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Modern Salt Dough Ornaments (And How to Whiten Salt Dough!)

Salt dough ornaments are such a fun holiday project to do with friends or kids! Follow this easy recipe to make your own, and try our secret trick for how to whiten your salt dough.

salt dough ornament on a christmas tree
modern salt dough ornaments

Salt dough ornaments are way cooler than they were when I was a kid! I remember making endless ornaments in the shape of twisted candy canes or with holiday cookie cutters. But these salt dough ornaments have a modern twist.

I also experimented with whitening the salt dough, so that these pretty ornaments are lighter and brighter than the traditional ones. You can read all about that process below.

Psst — if you love this DIY ornament idea, check these out too:

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Whitened Salt Dough Recipe

Believe it or not, you can whiten your salt dough recipe just by adding some white acrylic paint! There are very few ingredients in salt dough, but it’s important to be aware that once you add the paint the recipe is no longer edible.

I have been really liking the look of the whitened salt dough for a few reasons. If you plan to paint your ornaments, the white salt dough takes the paint really nicely and stays true to the paint color. They also look fresher and brighter than standard salt dough, which tends to be a pale tan if you bake it.

That being said, if you prefer the color of the traditional salt dough, all you have to do is leave the paint out of the recipe below and you’ll be all set.

salt dough ornament on a christmas tree
modern salt dough ornaments

Baking Vs. Air Drying

To test our recipe, I made two batches of salt dough ornaments — one that I air dried and one that I dried by baking them in the oven.

I found that, while regular salt dough that hasn’t been whitened will get darker if you bake it, the whitened salt dough stayed the same nice bright white color whether it was baked or air dried.

I also found that with certain shapes, the air-dried ornaments warped a little as they dried. You can see that my stars are a little domed. I think I could have fixed this if I had let them dry flat for a little longer before flipping them.

However, I ended up preferring the air dried ornaments, because I found that the baked ones bubbled a bit as they baked, which gave them an uneven surface. You can see a comparison of air dried vs. baked below. The baked salt dough is on the top and the air dried is on the bottom.

baked vs air dried salt dough ornaments

How to Make Salt Dough Ornaments

Materials

Make Time: 30 Minutes Plus Drying Time

  1. Start by whisking together the dry ingredients in one bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the water and paint together and whisk until thoroughly combined.
  3. Next, add about half the paint mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. You’ll probably need to add a bit more of the liquid; just keep adding and mixing little by little until the mixture forms a nice dough ball. If you accidentally add too much liquid and it’s sticky or gooey, add a sprinkle of flour and mix again.
  4. Roll your dough to about 1/4″ thick and cut out ornaments with cookie cutters. Then, punch a hole in the top of each ornament with a straw.
  5. If you’re air drying your ornaments, just let them sit! After 24 hours, flip them over to dry the other side. They should be firm and cured after 72 hours. If you’re baking them, then just place them on a baking tray and bake for 3 hours at 200.
white salt dough ingredients
white salt dough ingredients

Decorating Modern Salt Dough Ornaments

There are so many ways you could decorate these! If you have little kids, just give them some pens or paint and let them go for it. Write their name and year on the back and grandma will be thrilled.

If you want to try something like we did, follow our instructions below.

  1. Choose some colors of acrylic paint. Mix the paint and some water at a 1:1 ratio to give the paint a watercolor-y consistency.
  2. Next, lightly brush the paint across the surface of the ornament. Leave some of the ornament white.
  3. Once the paint dries, brush a bit of adhesive or gold leaf sizing here and there on the surface of the ornament. Apply gold leaf over these spots.
  4. With a dry brush, gently buff away the excess gold leaf.
  5. Finally, string a ribbon through the hole in the ornament and allow everything to dry!
painting salt dough ornaments

Perfect Gifts or HOliday decor

That’s it! These DIY salt dough ornaments make perfect gifts for neighbors, teachers, family, and friends. Or just make a bunch for yourself and decorate your own tree. These would also be a great project for kids to take over and decorate a mini tree all their own.

Hope you have fun with these! xoxo

salt dough ornament on a christmas tree
modern salt dough ornaments

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Yield: Salt Dough Ornaments

DIY Salt Dough Ornaments

salt dough ornament on a christmas tree

These whitened salt dough ornaments make beautiful Christmas decor or holiday gifts!

Active Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $10

Materials

  • 1 c all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c salt
  • 1/2 c water
  • 3/4 c white acrylic paint
  • more paint colors
  • paint brushes
  • gold leaf
  • adhesive
  • ribbon

Tools

  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie cutters
  • Straw
  • mixing bowls

Instructions

    1. Start by whisking together the dry ingredients in one bowl.
    2. In a separate bowl, mix the water and paint together and whisk until thoroughly combined.
    3. Next, add about half the paint mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. You'll probably need to add a bit more of the liquid; just keep adding and mixing little by little until the mixture forms a nice dough ball. If you accidentally add too much liquid and it's sticky or gooey, add a sprinkle of flour and mix again.
    4. Roll your dough to about 1/4" thick and cut out ornaments with cookie cutters. Then, punch a hole in the top of each ornament with a straw.
    5. If you're air drying your ornaments, just let them sit! After 24 hours, flip them over to dry the other side. They should be firm and cured after 72 hours. If you're baking them, then just place them on a baking tray and bake for 3 hours at 200.

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