Every year we gift hand made ornaments to our family. Usually this includes me wrestling the kids handprints onto a glass ball, then staying up late to finish them myself. This year I think the kids are old enough to help so I picked 2 projects I thought they (and I) could handle. The first was the crayon ornaments and the second is salt dough ornaments. The dough itself was SO SO easy to make. I used the recipe posted by Play At Home Mom. They are so awesome, if you get a chance, check them out! Anyways, here’s the project:
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup salt
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- mix flour and salt and add water slowly as you stir….once mixed, knead the dough with your hands until soft and pliable
- Bake in the oven (after rolling and cutting) for 1 hour at 325. DON’T forget to cut a hole (with a straw or toothpick) for the string BEFORE baking so you can hang them. If you’re brave like the PAH Mom’s, you can let them drill a hole in them afterwards. I don’t have a drill for my kids yet so we did it beforehand.
I totally let O get in on the measuring and mixing action. Bonus building his confidence and teaching math 🙂
My original plan was to trace their hands onto the dough and cut it out. Then paint it to look like santa and an elf. Yeah, I had big dreams. My boys had other plans, but I’ve learned that it keeps them happy and me sane if sometimes I just let them roll with what they envision instead.
So instead, we rolled it out and cut with cookie cutters. My boys have a whole set of tools that I bought specifically for playing with clay, but I did dig out some of my mom’s old Christmas cookie cutters for this. Z also found a “stamp” with a snowflake on it that he used on his ornaments. Honestly, it was super difficult to just kind of stand back and let them do it, because of course these are gifts and I wanted them to be “perfect”, but I felt like THEY needed to do it, even if it meant rough edges and some stars were pieced together. I think in the end it will mean more, to both them and their grandparents, because the kids actually did it themselves.
Next we baked them. 325 degrees for an hour. We did the cutting right before nap so the boys slept while they baked / cooled. I didn’t want them getting all excited as soon as they came out and not giving them a chance to cool down.
And then of course, it was time to paint! O’s favorite thing in the entire world. I covered the “multi purpose” picnic table with a dollar store plastic table cloth and put it on top of the soft foam floor pieces to keep any spills off the carpet. Used a recycled (yay!) Chinese food container for the paint and some cheap $2 brushes. Acrylic paints worked really well and were easy to wash off during clean up. We also used glitter glue because O thought they needed some sparkle, and who can argue with that? Again, so hard to just step back and let them go to town, especially when the red and green were getting mixed on the ornaments and becoming “maroon” and “dirt” colored.
Then you just let them air dry and tie a piece of ribbon through the hole (you did remember to poke a hole right?) to hang them by. Once the boys were in bed I wrote on each with a paint sharpie “Made with love by:…” and each relative will get one from each boy. Cute, right? Plus, when O is a famous artist they can all say they have an original 😉