How to Make Holiday Dough Ornaments

The young author and entrepreneur makes extra money by baking baker's clay ornaments, the article includes her dough recipe for holiday and Christmas dough ornament success.

| November/December 1987

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    I sold the littlest Christmas dough ornaments for 50 cents each and the fanciest ones for $4.50. By the time Christmas was over, I had made $50.

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MOTHER's Children showcases Riina Hinderstein's home business making holiday dough ornaments, and the dough recipe she uses for her colorful hangings. 

How to Make Holiday Dough Ornaments

I live outside Noxon, Montana, in the county with the worst employment rate in the state. It's hard for adults to get jobs around here—and even harder for young people. Still, I wanted to earn a little money.

First, the neighbors hired me to pick rocks from fields they were going to plow. I also helped build some fences. Then, during the summer, I animal-sat for rural residents who were gone on vacation. I'd ride Whiskey, my horse, miles through the woods to do the chores on their homesteads. It was hard work with low pay, but any extra income helped.

By the end of fall, odd jobs were hard to come by. Then one day I was watching Mom make some bread dough (often called baker's clay) Christmas dough ornaments for our Christmas tree. I came up with some designs of my own and took them to school to show my friends. Everyone, including the teachers, wanted to order some! I started making more. I sold the littlest Christmas dough ornaments for 50 cents each and the fanciest ones for $4.50. By the time Christmas was over, I had made $50. That was over and above the money I saved by sending dough ornaments to all my relatives for presents. (Everyone liked them so much they hinted that they'd like to receive ornaments every year.)

I also found that dough ornaments were good for other occasions. For Valentine's Day I made "Love Nuggets," little red hearts with fancy ribbons and the words "I Love You" on them. At Easter, bunnies, chickens and painted eggs became popular. All told, I made about $100 during the year. I could have made more ornaments and money, but I'm often interrupted by having to help get dinner, do the dishes or tend Mom's new baby. While making money motivated me at first, I've had many other rewards. I've always been a little bookish and shy. I never was particularly good at any kind of artwork or crafts. So it was wonderful to hear my peers say, "Gee, I didn't know you were so talented," or "I had no idea you had this side to you." I never knew, either—until I tried. Actually, giving and sharing have been the best part of making baker's clay ornaments. I've been able to take plain flour, water and salt and turn them into something cute, funny and personal—something that could not be bought anywhere else because it came from my own imagination.

Dough Ornaments Recipe

Combine 1 1/2 cups of hot water with 1 cup of salt and 3 cups of all-purpose or bleached flour. Stir well. Slowly add more flour if needed, up to another cup, to make a good dough. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, until it's smooth but not sticky. (If the dough gets sticky as you work, add more flour or use a small amount of cooking oil on your table or hands.) And remember, this is not supposed to be food.

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