Decorate from the Kitchen for the Holidays

                This is the time of year when some of the things that come out of your kitchen aren’t exactly eatable.  Don’t get me wrong, many of the “ingredients” are things that are front and center in some of your favorite dishes. However, with belts tightening due to the economy and the trend towards “homemade” rather than store bought gifts and decorations I thought it might be time to take a look at an afternoon project the whole family can participate in to make decorations or gifts and centerpieces that cost pennies and look like a million bucks.

                No matter if you just want to get the family together for fun “quality time” or are a project junkie nothing is more fun than working together on a get your hands dirty for fun to make beautiful decorations, toys or object d’art. I’ve had client’s hot glue buttons, and candy and yarn and lots of other stuff onto stuff to make place cards and napkin rings with everyone’s name on it for a dinner party and really funky picture frames.

                In the event you want to enlist the whole group in a project that takes a couple of hours I would suggest making center pieces, frames or napkin rings hat  not only reflect the personality of the maker but can actually enhance the beauty , aroma and ambiance of the table you’re decorating or gift your giving.

                The following recipes are all super simple to throw together, require a minimum amount of time and the ingredients are all readily available and any grocery or convenience store (in case you decide that 3 o’clock in the morning is the best time to get your project started). Don’t be put off by some of the weird amounts or proportions of the ingredients these recipes require. It’s all good.  

                In the event that you don’t want to bake or make your fun and funky gifts or decorations I’d like to suggest a fabulous alternative. A great friend and super talented Israeli artist friend of mine Laura Burch makes the most amazing felt dolls and other creations that are PERFECT to decorate any part of your house for any time of year but especially Christmas, Kwanza   or Chanukah or any birthday party or give as a gift to that special little girl or guy in your life. You can find her creations (as well as tons and tons of other creatable delights) at her blog



3/4 cup applesauce

1 cup ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon nutmeg

2 tablespoon white glue

 cookie cutters

toothpick or drinking straw

yarn or ribbon in bright colors

In a bowl combine the cinnamon, nutmeg and applesauce and mix to combine. Stir in the white glue. This will form a stiff dough. (if dough is too wet add more cinnamon, if too dry add more applesauce)

 Roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness on waxed paper. Cut with cookie cutters. Make a hole in top of ornament with toothpick or drinking straw.  Gently place the ornaments on a cooling rack to dry. The ornament should dry at room temperature for about 2 days or until it’s thoroughly dry. Gently turn the ornament at least once every 12 hours, more if it’s starting to curl around the edges. You can also bake these ornament is you want them to dry more quickly. Preheat oven to 200. Place the ornaments on a nonstick cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes to an 1 hour on the bottom rack in your oven, making sure they don’t burn.  Let the ornaments sit on the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes and then let them cool for at least 12 hours until totally dry. Cut the ribbon or yarn into a 2 foot piece and then fold it in half.  Insert the ribbon or yarn through holes and tie it close to the ornament to secure the yarn or ribbon to the sting. Attach to presents, trees, garlands or anywhere else you’d like the scent of cinnamon

Cinnamon dough creations can be stored in a zip lock baggie from year to year and they do keep their cinnamon aroma. Makes 1 to 2 dozen depending on the size.


 I suggest cookie cutters that impress a design into the dough as opposed to cookie cutters that simply cut out a shape,

1 cup Salt

1-1/2 cup Warm water

4 cup Flour

Preheat oven to 200. In a bowl combine the salt and flour together. Add the water slowly and knead until the dough is stiff and like. Roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut the dough desired shapes from dough using cookie cutters or similar objects (dust them with flour to prevent sticking). Make a hole in the top of each ornament using a pencil, straw, toothpick or similar object. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet  for 1 hour. You can use, tempera, watercolor, or spray paints to color and decorate the ornaments. Brush on, spray on, or use a toothpick to drop “dots” of paint for eyes, ears, clothing and more. You can make colored dough by mixing in a few drops of food coloring to the dough before you roll it out. Roll and bake or dry out per recipe’s instructions. You can attach candy pieces like red hots, gum drops, M&M’s, lemon drops,  gum balls, and or sprinkles after the ornaments are done. Use white glue or paint to attach the candy. I have also used clear nail polish or shellac to fix the designs. Makes 1 to 2 dozen depending on the size


You don’t cook these ornaments so you’ll need a few days lead time to make them before you can use them. Cornstarch dough creates smooth white ornament that is sort of like plaster. If you want all white ornaments just spray or paint them with a shellac or clear nail polish instead of painting them.

1 cup cornstarch

2 cups baking soda

1-1/4 cups cold water

Cookie cutters

Acrylic or enamel craft paint (optional)

Clear thin shellac or clear nail polish

Combine the cornstarch and soda in a saucepan. Gradually add the water until the mixture is smooth.

Stirring constantly, heat until the mixture reaches a moist, mashed potato consistency. Turn the dough onto a plate and cover it with a damp towel and let it cool for about 15 to 20 minutes. Knead the dough when it is cool enough to handle. Roll the dough on a cornstarch dusted surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters (dipped in cornstarch before you use the for cutting.) Using a toothpick or straw pierce a hole at the top of each ornament . Place the dough ornaments on a cooling rack to air dry. It will take several days at room temperature for the ornaments to dry and harden before they will be ready to be decorated. File any rough edges after they have dried. Paint the ornaments with acrylic or enamel paints. When the paint is dry, coat the ornaments with a clear protective coating. Makes 1 to 2 dozen depending on the size.

MARTHA STEWARTS GINGERBREAD DOUGH FOR DECORATINGAlways trust Martha to come up with a spectacular way to decorate ANYTHING. These are NOT eatable.

3 tablespoons shortening

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup water

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon of cloves, ginger and cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy, stir in molasses. Sift the dry ingredients together. Stir them into shortening mixture in 3 parts alternating with a 1/4 cup of water each time. Dough will be stiff. Refrigerate overnight. Cut dough into 3 pieces. Knead to warm dough slightly, then roll each piece out about 1/4 inch thick. Cut cookie out with a gingerbread pattern of your choice.

Use a drinking straw to punch hole in center if ornament will be hanging. Place cookies on cookie sheet and bake 20 minutes, turn oven off and let cool in oven. Remove from cookie sheet and place on rack to dry for about 3 days to totally harden. These cookies are purely for decorative purposes and not to be eaten. If you wish you can seal cookies with 3 coats of clear acrylic and decorate with colorful acrylic paints when dry.  Makes 1 to 2 dozen depending on the size.

© Eileen Goltz decorating dough10A


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Holiday
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 13:57:24

    I’m glad that I’ve found your blog. Thanks for sharing your talent and useful information with us. You are a bright light!


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