I don’t know what it is about Christmas that brings out the raging craft monster in me, but it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’m covered head to toe in glitter and glue for the entire month of December. There are so many craft projects that I could never “find time” for during the rest of the year, but magically, they bubble up to the top of the priority list come Black Friday. Suddenly my brain is like, “Oh yeah, I know you have a deadline for an article, but the most important thing right now is for you to drink egg nog, listen to Christmas music and finish those red sparkly throw pillows for the couch. It’s vital. The world will end if these pillows aren’t done.” #truestory
One of the fun craft projects I took on this past weekend (after the pillows were done) was making cinnamon ornaments. If you’ve never made cinnamon ornaments, they’re crazy easy, smell amazing, and last for pretty much forever. They’re meant to look like gingerbread, but unlike the regular cookie version with sugar and butter and eggs and all that perishable stuff, these ornaments are made from only three ingredients—ground cinnamon, unsweetened applesauce, and craft glue—which helps them last for pretty much ever. You mix it all together into a dough, cut it out just like regular cookies, dry, decorate and hang. And you have a bunch of amazing smelling ornaments that will last for years and years!
Making these would be a super fun project with kids (keep in mind: although, the dough isn’t toxic, it also isn’t edible, keep little fingers from nibbling might be tricky). But of course, Craig and I had just as much fun decorating as any kid would have.
It’s nice to have some fun homemade keepsakes on our tree that we can look back on and say, “Hey, remember that snowy afternoon when we brought out the puffy paints and glitter glue?”
There are a million different recipes and processes out there for how to make cinnamon ornaments, but let me show you how we did ours. Let’s get to crafting!
First up, as any good crafter knows, gather your stuff. You probably have just about everything you need already in the house.
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1-1/2 cup ground cinnamon (look for the cheap, off-brand stuff, you aren’t gonna eat it)
- 2 tablespoons craft glue, optional (I think this makes the ornaments a bit more sturdy, but you can do without it)
- Mixing bowl
- Drinking straw
- Plastic wrap
- Rolling pin
- Baking racks and baking sheets
- Cookie cutters
- Oven, food dehydrator, or just a spot out-of-the-way (for drying)
- Glitter, puffy paints, rhinestones, etc. for decorating, optional
- Ribbon or hooks for hanging
As far as decorations go, these ornaments can really be as simple (just plain dried dough on a pretty ribbon) or as crazy (GLITTTEERRRRR!) as you’d like. I really like the use of puffy paint, because I think it looks like big, thick, creamy frosting when dried.
Alright, onto making the dough. First step, the applesauce, cinnamon and glue go into a mixing bowl.
And then, dig in there with your hands. This really isn’t the job for a spoon, you’re gonna need your fingers to get it all mixed it.
Depending on a number of factors (wetness of applesauce, humidity, etc.) you might need to add more applesauce or more cinnamon to make the dough come together. You want it to be just a touch dry (because it’ll dry faster), but you also want it to hold together enough to roll and cut.
When you can form it into a big ole ball, you’re done mixing. Go wash your hands.
Now it’s time to roll. To keep things clean and easy, I just take a hunk of dough (maybe 1/3 of the whole ball) and place it between two sheets of plastic wrap.
Now roll. You’re looking for between 1/4″ and 1/3″. The thinner you go, the quicker it will dry and the more ornaments you can get out of a batch, but it also makes them more fragile and less likely to last from year to year.
Remove the top layer of plastic wrap (set it aside to use on the next batch of dough), and then go at it with your cookie cutters.
Before you transfer your ornaments to baking racks, take the straw and poke holes where you want them to hang from.
Unfortunate gunshot wound gingerbread man.
If there is a shape you want to make but don’t have a cookie cutter for, no problamo. We’re actually using these ornaments as stocking markers, and we wanted dog and cat shaped ornaments for their respective stockings. So I just did a Google image search for “dog silhouette” and “cat silhouette” until I found ones that resembled our furry family members. Then I printed them out at the size I wanted.
I cut the silhouettes out with scissors, then placed them on the dough and cut around them with an Xacto knife.
Once all the ornaments are cut out, they go onto a baking rack on a cookie sheet, if you want to bake them to dry them.
There are three methods that work for drying the ornaments:
- Baking: Pop the ornaments on a baking rack on top of a baking sheet in a 200° oven for about 2-1/2 hours until the ornaments are dry and hard. This is the fastest method, but it also results in a little bit of curling and bubbling.
- Food Dehydrator: Place the ornaments on the racks of a food dehydrator, and dry at the highest setting for about 6 hours.
- Air Dry: You can easily just put these ornaments on baking racks and dry them in an out-of-the-way place. This method takes a few days, and obviously works best in dry climates (I wouldn’t try this method at the beach house in Florida).
I’m impatient, so we baked them.
After a glorious, snowy day nap with the scent of cinnamon wafting around, these ornaments were ready to get glammed up. Just let them cool out of the oven, and then you can start decorating. Or, if you prefer, you can just tie a pretty ribbon through the hole now and hang them.
But we glittered the heck of these guys.
You might notice that the edges of the ornaments look a little rough.
Nothing a quick buff with a fine-grit sandpaper won’t cure.
Then let your creativity go wild. If you like the shimmery, snow-fallen look, I highly recommend picking up an extra fine translucent glitter to go over everything. It makes everything look like it was kissed by a sunny snowy day.
This recipe makes about 20 or so medium-sized ornaments. Which just happens to be the perfect number of ornaments for two adults to decorate in about an hour.
Because we were heavy-handed with the glitter glue and puffy paints, we let them dry out on the kitchen table overnight.
And then we strung the ornaments with coordinating ribbon the next morning.
And wrote the year on the back with a Sharpie. Because it’s always nice to know when something handmade was handmade. I have a handmade ornament on our tree that I made in Kindergarten, and I always get a kick out of seeing the year “1989” on the back.
And up on the tree they all went.
Making these was so fun and so delicious smelling that this might have to be a new yearly tradition for us. Although, our 9′ tree is so packed with ornaments (as you can see), that we might have to get a second one just for a cinnamon ornaments!
For this project, I recommend:
What’s your favorite holiday craft? Do you have any holiday crafting traditions?