As lovely as it is to be quite well known amongst friends and family as being the one who can ‘make stuff’, it does sometimes make me feel duty bound to always give homemade presents, and to feel a little guilty if I can’t find the time.  Father’s Day this year was a perfect example of this.  For the last month or so I have been engraving hammers for other daddies and granddads, making great homemade gifts for strangers, yet I found myself a few days before the big day itself walking round the super market looking at the same mugs and pants that come out every year.  I’d just been so busy I hadn’t given any thought to my husband and his present.

It was whilst holding a pair of super dad pants that I remembered cards and presents we would always make as kids for our mum and dad, and how much more they had loved those, and suddenly shop brought just wasn’t going to cut it.  So I went home and had a think about something simple I could have a go with Meg, which would serve as a keepsake.  Salt dough came to mind, as Meg loves play dough, and this variety is perfect to give as a gift because it hardens and can be kept forever.  It also takes barely any ingredients and I knew I had the basics already in the house.

So, as has become tradition, here is Meg showing you what you need.

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 1 cup of salt (because you use a lot, the cheaper the better)
  • 3/4 cup of boiling water
  • a large bowl
  • measuring cups

To decorate:

  • acrylic paint
  • glitter glue
  • marker pens or thin brushes for writing

1. Measure out 1 cup of salt.  If you don’t have measuring cups, a normal mug would be fine, so long as you use the same one for each measurement.

2. Measure two cups of flour into the bowl with the salt.

3. Add the boiling water slowly, stirring continuously.  We didn’t use all of the water because it formed a firm dough before it was finished, so keep checking the consistency.

4. We treated the dough a bit like a bread dough, adding flour to the table before kneading, and then rolling out with a rolling bin.  (Just don’t let your children think they can try eating it, it is very, very salty!)

5. Use shape cutters to cut out the shapes you would like.  These are great for smaller kids who can’t yet make their own models which resemble anything.  Meg is still at the stage where lumps of random dough are meant to be cats, dogs, bananas, etc!

6. Use whatever you have to hand to make holes in your shapes so you can thread ribbon through to hang, or just to give your shape some purpose when it is finished.  We used a screw driver, but we did make the holes too small when it came to threading, so make sure you make the hole plenty big enough.

7. Another really good idea to do with younger children is to do thumb, finger or hand prints to keep memories of their little hands! I loved this idea, two thumb prints pushed next to each other to make a heart, which you then cut around with a knife.  Once finished, I sprayed these silver so it looked almost like jewellery.  I added ribbon to these too, but I think these would make lovely necklaces for Mother’s Day.

8. You can also make something useful! A little pot for daddy’s change and pocket bits.  We rolled out the dough, and then laid it over a bowl, before gently pushing it into the shape of the bowl.

9.  Use a knife to cut of the excess dough, and neaten up the edges.  Meg then wanted to add her thumb print again, so I held the bowl whilst she did thumb prints all around the edge.  Then you get to add some cheesy wording! (See the final result in the end pictures!)

10. The next bit was quite difficult! The dough bowl needs to be eased out of the bowl.  I have since realised that I should have lined the bowl with cling film, and it would have been easy to pop out, so top tip there!

11.  When your works of art are all finished, pop them on a baking tray and let them dry naturally for a few hours, or over night of you have time.  The dough should then go in the oven at 120 degrees for three hours, so it becomes completely solid.


12.  Next is the fun bit! Painting and decorating your creations!  We used daddy’s favourite colours (apparantly these are pink and brown!)  Meg used block colours, and then I added some writing, but if your children are older, they might want to experiment with colours and pictures.  The writing was painted on by hand, but if you were less confident, a permanent marker pen would do the same job.

And voila! You have some beautiful items for almost no money, and who doesn’t love a homemade gift!