Break out the cookie cutters for these simple salt dough ornaments

I have at least 100 cookie cutters that I’ve collected over the years.

Salt dough ornaments have been a beloved holiday project for decades, and the process remains largely the same as when you were a kid, except the cookie cutters have gotten better. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

How many times do I make sugar cookies and actually use them? Rarely. I don’t have quite the sugar cookie touch of Lee Stokes Hilton, a local writer who loves to bake and decorate cookies with her grandkids, but I do love a good holiday craft project.

RELATED: Tips on rolling, decorating cookies from a sprinkles-loving grandma

That’s why I pulled out the box of cookie cutters last weekend to make salt dough ornaments, an old fashioned, family friendly activity for people of all ages and abilities.

It’s a wonderful way to spend a few hours together during the holiday break, but they are anything but laborious or tricky. I used this generic salt dough ornament recipe from Allrecipes, and though I overbaked the first batch slightly, you couldn’t tell once we started painting them with acrylic paints.

Texas-shaped cookie cutters are the only specialized tool you’d need to make these holiday ornaments. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

I haven’t yet coated the ornaments we made with an acrylic spray or varnish to help preserve them for many years to come, but the only motivation I need to do so is the “Baby’s First Christmas” salt dough ornament I have on my own Christmas tree from when I was a kid. It’s the most beloved ornament I have, and I’m grateful to have had the chance to make some holiday memories (and perhaps lifelong ornaments) with my kids this Christmas season.

Acrylic paint is inexpensive and fun to use on everyday crafting projects like these salt dough ornaments. You could also use glitter, puff balls, glue-on eyes or Sharpies for the detail work. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Salt Dough Ornaments

Use a straw to poke little holes in the dough so that you can thread a ribbon through it, and bake the cut-out dough on parchment paper. Keep an eye on the ornaments after they’ve been in the oven for about 30 minutes so they don’t get overly browned. You’re not eating these, but they can get frail if overbaked. Granulated salt dissolves faster than kosher salt, so stick to the smaller granules.

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated salt
1 1/2 cups warm water

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix flour and salt well. Gradually add water, stirring with a large spoon. Finish mixing with hands. Knead until soft and pliable. Roll out on floured surface about 1/8-inch thick. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheets. With a toothpick or straw, make a hole in the top of the ornament for threading string. Bake until hard, from 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the thickness of the dough. Decorate with paint and varnish to preserve.

— Adapted from a recipe on

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