I’m going to share a last minute Christmas gift you can make for others-essential oil ornaments. For these ornaments you mix up a homemade clay mixture that uses ingredients you probably already have on hand. You cut them out with cookie cutters and let them air dry or you can bake them. Then, you can decorate the ornaments with paint, or leave them plain white. The choice is yours.
(Please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links and I may receive a small commission if you purchase something through a link. It will not change your cost. For more information, check out my disclosures page.)
Once the homemade clay is rolled and cut, you can also use decorative stamps to stamp designs into the clay. You can also use fondant rolling set if you happen to have that on hand. I had neither, but we made do with a few toothpicks.
If you would like the ornaments to be a certain color you can knead in food coloring to a portion of the clay. I tested a green in a portion of the dough and it turned out very pretty. (See the bell in the picture below.)
You can knead a few drops of essential oil into the clay, though if you bake them the scent will likely bake out. However, you can add a few drops of essential oil to the ornaments before hanging them on your tree and refresh the scent every few days if needed.
These homemade clay ornaments are a perfect project if you are doing an Advent Calendar or a “12 Days of Christmas.” If you want other diy Christmas ornaments, check out my wood slice ornaments & these easy paper angel ornaments.
I’ve included the directions for these essential oil ornaments below in recipe format so that you can print out the instructions.
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1/2 cup cornstarch, plus additional for kneading clay
- 3/4 cup water
- food coloring, optional
- essential oils, optional
Combine baking soda, cornstarch, and water in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken.
When it looks smooth and thick enough to hold it's shape, remove from the heat.
Transfer the clay to a bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Allow to cool.
Once cool, sprinkle cornstarch on a work surface and knead until smooth. If you wish to add food coloring to the clay, divide the clay into portions and knead in your food coloring.
Roll clay to 1/4" thickness, using additional cornstarch as necessary to prevent sticking. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Alternatively, you can just cut circles with a biscuit cutter. Use a straw to make a hole in the top of the ornament for hanging.
To bake: Place ornaments on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes in a 175 degree oven. Turn the ornaments over and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
To air dry: Place ornaments on a cookie sheet and allow to dry overnight. Turn the ornaments over and continue to dry until hard.
Once these homemade clay ornaments have dried, you can paint them with acrylic paint if you choose. If you wish to add essential oils to the ornaments, be sure to leave one side plain. After they are completely dry, add 1-3 drops of your favorite essential oil blend.
A few notes of making essential oil ornaments
When you start to heat the clay mixture, it may look lumpy. Don’t worry. It will come together in the end. I almost threw mine out, but I decided to see it through. After cooking and cooling the mixture, I kneaded it a few times. It made the nicest feeling clay.
The clay will keep for about a week in a sealed bag. My boys kept walking by and playing with the baggies of clay. It really is a dream to work with.
These homemade clay ornaments did crack a little bit. (Just keepin it real, folks!) I tried both baking and air drying, and could’t really tell a difference. However, for the fun we had, it was totally worth a few cracks. I would definitely make them again.
If you want really smooth ornaments, you can purchase Crayola Air-Dry Clay. We used it several years ago and made some nice ornaments, however the homemade clay is much more fun to work with. Another plus to the homemade version is you can bake it so the ornaments can be completed sooner.
I love adding a Christmas tree scent to these essential oil ornaments since we have an artificial tree. My favorite is Plant Therapy’s Christmas Tree blend. As a bonus, it is part of their kids safe line, meaning it is safe to use and diffuse around children. If you aren’t a fan of Christmas Tree scent, they have several other holiday blends to choose from.
What do I do with all the ornaments we’ve made?
When you make lots of ornaments each year like we do, at some point you realize you have quite the collection. Here are a few ways we keep our collections manageable.
Ornament collections for the children
Each child has an ornament box of their very own. If we make several of the same type of ornament, they put one in their special box after Christmas and we keep one in the family box. This helps them build up a collection of Christmas ornaments of their own for when they are grown, but my husband and I also have one to keep as well.
Gift the ornaments
Another way to manage the amount of ornaments is to give some away. If your children are young, they can make an ornament for each grandparent and wrap them up. Children love to make something special and most grandparents would be thrilled to add an ornament to their tree that their grandchild made. Be sure to write the child’s name and the year on the back of the ornament.
You can also use ornaments as gift tags tied on a present. This makes a “bonus” gift for the recipient. You can write the to and from on the back of the ornament and date it. Each year as the recipient decorates their tree, they will be reminded of your family when they hang the ornament.
Do you make ornaments each year? Do you keep them all or give some away?