DIY Holiday Play Dough For Thanksgiving And Christmas Fun

Thanksgiving and Christmas bring joyous gatherings with family and friends. We gather together to celebrate, eat, and share gifts with the folks we love.

Gift giving can become quite expensive – and finding ways to entertain children before a big meal is served can also become frustrating.

play dough ornaments in various shapes

Making holiday Play Doh can become not only a great way to keep children entertained and the cost of gifting down, but can also become a beloved part of your family’s holiday traditions.

The Thanksgiving and Christmas Play Doh can be scented with the delicious smells of the holiday season, as well.

orange play dough with candy cone shape

Making DIY play dough can also be a part of your homestead homeschool lessons. The children can learn color names and how to spell them, measuring, what shades colors make when they are mixed together, as well as some cooking science when the mixtures are heated upon the stove.

This is a wonderfully fun to make and inexpensive gift item to take to Thanksgiving gatherings. It will cost only a few dollars to make enough playdough to fill the kids table at even the largest of family gatherings.

I buy small and colorful plastic tubs (3 for $1 at Dollar Tree) to store the play dough in. They look quite festive when stacked together with a ribbon around them to give as a gift or to set upon a table while a meal is being prepared.

Buy a few fall- or Thanksgiving-themed cookie cutters for the little ones to use while enjoying the DIY play dough.

diy play dough

When making Thanksgiving playdough, I recommend using the following scents to go along with the fall season:

  • cinnamon,
  • pumpkin pie spice,
  • caramel,
  • and vanilla extract.

Because only all natural ingredients are used in the Thanksgiving and Christmas play dough recipe, it is safe for even the littlest of hands to help with the making process.

play dough ingredients

Servings: 2 cups


  • ½ cup salt
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • natural scent essential oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger spice


Food Coloring Color Mixing Directions

  • Mica powders come already mixed in a specific color. To make one standard size container of Playdough, use these amounts:
    Brown – combine 2 to 3 drops of blue, 1 drop of red, and 10 drops of yellow.
    Orange – 20 drops of yellow and 10 drops of red.
    Red – 20 to 30 drops of red.
    Green – 20 to 30 drops of green food coloring.
    Yellow – 25 to 35 drops of yellow.
  • If you add just a little drop of orange to the green color mixing directions you can make an olive green shade for Thanksgiving, in addition to the more vibrant green for a Christmas play dough.

Playdough Recipe Directions

  • Pour the cream of tartar and salt into a medium sized cook pot, and combine.
    salt and cream of tartar in metal pot
  • Sift in the flour.
    little girls stirring flour
  • Pour in the carrier oil and water.
    adding carrier oil to the mix
  • Heat the play dough mixture through on medium heat.
  • Stir constantly to completely combine the play dough, and to prevent scorching. Make sure to flatten and stir away any lumps in the mixture. If the mixture thickens too quickly or a lot of lumps appear, turn down the heat. The heating process shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes.
    stirring the mixture
  • Add in the drops of desired scent, and stir until combined.
  • Remove the cook pot from the stovetop.
    mixture after being removved from heat
  • Drop in the desired coloring agent.
    adding the mica powder
  • Knead the DIY holiday play dough to thoroughly combine.
    kneading the dough
  • It takes about five minutes to garner the consistency of store bought play doh, and have a uniform color.
    green kneaded dough with uniform color


  • If you do not have cream of tartar, cornstarch can be used as a substitute, but the play dough tends to be softer than store-bought this way, and may not last as long.
  • Choose food coloring to match the Christmas theme. You can purchase white food coloring in the baking section of most grocery stores. I often also use Mica powder or just leave the dough uncolored to give a light shade.
  • For a traditional Christmas scent I recommend using 1 teaspoon of vanilla, pine, wintergreen, or peppermint extract for scent.

Consistency Tips

If the play doh feels a little too thin or sticky, simply add a loose handful of flour to the ball before kneading in the color. And yes – if you allow the little ones to enjoy making the play dough with you, your kitchen counters will also look like this before the project is over!

This is the consistency that a DIY play doh ball should look like once you take it out of the cook pot:

dough with the right consistency

I added roughly one and a half handfuls of flour to this ball, and kneaded it in because the mixture was slightly too thin and sticky to the touch.

The photo below shows the slightly too thin consistency of play dough in the second batch that also turned out too thin:

play dough that is too thin

I added two handfuls of flour to it and it turned out perfectly. This is the same Thanksgiving play doh ball show in the feature photo and the basket photo in orange.

The runny dough went from the state it was in the above photo to a perfect play doh consistency after kneading in the two handfuls of flour in just about two minutes.

perfect consistency on the dough

Further Ideas

Homemade Christmas gifts, directions, and traditions projects are always the best – even when they turn out slightly imperfect. This simple and quick Christmas play doh recipe is foolproof, and fun to make even with young children.

The Christmas play doh is great paired with your favorite holiday cookie cutters. All of the ingredients are non-toxic and will not harm any cookie cutters used.

If you make another batch of the brown Thanksgiving play doh the children can make a gingerbread house display as a table centerpiece or just for fun.

Older children can get a bit fancy with the play dough and make 3D Christmas trees. They can pinch tiny bits of colorful dough together and gently affix them to the tree to serve as decorations.

Candy canes are always a favorite to make at my house. The grandkiddos twist together white and red homemade Christmas play doh, and hang their creations on the tree once it has dried for a few days.

play dough pinterest

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