make your own: salt dough ornaments.

December 16, 2019
salt dough ornaments | reading my tea leaves

If you’re hoping to find an easy and extremely affordable way to decorate a Christmas tree, or top a present, or generally make merry, baking a tray or two of salt dough ornaments is a thing to try.

Last weekend we measured, and mixed, and kneaded; rolled, and cut, and pierced, then baked two trays of mini snowflakes ornaments. Once baked, we used the tiny bit of glitter I’d been hoarding in my craft supply box for the last decade to add a few sparkly stars with a wash of wheat paste. (If you’d like to add a little sparkle to your ornaments, consider a plant-based glitter that biodegrades.) Finally, we threaded some silvery thread through our stars and hung them on our Frazier fir.

Paired with twinkle lights and kraft paper chains that Faye and I made from strips of crinkled packing paper (and secured with the same wheat paste), the tree is a homemade masterpiece of the humblest kind. Not quite as humble, but exceedingly cute, is the fact that since making them, Faye has reported to at least half the population of Brooklyn how they too can make their own ornaments. “It’s so easy!”

We used the salt dough ornament recipe Stephanie Madewell shared on Katy Elliot’s blog in the golden age of blogging and it was perfect. (See the original post to peek at Stephanie’s genius gnomes!)

salt dough ornaments | reading my tea leaves


1/2 cup table salt

1/2 cup water

1 cup flour


+ Mix ingredients in a stand mixer (or by hand) until a sticky dough forms.

+ Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead until it’s soft and stretchy. (Stephanie recommends 7-8 minutes, which sounds long but enthusiastic helpers make quick work of the job.)

+ Use a rolling pin or dowel to roll the dough to about 1/4″ thick and use a cookie cutter to cut shapes. (We found our mini snowflakes at our local kitchen shop, Whisk.)

+ Transfer cut-outs to a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, poke holes for hanging, and bake in a low temp oven (~200 degrees F) until hardened and dry (and before they get too golden). (My assistants were very eager rollers and so our ornaments were a bit thinner than 1/4″ and baked up quickly in about an hour.)

+ Once cooled, string up your ornaments and hang them somewhere festive.

salt dough ornaments | reading my tea leaves
salt dough ornaments | reading my tea leaves
salt dough ornaments | reading my tea leaves
salt dough ornaments | reading my tea leaves
salt dough ornaments | reading my tea leaves
salt dough ornaments | reading my tea leaves
salt dough ornaments | reading my tea leaves
salt dough ornaments | reading my tea leaves

As ever, more low-waste, low-clutter holiday decoration ideas are in the archive.

Any other homemade ornament enthusiasts out there? We’d love to hear what you have hanging on your tree!

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Nora December 16, 2019 at 12:08 pm

    The classics: salt dough ornaments, paper chains, and cranberry garlands. But this year one elf keeps draping the skins from well-peeled clementines (long, dangly curlicues) on the bottom half of our tree. Festive compost chic

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 16, 2019 at 12:19 pm

      haha! LOVE that.

      • Reply Jennifer Copeland November 15, 2020 at 8:55 am

        Could you please let everyone know that these ornaments are toxic to kids and pets. We put our tree up last weekend and added a few salt dough ornaments that we made years ago with the kids. My Mom’s boston terrier ate one tiny ornament and ended up in the animal emergency hospital for 2 days. The high sodium level can cause brain swelling. They’re beautiful, but maybe should be placed out of reach of small kids and pets.

  • Reply Laura DeBuys December 16, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    I’ve been folding Froebel stars like it’s my job! Some of them are destined to end up on the tree.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 16, 2019 at 12:19 pm

      ah, lovely! i’ve never made one! adding to my winter “break” list!

      • Reply Simone Dubarry December 22, 2019 at 9:01 am

        I made little macrame wall hangings o cinnamon sticks

  • Reply Sarah December 16, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    I’ve been wondering for years where your grownup books are stored. THERE THEY ARE!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 16, 2019 at 12:41 pm

      ha. they’re also in our crates-turned-bedside-tables, in another crate under the couch, and we’ve got another crate filled with cookbooks that lives in the corner by the kitchen! everywhere, in other words.

  • Reply Kalie December 16, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    I made the cinnamon ornaments you suggested perhaps 3 years ago and they are still going strong! And still fragrant!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 16, 2019 at 12:41 pm


  • Reply Erin December 16, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    I love Faye’s recipe and instructions! Very impressive. My own 5 yo daughter has been making books lately with phonetic spellings and pictures. : )

  • Reply Jessica December 16, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    Dried grapefruits, oranges, blood oranges, and limes; strung cranberries only on half of the tree because some of us got tired of making them, and silvery Froebel stars my mother-in-law surprised us with. There were candy canes, but three little nisser keep eating them.

  • Reply Megan December 16, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    My grandmother made and passed down to me a set of string snowflakes that she wove around straight pins in the shapes she wanted, the set with flour water. They’ve still held on strong and are now on my tree :). Oh and crocheted candy canes that I have no clue how she made them.

  • Reply Jennifer December 16, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    also, for those who may not have a festive cookie cutter stashed in a drawer somewhere – we borrow ours from our local library! cake pans, too.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 16, 2019 at 2:44 pm

      So great!

  • Reply McKenzie Allyshia December 16, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    I was just talking to my friends about getting our kids together and doing the cinnamon salt dough ornaments! I love this — thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Debra December 16, 2019 at 11:15 pm

    I made white stars with the baking soda and corn starch recipe and they have been on our tree for years.

  • Reply Annie December 17, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    Your family’s tree is so lovely! I haven’t had a real tree in years since I still have/use my grandmother’s small ceramic tree, but your post brought back good memories for me. For many years my mom and I would make gingerbread cookies and hang them on our real tree. The recipe from her 1961 Betty Crocker Cookbook made cookies that were hard enough to last a long time, smelled great, and were still edible after the tree came down. It also reminded me of the time we made the salt dough ornaments in my first grade class. My dad told me that the recipe was similar to how you make pretzels, and I am a pretzel fiend, so when I got to school the next day I ate mine. My teacher had a good laugh when I told her why.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 18, 2019 at 11:54 am

      Oh my gosh! Glad she didn’t break her teeth in the process!

  • Reply Terry December 18, 2019 at 12:21 am

    46 years ago my husband and I made 15 Gods Eyes with toothpicks and embroidery floss. We hung the 11 we still have on our tree this week.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 18, 2019 at 11:54 am

      Sounds beautiful.

  • Reply Madeline December 18, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Some 25 years ago while living in Tokyo, my mom made a bunch of origami balloons out of patterned washi paper that we still use to this day. Since each balloon has a small hole at the back, we like to place them over individual light bulbs on the tree, creating tiny, glowing lanterns. Due to the sturdiness of the washi paper, they’ve held up surprisingly well, and every year my mom gets to remember her time living in Japan.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 18, 2019 at 11:54 am

      So lovely!

  • Reply steph December 18, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    i don’t get a tree but enjoy tagging along with my MIL to gather some castoff branches where we hang our tiny ornament collection. My favorite part is exploring the yard and learning tree names. is that a fraser fir? i love love love the nubby branches/took some of those home! i was feeling down but am finally feeling more festive after some self care.

  • Reply Lowey December 19, 2019 at 5:56 am

    We’ve made so many origami stars We’ve hung them on our tree, made a garland and used them instead of tags on gifts. I’ve found it very theraputic!

  • Reply Kate December 19, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    We use cut out portions of the cards people sent us the year before. Some we keep year-to-year, especially from people who are truly, truly important in our lives.

  • Reply A December 23, 2019 at 9:37 pm

    Made these ones last year with my (then) 3 yr old…fun, easy and fragrant from the cinnamon

  • Reply Megan November 9, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    A little late to the party, but as our county enters a new phase of lockdown, I’ll be using this recipe to make lacing-bead-ornament activity for my toddler! Currently steeping spinach and turmeric to use as natural dye, hopefully.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Comments are moderated.