Scented Salt-dough Reindeer

So I'm joining in with Lupin's Christmas Craft Tutorial link up and sharing with you guys my favourite easy Christmas make.

I don't know about you, but I love the smell of Christmas. Not the pine of the tree - to be honest that always makes me think of floor cleaner - but that cinnamon spicy smell, like baking Christmas cookies, that is the bliss.

However always having them baking isn't practical, especially not for my waistline, so these are my own version of salt dough decorations, and my take on those porcelain scented decorations. Salt dough is cheap, easy, and a great thing to do with kids. I remember making and painting them for our tree when I was a kid, and I love having them up at Christmas (see also paper chains!)

So for these, you'll need

  • Plain flour 
  • Table salt
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground cloves 
  • Cookie cutter/s in your desired shape/s
  • Stuff to decorate. It doesn't need to be fancy, I've just used Ribbon, String and Cloves. 

Salt dough is essentially 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of salt, mixed together with about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water into a thick paste. You can do this by hand or in the mixer - the mixer will need less water. Only use as much water as you need to get the right consistency, think play-dough or pastry. You need to be able to easily roll it out and cut shapes. But it really couldn't be easier to make the dough - if its too thick add more water, too sticky add more flour. Its not like you'll be eating these so as long as the texture is right it doesn't matter.

To make mine smell all christmassy, I replace some flour with the spices. I say some, but its more like a quarter -  I use half a cup of cinnamon and about 3 tablespoons of ground cloves into a cup and a half of flour. That is my mix, but you may want it stronger or not, but remember it will fade in time so err on the side strong. Get your spices at an ethnic food store as they are cheaper than going to the supermarket. For this batch I lucked out in Tiger and got big bags for only £1 each. More than enough for this and for some mulled wine later

Using spices rather than essences, which I have seen done, makes it cheaper, and I think the smell is longer lasting too. It also has the advantage of turning the mix a nice brown - useful if like me you aren't great with a paintbrush. Don't get me wrong, kids painted stuff looks brilliant however ropey it is, but when an adult makes it and it looks like a car ran over it, not so great. Left how it is with the spices it looks like gingerbread cookies, so the simplicity of using the natural colour appeals to me.

Plus, suits my favourite reindeer shapes.

Once you have your dough made, roll it out as thick as you like ,but don't go too thin or they might break. Here again, think cookie. Generously flouring the surface can help easy cutting and rolling. It really is just like cookies or pastry. Cut out your shape and place on a a wire rack so air can circulate all around. Don't forget to make a whole for it to hang from, all it needs is a toothpick or pencil pushed through and wiggled until you have a big enough hole. I pop a whole clove in for the reindeer's eye, it looks great on Rudolph, and clove studding your shape is a great way off decorating and adding to the smell.

If you're feeling frugal, leave to air dry by the radiator for 2/3 days. Otherwise, you can bake them by popping them in at 180c/Gas mark 4 until they sound hollow when tapped. Mine took about an hour or so, so perfect for popping in the bottom of the oven while you bake a cake in the middle. Well, if the oven is on right?

Once baked, decorate as you will. They look great plain with either a coloured ribbon or if you feel creative, give Blitzen a ribbon around his neck. I've literally used what I have at home, making these very thrifty. I am very tempted to splash out on some bells for them, but simple is key here, for me anyway.

My favourite is the one with the white ribbon, you?? Popped on the tree these look lovely, and if you pop them near to the lights, I find it helps the smell come out a bit stronger when the lights are on. Glorious!

I'm positively itching to see all the other projects, and deciding which will be a must-make for this Christmas!!

***edited to add.. all the other projects are up, check out the links in this post ***


  1. I am seriously glad you posted this!! Not only have I been looking for an ornament to bake but years ago my son made a cinnamon ornament at school and they put glaze and glitter on! They were heart ornaments and to this day they still smell great!
    I hope you have a great week!
    Tammy xx

  2. Just leaving another comment to tell you we made these tonight!!
    They smell so good!
    Tammy x

    1. Thanks Tammy! Did you make reindeer, or something else?

  3. Cute tutorial... thank you for sharing!
    Sara x

  4. Ah Cara these are awesome! I love how you used a clove for the eyes. And is it just me, but especially in the first picture, these look really soft. I know. It's a dough ornament.

    Nothing nicer than the smell of cinnamon at Christmas. Mmmm.

    xx A

    1. thanks Alex. I love your edible ones too, problem for me would be they would NEVER reach the tree!!

      I hadn't thought of it but yeah, they do look quite soft. Trust me thou they are hard as nails - I destruction tested a few to be sure and they are very robust.