Easy Salt Dough Ornaments Tutorial

Salt dough ornaments are SO easy to make and have become a little tradition in the build up the Christmas in our family. Here is where we first wrote about the salt dough Christmas decorations that we made this time last year and over the past month we have made a few more batches, in different shapes, colours and designs! They are brilliant to make with even young toddlers and are a fantastic gift idea for family and friends to add to their own trees!

 How to make salt dough:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • Up to 1 cup of water (add gradually)


  • Combine the salt and flour then pour in the water gradually, stopping when it has become dough-like and not too sticky. There should be no residue left on your fingers when you touch it. Knead it on a floured surface for a few minutes to make it soft, workable and stretchy, like you would with any dough. This step is wonderful for strengthening those small hand muscles essential for writing and cutting!

 Choose a range of cookie cutter shapes and simply cut straight from the dough. We used Christmas trees, stars and hearts. Poke a straw through the centre, near the top, of each shape so that ribbon can be threaded through later.

 Lay them on some greaseproof or baking paper and on a baking tray. Cook them on a VERY low heat (around 100 degrees C/ 202 F) for up to 3 hours. If the shapes are over 1cm thick then they will probably need to be turned over during cooking.

 It is VERY important not to have the oven on too high. This will cause the salt dough to bubble up and fill with air, as essentially it is being cooked. What you are really aiming for is to dry them out thoroughly, over a slow period of time.

 As soon as they are out of the oven they can be left to cool while your child chooses which colours and decorations to add! We used acrylic paints which adhere to the dough really successfully. Ordinary water-based children’s paint does work, but the colours are not as vibrant and the paint can flake off eventually. The acrylics work as a sealant and keep the colours strong and beautiful!

 Once the paint is dry, spread on some PVA (runny) glue and sprinkle over some glitter for a wonderfully Christmassy effect!

 We have also tried adding sequins and buttons, which make gorgeous alternatives!

 When they are dry, thread through with thin ribbon or twine and hang on the tree! You can write the date in the back to remember when they were made too, adding a special memory to the occasion.

If you liked this idea, please share it via Facebook, StumbleUpon, Pinterest or Tumblr! Thank You.
Why not try making footprint and handprint keepsakes too?
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  1. Melbourne Jo says

    We are half way through making these today!!!! Have also had the children make one as a necklace for me for Christmas

  2. says

    would this method also work if i wanted to do hand prints in the dough before baking them? could i add food coloring to the dough before baking them instead of painting them?

  3. says

    Hi April! Yes absolutely ! We love to do hand prints and foot prints. You can see our most recent footprint post here. http://www.theimaginationtree.com/2011/06/salt-dough-footprint-keepsakes.html Either copy and paste this into your browser or type “salt dough footprints” into the search box (on the right in the sidebar) and you can see our post on them. You can colour the salt dough before hand for a more subtle, natural look.

  4. says

    Gorgeous! my son brought one home from nursery this year and it is adorable. I LOVE yours, they all fantastic. Can’t wait for us to have a go (next year – we made so many other things this year!!!)

    Thanks for sharing on Kids Get Crafty :-)


  5. says

    I teach a Fine Arts Survey class and we used this dough to make ornaments two weeks ago. I added cinnamon and we let the ornaments air dry over the weekend. I turned them on Saturday since I had basketball duty and was there anyway. After the kids painted them in the style of an artist we had studied, my husband and I sprayed them (outside, of course) with a glossy sealant. Beautiful!

  6. Renea Pike says

    Love this! I was looking all over for salt dough recipes, and everyone I’ve seen is either missing measurements, or the measurements are all off. This was perfect! (we made hand prints for fathers day :)

  7. says

    Can you tell me if this salt dough would be good for outside use? Such as on windchimes? Maybe if it was sprayed with a laquer for the outside conditions?

  8. says

    Oh my, I havent used salt dough since I was little! Seeing your cute ornaments I really should start making some with my little one!

  9. Anonymous says

    I found this recipe on pinterest and gave it a try with my two little ones (4 & 2) today. They LOVED rolling and playing with the dough. We were able to make 20 smaller sized ornaments with one batch. Some we cut out with regular cookie cutter shapes, and some we used rubber stamps to make impressions on (and then used a small cup to make a circle ornament). Kid craft paint seems to work on the ornaments, and watercolor paint looks really good on the stamped ornaments (the watercolor highlights the stamped design). I plan to coat them in modge podge. Hope it works! =)

  10. Anonymous says

    About 32 years ago my parents used this recipe to make ornaments. They added food coloring to the dough and added a school picture to the middle. (Imagine a blue circle with a picture in the middle and a smaller blue ring around the picture to make a frame like ornament) They also baked these on very low heat with the dates toothpicked in before baking. My grandmother still has these on her tree every year.

  11. Anonymous says

    I found a recipe for the handprints salt dough ornament, an tho, the measurements were pretty accurate, there wasn’t much by way of preparing & what to put them on for baking or thickness. My boys & I made some this evening (going to be gifts for their grandparents), they’ve been in the oven now for 3 and half hours. I had taken them out at 3 hours but they were soft in the middle underside. Hoping they will be done soon. Thank you for your post, really gives me a better idea of the whole project and will be taking your insight for the next batch.

  12. Anonymous says

    These are absolutely fabulous. Just a word or warning, think before you pack them up for next Xmas. They are basically dry but uncooked so if they get cold/ damp/ condensation they kind of disintegrate leaving a fairly unpleasant residue behind. I suggest a separate sealed bag from your other decorations.

  13. Jenn says

    Is there a difference between plain flour n all purpose flour? Or can I use all purpose flour to make these? Thanks

  14. says

    I made these today and took them out when they were hard. My son and i painted them with acrylic paint and now they seem to have softened up again. Will just air drying harden them again?

    • Anonymous says

      I am having the exact same problem today! Did yours harden up again? I’m afraid mine are all going to have to go in the bin :(

    • says

      I’m having the same problem! They were hard when I took them out. We painted them and then today went to do the glitter and they are all soft in the middle!

      Curious how things ended up for others… did they get hard or did you have to scrap them?

  15. says

    I used this method to make a hand print of my daughters hand but when we were baking it it began to puff up and crust. What am I doing wrong and how can I avoid this problem. I work for a daycare and I am the infant teacher. I was hoping to make baby footprints for the parents as this is each of the babies 1st Christmas. I would hate to go through the process of getting the prints only to have them ruined.

    • Anonymous says

      If you want them to be flat use a tooth pick poke wholes in it. If you paint it the wholes wont show up but if you leave it natural you will see the wholes.

  16. Anonymous says

    Can you put glitter directly in the dough or will that mess up the balance? I would also like to add cinnamon if possible…

  17. Amy Callison says

    A word to the wise….do NOT use shellac to coat these. I tried it, and I don’t know if it was the interaction with the dough or with the acrylic paint, but the shellac never dried.

  18. Anonymous says

    Thanks for the recipe, I’m going to try and make gold hearts as pew ends for my wedding so I did a test batch tonight and they’re very easy to do.