Monday, December 22, 2014

DIY: Toddler Friendly Ornaments

Like many parents of toddlers, we struggle with our tree balance. After losing two ornaments at the middle of the tree, we decided to put most of our ornaments at the top of the tree. Unfortunately, this made it look a bit bare on the bottom half. Sure we had candy canes for a couple of hours (E broke those quickly) and there are some soft ornaments (but Layla has already demolished one. She chewed the face off an owl), but for the most part the ornaments are out of reach.

So when we pulled the "make a new ornament" slip out of our advent calendar the other day, we decided to bake some ornaments. I found the recipe online and it made two cookie sheets full of ornaments. We used some rather large cookie cutters so if you used smaller ones, or even regular sized ones, you could probably increase your numbers by at least 25 percent (percentages make my guesstimates sound really official, don't they?).

Most of our cookie cutters were holiday related, except for the lab cookie cutter. Because of course, we had to make dog ornaments. To her credit, Layla doesn't show preference to them though. Nope, she's an equal opportunity chewer. Hearts, bells, snowmen. She likes them all. Which is another reason baking your own ornaments is nice - the contents won't kill your pets or teething children.

After we made our ornaments, we decided to paint them. And by we, I mean me. Because I thought I'd be that super cool mom that let her kid make a mess with paint in the spirit of Christmas or something like that. But E really doesn't like to get dirty. Every time he got paint on himself he'd say ewww and hold out his hand for me to wipe him down. We attempted to paint them traditionally, but it took forever and he couldn't have cared less. So in an attempt to engage him, I put the globs of paint close to each other on a paper plate and we pushed our ornaments into the paint and kind of wiggled them a bit. The result were some colorful ornaments that took half the time it would've taken otherwise. And most importantly, E liked doing it. He kept asking for more after we'd finished so I figure I got his seal of approval. 

The ornaments aren't super hard because I only baked them for 20 minutes (per directions, I might add). However, I've noticed that after a few days they did firm up a bit more. And they're durable considering they're made of flour and salt. E pulls them off the tree all the time and throws them around. And we haven't lost any to Layla even though I've caught her gnawing on them a few times. 

Here's the recipe if you're interested:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
3/4 cup water

Mix until blended. Add more water if it's too dry, more flour if it's too wet. Roll out to about 1/8 inch thickness using a rolling pin. Use cookie cutters to make shapes. Use a straw to make a hole at the top of each ornament. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Let cool and paint (I recommend non-toxic, washable paint) if desired. Add a ribbon, twine or string and hang them on the tree. Let child pull them off the tree, pick them up off the floor, rehang and repeat until your sanity gives out. Throw away ornaments. 

Our attempt at traditional ornaments.

The result of our "smashing into paint" method.

Where I usually find the ornaments - anywhere but the tree. 

Cheers & Happy Holidays!

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