Christmas cookie decorations

Recipes for making Christmas cookie ornaments with your children and family

With the holidays fast approaching, I can’t think of a better way to keep the children busy and happy. Spend an afternoon of fun in the kitchen making one or both of my favorite “cookie” decorations. No, these cookies are not edible. And yes, you could just bake up the real thing and hang them on the tree. But wouldn’t you rather eat your sweet confections? These Baker’s Clay and “Gingerbread Cookie” decorations will last for several seasons.

Baker’s Clay Ornaments

These colorful ornaments are lots of fun to make and paint. Of course you can leave them plain but the bright holiday colors are much more festive!

Ingredients

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
About 1 cup water
Acrylic paints (optional)
Spray varnish – satin or high gloss
Glitter, beads and sequins (optional)

Putting it all together

Whisk flour and salt together. Slowly add the water and stir into a soft dough. You may need more or less water. Pat the dough into a ball and knead until it is soft and elastic. If the dough is sticky, add more flour.

Roll the dough out on a flour dusted surface to about 1/4-inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. If you like, add dimension to your decorations. Roll out tiny balls and ropes of dough to add eyes, noses, buttons and mouths to your cookie people. A garlic press is great for making hair, beards and fringe. Or skip the cookie cutters. Let your creativity run wild and create mini-sculptures with the dough.

Use a straw to cut a small hole or insert a small wire loop so you will be able to attach a ribbon and hang your “cookies” on the tree.

Carefully transfer the “cookies” to a baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees for 1 to 2 hours. Simple “cookies” will take less time than a roly-poly sculpted Santa or fluffy wreath. The dough may crack if you try to speed the process by baking at a higher temperature.

Cool the “cookies” completely and paint with acrylic paints. Let the paint dry completely.

In a well ventilated space, spray or brush all sides of the ornaments with clear varnish to seal and protect them. Use paper clips or wire to hang the ornaments on a clothesline or drying rack for 24 hours or until the varnish has dried and hardened completely.

After the varnish dries, you can add glittery accents if you like. Dot the ornaments with glue and top with beads and sequins or sprinkle with glitter. Tap off any extra glitter and let the glue dry completely, about 30 minutes.

Finally, thread colorful ribbon through the holes or wire loop to hang the ornaments on your tree. If you prefer an invisible hanger, use heavy, clear nylon thread.

After the holidays, store the ornaments in an airtight, mouse-proof tin in a dry place.

“Gingerbread Cookie” Decorations

These decorations look like gingerbread and have a warm and wonderful scent. Hang them on your tree, use them to decorate an indoor wreath or toss a few into a bowl of holiday potpourri. You can leave the “cookies” plain or embellish them with paint or glitter.

Ingredients

1 cup or more ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons each ground ginger, cloves and nutmeg (optional)
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup white craft glue
Acrylic paint (optional)
Glitter, beads and sequins (optional)

Putting it all together

Put cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg in a bowl and whisk to combine. Stir in the applesauce and glue and combine thoroughly. If dough seems sticky, add more cinnamon. Knead the dough, adding more cinnamon if necessary, until it is smooth, firm and pliable.

Roll out the dough on a cinnamon dusted surface to 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Use a straw to cut a small hole in your “cookies.” The hole will allow you to attach a ribbon and hang the ornaments. If you plan to use some of the ornaments on a wreath or in a bowl of potpourri, there is no need to cut a hole.

Place the ornaments on a wire rack and air dry. Drying will take at least several hours and up to a few days. Thinner ornaments will dry faster but will be more fragile.

When the “cookies” are dry, you can leave them as is for a natural, rustic look or “frost” them. Instead of icing, use paint to outline the ornaments as well as add eyes, noses, mouths and buttons to gingerbread boys and girls. Do not cover the entire “cookie” with paint. Paint will mask its spicy scent.

If you want a glitzy look, run lines of glue along the edges of your “cookies” and sprinkle with glitter. Tap off extra glitter and let the glue dry completely, about 30 minutes, before adding more. Finish the ornaments with beads or sequins for even more glitz and glamour.

To hang your ornaments, thread colorful ribbon through the holes you cut, or use heavy, clear nylon thread.

The gingerbread ornaments will make a great addition to indoor wreathes. You can tie the ornaments onto a wreath with ribbon or attach them with hot glue. A large wreath festooned with gingerbread boys and girls will look lovely over the fireplace. For a great table decoration, fill a glass or silver bowl with red and silver Christmas balls, candy canes and “gingerbread cookies.” Mini grapevine wreaths embellished with “cookies” and a sprig of green will make festive holiday napkin rings.

After the holidays, store the ornaments in an airtight, mouse-proof tin in a dry place.

Enjoy the holidays and happy New Year!

Susan Nye writes for several New England magazines and newspapers. She shares stories and recipes (including lots of edible cookies) on her blog Around the Table at susannye.wordpress.com.

Categories: Recipes, Winter Holidays

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