COLUMN: Salt dough ornaments fun, easy to make

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By Deanna Godman

Most years, our family puts up a large artificial Christmas tree that we have had for many years. This year, however, we have a tiny tree, a little tabletop tree instead. It is a real tree though, and that makes me happy because that is what I had as a child.

The problem with our small tree is that the ornaments that we have collected are too big for the tree. It is not even a matter of not being able to use them all, although that is true, too. The ornaments are simply too big and overwhelm the tree. I did not want to buy new ornaments since this is probably the only year we will have this problem.
Then I saw salt dough ornaments mentioned in several different places within just a few days, including my cousin who did not want her 1- and 2-year-old children to break her collection of glass ornaments.
This seemed the perfect solution for my family. My 5 year old loves decorating for any holiday, especially Christmas. She loves making those decorations even more.
Since our tree is so small, I decided to use very small cookie cutters to make the ornaments. It took a while to find the right ones, but I finally found some. I also could have used a small round biscuit cutter and decorated the ornaments with stamps. The cookie cutters I found are traditional Christmas shapes, like stars, stockings, and snowflakes.
I searched online for a salt dough recipe because I had never made it before, and I found that the recipes conflicted in their ingredients. Some called for 1:1 ratios for the salt and flour and others called for half as much salt as flour. The amounts for the water differed, too. Some recipes called for glycerin or oil and others did not. In the end, I decided to try one recipe in a small amount and if it did not work, try another.
I used 1 cup of plain flour, ½ cup of salt, 1 tablespoon of glycerin and ½ cup of warm water. When I combined everything, the mixture was too sticky and I did not think it would be easy to use cookie cutters with it. At that point, I decided to add another half cup of salt, which made it grainy but easy to roll out. I rolled the dough to about an eighth to a quarter inch thick and we used our cookie cutters. I placed the ornaments on parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and then used a toothpick to make a small hole in each ornament. For larger ornaments, I would use a straw to make the hole for hanging.
I had enough dough left over to make a handprint ornament of my daughter’s hand. It is probably too big for this year’s tree, but I can hang it up next year.
The salt dough is essentially homemade play dough, and can also be molded to make ornaments. There are many cute ideas available on Pinterest or elsewhere online.

Salt Dough Ornaments

1 cup plain flour
1 cup salt
½ cup warm water
1 Tablespoon glycerin

Mix the ingredients in a large bowl. Once all the ingredients are combined, kneed the dough to ensure all ingredients are incorporated and that the dough is pliable.
For ornaments made with cookie cutters, roll the dough to the desired thickness. Bake the ornaments at 200 degrees on a cookie sheet until firm, about two hours. The drying time depends on the thickness of the ornaments.
The dough can also be air-dried, but a combination of drying and baking is probably best.