Friday, November 6, 2009

Bread Dough Gingerbread Men ornaments (step by steps)

My grandson was here today and we kept ourselves busy making old fashioned bread dough ornaments. For once I remembered I had a camera in time so step by step pics were taken. When my children were little we made them too. I still have them 15 years later.

To make 3-4 three inch gingerbread men you will need:
2 slices of white bread (old bread is fine as long as it's still pliable with no hard spots)
2 tablespoons Aleene's Original Tacky Glue (rule of thumb - 1 tb glue for each slice of bread)
1 teaspoon brown acrylic paint
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice)
bowl to mix, spoon, rolling pin, cookie cutter, flat surface to work on, butter knife, paint to decorate. (small beads, fabric paint, glitter, and ribbon can also be used to decorate the ornaments)

Start by removing all of the crust on both slices of bread - either discard crust or eat it like my grandson did :)

Tear the bread into small pieces and toss into your bowl.

Add the glue.

Now add the paint and cinnamon. (leave the cinnamon out when you make ornaments that are not brown) The cinnamon scent lasts for a long time. I remember the second year my children and I hung the ornaments on the tree, there was still a faint cinnamon smell.

Use the spoon to do the initial mixing... unless of course you don't mind paint and glue under your fingernails. ;)

Then kneed the dough in your hands until it is smooth, evenly colored, and no longer sticky. It will feel almost like Pay Doh. (For ease of clean up, wash the bowl now.)

Roll the dough out flat until it's about 1/8" think but no thicker than 1/4" thick. You can tell the dough has been kneaded enough if it does not stick to your work surface.

Use cookie cutter to cut out gingerbread man.

Peel away excess dough.

Then use your butter knife to lift the gingerbread man off the work surface.

Place the gingerbread man onto a plate or lid and begin decorating. I have found that it is easier to mark the places you want the eyes and buttons with the end of the paintbrush first. Then when a child goes to paint the ornament all they have to do is "fill in the dots".

Place the hole in the ornament now so that you can hang it later. My grandson is still a bit too little to handle painting so he rolled out the dough and cut more men as I painted. Note to self: Move to a different work area to paint otherwise rolling motion from grandson makes it hard to paint. :)

Together we made 3 gingerbread men. I was ready to do more but that's about all his attention span could handle (1 hour, start to finish). This photo was taken after they had dried for about 3 hours. That's not nearly enough dry time but it's enough time so that you can handle them without leaving fingerprints and even hang them on your tree if you are careful. When I did this with my children years ago, we put them in the food dehydrator for a couple of hours to speed things up. When the ornaments are fully dry, they are quite hard and durable.

These are the ornaments my children and I made 15 years ago. Every year after Christmas, I place them in a zip lock bag, then store them in a popcorn tin.

The gingerbread men were decorated with fabric paint and glitter.

The teddy bear on the left has cinnamon in the dough. The one on the right doesn't.

This train was made using silver paint in the dough. Except for a hint of sparkle here and there, regular ole gray paint would have worked just as well.

My children and I made many of these ornaments that year. The children gave them as teacher gifts and gifts to their friends and grandma gifts.

One last hint: Even though 'plain' dough is white, it's not a pretty white all on it's own. If you want a pretty white dough, then white paint is needed in the mix.

I hope you have fun making your own ornaments! Add Image


  1. Those are really cool! I remember making bread dough ornaments when I was little too. I think some of them are still around, actually.

  2. Thanks. :) My most cherished possessions have always been the handcrafted things my children made. They were/are so talented (neither use their talents now. sigh)