Do you have any family Christmas traditions?

One of the ingredients to a childhood well remembered is tradition. It contributes to a sense of comfort, belonging and helps bind families together. My little one is still a bit too small for most traditions but this year I have introduced salt dough. As a child, my Christmas's were centered around crafting and making yummy food which are I am more than happy to carry on with my munchkin. She loves playing with regular play dough and painting so I knew that this activity would be a winner. She also loves puzzles and she spent at least 30mins just cutting out and matching the cutters with the shapes she had made. So, not only is this a fun festive family activity it's "educational", Ha!

In a house in Havant a toddler sits on the floor cutting out salt dough Christmas ornaments
Close up of a stamp in salt dough that says "made with love".
In a house in Havant a toddler sits on the floor cutting out salt dough Christmas ornaments

One of the reasons I chose salt dough was the simplicity, there's no special hard to get ingredients and it only takes 5 mins to mix together! Also, unless you plan on using glitter to decorate, there's not a whole lot of mess either which is why she was allowed to cut them out on the living room floor instead of at the kitchen table.


I love being able to capture the little details whilst she is doing an activity like her little hands holding the cutters. I don't like to intrude too much, she's very used to having a camera pointed towards her and can become annoyed with me if I try to direct her. That's one of the reasons lifestyle photography is something I've jelled so well with. I knew that she would enjoy this activity, I knew the light in my living room was best in the early afternoon and I knew that if I just led her there with the activity, and let her do her thing, then I would be able to get some photographs to treasure.

In a house in Havant a toddler sits on the floor cutting out salt dough Christmas ornaments
In a house in Havant a toddler sits on the floor cutting out salt dough Christmas ornaments
Close up of a toddlers hand cutting out salt dough

It's a decoration AND a gift

I wanted to start a tradition that we could do together but I also don't need 20 Christmas ornaments every year for potentially the next 15 years so we have given some away as gifts from her. Grandparents especially love handmade gifts from little ones. Each year we will either give as gifts or they can be creative gift tags for Christmas presents and then we only need to keep one or two and I will slowly take away tree ornaments we have now and replace them with her creations. Why not try them yourself using the recipe below? it's a fab rainy day activity!

In a house in Havant a toddler sits on the floor cutting out salt dough Christmas ornaments
A close up of a toddlers hand holding a biscuit stamp that says "made with love".
In a house in Havant a toddler sits on the floor cutting out salt dough Christmas ornaments
In a house in Havant a toddler sits on the floor cutting out salt dough Christmas ornaments
In a house in Havant a toddler sits on the floor cutting out salt dough Christmas ornaments
In a house in Havant a toddler sits on the floor cutting out salt dough Christmas ornaments
A salt dough Christmas ornament with a hand print ready for the oven.

Recipe

Makes roughly 20-30 ornaments

250g Plain flour (plus some for dusting)

125g Table salt

125ml water

Baking paper

Baking tray

Biscuit cutters

Rolling pin

A chopstick or something similar to make a whole for the string to go through

To decorate

Poster paint

String or ribbon

Varnish (optional)

Method

  1. Measure out your flour and salt and pour into a mixing bowl.
  2. Measure out the water and pouring a little at a time mix into the flour and salt (I use a fork at this point as it's easier to mash everything together).
  3. Once it starts coming together get your hands in and bring the dough together into a ball.
  4. On a lightly floured work service knead the dough for around 10mins.
  5. Roll out onto lightly floured baking paper (it's much easier to peel the ornaments off of the baking paper than a work surface).
  6. Cut your shapes and place onto another piece of baking paper on a baking tray. Don't forget to make a hole for the string to go through.
  7. Bake at 150'c/Gas mark 2 for 2-3 hours(depending on the thickness of your ornaments) turn half way through baking or leave to dry in a warm area out of direct sunlight for a few days.
  8. Decorate

Remember to warm little ones that these are not for eating!


Christmas tree shaped salt dough ornaments being painted.
Salt dough Christmas ornaments laid out on a table ready to paint.
Salt dough Christmas ornaments being painted.

Decorating

If you would like to leave them plain, while they are still malleable, imprint beads or sprigs of thyme into them to create a pattern. We used every day poster paint which my munchkin splodged on quite happily. She especially enjoyed painting the ornaments with two string wholes in them which she called boobies ha!. We also had lots fun with PVA glue and glitter because what's life without a bit of sparkle?! You can decorate them however you like though, the possibilities are endless. If you are only planning to use paint the next optional step would be to varnish them to keep the paint colours looking bright and seal them which helps with longevity. You can get varnish from hobby craft or delivered from most craft stores. Happy crafting and Merry Christmas!

Traditional salt dough Christmas ornament shaped like a tree and covered with glitter.
Traditional salt dough Christmas ornaments shaped like a star and stamped with made with love.
Traditional Salt dough Christmas ornaments shaped like trees, covered with glitter and strung together with red ribbon.

About the Author


Hi there! My name is Estella Ward, Owner of Entwined Photography. It's my mission to capture heartfelt joy and connection. I have always been drawn to photography that draws emotion and captures the spirit of the moment that you can almost hear the laughter in the photo.

I see such beauty in all the fleeting moments of time and I've carried that perspective with me into my adult life, especially since becoming a mother. Entwined Photography is a Family, Newborn and Maternity lifestyle photographer based in Havant, Hampshire and serves areas in and around Havant, Hayling Island, Portsmouth, Waterlooville, Fareham, Rowlands Castle and Chichester.

In a Sunflower field on Hayling Island, Hampshire, a Mum sits on a hay bale laughing with her 2 year old daughter.

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