Salt dough ornaments have always had a soft spot in my heart. When my parents were first married, they couldn’t afford to buy ornaments, so they made a bunch out of salt dough. As a result, our tree always had a ton of salt dough ornaments. If preserved well, they can last forever. I still have the one they made for me the year I was born.
When Buddy was born, I knew that salt dough ornaments would be a good gift to make for family members. We have made them for his first two Christmases. The first year, we did Christmas tree fingerprint ones and a couple Santa handprint ones. Last year, we did Santa handprint ones for everyone.
The recipe for salt dough is very easy: 2 parts salt, 2 parts flour, 1 part water. I think both years I did 1 cup salt, 1 cup flour, and 1/2 cup water.
When you roll it out, you will either need to flour the surface or put it on wax paper. I usually flour the surface and my rolling pin as well. Once you have a flat surface, you are ready to start cutting out the ornaments. After the ornaments are made, they bake at 200 degrees for 3 hours (or until they look completely dry). They will need to cool before painting.
Fingerprint Christmas Trees
For the trees, I used a cookie cutter to form the outline. I put them onto a cookie sheet, and I used a straw to cut out a small hole at the top for the ribbon. Then, I had Buddy put his fingers all over them to form the lights.
Once the ornaments were baked, I painted the green background first with a glittery paint. Then I did different colors for the lights. Once that was dried, I used a silver paint pen to connect the lights. After everything was dry, I sealed it with two coats of Mod Podge. I finished by writing Buddy’s name and the year on the back. Then I added ribbon to the top.
For the Santas, I rolled out the dough, and then had Buddy stick his hand in it. It was tough to get it in enough to leave a print, but not too much so that it would break the dough. Whenever I got a good one, I used a butter knife to outline the handprint, and then used a spatula to put it on the cookie sheet. I used a straw again to make a hole for the string.
Once the Santas were baked, I used a black paint pen to outline the edges of the beard and the bottom of the hat. Then I filled in the beard and hat with the red and white paint. At the end, I added the eyes and nose. I used two coats of Mod Podge to seal the ornaments after they were finished. Once again, I wrote Buddy’s name and the year on the back of the ornaments. Then I added ribbon to the top.
I always make extras, because sometimes salt dough ornaments break. Also, sometimes the painting or finish of the dough doesn’t look the best every time you do it. (Although if you are very artistic, maybe you don’t have that same problem that I do.)
Salt dough ornaments are a fun and easy way to decorate your tree. I was amazed at the difference in Buddy’s handprints between his first and second Christmas, and I’m so glad I have them to keep forever. My dad cherishes these homemade ornaments so much he leaves them out year round.
I hope you enjoy your salt dough ornaments as much as I have. If you have any other great ornament ideas for kids, please share. I still haven’t finalized our plans for this year yet!