I started seeing these salt dough ornaments everywhere online. I knew I wanted to attempt to make these with Jack this holiday season. Let me just say, these are hands down my most favorite things I’ve ever made and I will cherish them forever. (Well, we’re keeping one and will be distributing the rest as gifts.)
This isn’t exactly a tutorial since there are a hundred out there already, but I’m going to share my notes on what I thought worked best, what I’d do differently, etc.
SALT DOUGH SANTA CLAUS ORNAMENTS
For the dough:
– 1 cup salt
– 4 cups flour
– 1 cup water
* There are different recipes for how to make salt dough. I’m sharing the one I used, though I can’t say for certain that it is or isn’t the best! If you have one that you love more, go for that!
Mix the salt and flour together. Add in the water slowly and mix to form a dough. It helps to us your hands to knead the dough to form a smooth ball.
Roll the dough out until it’s about 1/4″ thick. I worked in small batches as it was easier to do one handprint at a time with a toddler. Press your little one’s hand into the dough to form a handprint. If you’re going for a Santa, try to have their thumb out to the side as much as possible (for the tail of Santa’s hat) and four fingers close together (for Santa’s beard). Don’t worry if it’s not perfect though, because they all end up so cute! If you’re unhappy with a handprint, just form the dough back into a ball and reroll and repeat.
(I easily got five handprints with leftover dough for Jack to play with.)
Carefully cut out the handprints with a sharp knife and use a straw to punch a hole at the top for the ribbon. I did an outline of the handprint, but I have seen other examples where you just cut out the handprint itself. It’s up to you how you want your Santas to look.
Place the handprints onto a baking sheet and bake at 200°F until dry. I recommend baking for an hour, then flipping the prints and baking for another hour. Check in on the ornaments every now and then to ensure they’re not burning. Mine ended up taking a while to dry (almost eight hours of baking time + sitting out overnight)– I just kept flipping them to get both sides every hour or so.
Decorating the ornaments:
– Acrylic craft paint (outline/beard, skin, rosy cheeks, hat, any other decorations you
– Pom poms
I had the hardest time envisioning how to paint the Santas so I pulled up inspiration from online, then took a photo of one of the handprints, and used Photoshop to “paint” a diagram to work off of. This helped a LOT.
Paint your Santa to your liking! The heel of the handprint + thumbs should be the Santa’s hat, the fingers will be the beard, and then the center of the handprint will be the face! I did these in parts, letting each section dry before painting the next. I used a paint pen to add eyes and a detail brush to paint on the rosy cheeks/nose and twinkle in the eye! Once everything dried, I painted the back and sides white and then used a paint pen to write “JACK 2023” on the back. I waited for everything to dry completely before using the Mod Podge to do a thin layer on the front. I let it dry for 45 minutes and then did another thin layer on the back and sides. I used a hot glue gun to attach a pom pom for the end of Santa’s hat!
Then I strung a ribbon through the hole and tied a bow!
– Plan on this taking time between drying time for the salt dough and the various painting steps.
– Use a sharp knife to cut out of the handprints and try to smooth the edges before baking it. I ended up having jagged edges, which definitely gives it a more rustic vibe. I ended up sanding the sides down with sandpaper after the ornaments dried.
– I wish I had made my ornaments a little thinner. I was worried about cracking, but they ended up being a bit heavy!