Deck the Halls with Loads of Fun Crafts for You and Your Kids

page direction blog 2Deck the halls with loads of fun for you and your kids

Everybody gives off oohs and aahs to all the glitz and glamour of decorating the house and trees of today.  Why not add a little nostalgia and fun to all the oohs and aahs with the crafty little fun of making your own ornaments. Let’s step back a few years, OK maybe a lot of years when most of the garland and ornaments were homemade.

Garland of popcorn and cranberries is excellent mixed in with the tinsel garland of today.  It adds a natural look to all the glitz and glamour look.  The popcorn and cranberries can be scattered outside later for the birds, they will love it.

Remember the old days when you came running home with a garland made of paper chains that you were so proud of.  Making that same paper chain of construction paper with little trinkets or ornaments in the center of some of the chains would make a great inside doorway ornament that your little one will have fun making and choosing how it is made.  Each link can be made as big or as small as you like with a bit of variety by making them big and small within the chain, ie: big, big, small, big, small, big, big, small, small. The decoration within the chains can be beads, buttons, trinkets, small ornaments.  Just put a hole up through the top of each chain, use a small button to keep the string in place or tape the string to keep it in place.  This garland can be broken down when it is time to pack it all up, the paper is biodegradable, or used in a wood stove.  That way you can make a different style each year

This is an older recipe and different than what you may find online.  I actually like this one the best because of a little accident that happen to occur one year when my daughter and I made the ornaments.  We made many different types of ornaments; (train which included the engine, coal car, and the caboose from cookie cutters), the tree bears (mama, papa, and baby bear from cookie cutters), ginger bread men in different poses (cookie cutters), angels, trees, snowflakes, candy canes, old-fashioned candle and holder, old fashioned Santas’ and new style Santas’, etc.  Most of these were from an enormous bunch of cookie cutter we had and some were just formed.  Generally we used paperclips (left whole so that the clay would seal one end of the clip in and not pull out, this worked great.  For other ornaments we would use a toothpick and just make a hole to string through.    The train ornaments were actually strung together, three clips on top and strung between each one.

Anyway, one year when we made them, I actually turned the oven up as high as it would go without going into clean mode. It was about 450 degrees and I just let the oven heat up while we made our ornaments.  Once our ornaments were all cut out I turned the oven off and we put them in the oven to dry thoroughly.  They were left in there overnight.  The next day, when we took the ornaments out of the oven, they had actually puffed up so that they literally looked like a very dull form of blown glass.  We did not use parchment paper so they were on the metal pan and some were so puffed up that they were actually lifted from the pan.  Word of caution if you attempt this little accidental method, once the ornaments are thoroughly dried the seriously puffed ones will be much lighter than the dough ornaments and may break like ceramic or glass!

This recipe does not leave a smooth finish on the ornament depending how well you dissolve the salt; however, the clear acrylic will give them the smooth finish you desire.


  • 1 cup cornstarch 2 cups salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water toothpicks, drinking straw or small paperclips
  • acrylic paints (washable paints if you are working with a very young child)
  • clear acrylic glaze or ‘modge podge'(both will seal the ornament, use whatever you prefer)
  • acrylic tube paints for fine lines on the ornaments
  • fishing line, tinsel, gold string, or ribbon
  • beads for decorating
  • glue

Mix cornstarch, salt, and cold water in medium saucepan.  Stir until salt dissolves and cornstarch is mixed smoothly with the water.  Cook on medium heat stirring constantly until mixture thickens.  When the mixture is of a thick ‘mashed potato’ consistency, remove from heat.  Turn mixture out into a cool metal or glass bowl then cover with a damp cloth so that a film does not form on top and mixture cools completely.  When cooled down turn clay out onto parchment paper covered with cornstarch.  Need clay until it is pliable.  Roll out to cookie cutter thickness (so that impressions on the cookie cutter are deep and very prominent) and cut with seasonal cookie cutters.  Can also mold to form different style of ornaments, ei: candy canes, icicles, balls, snowflakes, little frame ornaments to put wallet sized photos in, etc.  By all means be creative.

Insert the whole paperclip into the ornament about halfway or more, or use a toothpick or straw to make a hole at the top of the ornament, leaving about 1/2 inch so that it will hold when it is dried and strung up.  If you want to use beads you need to press them into the clay at the same time you are cutting them out so that they stick in the clay when they are dried or you can just glue them on later.

Turn the oven on to heat up at about 350 degrees or higher, depending on what kind of chance you are willing to take on how the ornaments will come out, then turn oven off.  The oven is off so they will not discolor or burn.  Let them set in the warm oven for a few hours to overnight to dry thoroughly.  Carefully remove the ornaments from the parchment paper and turn over to check and be sure that they are dryed thoroughly.  They may need to set overnight to dry all the way through.

The next day take the ornaments and lay them out on the table so that you can paint them.  By all means be colorful with this stage of the process, ie:  we made many different colored trains, used many different colors for the three bears outfits, made different colored teddy bears, and so forth.

Once all the painting is done, allow the paint to dry thoroughly, which will only take a few hours.  Use clear acrylic glaze to cover the entire ornament to seal the paint and the ornament and give it a shiny finish.  Just do one side then the other once the first side is dried.  You may want to cover the ornaments completely  a couple of times.  This will put a smooth finish on the ornament.  Hang on a line inside somewhere, (do not touch ornament with finger, pick up by the clip so you do not leave finger prints on ornament) out of the way and allow to dry for another day and night so the last finish is hard and not sticky.

Want the layered, stitched look without painting:  Use food dye in the water for each color. 1/3 cup cornstarch 2/3 cup salt 1/2 cup water – few drops of dye mixture (use as much as you need to get the desired color, replacing dye for water.  It will not be the exact coloring that you may want; however, this will make some antique looking ornaments.

If you want the layers look, the top layers need to be made from thinly rolled dough and cut to the shape needed then placed on top of the main ornament piece.  Give it the stitched look by using a toothpick and inserting every 1/8 inch about an eighth of an inch in from the outside of the piece. Do not try to dry in a high heated oven (accidental version) because your layers will separate.  This style of ornament looks excellent for most any ornaments; such as a candy cane, a small frame, ball ornaments, teddy bears, and more.

You can leave the ornaments unpainted if you like and just decorate with glued on tinsel strings, beads, and such if you like. Then seal whole ornament with the clear acrylic glaze or ‘modge podge’.

Other recipes for cornstarch or baking soda ornaments found online:

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups water

In medium saucepan mix cornstarch and baking soda over medium heat stirring occasionally until mixture is the consistency of slightly dry mashed potatoes.  Remove from heat and cover with a damp cloth.  When cool enough to handle, coat hands and surface lightly with cornstarch and knead until dough is smooth and pliable.  Roll out to about a 1/4″ thickness and cut with cookie cutters.  Make a hole at top of ornament before you let it dry.  To dry, place on a baking sheet in a 250 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until hard. For best results allow to cool and brush loose powder off ornaments before painting. Makes 16 to 20 ornaments.


  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups water

This one does not need heat.  Mix ingredients and knead for about 5 minutes on a floured surface until pliable.  Roll out and have fun.  You can do all the same things as above.


Just a little point of info:  If you are doing this with very little kids, and yes they love getting into it too.  Washable paints and markers can be used for the ornaments that they do.  Just let them go to town and have fun with it.  They will have a blast especially if they have their own colors.  You can always seal them when they go to bed.  That way they will have a finished ornament too.

Looking for other great craft ideas to do with your kids, there are some great ideas on these sites.

tons of different ideas here == lantern ornaments == rudolf ornament == a number of different craft ideas here ==