There are a few ways to go about decorating your Christmas tree with cookie ornaments. One way is to actually bake cookies and hang them on the tree. The other is to make a cookie-like dough that you won’t eat, cut it into shapes, and shellac the ornaments for years to come. Whether you make the edible or non-edible version, it’s a fun craft to do with children.
To bake Christmas cookies to hang on the tree that are actually edible, you’ll just want to whip up a batch of sugar cookie dough. You can also purchase rolls of store bought sugar cookie dough. Don’t use a chocolate chip batter. But gingerbread is a great substitute to sugar cookie dough.
The only difference between baking cookies to eat and to hang on the tree is that you will need to make a small hole in the cookies before you bake them. This will be the hole that you will thread ribbon or an ornament hook through for hanging on the tree.
The rest is the same. Blend the dough, roll it and bake it as directed in the recipe. Decorate with royal icing so the frosting will dry hard and not stay sticky.
You can find recipes for sugar cookies and for royal icing online and in most baking cookbooks. After you have completed your cookie ornaments and hung them on the tree, allow guests to come and pick off cookies they would like to eat. Or let kids hand out the sugar cookie favors to guests as they arrive. They can eat them or save them as gifts.
There are a few reasons you might want to make inedible cookie ornaments for your tree. First, they are easier to make and use fewer ingredients. Second, they last longer. They’ll look pretty even though you won’t be eating them.
The reason the dough is not edible is because it contains too much salt. Any child who has made handmade play dough in Kindergarten this way can tell you that it tastes terrible. It won’t harm you if you eat it, but it isn’t advised.
All you need is flour, salt, and water. You’ll also want to round up some cookie cutters with Christmas motifs and some decorating materials such as paint, glitter, sequins or feathers. Remember, it can be anything since you are not eating the final product.
Here’s the ratio of ingredients.
Salt Dough Ornaments
Flour: 4 cups
Salt: 1 cup (yes, it’s a lot)
Hot Water: 1-1/2 cups
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Knead and roll out the dough as you would for sugar cookies. Cut into fun shapes. Poke a hole with a pencil point through the top of each ornament. This will be where you’ll run your string or ornament hook through. You must do it before baking or lose your chance. Once the dough hardens, there’s no good way to make a hole without shattering the cookie.
Bake the dough in a toaster oven for a few minutes until it turns golden. Or you can bake at a low temperature (300 degrees) for three or four minutes. Watch the ornaments as they bake so they don’t burn. Let the ornaments cool. Then decorate, paint, glue on eyes, or add clothing. String a ribbon through the hole.
If you use a good craft shellac, you can preserve these ornaments from year to year. Ask at your craft store for craft shellac that will work on dough ornaments. It’s easy to find and you will have no trouble using it. Brush it on with a paintbrush on the front and back and sides of the ornament. Just remember to throw out any brushes you used for paint (or wash and put them away for another craft). Don’t use the brushes for food-grade ornaments you plan to eat. It’s ok to wash and reuse any cookie cutters on food as the dough is perfectly safe.