Homemade Christmas Ornaments – Another Christmas Advent(ure)
Well, we’ve been busy keeping up with our Christmas Adventure Calendar and have enjoyed trying out a bunch of new things, and putting new spins on some old things. I’ve really noticed how much easier it is to make sure we find time in the day for some special fun together when there’s already a plan. Planning, man. It’s such an important tool. I need to focus more on planning and organizing my life. I think there’s a lot of other things could run much more smoothly, too. We’ll get there.
In the mean time, I wanted to share one of the Christmas activities we tried out recently, that ended up working really well with my little one. Actually, little ones. I had an extra toddler for the day that we made these homemade Christmas ornaments, so we got him in on the fun, too.
I broke this salt dough ornament-making activity up into two days to give us the time to properly focus on the pieces. (As a bonus, it also helped me fill in my advent activity calendar, as I’d done some wiggling around and had a day that still needed filled.)
So, here’s what you need:
½ cup salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup water
Rolling pin (or cup or something cylindrical)
Cookie cutters (or a cup or some sort of shape-cutting object)
That’s it. Sounding pretty simple, right? Let’s carry on with that simple theme.
How to Make Salt Dough Ornaments
Step 1: Mix those ingredients together. This happens really quickly and easily. I was surprised, because I expected it to be more like making playdough, which it was not. It practically mixed itself, and was ready in no time.
Step 2: Sprinkle flour on your surface to keep dough from sticking and roll it out.
Step 3: Use cookie cutters to cut out your shapes. I wanted some special mementos, so I got the little hands to make impressions, one for each of the toddlers, and even got a footprint, then used a cookie cutter and did my best to get the whole impression inside the shape. Use a straw to poke in wherever you like to make a hole for the string to be tied on later.
Step 4: Bake the ornaments on a baking sheet and bake for 2-3 hours until the moisture is gone, flipping once, about half-way through. I ended up going the full 3 hours.
Step 5: Here you’re going to take them out (and turn off the oven!!), and let them cool. I let them cool over night and picked up the next part – painting – the following day.
Painting the Ornaments
The instructions said to use non-toxic acrylic, but I live on the edge (and didn’t have non-toxic acrylics), so I went with some finger paints and tempera paints that I had kicking around.
I set out some blobs of paint, and let Ziggity choose glitter to add to the different colours and mix it in. We each had a paint brush and got to work making our ornaments colourful (and sparkly). One of Z’s favourite parts seemed to be rinsing off her paintbrush. She was wowed by how the colour of the water would change, and would exclaim “Look happening!” every time.
When we were all done, I set all the freshly painted ornaments in a safe place to dry. That evening, after Z was sound asleep, I finished the next step by myself – putting a clear coat on the ornaments. For this I used Modge Podge.
The reason for cutting Z out of this step, which has the potential to be an easy way of getting her involved, is because of the strong smell of the wet Modge Podge. This awesome little coating substance is non-toxic, and I’ve seen it safely used with kids in multiple early learning environments, but the aroma it gives off when you’re using it is intense, to say the least. In my opinion, if you can smell something, it means that particles and chemicals are making it’s way into your body. I just didn’t feel great about exposing my babe to that, so I painted on the Modge Podge all by myself while I watched some riveting Netflix shows. It was actually quite a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend that part of my evening.
I should mention, too, that I used a permanent marker to write my Z’s name on the back of a few special ornaments (the handprint, footprint, and her nicest painted one) with the year, before I started clear-coating them.
All that was left to do the next morning was to tie on some string and let the little munchkin hang her ornaments. She was thrilled to hang them up on the tree, and proudly points them out to everyone who comes in our home.