Get ready for the ultimate in fun and easy kids crafts. Use our really easy salt dough recipe and video walkthrough to learn how to make salt dough decorations. With our step by step guide you can whip up simple ornaments that will keep tiny hands busy shaping, baking and painting for hours.
This is a fun DIY for all those of you looking for summer holiday craft ideas for kids or any lovers of messy play. Salt dough ornaments only take half an hour to make from scratch to decorating, and the best bit? All you need is flour, salt and water, plus paint to finish. These simple DIY decorations make lovely gifts and keepsakes to give to family members or decorate your home at Christmas or Easter.
There are a few different salt dough recipes out there with various quantities of the different salt dough ingredients, so we’ve tried and tested several to create this tutorial for you with our favourite quantities of flour, salt and water.
A top tip is to pierce a hole in the top of them before you bake to turn them into hanging decorations (simply thread with ribbon to hang, once the dough has cooled). So raid your kitchen cupboards for the supplies, roll up your sleeves and get ready to discover the joy of making your own salt dough.
Official thanks for the making of this tutorial to children Eve and Tom for helping make this salt dough project, and to our family friends Heather and Dorothy for assisting with the painting! If you like, this, you’ll love our Easy play dough recipe, favourite crafts for toddlers and easy halloween crafts for kids.
Main image (above) © Lynne Mitchell
In this post we’ll show you:
- Salt dough ingredients
- Easy salt dough recipe for kids
- How long do you bake salt dough?
- Is it better to bake or air dry salt dough?
- How long does salt dough last?
- 10 easy salt dough gift ideas
Salt dough ingredients
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup salt
- 1 cup water
Easy salt dough recipe for kids
You Will Need
- Flour (1 cup)
- Salt (1 cup)
- Water (1 cup)
- Rolling pin
- Paint, We used poster paints and squeezy fabric paints
- Cookie cutters, Optional
- Paint brush
- Food colouring, Optional
How to make salt dough
Measure 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of salt and mix them together in a bowl.
Pour out 1 cup of water and mix it into the salt dough mix, a little bit at a time. If it feels wet or sticky to the touch, add a bit more flour until you can form a dough that holds its shape but doesn’t stick to your fingers.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface using a rolling pin until it’s 1cm thick.
How to make salt dough ornaments
Use cookie cutters to cut out a range of shapes from the dough. If you don’t have cookie cutters you can also use play dough cutters or just trace around your hands with a pencil and then cut out the shape with a blunt knife (smaller children may need a grown up to help with this bit). If you’d like to hang your ornaments later, then pierce a hole in the top of each one with a pen or skewer.
Place the shapes on a shallow baking tray and bake them in a pre-heated oven for 3 hours at 140°C (Gas Mark 1).
Take out the shapes and leave them to cool for about half an hour. Now they’re ready to decorate.
Use paints to add colour and pattern to your decorations. We’ve used poster paints and some squeezy fabric paints that we had in our stash for ours. You could also use glue and sequins, beads or pom poms from your craft kit to add finishing touches.
These finished decorations make lovely thank you gifts or Christmas tree decorations and they are one of our personal absolute favourite ways to introduce children to the joy of crafting! Share our easy salt dough recipe with your friends and family and spread the crafting joy.
Simple salt dough recipe FAQ
How long do you bake salt dough?
Bake your salt dough decorations for 3 hours at 140°C (Gas Mark 1)
What flour do you use for salt dough?
In our salt dough recipe we use plain white flour. We’ve tried making them with wholemeal flour too but it didn’t work as well, so would recommend using white. It’s our tried and tested salt dough recipe and we promise it will deliver the best results!
How long does salt dough last?
In our experience, salt dough decorations will last for years once you’ve baked and decorated them, so they make a lovely keepsake. We’ve had decorations last over 20 years with no deterioration. To help them last longer, paint them with a layer of decoupage glue or clear varnish to seal the colours.
How to make salt dough ornaments shiny
Simply paint your finished decorations with a clear varnish layer. We recommend one of the following…
What paint to use on salt dough?
For best results, we’re big fans of using acrylic paints or poster paints as you get a really strong colour and they’re really easy for kids to use. You can get a starter set of rainbow colours pretty cheaply. We like these Poster Paint Pots by Baker Ross and their Acrylic Paints range is also a good place to start with painting sourdough.
Is it better to bake or air dry salt dough?
A question we get asked a lot is, can you air dry salt dough? Yes you can. Your salt dough shapes will naturally harden in the air if you leave them for a few days at room temperature. Turn them over a few times to help them dry evenly on both sides.
How long salt dough takes to harden using the air drying method depends on how big your shapes are, but they will take between 2 and 7 days to dry completely.
In my family we prefer baking for quicker results but this method does bring with it a greater risk of cracking in the heat (we’re not hugely neat kids crafters in our house so this doesn’t hugely bother us), but if you’re not keen on the cracking risk then try both methods and see which one works best for your project.
10 salt dough gift ideas to try
Christmas tree decorations
Reach for some cookie cutters and cut simple but stylish tree decorations! For a fun finish, stamp greetings into them. If you’re short of time, you can always cheat and buy this set of clay tree decorations by Handmade by L Davies on Etsy (£12.95 for 12)
Baby handprint keepsakes
Salt dough shapes are so easy to mix and mould, why not use it to welcome new arrivals by making a baby keepsake for their parents or grandparents? This example below is actually a Soft Air Dry Clay Kit (from £8.99 on Etsy) – this idea works equally well with Air Dry Clay, Fimo or use the salt dough recipe in this post.
Salt dough initials
This is a sweet way to personalise your salt dough decorations – shape your dough into letters of the alphabet. Burlap and Blue has a great tutorial to show you how to make salt dough letter ornaments.
Salt dough dishes and bowls
Salt dough holds its shape when it hardens so you don’t have to stick to 2D decorations. Use your hands to mould it into a simple trinket dish, then have fun painting it once it’s dry – the brighter the better! Kids will get a real kick out of making their own bowl to store all their treasures in. We like this tutorial for DIY salt dough jewellery dishes from the Bee-ing Mommy blog.
Salt dough gift tags
Quick, easy and a great way to add a homemade touch to simple or recycled gift wrap – whip up a quick batch of circle salt dough ornaments and stamp details to turn them into gift tags. Just punch a hole before you bake or leave to harden, then you can tie it with ribbon or thread later! For more tips, head over to Rainy Day Mum for her How to make Stamped Salt Dough Gift Tags tutorial.
Salt dough candle holders
Another easy 3D shape to mould out of salt dough would be simple candle holders – wrap them up with a pack of candles for a lovely cosy winter gift. Or if you’re not sure you’ve got time to make a batch, Kairos Lab have these lovely ceramic candle holders you could treat yourself to (£24.95, Etsy).
Salt dough rainbow
As salt dough is so easy to mould, it’s very quick to roll into a series of rolls and arrange them in a rainbow formation. You can either paint your rainbow once it’s hard, or add a bit of food colouring to the salt dough when you’re making it with our salt dough recipe to create different shades for the different parts of the rainbow. Check out a full tutorial over on Learning 4 Kids.
Salt dough mosaics
If you leave your salt dough to air dry, why not experiment with pressing pieces of sea glass, broken shells or small pebbles into your salt dough to make fun mosaics? Use this idea to make a photo frame or a mosaic picture! If you’re not sure what to use for the mosaic pieces, Baker Ross have a handy set of mosaic stones (£12.95 per 1KG)
Salt dough paperweight
The beauty of this easy salt dough project idea is you can make paperweights to suit anyone in the family. Lemon Lime Adventures has a fun lightening bolt, salt dough paperweight DIY for any super hero or Harry Potter fans to try. Or you could so easily adapt this to make a flower-shape, animal shape or maybe even a sports ball shape for golf or football fans in your life.
Salt dough animals
We have yet to make a child who isn’t naturally interested in making their own simple animals out of play dough or clay. Whip up salt dough snails, insects and pets by moulding your salt dough into your favourite animals! The Scottish Wildlife Trust has a fun DIY to get you started.