Christmas Keepsake: Salt Dough Ornaments

salt dough keepsake ornament

Written by contributor Emily McClements of Live Renewed.

Christmas is right around the corner and we are getting excited at our house. This will be my baby’s first Christmas so I wanted to make a special homemade keepsake for her. I saw the idea for making a footprint impression in salt dough on Pinterest, and thought it would make a great Baby’s First Christmas ornament so we can remember how little she was on her first Christmas as the years go by.

Of course, my two older kids wanted to get in on the fun, so we made cute hand print ornaments for them too. Here’s how you can make your own keepsake ornaments for your kids this Christmas.

How to Make Salt Dough Ornaments

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup water (or a little more or less, to get the right consistency)

mixing salt dough

smooth salt dough

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and knead until a nice smooth dough has formed. If you are doing this with your kids, they can easily help with this part. It’s pretty sticky at first and does get all over your hands, my son was really not into it and kept wanting to wipe his hands off, but my daughter enjoyed it. I ended up making two batches to have enough for all three ornaments, with just a little bit left over.

rolling out salt dough

Roll out your dough into a shape that will fit your child’s hand or foot. You want the dough to be evenly thick, and as smooth on the top as possible. I found that a wooden rolling pin made the best smooth surface for making the prints. I ended up making my shapes a little bit bigger than needed, and I trimmed off the extra with a knife after we were done making the imprints.

If you are planning for these to be ornaments, cut out a hole in the top before your child makes their print so that you can tie a string or ribbon on to hang the ornament with. I forgot to do this the first time, but then I used a straw to cut out a small hole. You also want to make sure it’s far enough away from the edge that the the ribbon won’t break through the dough while it’s hanging.

imprint in salt dough ornament

Help your child make their impression in the dough, you want them to press down, but not so hard that they push all the way through the dough. The nice thing is, if you mess up on this part, you can always roll the dough back into a ball and start again.

Place the dough on parchment paper, this is important so they don’t stick, on a cookie sheet and place in a 200° oven for three hours. Then flip the ornaments over and place back in the oven for another hour, if needed, to make sure it is baked and dried out all the way through.

imprints in salt dough ornament

Once the ornaments have cooled off, you can paint them, if you like. The salt in the dough does give them a little bit of a sparkle though if you’d rather leave them plain. My kids were really excited about the painting part though.

We used spray paint, but if you could also turn this into an art project if you wanted your kids to paint the ornaments themselves.

hanging salt dough ornament

Once the paint has dried you can write your child’s name and age on the back, tie a ribbon through the hole, and let them proudly hang their ornament on the tree. And you have a precious keepsake to cherish as your kids get older and bigger to see how much their hands or feet grow, year after year. These would also make a perfect homemade gift for grandparents!

Do you make Christmas keepsakes with your family?

About Emily McClements

Like many moms, Emily began her journey toward natural living when she found out she was pregnant with her first child. From cloth diapers to homemade green cleaners, she began making small changes toward a simpler more natural lifestyle. When her husband lost his job a year later, she scrambled to also learn how to live as frugally as possible. She quickly realized that many things that save money also save the earth, and began chronicling her journey toward living "frugally green" at Live Renewed. She is now the proud mama of two little ones, and although her husband sometimes wonders what she has done with the woman he married, she is passionate about helping her family live differently and responsibly as they strive to be a good steward of all of the resources God has provided them with.


  1. I love the idea of making these gifts for grandparents!

  2. Love! What a wonderful idea, Emily. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Very nice grea!

  4. AdrianLarsson says:

    Just made these today for my 3mo old’s grandparents. Super fun, Super easy! Although, the hand imprint was a little tricky since he kept trying to curl his chubby fingers :)

  5. Made these but didn’t paint them. I cooked them for hours. After a few days they got all soft. I’m not sure if painting them would help to keep the moisture out. I live in a humid area.

    • Jennah, You probably need to seal them with a varnish of some kind to keep the moisture out. Most hardware stores have it and could help you with what kind you need. Get clear if you just want the color of the dough, but they do make varnish in colors at some stores so be sure you get the color you want.

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