow out of.

salt dough ingredients

Salt Dough Ingredients

This is the best salt dough recipe! If you’ve never learned how to make salt dough, don’t fret — it’s so easy to make your own homemade ornaments! Here’s what you will need to make a batch of this salt dough:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Essential Oils for scenting (optional!)

In addition to these key ingredients to make the dough, you’ll also need some additional items:

  • mixing bowl
  • mixing spoon
  • rolling pin
  • cookie cutters
  • food coloring or acrylic craft paint (or keep them naturally colored)
  • drinking straw (this helps cut the hole for threading ribbon or twine to string the ornament)
  • parchment paper
  • twine or ribbon

That’s it! Any other tools you use are up to your personal preference depending on how you’d like to customize your homemade salt dough ornaments.

For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card.

step by step images to make salt dough ornament

Click HERE to save this recipe for Salt Dough Ornaments to Pinterest!

How to Make Salt Dough Ornaments

Salt dough ornaments are super simple to make yourself at home! Here is an overview of the steps you’ll need to follow. For full details, make sure you scroll down to the free printable recipe card which you can keep for your records.

  1. To make this salt dough ornament recipe, you first need to whisk together the salt and flour.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the water and food coloring (or paint).
  3. Make a well in the flour mixture and slowly pour in the colored water, mixing after you’ve added half of the liquid.
  4. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes on top of parchment paper until the dough is smooth and colored throughout.
  5. Roll out the salt dough, then cut it out using your cookie cutters of choice.
  6. Place the salt dough ornaments on a parchment paper lined baking tray, then cut a hole near the top with a drinking straw.
  7. Then, bake at 200 degrees F for an hour, or until dry (varies on size and thickness of ornament).
rolling pin and salt dough

Can I Make Salt Dough Ahead of Time?

Yes, you can make salt dough ahead of time, up to 5 day. Store it in the refrigerator in a completely air tight container or sealed ziplock bag. You don’t want to let the dough get dried out before you’ve had a chance to roll it!

Making salt dough ahead of time is a perfect way to eliminate some of the to-do the day you want to make the dough if you don’t have time to do it all in one day.

This works best when left naturally colored or colored with food coloring. I don’t recommend making it ahead of time if adding acrylic paint.

How Do You Add Color To Salt Dough?

There are two different ways to add color to salt dough – using food coloring or using acrylic paint.

Adding Food Coloring to Salt Dough

Food Coloring To add food coloring to the salt dough, you’ll only need a few drops unless you are looking to achieve very deep colors. You can mix different colors to create different hues beyond the typical food coloring color options.

What Paint Can You Use In Salt Dough?

Acrylic Craft Paint is best for using with salt dough in my experience. For solid colored salt dough, add 6 ounces of acrylic craft paint to the water and mix, then combine (slowly) with the flour and salt mixture. Stir until mixed, and then knead.

When adding paint to the salt dough, make sure you cover all surfaces with parchment paper or butcher paper so you don’t end up damaging your kitchen surfaces. You’ll want to wear surgical gloves when kneading the dough so that the paint doesn’t transfer to your hands.

This time around, as you can see in my photos, I decided to add white acrylic chalk paint to my salt dough to achieve a brighter white color and a matte finish. Then, I stamped the dough using a snowflake rubber stamp.

If the dough is too sticky, simply add extra flour and salt in a 4:1 ratio (such as 4 tablespoons flour and 1 tablespoon salt) until the dough is easily handled. It should be firm but not dry.

Can You Paint Salt Dough After Baking?

Yes, you can bake salt dough after your ornament has completely dried. I recommend acrylic paint for this as well. You can use small paint brushes to add details to your ornament, which works especially well if your ornament has three dimensional texture to it.

Can You Add Glitter to Salt Dough?

Yes! Adding glitter to salt dough gives a nice affect and can provide fun customization options. Keep reading to learn how to add glitter to salt dough ornaments – there are 3 different ways!

There are a few different ways that you can add glitter to your salt dough. One way to add glitter to your salt dough recipe is by adding flakes of glitter – 1 tablespoon at a time until you like the ratio of glitter to dough.

Another way to incorporate glitter in your salt dough recipe is by adding acrylic paint that contains glitter or shimmer to your water, and then mixing that into the flour and salt when you prepare your dough. When I add paint to my dough, I add 6 ounces of paint to the recipe as written.

Lastly, you can incorporate glitter in your salt dough ornaments by painting clear craft glue onto parts of your ornament that you want to have glitter and sprinkling loose glitter flakes on top of the glue. The ornament should be dry before this method is used.

salt dough with stamps

How to Personalize Salt Dough Ornaments

You could make salt dough ornaments for your family, the classroom, coworkers – you name it! And your limitations are only set by the cookie cutters you own. If you want to take it one step further, you can even personalize the ornaments for the recipient!

All the different combos you could make, all the Christmas cookie cutters I just happened to have in the pantry… the possibilities are endless.

Here are some of my favorite ways to personalize these salt dough ornaments:

  • Take some mini ABC cookie cutters and stamp the middle with the recipient’s last name initial, monogram, or first name.
  • Stamp the ornament with that year’s date, or a date of special significance.
  • Lightly stamp a design within the cookie cutter using another, smaller cookie cutter.
  • Hang two ornaments together on the same string, for example two shapes that have significance for the person you’re giving them to.

How to Stamp Salt Dough Ornaments with Texture

If you want to add interesting textures or patterns to the surface of your salt dough ornaments, you can do so by pressing different types of materials, tools, or other items that you might have in your home into the surface of the dough before baking. Some great options for adding texture to your salt dough are:

  • lace
  • cookie stamps
  • leaves
  • rosemary sprigs
  • pine needles
  • rubber crafting stamps
  • ribbon
  • bottoms of crystal vases

Press firmly with these items to leave an imprint in the dough but don’t press all the way through. You just want to create a texture on the surface that will remain after baking.

Objects or stamps with deeper more pronounced textures and grooves give the best finished appearance after baking and drying. Items that have very small, intricate details will not yield ideal results.

salt dough with stamp and cookie cutter

Scented Salt Dough Ornaments

Did you know that you can make scented salt dough ornaments, too? Adding essential oils to your salt dough will give it a great scent that you can enjoy in your home!

Have an artificial tree but love the smell of fresh, real Christmas trees? Scented Salt Dough ornaments are a great way to give an artificial tree a natural pine scent. Simply add 5-15, depending on your preference, drops of Fir Essential Oil. I like Siberian Fir best!

Another great scent to add to salt dough ornaments is Cinnamon Essential Oil! This will make your house smell like Christmas! A Christmas-y blend that I like is Holiday Joy, which has cinnamon along with orange and a few other essential oils.

The sky is the limit, really! You can add any essential oil scent you like, it doesn’t have to be a holiday themed smell.

For best results, you will want to air dry any salt dough ornaments that you have added essential oils to so that the scent remains longer. When adding essential oils to your dough I definitely recommend wearing gloves when handling the dough as some people are sensitive to essential oils on their skin.

Have a Salt Dough Ornament Making Party

Pair this fun activity with a mug of your favorite hot cocoa and a round or two of Christmas Book Bingo by the fire.

Grown ups will love this Spiked Peppermint Mocha Hot Chocolate  and kiddos will like a mug of Candy Cane Hot Cocoa. If mulled ciders are more your style, try this Spiced Pomegranate Apple Cider.

Just make sure your favorite Christmas Tunes are playing in the background!

That sounds like just about the most perfect winter afternoon I could ask for. I hope it does to you too. Looking for more fun Christmas activity ideas for kids to pair with making these salt dough ornaments? Check out my post on Tips to Prepare for a Fun Winter Break with Kids

Save this recipe for Salt Dough Ornaments to Pinterest!

How Many Ornaments Does this Salt Dough Recipe Make?

The number of ornaments you will get from this salt dough recipe varies based on the size of the ornament, however this recipe made approximately 18 three inch sized circles in my most recent batch.

After you cut out the shapes for your ornaments, combine any leftover scraps and knead until smooth and combined, then re-roll and cut out more shapes. Repeat until you don’t have any salt dough left.

What Type of Salt Should I Use?

To make this recipe for salt dough, you will use regular table salt! There is no need to buy anything special.

Tips for Making Salt Dough Ornaments

The hardest part of making these salt dough ornaments is simply making sure that your work surface remains dye-free.

I recommend covering your work surface with parchment paper or a plastic table cloth. Something inexpensive that you don’t care if it gets stained or that you can just throw away, the dollar store is great for this. Large sheets of butcher paper also works incredibly well!

Wearing gloves and aprons will help make sure that clothes and fingers aren’t dyed red and green when you’re making your salt dough ornaments.

The number of ornaments you will get from this salt dough recipe varies based on the size of the ornament, however this recipe made approximately 18 three inch sized circles in my most recent batch.

After you cut out the shapes for your ornaments, combine any leftover scraps and knead until smooth and combined, then re-roll and cut out more shapes. Repeat until you don’t have any salt dough left.

Why Does My Salt Dough Puff Up?

Are you wondering why your salt dough ornaments turned out puffy? Typically there are two things that cause salt dough to get puffy: either your oven is too hot or you used self-rising flour.

The first reason that your salt dough ornaments might be puffing is the temperature you bake at. You want your oven to be pretty low. This recipe calls for a 200 degrees F oven.

If you find that your salt dough ornaments are still turning out puffy, then try an even lower temperature. Temperatures lower than 200 degrees F work just fine for baking your salt dough and result in less puffiness. Your ornaments will just take longer to bake and dry out at the lower temperature.

The second reason that a salt dough ornament might puff after baking is because you used self-rising flour. In this recipe it is important to use all-purpose flour as it contains no leavening agents (baking soda, baking powder, etc).

Can You Air Dry Salt Dough Ornaments?

Yes you can make salt dough ornaments without baking them, however I don’t typically choose to make them that way.

No-bake salt dough ornaments take a lot longer to harden because you’re letting them dry out naturally. The benefit to making no-bake salt dough ornaments is that air drying the salt dough eliminates all chance of puffiness.

To air dry your salt dough ornaments, prepare the recipe as instructed, eliminating any cooking spray. Then, place them in a warm, dry place on a flat surface (such as a cookie sheet).

Let the salt dough air dry naturally for about 3-5 days, larger or thicker ornaments may take up to a week to air dry.

How Long Do Salt Dough Ornaments Last?

Properly prepared salt dough ornaments that have fully dried will last for decades! The most important tip for long lasting salt dough ornaments is to make sure that you let them dry out all the way – and that you don’t let them get damp. If they dampen, they can mold.

That means, when you pack your Christmas Ornaments up after the Holidays that you need to store them in a way that they won’t get wet. I recommend air tight plastic ornament bins rather than cardboard boxes, which can get wet and damp due to humidity or leaks in your home. You can even add silica packets to your ornament storage to help mitigate any dampness that does occur.

Salt Dough Ornaments that have gotten wet or have already begun to mold, unfortunately should be thrown out for health reasons. Better safe than sorry!

More Homemade Gift Ideas:

If you love to make homemade gifts for friends, neighbors, teachers, or anyone else on your holiday gift list, you might like to try a couple of these ideas, too.

Instead of throwing out broken bits of crayon, learn How to Make Recycled Crayons and try melting down your scraps and reshaping them into something new. For Christmas-themed crayons, look for silicone molds that are Christmas Tree or snowflake shaped.

Featuring lemon, oil, sugar and salt, this All-Natural Moisturizing Kitchen Hand Scrub is a simple DIY gift to prepare – perfect for the holiday season. Teachers will love this pampering item. For something extra special, pair it with a mani/pedi gift card or some fun new nail polish colors.

This Rosemary Mint Sugar Scrub is another homemade gift any woman in your life would love. It’s easy to make and can be used all over your body.

Homemade bookmarks make fun crafts for kids and also super cute gifts for them to pass out to friends at school; check out these 8 Cute DIY Bookmark Ideas.

And there are 45 more Homemade gift ideas here!

What are your favorite homemade holiday gifts?

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salt dough ornament on a christmas tree with lights

Salt Dough Ornaments

Yield: 15 - 30 ornaments
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Salt dough ornaments are the sweetest little homemade gift! You can make them for the whole family or classroom with hardly any effort and there are plenty of fun personalization options! Kids will have a great time making these.

Materials

  • 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup Table Salt
  • 1/3 cup Water, plus 1 tablespoon
  • Food Coloring or Paint (6 ounces acrylic craft paint)
  • 1 Drinking Straw
  • Nonstick Baking Spray
  • Parchment Paper
  • 1 roll Colorful Ribbon (1/8 to 1/4-inch wide), Twine, or String

Tools

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Mixing Spoon
  • Surgical Gloves, or kitchen gloves
  • Rolling Pin

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°F. Place the rack in the center position.
  2. Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Next, line the work area with butcher paper to prevent your counters or table from becoming stained.
  3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt until well whisked. In a glass measuring cup, stir in the water and food coloring or paint.
  4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and slowly pour in the colored water, starting with half the amount and adding more as needed to form a firm dough that is moist but not sticky. Stir well.
  5. While wearing the surgical gloves, knead the dough with your hands for approximately 10 minutes (on top of the parchment paper), or until the dough has become smooth and the color is distributed throughout.
  6. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 1/4-inch thickness on the parchment paper. Use whatever shaped cookie cutters you’d like to cut out the dough. Additionally, you can stamp the dough with various items to create texture or with ABC stamps to personalize the ornaments with someone's initials, last name, or year.
  7. Combine any scraps that are leftover and knead, then re-roll with the rolling pin and cut out additional ornaments. Repeat until all of the dough has been used.
  8. After cutting the ornaments, transfer the cut shapes onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Use the straw to cut a small hole near the top (where you’d like to hang the ornament from). Discard the small circular piece of dough that you remove to create the hole.
  9. Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour, or until dry. Flip the ornaments half way through baking so that the underneath side can dry out as well.
  10. When done baking, remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. After cooling, thread the ribbon or string through the holes and tie to hang.

Notes

Do not ingest this dough. It is not intended for eating.

WHAT PAINT CAN YOU USE IN SALT DOUGH?

Acrylic Craft Paint is best for using with salt dough in my experience. For solid colored salt dough, add 6 ounces of acrylic craft paint to the water and mix, then combine (slowly) with the flour and salt mixture. Stir until mixed, and then knead.

If the dough is too sticky, simply add extra flour and salt in a 4:1 ratio (such as 4 tablespoons flour and 1 tablespoon salt)

When adding paint to the salt dough, cover all surfaces with parchment paper or butcher paper so you don’t end up damaging your kitchen surfaces. Wear surgical gloves when kneading the dough so paint doesn’t transfer to your hands.

CAN I MAKE SALT DOUGH AHEAD OF TIME?

Yes, up to 5 days. Store it in the refrigerator in a completely air tight container or sealed ziplock bag. You don’t want to let the dough get dried out before you’ve had a chance to roll it! This works best when left naturally colored or colored with food coloring. I don't recommend making it ahead of time if adding acrylic paint.

HOW MANY ORNAMENTS DOES THIS SALT DOUGH RECIPE MAKE?

The number of ornaments you will get from this salt dough recipe varies based on the size of the ornament, however this recipe made approximately 18 three inch sized circles in my most recent batch.

Did you make this project?

I’d love it if you let me know what you think! Snap a photo and tag me on Instagram at @goodlifeeats with the hashtag #goodlifeeatsrecipes so I can see what you're making!

I originally shared this fun recipe for Salt Dough Ornaments on Food Fanatic, but I thought you’d like to see it here on Good Life Eats.

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Debra

Sunday 18th of December 2016

Lovely!  How many does this recipe make?

Debra

Katie

Sunday 18th of December 2016

It depends on the ornament size. I made about 20 small christmas trees.