How to Make Salt Dough for Ornaments and Handprints

Salt Dough Ornaments

One of the most popular holiday-themed posts on my blog is my tutorial for how to make cinnamon ornaments—they are easy, smell wonderful, and are a super fun craft for the whole family. But if cinnamon isn’t your thing, another great option for homemade ornaments is to use salt dough.

One distinct advantage to making salt dough ornaments is that I can almost guarantee you already have all the supplies you need in your kitchen. All you need to get your ornaments going is all-purpose flour, salt, and water. It’s a great craft for those days when you just aren’t quite sure what to do with the kids (or adults). No special materials or equipment required. Just mix, cut, bake, decorate, and hang!

A painted salt dough ornament hangs from a red ribbon on a green Christmas tree.

Why do you need salt in salt dough ornaments?

Before I dive into the (really simple) directions, I want to answer a question you see a lot when talking about salt dough—why salt? Well, there are a number of reasons. First up, the large volume of salt makes this dough not-so-tasty, which is a good thing when you have the littlest elves helping you and they are determined to take a sample taste of the craft project. While the dough isn’t toxic, it isn’t exactly recommended anyone eat it. After all, consuming raw flour has been linked to e. coli outbreaks.

Secondly, and probably most importantly, salt is an excellent preservative. If you left the salt out of the recipe below, and just mixed together water and flour, you would end up creating a near-perfect little homestead for mold to set up shop in—not so great if you want to keep these ornaments in a box in the basement for the majority of the year. Salt is such a great preservative, that I have a salt dough ornament that hangs on my Christmas tree that I made as six-year-old in 1989! That’s a 30-year-old ornament, friends. Add the salt to preserve these ornaments for long-term memories.

Get the tutorial »