The following 101, on making cinnamon applesauce ornaments, comes from HOMEGROWN’s flock tender, Jennifer, who has thought about making these daily just to smell them baking.
I was so slow in decorating for the holidays this year, it was mid-December before I knew it. At that point, with so few days left before Christmas, it didn’t seem worth the money or the hassle to buy and trim a full-size tree. Instead, we picked out a dwarf potted spruce from a nearby family-owned nursery. It’s the perfect size for those fairy lights that are all the rage; it looks adorable sitting in our front window; and, after the holidays are over, we’ll be able to plant it in our yard and enjoy it for years to come.
The only problem? It doesn’t have that distinct Christmas tree smell. I thought about buying a wreath to lay around its base, sort of like a tree skirt, but since the whole point was to save money, I decided on plan B. In place of trying to make the tree smell like something it wasn’t, I could go for an entirely different holiday aroma. Cinnamon.
My mom made these ornaments a few years back as a trinket to lay at guests’ place settings for Christmas dinner, and I fell in love with them. The crazy part? You need only two ingredients to make them—which you’ve probably already got in your pantry—and they last for years. I keep hers in an airtight container when they’re not in use, and they still smell as good as the day she made them. I love how charming and simple they are, but nothing beats the way they smell. (Technically, you could eat them, but after an hour and a half of baking, you might crack a tooth—although beware of hanging them within paw’s reach of pets!)
You can paint them using whatever craft paint you have lying around the house, but I like them natural—almost like terracotta pottery. Science says it’s the glutinous property of cinnamon that makes these ornaments congeal into dough. I say it’s Christmas magic. Either way, they’re an incredibly simple holiday craft that’s great for kids of all ages.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
» 10 Tbsp cinnamon
» 6 Tbsp applesauce
» rolling pin
» cookie cutters (optional)
» ribbon or twine
WHAT TO DO
1. Put the applesauce and cinnamon in a microwaveable bowl and nuke for 30 seconds. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200.
2. Add the cinnamon to the bowl and whisk it until the mixture reaches a dough-like consistency.
3. Sprinkle your work area and rolling pin with more cinnamon to prevent sticking then transfer the dough to your countertop and roll it out.
4. Use cookie cutters—or, if you’re cutterless, like me, a paring knife—to cut your dough into shapes. Carefully(!) poke a hole in the top of each ornament; you’ll eventually thread this with ribbon or twine to hang your ornament. I used the tail end of an especially pointy fork.
5. Delicately transfer all of your ornaments to a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
6. Flip them—with care!—and bake them on the other side for 30 more minutes. Before sticking my ornaments back in the oven, I made sure the ribbon hole was nice and open.
7. Flip them back to the original side and bake 30 minutes more.
8. Remove them from the oven and let them cool completely before threading them with a ribbon or string.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION!
Got a question for Jennifer or another holiday craft project to share? Post it below and keep the conversation rolling! You might also be interested in 101s on making your own seed bombs (AKA seedballs), beeswax candles, mason jar bird feeder, veggie candleholders, or hand-knit-fruit ornaments. For more holiday helpers, you can check out the Holiday Party on a Budget 101 and the 12 Days of DIY gift guide, and you can always find more things to make, craft, plant, grow, bake, preserve, and deck in the HOMEGROWN 101 library.
ALL PHOTOS: JENNIFER