What kid doesn’t like play dough? I used to love playing with play dough and molding clay as a child, and I continue to enjoy working with it as an adult.
Salt dough is a form of play dough that you can easily make out of flour, salt, and water. You can use it to make all kinds of creations by rolling out your dough, forming it into a shape, and then baking it in the oven to harden.
Although salt dough ornaments are most often used as DIY Christmas tree ornaments, the very same recipe can also be used to create beautiful handmade wall and shelf hangers for other holidays, seasons, sculptures, bowls, to decorate your home, or give as gifts.
Children have loved making salt dough ornaments for decades. Odds are you make quite a few of these simple Christmas ornaments as a child – and might still have a that have survived years of use.
Salt dough ornaments are inexpensive and quick to create – making them a perfect DIY Christmas decorating or gift giving tradition for any family.
Salt Dough Ornament Recipe
- permanent markers
- glue for decoration – optional
- pencil- to make a hole for hanging or magnets if you would like to place the ornaments on the refrigerator
- rolling pin
- cookie cutters
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup standard table salt
- ribbon or twine for hanging or even decorating
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F / 150 C (or 220 F / 105 C and bake for 5 hours for a more durable ornament).
- Whisk the salt and flour together in a large mixing bowl.
- Pour the water in slowly while stirring constantly.
- Knead the dough together until it creates a thick consistency similar to that of a pie dough or a bread dough.
- Dust the kitchen counter with flour or lay down parchment paper.
- Roll out the dough until it is roughly one-eighth of an inch thick.
- Cut out or hand make the desired shapes as desired.
- Poke a hole in the salt dough ornament with a pencil.
- Place the salt dough ornaments on a baking sheet – parchment paper is oven salt if you want to transfer them without disturbing the soft shapes you made.
- Bake for 1 hour at 300 degrees F / 150 C, or for 5 hours 220 F / 105 C, until the DIY Christmas ornaments are rock solid.
- Remove the salt dough ornaments from the oven, and allow them to cool.
- Decorate as desired.
If you’re looking for ideas on what to do with all that salt dough you’ve made, you may want to follow these helpful tips and try some of these fun ideas.
History Of Salt Dough Ornaments
Making ornaments out of salt dough dates back to ancient Egypt. Making not just holiday ornaments but all manner of home decor and festival decorations out of salt dough was quite popular in Europe – particularly in Germany.
As immigrants started coming to America from Germany, they brought many of their cherished traditions along with them. By the final years of the 1970s, personalized salt dough ornaments created by artisans were found in every holiday bazaar and mall across the United States.
The primitive look of the ornaments combined with the exquisite workmanship it took to create them inspired copious amounts of amateur crafters to figure out a way to recreate their beauty at home for the holidays.
Salt Dough Ornament And Decor Ideas
While the salt dough ornament recipe has not really changed over the years, some crafty folks from around the internet have come up with some fabulous new ways to design and adorn these adorable homemade holiday staples.
1. Salt Dough Frame
Make a picture frame ornament to hang on the Christmas tree, from a shelf, on a present ribbon, or to attach to a wreath.
Get the tutorial here.
2. Salt Dough Snowman
Add a bit of whimsy to your Christmas decorations and tree ornaments by making a super simple and hilariously cute melted snowman. Learn to make it here.
Use a traditional round Christmas tree ornament cookie cutter to create a salt dough ornament. Then, allow the kiddos to dab their fingers with paint or an ink stamp pad to add their fingerprints across the middle of the ornament to make a colorful decorative band that forever captures their tiny fingerprints.
Check out the steps here.
4. Name Tags for Gifts
Write or etch names into simply shaped salt dough ornaments and use them as name tags on gifts.
5. Salt Dough Animals
Make salt dough animals for nursery decorations, learning displays, as shelf sitters, and gifts for animal lovers in your life.
6. Candy Canes and Wreaths
Twist the salt dough together in basket weaving fashion not just to make candy cane ornaments for the Christmas tree, but to make tiny baskets or little wreaths that can be adorned and given as a gift for any occasion.
7. Flower and Leaf Impressions
Use the salt dough to make flower and leaf impressions to add to your decor, to give as gifts, or use in a homesteading homeschool to teach children about the flora that grows around them.
You can use salt dough to great sculptures just as you could clay or plaster of Paris.
9. Salt Dough Bowls
Salt dough can be used to make a ceramic style bowl to hold small items that are lightweight or simply to use as a decoration. Get the tutorial here.
If you’re feeling super crafty, you might want to give these salt dough baskets a try. You can customize them with various styles and colors.
11. Easter Decorations
Salt dough is not just for Christmas – it’s also great for Easter! Here are some fun decorations you can make.
Salt dough votives are easy for kids to make and are perfect Christmas presents. Here are some tips on how to make them!
13. Salt Dough Initials
Technically, you could make any letters you want out of salt dough, but this idea for making salt dough initials is one of the cutest!
14. Beaded Ornaments
Once you’ve mastered basic salt dough ornaments, it might be time to give these beaded beauties a try.
15. Salt Dough Snowflakes
These salt dough snowflakes are whimsical and festive. Make these salt dough ornaments for a decoration that can be used all winter long.
16. Salt Dough Ladybugs
These salt dough ladybugs are super cute and can be used as counting sets or even as garden markers.
17. Salt Dough Mittens
Nothing spells cozy quite like fuzzy Christmas mittens, right? You can make these cute salt dough mittens to liven up your holiday tree.
18. Salt Dough Pencil Holder
The perfect gift for the teacher or secretary in your life, this salt dough pencil or pen holder is absolutely adorable – and it’s easy to make, too!
19. Stamped Salt Dough
These salt dough ornaments look chic and polished – and they’re easy to make, too. Here are some tips.
20. Egg Cups
If you’re looking for a way to put your nicely decorated Easter eggs on display, look no further than these salt dough egg cups. Fun and functional!
21. Cinnamon Salt Dough
Working on a salt dough project at Christmastime? If so, give this cinnamon salt dough recipe a try. It smells heavenly!
22. Toy Food
If your kids like playing kitchen or restaurant, you might want to make some toy food out of salt dough.
You can make bread like this or any other kind of food that suits your fancy! It’s way cheaper than buying plastic food at the toy store.
23. Salt Dough Hearts
Salt dough hearts are perfect for Valentine’s Day. Give them to your special someone or use them as hanging decorations!
24. Star Wars Salt Dough Ornament
Chances are, there’s someone in your life who loves Star Wars! If that’s the case, pick up some Star Wars cutters and give these ornaments a try.
25. Olympic Medals
If you like holding Olympic games with your kids, you might want to make these salt dough medals.
26. Salt Dough Magnets
Keep your salt dough creations on full display by making some salt dough magnets, and sticking them to your refrigerator. Easy peasy!
27. Pine Stamped Salt Dough
I’m in love with these pine stamped salt dough ornaments. They’re festive and fun without being too complicated to make. Here are the steps.
28. Salt Dough Penguin
A salt dough penguin is the perfect holiday decoration – or you can use it any time of the year you’d like. Here are tips on how to make it.
29. Salt Dough Owl
This salt dough owl is a real hoot to make!
30. Valentines’ Chocolates
These Valentines’ chocolates are only for play, but they look good enough to eat! Here are tips on how to make them.
31. Salt Dough Beads
You can make beads out of salt dough that can be used for counting beads for little ones – or for creating a cute necklace for the lady in your life!
32. Penguin Footprint
If you have a footprint you’d like to capture, these penguins are absolutely perfect. They’re cute and perfect for little kids.
33. Sun Catchers
Salt dough sun catchers are perfect for using up that salt dough when you don’t want to make Christmas ornaments in the middle of the winter – but would rather keep your creations on display in the summer instead.
34. Grinch Salt Dough Ornament
“The Grinch” is one of my favorite holiday films. You can bring the movie to life on your very own Christmas tree by making these fun ornaments.
35. Lorax Handprint Craft
This handprint craft is incredibly fun and can be done at any time of the year – but we like it for Earth Day!
36. Salt Dough Handprint Photo Ornament
These ornaments bring the best of both worlds to your holiday decorating – handprints and photographs. Learn how to make them here.
37. Salt Dough Snowman Faces
These salt dough ornaments with just snowman faces are cute and whimsical – and easy for even the youngest kids to make.
38. Olaf Salt Dough Ornament
Chances are, if you have young children, you have “Frozen” fans in the household! You can easily make these Olaf salt dough ornaments to bring the magic of the movie into your home.
Salt dough pendants are challenging to make, but with some practice, you can create cute little pendants that can be used in bracelets and other kinds of jewelry.
40. Fingerprint Hearts
This salt dough idea is a spin on the traditional hand or footprint salt dough ornament idea – you’ll use the fingerprints to make hearts. Oh, my heart!
41. Family Thumbprint Ornaments
I love the idea of thumbprints for salt dough ornaments, but they shouldn’t just have to be for kids! This fun idea will let you get the whole family involved in a memorable craft.
42. Gender Reveal Volcano
Here’s a super out-of-the-box idea for your salt dough – you can use it for a gender reveal! It’s way cooler than the typical cakes and balloons used for gender reveal parties, and it’s also easy to make. Here are some tips.
43. Fingerprint Gingerbread Man Ornament
These fingerprint gingerbread man ornaments will help you remember your kids when they were little – and also add an adorable gingerbread character to your tree. Here are some tips on how to make it.
44. Salt Dough Flowers
Made out of fingerprints, these flowers are great for livening up a springtime window sill.
45. Salt Dough Eggs
If your kids have egg allergies that make dying Easter eggs impossible, you may want to make these fun salt dough Easter eggs instead.
46. Star Garland
Salt dough is not just for Christmas ornaments! It can also be used to make gorgeous garlands. Here is a fun craft you can make with the whole family.
47. Salt Dough Mobile
This mobile is a perfect decoration for bringing the best of nature inside this spring. Here’s a tutorial.
48. Earth Day Necklaces
You can even use salt dough to celebrate Earth Day! Here are some tips on how to make these fun necklaces.
49. Earth Day Handprint
Looking for another fun Earth Day salt dough craft? Look no further. Here’s a tutorial on how to make this fun keepsake.
50. Salt Dough Map
This 3D salt dough map is amazing if you’re a homeschooling parent, and want to teach your parents things like topography and geography. It takes some time to make, but this guide will help you get started.
The possibilities for creating one of a kind creations out of salt dough are nearly endless – and they aren’t limited to ornaments, either!
Please share any ideas you have that we do not have listed here in the comments section below so the New Life On A Homestead community can discover even more ways to create inexpensive creations to adorn their own home, their Christmas tree, or to give as a heartfelt handmade gift.
Tara lives on a 56 acres farm in the Appalachian Mountains, where she faces homesteading and farming challenges every single day, raising chickens, goats, horses, and tons of vegetables. She’s an expert in all sorts of homesteading skills such as hide tanning, doll making, tree tapping, and many more.