Cinnamon is one of those aromas that just makes us think of the holidays. Whether it's gingersnaps baking or mulled cider simmering on the stove, we just want our homes to smell of the warming spice. That's why I'm so in love with cinnamon dough ornaments. They are easy to make — a great project for kids — and when hung on your tree, they make the house smell of cinnamon.
Today I'm showing you how to make these easy ornaments for yourself. It's an afternoon craft project that will fill your house with holiday cheer.
Why Cinnamon Ornaments?
Holiday ornaments made with salt dough or cornstarch dough are lovely and can be decorated in many ways, but they're lacking my favorite thing about these ornaments: the sweet smell of cinnamon. Plus, I'll take a three-ingredient recipe any day.
But before you succumb to the temptation of taking a bite of these ornaments, be forewarned that these ornaments are not edible. While none of the ingredients would actually harm you, one of the main ingredients is white school glue, and so neither the dough nor the finished ornaments should be mistaken for a snack. As we all learned in elementary school, eating glue paste isn't the best idea.
Tips on Rolling
Because of the white school glue, the dough can get a little bit stiff and might crack when you first start rolling it out, but that's easy to fix: Simply add a few drops of water to the dough and rub them into the surface. Any cracks should smooth away and the dough will be easier to roll. If the problem persists, add more water and knead the dough a little. I found that the more you handle it, the more pliable the dough becomes.
On Making These with Kids
Making these ornaments is a great project to do with kids. The dough is easy to mix together, and it's fun to cut out and decorate the ornaments. Note: There is a significant amount of waiting time; you have to wait an hour for the dough to cure before you can roll it out, and then the cookies have to bake for two hours in the oven.
So if you plan to make these in an afternoon, it's a good idea to have an alternate activity planned for the waiting times (maybe a Christmas movie and popcorn?). And because these ornaments are not edible, it's best to do this with kids who are slightly older and understand not to put the dough or the ornaments in their mouths.
Tips on Decorating
The sky is really the limit when it comes to decorating these ornaments. Here are a few ideas for how to decorate them.
- Puff paint to look like icing (instructions below).
- Rubber stamps and metallic ink (instructions below).
- Glue and glitter.
- Acrylic paints.
- Spray paint (although this might cover up the cinnamon smell).
- Dried whole spices or grains (similar to the decorations in this salt dough tutorial).
- An embossed rolling pin to press shapes into the dough (I tried this with a rubber stamp, but had mixed results).
Just make sure you give your decorations enough time to dry before putting them on the tree. The last thing you want is to have worked hard making them look beautiful, and then end up smearing the paint or ink you use.
Hanging & Gift Wrapping
Once your ornaments and decorations are dry, the last step is adding a ribbon or bakers twine loop so you can hang it on the tree. For some ornaments, you might want to punch two holes so they hang level instead of at an angle.
You could also use these ornaments as gift tags or package toppers. I like using alphabet cookie cutters for this purpose — they're a personalized gift tag that can then go on the tree and be saved for years to come.
To store the ornaments after the holidays are over, layer them in tissue and place in a zip-top plastic bag. They are pretty sturdy, but have the potential to crack or crumble if they are roughly handled.
How To Make Cinnamon Dough Ornaments
Makes about 20 ornaments, depending on the size of the cookie cutters
What You Need
1 cup ground cinnamon
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup white school glue
Small bowl of water
White puff paint, for decorating
Stamp and stamp pad, for decorating
Ribbon or twine, for hanging the ornaments
- Combine the cinnamon and applesauce in a mixing bowl. Stir until combined. It should resemble cinnamon-colored cornmeal. It's okay if there are a few larger chunks, too.
- Pour in the glue. Stir until fully combined. Toward the end, it is easier to knead the dough with your hands to incorporate any last bits of cinnamon. It will be a fairly stiff dough.
- Cure for one hour: Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it sit for one hour at room temperature while the glue cures.
- Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line one baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
- Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thick: Cut the dough in half and work with one half at a time. Roll the dough out until it is 1/4-inch thick. If any cracks develop or if the dough isn't smooth, rub in a little bit of water to smooth it out. If the problem persists, add more water and knead the dough a few times by hand.
- Cut out ornament shapes: Use your cookie cutters to cut out as many ornament shapes as will fit on the dough.
- Repeat rolling and cutting until all the dough is used up. You can re-roll the scraps as well.
- Cut out holes at the tops of the ornaments. Use a drinking straw to punch a single hole in each ornament; you'll use this to thread the ribbon and hang the ornament. For larger ornaments, you might want to punch two holes so they hang level instead of at an angle.
- Transfer to baking sheet. It's fine to space the ornaments close together on the baking sheet. They won't rise or spread while baking.
- Bake for 2 hours. Flip each ornament halfway through cooking. This helps them bake evenly and prevents curling. You'll know they are done when they are slightly darker in color and hard to the touch. If they don't harden completely, leave them out on the counter on a cooling rack overnight to finish drying.
- Cool until you can handle them easily. You can leave them on the baking sheet or transfer them to a cooling rack to speed up the cooling process.
- Decorate ornaments. Outline the ornaments with white puff paint. You can also use a small stamp and a metallic stamp pad to stamp an overlapping pattern on the ornaments. Let paint or ink dry fully before handling.
- Tie ribbon or twine to hang. Use bakers twine or thin ribbons to create loops for hanging the ornaments on the tree, or tie the ornaments on your gifts as gift tags.
- Remember these aren't edible: They might smell good enough to eat, but they won't taste very good, and as we all learned in elementary school, eating paste isn't the best idea.
- Storing your ornaments: To store the ornaments for next year, layer them in tissue paper and place in a zip-top plastic bag. They should be pretty sturdy, but have the potential to crack or crumble if they are roughly handled, so handle and pack them with care.