The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License,
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

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Budget Crafts – Christmas Past: Homemade Christmas Dough Gingerbread Boy Ornaments

Compiled by Vicki McClure Davidson


Some salt, flour, and water and you have yourself a vintage, low-cost creative arts and crafts Christmas activity that's perfect for saving money during the holidays and involving kids of all ages.

These homemade dough ornaments cost next to nothing to make and have been popular off and on for decades. The scanned Morton Salt advertisement with recipe below was published in Family Circle magazine in December 1975.

You can use them to decorate your own Christmas tree, or put together several boxes of them for some good, old-fashioned gift-giving for friends, co-workers, and family members. They're perfect for young couples just starting out or to send to college students who are away from home during the holidays.

My mom made these homey dough ornaments when we were kids. Ours were wreaths and flowers. I still have a few that I put up on the Christmas tree each year. While most have accidentally broken over the passage of time (dropping them on hard wood floors is not recommended), it's surprising that a few have been durable enough to survive several home moves, inquisitive young children, and frenetic kittens.

My mom made these cute, inexpensive Christmas tree dough ornaments when we were kids — this popular, easy Morton Salt recipe was published in Family Circle magazine in December 1975


My mom made these cute, inexpensive Christmas tree dough ornaments when we were kids - this popular, easy Morton Salt recipe was published in Family Circle magazine in December 1975

Text from the advertisement:

Christmas from the cupboard.

(1 cup Morton Salt, 2 cups flour, 1 cup water)

Remember when Christmas was homemade ornaments and handmade gifts? Maybe this is the year for Christmas past.

All it takes is a batch of dough and a few cookie cutters... and watch the fun your family can have making stars, snowflakes and other unique tree ornaments, like the gingerbread boy shown here.

While you're at it, have the kids sign and date each ornament they do. Years from now, they'll make interesting memories.

It's all that easy.

Here's a close-up of the magazine's directions — they're also typed directly below.

Morton Salt Christmas tree dough ornaments, gingerbread boy ornament directions, Family Circle, December 1975


Morton Salt Christmas tree dough ornaments, gingerbread boy ornament directions, Family Circle, December 1975

Before you get started, round up your ingredients and cover your work area with a few sheets of newspaper to make clean-up easier.

Directions from the ad:

  • 1. To make the gingerbread boy: First, mix salt and flour together. Then add water, a little at a time. Knead 7 - 10 minutes until dough is smooth and putty-like.

  • Note here: if dough is too dry, add a tiny bit more water. If it's slimy or watery, add a bit more flour.

  • 2. Roll dough about 1/4" thick, then use gingerbread boy cookie cutter to cut the basic shape.

  • 3. Roll small pieces of dough for eyes, cheeks, etc., and simply moisten with water to attach. Then bake on cookie sheet (325 deg F) in oven 'til light brown (or, let air-dry 48 hours on a window screen).

  • 4. When cool, varnish to protect from moisture, or paint any color you like. Then just hang on tree... and enjoy the compliments.

  • You're limited only by your imagination. Dig out your stash of holiday cookie cutters, or if you don't have any and don't want to buy cookie cutters, you can use a small juice glass to cut out circular ornaments. With a butter knife, you can carefully cut out free-form ornaments of your own creation. You can also use this flour/salt dough to make larger country-style centerpieces, like Christmas baskets or more intricate home decorations, or for small additions to a dollhouse or displayed Christmas village scene.

    Be sure to insert a small hole at the top of your ornament so that a tree ornament hook, fishing line, yarn, ribbon, or string can be threaded through for tree-hanging. A dry strand of spaghetti, paintbrush end, thin nail, or a thick pin or knitting needle will do the trick for small to medium-sized ornaments. If your finished ornaments are heavy, insert a paperclip into the back of each ornament near the top before baking it to reinforce it. Cover the paperclip with a smidge of dough and poke your hole through it or leave a quarter-inch sticking out of the dough for threading your string or hook through. If you use a loop of fishing line, put a small drop of glue on the knot to secure it.



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