Lasting Decorations, Lasting Memories

By MaryAnn F. Kohl

Finished salt dough ornaments

Kids are inspired by the holiday season to create, so enjoy the opportunity to include them in making artsy memories by creating salt-dough ornaments for the home, classroom, or as unique and precious gifts.

One of my favorite ornament-making recipes is Baker's Clay, found in my book Mudworks. It is basically a very simple flour and salt recipe that makes a wonderful pliable dough (that bakes hard). The dough takes paint and glaze well and is equally beautiful when left natural.

Recipe for Baker's Clay

In a big bowl, mix 1 cup salt in 1½ cups warm water until salt is partially dissolved. Add 4 cups flour to the salt water. Mix with hands to form a dough ball. Knead 5-10 minutes. Recipe can be doubled or tripled. Note: Adding liquid watercolors or food coloring to the water will make colored dough. Adding cinnamon or vanilla or peppermint adds fragrance. The dough can be stored in the fridge in a plastic bag.

Baker's Clay

Making Ornaments

The easiest method for making ornaments is to roll out the dough on a baking sheet or parchment and then cut with holiday cookie cutters. However, my favorite method is for kids to create free-form ornaments they design themselves. Just be sure the ornaments are flat and no thicker than ½ inch so they will bake well.

Salt Dough

When ornaments are ready to bake, poke a hole in each one with a drinking straw. Then place on a baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about 2-3 hours or until hard. Note: If leaving the ornaments a natural color, brush on a glaze of egg white, evaporated milk, or mayonnaise before baking.

When the ornaments are cool, it’s decorating time!  Here are some ideas:

Painting Ornaments

  • Paint with tempera paints or acrylics.
  • Add glitter to the paint, or sprinkle on wet paint.
  • Design with glitter glue.
  • Glue on beads or sequins.
  • Draw or write with permanent Sharpie markers.
  • Draw or write with gold or silver hobby pens.
  • Spray on a clear polymer hobby glaze.
  • String ribbon, yarn, or fishing line through the hole for hanging.


Creating together builds a childhood full of wonderful memories and traditions. These ornaments will last a lifetime! My grown daughters love hanging the ornaments they made when they were in preschool. Sharing family traditions brings a warmth and glow to the holidays. Children will treasure these lasting memories.

Happy Holidays!

This post was contributed by MaryAnn F. Kohl. MaryAnn is the renowned author of more than twenty books about art for children. Her books are published both by Gryphon House and by her own company, Bright Ring Publishing. MaryAnn invites you to connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog.

Photos were contributed courtesy of Rachelle Doorley, owner of the blog Tinkerlab: Creative Experiments for Curious Kids. Check out her version of this exciting art experience here.

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