The Best Homemade Christmas Ornament Dough


The tree is up and again this year we are doing a 'nature' theme, with cranberries and pine cones.  The only ornaments on the tree this year are some of the homemade ornaments I made on a whim a couple years ago.  They were quick and easy - and although I had ZERO plans when I started the dough, I love how they came out.

I made squares and stars; sending the stars to a family member and keeping the squares with no idea what I was going to do with them.  I decided one day to make a rustic 'reclaimed wood' look out of them as I happened to have some gray, white and black craft paints in my 'junk drawer' in the kitchen.  I had a metallic silver as well - and from that the idea for rustic, farmhouse, reclaimed wood, beach drift wood 'ideas' came to mind.

After I painted them (and loved how they turned out) I realized I had some leftover Christmas cards from the year before with a rustic looking monogram on them, so I cut those out and simply glued them to the ornament.  Adding some jute twine, I hung them on the tree and fell in love with them.

I made this batch into rustic reclaimed wood looking Christmas ornaments

Obviously you can make whatever shapes you wish!  Use your favorite cookie cutters and make Santa's, or nativity scenes, snowmen, snowflakes, reindeer... even press little hands to make handprint ornaments and tie up with a ribbon or even mold the dough into shapes!  You can literally play with it as if it's play dough or soft clay so you can form any shapes you wish.  It will dry hard so be sure you add a hole to hang it by before you dry them.

This dough reminds me of  Crayola Model Magic and dries perfectly white and unlike salt dough, doesn't have salty little gritty crystals in it.  It's perfectly smooth. 

Fun Dough

1/2 c corn starch (I use Argo brand)
1 c baking soda (in the yellow bag/box)
3/4 c water

Blend the cornstarch and baking soda in a pan.  Add the water and stir to mix.  Turn the heat up to medium high and continue to stir.  It will quickly go from looking like white glue to a thick gloop and then suddenly start to come together into a dough (much like cream puff dough).  Turn off the heat as soon as it comes together and push it out onto a flat surface (like a cutting board) to gently start to press it together (*it's hot) to a dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it set and cool a little bit.  The plastic wrap keeps the moisture in so it doesn't start to dry out.  After about 5-10 minutes when it's cooled down to work with it a little bit, start to push and pull and knead it back over itself.  When it's completely smooth and feels like a soft play dough, you can wrap it in plastic wrap and let it cool completely for little hands to play with or you can start to use it right away.

Roll it out on a cutting board, silpat, etc. and cut into the shapes you wish.  Use a straw or small round implement to make a hole if you are going to hang them later.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a 170 degree oven approximately 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours depending on how thick and large you made your shapes.  Or you can let them set to air dry - although you will need to let them dry about 2 days and even longer if they are thick balls, sculptures or if you live where there is high humidity levels.  (My oven is a digital and the lowest setting it can go to is 170.  That is how I came up with that figure.)  Carefully turn your ornaments over (flip them) about half way through the baking time as the parchment paper under them traps moisture.  This dries both sides.  I placed mine on a wire cookie cooling rack for the last 10 minutes of baking but you don't have to do that.  I did a second batch and air dried completely on a wire cookie cooling rack.

When completely dry, paint them if you wish or glue baubles on it, glitter, etc. String a ribbon or string them to hang or finish however you wish!  If you drop it on the floor they will probably break, but just painting them, etc. is no problem as they are not fragile as long as you are not pressing hard, dropping, etc.

The cornstarch and baking soda in the pan

Adding the water and starting to stir, it resembles white glue

The heat starts to turn it to gloop

It quickly comes to a dough - place it on a heat safe surface and quickly press the hot dough to a ball shape

Cover with plastic wrap and let it cool until you can handle it

Use whatever cookie cutter shapes you wish - have a small utensil to make holes for hanging

Knead it a few times to get it smooth

Roll out as thick or thin as you wish - just like cookie dough

Cut whatever shapes you wish

Don't forget to add holes before baking if you wish to hang them later!

Ready to go into the oven

All finished baking!  Just let them cool completely and decorate as you wish
Painted to look like rustic old wood (before I decided to add a monogram)

Here is a shot of the back of the ornament - I just left them unfinished. There was no need to do both sides.

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