Learn how to make your own salt dough handprint ornament with this easy Salt Dough Recipe. You only need a few ingredients from your kitchen to make this salt dough! We cover all of our tips and tricks to make sure your salt dough ornaments will last for years!
One of our favorite things to do with salt dough is to make handprint ornaments. But you can also use this same recipe and use cookie cutters and paint shapes instead!
For the handprint ornaments – you can make a new one every year and have a nice memento for the Christmas tree!
Don’t forget to add the year on the back of the salt dough ornament to keep track of the different years.
Salt Dough Ingredients
4 cups all purpose flour (Note: you want regular all purpose flour, not self-rising)
1 cup salt
1.5 cups warm water
How to Make Salt Dough – an Easy Salt Dough Recipe!
1. Combine all of your ingredients (flour, salt, warm water) and mix well until it starts to form a dough.
2. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead for at least 10 minutes.
If your dough is too dry, add a little bit more water in and continue to knead.
The dough should be smooth and roll out with not too many bumps. It should also be easy to press a handprint into it. If you’re finding it’s too hard or not smooth enough, continue to knead some more. If it’s still too dry, add a little bit more water (but not too much or it may get too wet).
Roll out the dough to between 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. If the dough is too thick it will take too long to dry.
Press the hand into the dough.
3. Use a circle shaped bowl to trace around your handprint.
Cut out the handprint with a knife (adults to do this part).
You can also print off a circle shape or heart shape to trace around with a knife (adults to do this part).
If you have a smaller handprint you can use a circle or large heart cookie cutter.
TIP: It’s easier to press the handprint first, and then trace around it. If you have dough left over you can roll it out again and do another handprint.
4. Using a straw, make a hole in the top of the ornament.
5. Let the ornaments air dry for a day.
If you have time, let the ornaments air dry for a day. This will cut down on the baking time required and help to prevent puffing. If you do not have time, you can bake right away instead.
Bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 1-2 hours. Once the top of the ornaments look dry and solid, flip over and bake on the other side.
NOTE: It’s important that you check that your oven temperature is set to Fahrenheit. One of the most common reasons the ornaments burn and puff up is that the oven temperature is Celsius. If you have a Celsius setting then you’ll want to use the lowest oven temperature, closer to 120 degrees Celsius.
If your ornaments are still doughy, put them back in for another hour. It will depend on your thickness how long you need to bake for. The thinner ornaments will take less time but thicker may take more. If it’s taking too long in the oven, let them finish drying by air drying them for a few more days. Make sure to flip them over so the bottoms also get exposed to air.
6. Once your ornaments are fully dry you can paint them.
Paint the handprint and leave the remaining ornament plain. Or you can paint the whole ornament white and then paint the center handprint once the base coat has dried.
If you want to add glitter into the handprint, decorate the whole ornament with paint first, then fill the handprint with glue. Shake glitter onto the glue.
After the paint has dried, make sure to seal with with either mod podge or a clear glaze spray. Seal the ornaments after you paint them and the paint has fully dried.
7. Tie ribbon or twine through the hole for hanging on the Christmas tree.
Why Is My Salt Dough Puffing Up?
The number one reason salt dough is puffing is due to the oven temperature. If the temperature is too high the salt dough will puff up. It is better to let your ornaments air dry for a day and then bake them. This will prevent the puffing. If you need to bake right away, bake at the lowest temperature (200-250 degrees Fahrenheit).
Note: Make sure to check your oven temperature is Fahrenheit and not Celsius.
You also want to make sure you are using regular, all purpose flour and not self-rising flour.
How Do I Seal Salt Dough Ornaments?
Once you are done, don’t forget to seal with either mod podgeor a clear glaze spray. We like this sprayfor a durable finish. Adults should do the spraying and always follow directions of the product chosen.
Sealing the final ornaments will help stop them from cracking in a few years and prevent moisture from getting in.
What Kind of Paint Should I Use?
I like to use non-toxic acrylic paint for salt dough ornaments. The color will go on much thicker and more vibrant than kids paint. We like this brand of acrylic paint.
How to Decorate Salt Dough Handprints
You can use a heart for the shape around the handprints or you can use a circle.
For this one, we used a large heart cookie cutter as the handprints were small (baby handprints):
If you have larger handprints, you can trace around a heart print-out or use a knife (adults only) to draw a heart shape around the handprint.
We painted this one with acrylic red paint but you could choose green or even silver or gold. Then you can leave the handprint portion of the salt dough ornament either natural or use glue and add glitter to it like we did.
How Many Ornaments Does this Make?
Depending on the handprint size and thickness of the salt dough – you can get approximately 8 handprints. If you’re using the dough to make small cookie cutter ornaments you’ll get approximately 15.
If you’re hoping to make this for a classroom or with a larger group of kids, I would recommend bringing an extra batch just in case. The quantity can vary depending on size of cookie cutters, handprints and thickness of the dough. I like to roll out the dough and continue to knead together the scraps to use as much as I can.
Tips for Making Perfect Salt Dough
Knead well to make the dough smooth – I like to knead at least 10 minutes.
Let the ornaments air dry for a day first, if possible. This cuts back on the oven baking time and helps to prevent puffing.
Don’t forget to flip the ornaments when baking or air drying so that the bottoms will be exposed to air.
Seal with our recommended sealers mentioned above so that the ornaments will last for many years.
Store the ornaments in a cool, dry place and keep away from moisture. Sealing the ornaments also prevents moisture from getting in.
Combine all of your ingredients and knead for 10 minutes. If your dough is too dry add a little bit more water in and continue to knead.
Roll out the dough to a thickness that you'd like your salt dough ornament to be. We like between 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness.
Using a large cookie cutter, cut out different shapes for your salt dough ornaments. If making handprints, place the handprints first and then trace around them.
Have your child place their hand into the salt dough ornament. If the dough is too hard to get an imprint it may be too dry. Continue to knead until smooth. You can also add in a little bit more water.
Using a straw, make a hole in the top for where you want to hang your salt dough ornament.
If possible, let the ornaments air dry for a day.
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 1-2 hours. If your ornaments are still doughy, put back in for another hour. (It will depend on your thickness how long you need to bake for. The thinner ornaments will take less time but thicker may take more).
If you encounter too much puffing, roll out thinner ornaments and this will help reduce the puffing. If the ornament is still a bit doughy, bake for longer or let sit out a few days to harden before decorating. The thickness of the dough will determine how long you have to bake them for. We prefer to bake them at 250 degrees Fahreneheit for longer and let them air dry for a few days to prevent puffing.
Once cool, you can decorate by painting with non-toxic acrylic paint.
Spray with a clear glaze finish or finish with mod podge. Do this before adding the glitter.
To make the hand glittery, fill the handprint with glue then sprinkle glitter on top of the glue, shake off the excess and let it dry.
Did You Make This?
We love seeing what you’ve made! Tag us on social media at @bestideasforkids for a chance to be featured.
Kids will love helping to make this salt dough recipe. They will also have fun decorating the salt dough ornaments by painting them.
Finally, just a friendly reminder to keep these out of reach of pets (they can be toxic to dogs due to the salt content).