How to Make Christmas Decorations With Air-Dry Clay
Homemade Christmas Tree Ornaments
Making decorations from air-dry modeling clay is easy, fun, and cheap. This clay is safe for the children to get involved in this holiday activity too. You can let them make their own decorations that will be just as good or even better than what you can buy in the shops. There are step-by-step instructions with videos and photos as I show you how to make them.
- Childhood Memories: When I was kid we knew Christmas was very close when the tree went up in the house. There were five of us children in the family with the eldest being only seven years old when the youngest was born. So you can imagine the excitement and chaos we created around this holiday time.
- Tradition: When we were very young mum started a tradition which I am sure many children in the 1950’s and 60’s enjoyed too. We always made one Christmas tree decoration each every year. Our names and the year were also put on the decorations we made.
- For Prosperity: It is nice to see the child-like scrawl we thought was so neat back then and to remember our innocence and anticipation of Christmas morning. A lot of them have been lost because we started making these decorations over fifty years ago, but some still exist and go on my parents' Christmas tree every year.
Items You'll Need
Equipment required to make decorations from modeling clay.
- Modeling Clay: You can get clay that will dry hard in a few hours when it is left in the air. You can also buy the clay in different colors. The one I use all the time is . I buy the white because I like to paint the decorations on a clear surface. . Das Air-Dry Clay
- Cookie Cutter Shapes: The plastic shapes I use here were bought very cheaply. There were eight different shapes in the one packet. They all have the sharp edge needed to cut into the clay, but not too sharp to harm the children.
- Paints and Brushes: I used acrylic paints here, but other paints you already have that are used by children are also just as good. The same goes for paint brushes. If you have children, you are bound to already have these in your house.
- String: You can use any kind of string or thin wool to make the hanger for the decorations.
- Roller/Rolling Pin: You will more than likely have one of these in the house too.
Preparing the Clay
- Open the packet and cut off the amount of clay you will need to work on.
- Immediately wrap up the remainder of the packet airtight. I close the protective packaging and then also wrap around another layer of tin foil to keep the air out. If you do not close it properly then the next time you go to use the clay, it will be rock hard and useless.
- Cut the piece of clay in to small manageable pieces for the children to mold in their hands. They will love this messy part of the process.
- Once it is soft enough, which will only take about a minute, then get the children to lay it on a flat surface. This can be the kitchen table or as I use here a tray.
- Let them roll out the clay, making sure they pick it up and turn it around a few times to stop it from sticking to the surface. They can each have their own small piece to play with. It is also a good idea to get a much larger piece of modeling clay yourself so you can cut out a lot more shapes.
- The kids will want to paint more than one decoration, so make a batch of about five for each child. That way they can have a lot more painting fun for the day.
Cutting Out the Shapes: Step-By-Step
- Get the children to place whatever their favorite shape that you have onto the rolled out clay.
- Make sure they press the plastic shape down as hard as they can without moving it around too much. This will cut the shape into the clay for them. Then either yourself or an older child should hold down the shape as the child peels away the access clay.
- Then get them to gently push out the clay shape from the plastic. Use the other end of a small paint brush to make the hole in the top of the shape where the string or wool will be threaded later.
- If the child is very young and unable to write, then you can put their name, age, and the year on the bottom of one side of the decoration. But if the child is older, they can do this themselves. In years to come, they will be delighted to see how childish their writing was!
While You Wait for the Clay to Dry
- Place the clay decorations on a tray or plate to dry in the air. If you have a lot of them, make sure to spread them out so that they will dry quicker. I find turning them over every half hour speeds up the drying process. A warm room in the winter or a sunny window also helps.
- The children will be impatient, so let them either use the time to paint some Christmas cards or pictures, or they could also use more clay to make their own little creations.
- The clay does not have to be completely dry for the kids to paint them. This is quite a messy part of the days activities but hey, kids love to paint and make a mess!
- Get them to use whatever colors they want and to only paint on one side. The paint will dry in a matter of minutes, and then they can paint the other side.
Stringing the Ornaments
Once the decorations are dry, then the children can thread the string or wool into the hole they made earlier. Then they will be able to hang their home made decorations on the Christmas Tree. That is it! The children have had a lot of fun. They have made their own Christmas Tree decorations that can be added to the tree every year.
It would be a great tradition to start and they will thank you when they grow up and are able to still see their own homemade decorations on the tree when they visit for the holidays. We did not have clay like when I was young but there were two things my mother always let us do every year. She would get us to cut out different coloured card into shapes and let us glue a photo of us taken that year,
We then put a hole in the card and threaded some wool through it. We also used cardboard to paint pictures and did the same thing. I hope you enjoyed these ideas for making Christmas tree decorations with the kids.