Friday, December 4, 2009

Gifts - Christmas Tic-Tac-Toe

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! My entire family traveled to Washington to celebrate with my sister and her family who have finally moved into a beautiful new home they've worked on for 3 years! We were grateful to all be together.

Christmas is only 3 weeks away! I love this time of year. One of my most favorite Christmas memories was the year we gave all home-made gifts. My boys were still pretty young - it was several years ago - but luckily I took a few photos of some of the gifts we made.

One of the funnest projects was the Tic-Tac-Toe games. For the board, our neighbor used his scroll saw to cut out the basic shape. We sanded and painted them. Some we made out of salt dough. The playing pieces were all made out of salt dough.

My oldest son made a pond with ducks and frogs for the playing pieces. We sewed simple draw-string carrying bags from extra material we had on hand.

My second son was a little younger and had trouble making frogs so he made brown ducks and yellow ducks. They each drew out on paper the size and shape they wanted the board to be for the pond.

My youngest son, who was only 7, made green and yellow apples on a red apple board. A simple round ball of dough, slightly flattened on the bottom and a little piece pressed into the top for a stem. One game had a wooden board and the other playing board he made from salt dough. We drew the lines on with a permanent marker.

Of course, the only limits to what you can make is your own imagination! You could make frogs that sit on a lily pad instead of a pond, bugs on a leaf, little cars on roads, flowers on grass, stars and moons on a night sky, buttons on a shirt, eggs in a nest or fruit on a tree! They really are easy to make and come to life when you paint them.

The basic Salt Dough recipe is:

2 c. plain white flour
1 c. table salt
3//4 c. water

Knead the dough until it is smooth and doesn't stick to your hands or other surfaces. If it is still too sticky, flour your hands and the kneading surface and mix it a little more.

Adding a drop or two of cooking oil will give your dough a little more stretchiness. Some people add a small amount of Elmer's glue or dry wallpaper paste powder. A tablespoon of lemon juice will help to make the finished product a little harder. You can experiment with it to find the recipe you like. We just used the basic recipe.

If you want to color your dough first, add some acrylic paint and mix it in. Food coloring works really well, if you can mix it without coloring your hands! You can also color it with cocoa or instant coffee or spices that have a lot of color, like curry. After the dough is dried, you can paint it with just about any kind of paint you want.

The sculpted dough can be left to dry naturally, which can take a couple of days for thicker items. The oven method only takes a few hours but you have to be careful not to dry it too quickly, or too hot, or your sculptings could bubble or crack. Set the oven to no more than 200 f. (or about 100 c.) All sides have to dry and it has to be dry clear to the center of the thickest parts.

Salt dough is making a comeback as a popular craft medium again and is a great way to make Christmas gifts that are personal and fun. You can make refrigerator magnets, Christmas Tree ornaments, a pencil holder, a small plaque, wreath or other decoration to hang on the wall, or any knick-knack to sit on a desk or shelf. It's a fun project for adults or kids and costs very little. When you make a creation, you are giving a little of yourself to someone you care about!

Here are a few ideas from others (taken from Google Images):


  1. Lovely idea! My friend works with small children. She will love this!

  2. what? you want us to "make" our own? what about the toy store's business? gasp! :)

  3. Too funny, Sarah! But sadly true. Maybe with the economic crunch many of us are feeling, more people will MAKE gifts out of necessity! I think a main reason people don't, is because we're all so busy in our crazy electronic world. Well, I wish you tons of fun making yours this year! :-)



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