Do you ever make salt dough ornaments during the holidays? I’ve always thought it was a lot of fun, and you can do a variety of things with them. In my early years I would make basic salt dough ornaments and paint them, now I prefer the simple charm of cinnamon salt dough ornaments. Not only does the cinnamon scent the ornaments, it also gives them their pretty brown color. It’s perfect for rustic looking ornaments and especially my favorite, gingerbread!
I used to try really hard to get my dough ornaments perfect, then one day I realized that really defeated the purpose. These ornaments are supposed to be homemade and charming looking! The trick is not to worry about making them perfect. If you’ve never made these before I’ll show you how easy it is, and give you a few tips I’ve learned along the way.
1 cup salt
1 cup cinnamon, plus more for dusting
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cup warm water
Begin by blending the salt, cinnamon, and flour into a bowl. Gradually pour water into the bowl and stir until mixture starts to clump together. At this point I start using my hands to really work the dough together. Add additional small amounts of water but be careful not to over wet the mixture. It shouldn’t feel sticky. Some batches require a little more or less water I’ve noticed.
After the dough is comes together in the bowl I continue to knead the mixture on the counter until it’s soft and pliable. Sometimes I’ll split the dough up into 2 batches to make it easier. You do not need to dust the surface with flour for this step.
In a small bowl mix equal parts flour and cinnamon – around a few tablespoons of each will do. Be sure to add the cinnamon so your ornaments do not turn white! Dust your counter lightly with flour mixture and begin to roll the dough.
Rolling the dough can take a little patience, I roll slowly at first, then end with shorter quicker motions. Any cracks can be smoothed with your fingers and the rolling pin. You want to roll the dough at least 1/4 of an inch thin. If you can get it a little thinner than that, that’s good too. To lift the dough you want a smooth metal spatula. This wide one from Wilton is AMAZING! It’s a lifesaver for making gingerbread houses, cakes, and so many things!
Transfer the gingerbread to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. The paper will help absorb moisture and keep the dough from sticking to the cookie sheet. Another reason I like to use parchment paper is if you only have 1 pan you can continue to cut more ornaments and place them onto the paper, then when your pan is ready just slide the paper onto the pan.
Grab a straw and poke holes in each ornament, the straw creates a perfect uniform hole. A straw can quickly clog up with dough so a trick I’ve learned is to blow the dough out each time. As long as your dough wasn’t rolled too thick it’s easy to do. You can also do holes on each side for stringing garland. I do this with bigger gingerbread.
Bake at 300 degrees for about 30-45 minutes. The ornaments will continue to harden as they cool.
Sometimes salt dough ornaments will puff in the oven. It used to really bother me, but now I find it cute, especially on gingerbread. They have little round tummies! I’ve also noticed they puff less when on the very lowest rack in my oven.
You can also air dry your ornaments to be completely flat like the one I did on the left. It will take 3-5 days to dry out, but they don’t seem to turn out as dark.
If your dough starts cracking after it’s cut, but before baking in the oven you can just smooth it with your fingers and a little water.
Grab your supplies at the Dollar Tree and you can make these ornaments for nearly nothing! You can leave the ornaments plain or decorate with puff paint or paint pens. Save cut up ribbon and fabric scraps to tie to your ornaments.
If this is your first time making cinnamon salt dough ornaments have extra supplies on hand, in case the project goes wrong. I mentioned how the ornaments will sometimes puff. Sometimes they oven dry perfectly flat too, then I also have one that puffs up so crooked and wonky it goes into the trash. First timers just play around with it.
You can clear coat your ornaments if desired, clear satin spray paint works well although I hardly ever do this because they hold up great without.
I find metal cookie cutters work best, but feel free to experiment with plastic ones.
I made 3 strands of this garland for decorating this year, I just added some red wooden beads and jute twine. Sometimes I leave out the hole and just decorate gingerbread to place around the house, stockings, or in a bowl. I love these little guys, but I think any shape would be cute, and hearts are always simple and cute.
I actually botched my Christmas decor budget already buying 2 new trees and Mr. Nutcracker on my porch, but hey… it could have been worse! At least I threw in some decor that cost next to nothing, after our home tour is out I’ll share more of my secrets for cutting Christmas decorating costs.