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This is the time of year when families come together to celebrate. After the events of this past September, more families than ever are gathering together to celebrate the holidays. One special way we celebrate is by making ornaments for the tree, or to give away as gifts. The whole family, including the little ones, can make these. You can put on some special music and light some candles or turn on some Christmas lights to make it a festive occasion.
You can begin by making cinnamon applesauce ornaments as a good way to add some of that festive scent to the air. Even the little ones can help work the dough and cut out festive shapes with cookie cutters. I like to make teddy bears and tie a little bell with a pretty ribbon around their necks. Don't forget to poke a hole in the head or an ear so you can place a ribbon through it for hanging on the tree. You can bake these on a low temperature in the oven or even air dry. I like to place mine in my dehydrator for a couple of hours.
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well blended. Work the mixture in your hands for three minutes to form a ball. If it is too dry, add more applesauce, if it is too wet, add more cinnamon. Knead into a ball on a cinnamon-sprinkled surface until it holds together well. I roll this out and use cookie cutters for the shapes. I also use a drinking straw to cut a hanging hole. These can be air-dried for 24 to 48 hours. Turn several times. They can also be baked in a slow oven.
1/8 oz. apple fragrance (optional)
1/8 c. orris root powder (optional)
1 lb. powdered cinnamon
3/4 c. applesauce
Add scent to the orrisroot and mix well. Combine with the cinnamon powder and add the applesauce. Add a tiny bit of apple cider if it's too dry, or more cinnamon if too wet. Roll out no thinner than 1/4" and cut out shapes. Use a straw to cut a hole at the top if making a hanging ornament. Dry in a dehydrator or air-dry. Let dry thoroughly and sand the rough edges with a fingernail file and paint with fabric paints.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes plus drying time
While you have the cookie cutters out, you can also make up a batch of the salt dough and create ornaments with it too. Just roll out the dough, use the cookie cutters to make fun shapes - or, for a snowman or fairy, just shape by hand like modeling clay -- and then bake. I haven't tried the dehydrator with these yet, but I imagine it would work well. Once they've cooled, you can paint them with acrylic paints or decorate them with glitter glue.
Mix the ingredients together in a large bowl and knead until smooth. Add food coloring if desired.
Make shapes and bake at 300 degrees until set and golden (1/2 hr to 1 hr). For a more golden appearance, paint with a beaten egg when it is almost done baking and looks dry. You can paint with egg twice or three times for a darker golden color. Don't use the egg on colored dough. For colored dough, paint with shellac or lacquer after baking. If cracks appear, patch with some slightly moister dough and continue baking.
Preparation Time: 1-2 hours
Hard gingerbread dough can be used for many of the same types of decorations. You can even make a gingerbread house that can last for at least a few seasons. Your little ones can help decorate it with plastic candies from the craft store or even buttons or candies made from clay. Each year, dust off the scene and you can add a little more for each new season. For instance, one year add some grass. The next year, maybe include some snowmen, creating your own family tradition that will be cherished and looked forward to each year.
Gingerbread dough can be used to make ornaments to hang or put in baskets that look and smell like real cookies. They are made with normal ingredients, but bake up rock hard and keep and smell great for years. Use gingerbread dough and your favorite cookie cutters to make gingerbread man garlands, gingerbread ornaments and houses.
3 T. shortening
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. molasses
1 tsp. baking soda
3 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. each: ground cloves, ginger and cinnamon
3/4 c. water
Beat the shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy; stir in the molasses. Sift the dry ingredients together. Stir them into the shortening mixture in 3 parts alternating with a 1/4 cup of water each time. The dough will be stiff. Refrigerate it overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the dough into 3 pieces. Knead to warm it slightly and roll each piece out about 1/4-inch thick. Cut cookies out with a gingerbread pattern of your choice.
Use a drinking straw to punch a hole if the ornament will be hanging. Place the cookies on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes; turn the oven off and let the gingerbread cool in the oven.
Remove the gingerbread from the cookie sheet and place it on a rack to dry for about 3 days to totally harden. These cookies are purely for decorative purposes and are not to be eaten! If you wish, you can seal cookies with 3 coats of clear acrylic and decorate them with colorful acrylic paints when they are dry.
Preparation Time: 1 hour plus refrigeration and drying time