Making Salt Dough Christmas Decorations

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These are a great family project – it’s easy, happy, messy craft, with the bonus of ticking all your handmade, buy-nothing christmas boxes all at once. Excellent.

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It seems I have succumbed to Christmas.

I thought we could get away with Caga Tió  instead, that fabulous Catalan tradition where children whack a painted log with a stick on christmas morning  until it poops out presents.

This is a true story. We did it last year, and it was great.

But this year, there’s pre-school. And given that i have a somewhat fact-obsessed son (you should hear him hold forth on the subject of mating), if i told him what I actually thought of this whole santa and christmas business, every other 4 year old in his class would know too.

So, in the spirit of.. well, of christmas, I suppose, we’ve gone soft.

Our line is that Santa is a good story. He’s as real as Manny and Diego from Ice Age. And we’ll leave it at that, for this year.

So. Christmas decorations. Any time of year is a good time for craft based decorations in our house, but since we’re ‘doing christmas’ this year, let’s do it properly.

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Salt Dough Christmas Decorations

The salt dough is basically a lot of flour (3 cups maybe?) with a small handful of salt, a splash of olive oil, and a dribble of water until the mix looks and feels like a firm cookie dough.

Then we rolled it out, got busy with cookie cutters and a drinking straw to cut the holes, and proceeded to try not to burn them all in the woodstove.

The salt dough is best cooked slow and long – if you do it fast you’re likely to get puffy biscuits, which are harder to paint.

They came out of the oven looking rather tasty, were duly tried and nibbled, and pronounced inedible.

Which is exactly what they should be, so that you don’t have christmas ants crawling all over your christmas walls as they feast on your christmas decorations.

Once they were cool, it was time to decorate…

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In theory, if you didn’t have an exuberant 4 year old or a choice of paints involved, your salt dough christmas decorations could technically end up looking like this:

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Or, if you do it properly (with kids, glitter and dogs all around, plus a quick sheep-chasing break in the middle), they might look a bit more like this:

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As we made these ornaments Ashar and I talked about a lot of things to do with traditions, and rituals, and seasonal markers, and good stories.

How the top of the planet has opposite seasons to us. How different people believe the world was made in different ways, and is governed by different forces.

As a society we mush so many of these stories together into what becomes culture. Which is all good, as long as within our family we talk openly about where these ideas come from, and why. And as long as we keep making stuff together!

Now that we’ve started, we cant stop. This weekend it’s wreaths. Know any good wreath-wrestling resources? I’d love to know what kid-friendly techniques work best for you?

Happy handmade Christmas preparation all…

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>> Morse posts about life on the farm here…

17 Comments

  1. Carolyn
    Posted November 28, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink | Reply

    Awesome idea! I love them, and will make them with my three year old! Do they have to be baked? Do you think they could be sun dried, or done in the dehydrator? (My oven is on the blink…)

    • Posted November 28, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink | Reply

      yep I rekon either of those options would work fabulously… stick them on the roof for the day and you’d be done! Why didnt we think of that…

  2. Posted November 28, 2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink | Reply

    Great simple fun idea! Love it!

  3. Posted November 28, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink | Reply

    Lovely! I think we will try this. Christmas ants….LOL!

  4. Posted November 28, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My/all our gingerbreads are alredy eaten. Nice idea.

  5. Syl Hayes
    Posted November 28, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I still remember doing this in CLAY with my yr 1 class. Hung them all on a line across the classroom and then the string broke…
    The next year I used salt dough which was great because one kid’s always a taster…I think they look fabulous even unpainted. More like the wooden Scandinavian ones.

  6. Posted November 28, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve been making wreaths with willow and hazel withies. Just cut, so I don’t have to worry about soaking. The willow are more flexible and easier to work with. I start with one which I twist into a circle wrapping the thin end around the thick end. Next I take the thick end of the next one and tuck it trough the middle of the hoop, a couple of inches up from the first one. this means that the first wrap if this withy wraps round the 1st thick end. I then wrap this round the hoop and graphic another withy till I am happy with the thickness and the stability of the hoop.
    Then the children can play, they can tuck whatever decorations or greenery they like in to the hoop. I will try and do a tutorial with pictures on my blog today.
    Meanwhile here’s a link to some I made earlier. https://outrageouswonderful.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/christmas-wreaths/ the feathers one is totally tucked in, some of the others are made with wire.

  7. Posted November 28, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Sorry just re read my last comment, typing on the phone with kids arguing about clothes in the back ground was not a good idea. I hope you get the gist of it. Graphic should read grab. Happy making

  8. Posted November 28, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Cool – wonder if that will confuse the lorikeets when we Chrissy up the apricot tree? – can only hope so :)

  9. Ali
    Posted November 29, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

    These are great fun to make! But beware of humid weather! We learnt this lesson a couple of years back.

  10. Rae
    Posted November 29, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    you might be able to find something from preschool express dot com. they have some great kiddie’s ideas, and you might be able to adapt them for using a bit of fencing wire and some of the straw that you might find around your place. :) just remember to wet the straw first to make it bendy. :)
    I have tons of ideas running through my head now. LOL. But congratulations on embracing the fun of little ones and crafty stuff. I used to love it when my children were small. :)

  11. merindakavich
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Use a wire coat hanger bent into a circle (or fencing wire, but the hanger already has a hook). Tie on scraps of ribbon or strips of fabric all around to cover the wire. You could even dangle your favourite salt dough deco in the middle.

  12. Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    You can make mini wreaths to hangs on trees and door knobs by wrapping curtain rings with ribbon and scraps of wool. Larger ones with braided plant stems etc and decorate with whatever you have on hand:-) Pasta angels are fiddly but oh-so-cute cute!
    http://craftily-ever-after.blogspot.com.au/2010/12/pasta-angels.html

  13. Linda
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Good to hear about other people’s wrestling with these issues..santa, traditions, religion…My girl was born on Christmas day and we are the only non-religious folk in my family so that makes for an interesting combo. I like your approach.

  14. Kathi
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve found young woody stems of wisteria good for wreath-making. Just the right amount of flexibility when cut and long-lasting when dry. Then decorate as you please each year.

3 Trackbacks

  1. […] or, if you’re shy with your card-making skills and you’re giving in person, make some Salt Dough Christmas decorations instead. They’re fully biodegradable, good fun to make, and you can be certain of no […]

  2. […] pieces from the craft box. salt dough decorations|Scarlett whipped these up all by herself. We used this recipe. Easy peasy and so much fun. the nativity|Making our own nativity scene is a tradition from […]

  3. […] was the need for a door wreath that we could complete with a Salt Dough decoration that sent us […]

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