Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Homemade Holiday Play Dough

I recently made a few batches of play dough to give as gifts to children in the family at Christmas. My kids love playing with play dough and it can be very therapeutic. It helps to calm them down and is great to have on hand when I am busy cleaning. Play dough is perfect for fine motor activities and is simply fun to play with. It is also easy to make and an inexpensive gift to give! Making your own play dough means you can customize it to your needs (gluten-free, dye free, etc, if those are concerns you have) and add in scents and colours for added fun!

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I used a no cook play dough recipe, some spices, extracts, cocoa powder and food colouring to make peppermint (red), eucalyptus (green), vanilla (no added colour), chocolate (cocoa powder), gingerbread and spice (using spice powders) scented play doughs.

The basic recipe is as follows: 2 cups of plain flour, 1 cup of salt, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar, 3/4-1 1/2 cups of hot water (I used around 3/4 cup but more may be needed), and the additional ingredients listed below. Mix all of the dry ingredients together, add in the oil and mix thoroughly. Mix the food colouring and extracts/essential oils with the water and then add to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

"Candy Cane" Play Dough: 1 teaspoon/tablespoon of peppermint extract (use more or less depending on how strong you want the scent to be) and 1 teaspoon of red food colouring (add more or less depending on how dark you want the red to be, but keep in mind that food colouring can stain). You can divide the batch in half so you can have a red and white batch of peppermint play dough. We made our entire batch red and added the vanilla play dough as the white stripes.

Eucalyptus Play Dough: 1 teaspoon of eucalyptus essential oil (more or less for your desired scent) and 1 teaspoon of green food colouring. This play dough should not be ingested! It just happens to be very soothing during cold winter months and is nice to have on hand when the kids are sick.

Vanilla Play Dough: 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract and you do not need to add food colouring unless you want to.

"Chocolate Kisses" Play Dough: 1/2 cup cocoa powder.

Gingerbread Play Dough: 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 2 tablespoons cinnamon. You can even steep some gingerbread tea in the water before adding that in, which I found made the colour darker and it smelled so yummy!

Spice Cookie Play Dough: 2 tablespoons cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon allspice. You can even add vanilla extract if you want!

We did make a small batch of play dough with just anise extract and it smelled delicious! I want to make a batch of "bubble dough" that smells like anise, so that it can be "licorice" play dough.

All of the play dough stores up nicely in Ziploc bags (I'll package them up in holiday tins when they are ready to be gifted), which helps to lock in the moisture so they don't dry out. You should always store play dough in air tight containers to preserve them.

I gave each of the kids a small ball of play dough to play with while I saved the rest for our cousins. 

The holiday themed cookie cutters were bought at The Dollar Tree. They're plastic and perfect for little hands.

They really enjoyed creating their own cookies! They sniffed each of the different kinds of "cookie-doughs" and we played a simple game to see if they could recognize the scents.

They loved that they were able to cut shapes out "just like mama!"

Bean kept exclaiming what shapes she was cutting out and then asking me if I could match them.

I gave them sequins to use as sprinkles and decorations but Bean insisted that they were ornaments. They really enjoyed decorating their little cookies!

They even made a "peppermint pretzel rod," which was supposed to be a candy cane...

At one point they realized the sequins left imprints in the play dough, so they stopped making cookies and just made a ton of imprints and asked me if I knew what they were. It was so cute that they were quizzing me. They also made lots of really pretty scenes with the sequins, like a little Christmas forest of sequin trees, and Munchkin decorated a couple balls of play dough and told me they were muffins. :)

And of course Bean had to make me a cup of play dough tea. She is so thoughtful!

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