The other day I was sorting through ornaments while trimming our Christmas tree and came across a old paw print ornament from a few years ago. Last year, the puppy pulled it off the tree thinking it was a biscuit and broke it in half. I superglued it but was missing a chunk (see photo below). Given that this ornament was broken, and because we’ve had two new canine additions since I last made paw print ornaments, I figured it was time for a new batch! These ornaments are made of salt dough, which has just 3 ingredients- flour, salt, and water. The last time I made these, we only had the coarse Kosher salt on hand so the ornaments turned out kind of gritty (as you can see in the photo).
The nature of the dough results in ornaments that look very “homemade” but I actually LOVE that kitschy aesthetic for these keepsake ornaments. The last time I made these, I used a light colored acrylic paint for the ornament and filled in the paw print with a darker complimentary color. This time, I used a metallic paint pen to fill in the paw prints. Personally, I preferred the look of the non-metallic, darker colored paw prints on the ornaments I made a few years ago, but crafting is all about experimenting and my metallic paw prints still look adorable on the tree!
You can make all types of ornaments out of salt dough using cookie cutters, stamps, food coloring, glitter, etc. This tutorial is just for paw print ornaments but the process is the same; salt dough ornaments are also a great kid-friendly craft so by all means, let your little ones help with making the dough, cutting shapes, and painting!
Here we go!
DIY Paw Print Ornaments
- acrylic paints
- embroidery thread or ribbon (for hanging)
- straw or skewer (something to poke a hole in your dough)
- cookie cutter or drinking glass (something to cut circles from your dough)
- parchment paper (optional)
- rolling pin (optional)
- modge podge (optional)
- Make your salt dough. Mix together flour, salt, and water in a 2:1:1 ratio. For example, I used 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup salt, and 1/4 cup water to make 2 cat-sized ornaments + 2 medium dog-sized ornaments with a tiny bit of dough left over. Place your dough on a piece of parchment paper (or just a lightly-floured surface).
- Roll your dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch, then use a cookie cutter (or pint glass in my case) to cut out a circle.
- Repeat the rolling & cutting until you have all of your ornaments cut. Alternatively, you could hand-shape all of your ornaments to the desired size.
- Center your pet’s paw on the dough circle and press it in. This step can be tricky depending on the temperament of your pet. All of my pets are pretty comfortable with their paws being handled. I found that “ambushing” my cats while they were sleeping worked well because I had a great-looking print before they even knew what happened LOL. The dogs on the other hand were very interested in the dough itself and kept trying to take a bite. For them, I found that asking for “sit” then placing the dough (on a piece of parchment paper) on the ground close to their front paws allowed me to feed them a treat with one hand while making their print with my other hand. If your dog isn’t interested in tasting the dough or is small enough to pick up and hold, I’m sure this step will be much less of a commotion. If you’re not satisfied with how the print turned out, no problem! Just re-roll the dough, cut out the circle, and try again. (I had a bit of dough left over after making my four paw print ornaments so I shaped it into a small circle and asked my fiancé to print his thumb into it, then I printed mine diagonal to his to form a kind-of heart shape).
- Use a straw, kabob skewer, back of a pen… anything small and circular to punch a hole in the top of your ornament for hanging. Place your ornaments on a ungreased cookie sheet (or just move your piece of parchment to a cookie sheet like I did).
- Bake your ornaments at 250° F for three hours, flipping them halfway through.
You can leave your ornaments “naked” or paint them. I used acrylic paints to decorate my ornaments and a gold metallic paint pen to fill in the paw print itself. On the back of each ornament I also wrote my pets’ names and the year. If there are tiny holes and cracks in the baked dough that you want to disguise, dab your paint on thick in those spots to fill them. Once the paint was dry, I topped all of my ornaments with a layer of matte modge podge. All that’s left to do now is to thread your ribbon (I used raffia) through the hole in each ornament for hanging!
Here’s how my ornaments turned out: As I said earlier, I prefer the look of a dark paw print on a light background rather than the metallic paw prints I made this time, but they’re still cute and make a really nice keepsake ornament for the tree. I love the idea of making some every year (especially if you have a puppy or kitten because the size of their prints will change!) The last time I did these, I made one for our elderly dog who has since passed; it’s really sweet to have a little reminder of him on our tree 🙂
Hope y’all enjoy making this cute little ornaments just as much as I did! Feel free to leave your comments below.