When you receive a homemade gift, it’s something you’ll treasure for generations. And is there anything more special than a homemade present? It can be so hard to think of things to buy for the people you love during the holidays, and the pressure of Christmas shopping makes it that much tougher. Getting creative with homemade presents can be so much better because family and friends will cherish a handmade gift for decades. When they unpack the gift from storage, it brings back a memory that comes alive again every year like it was just yesterday.
Most households have a cat, dog, or pet of some kind. And we can all agree that our pets more than a just a pet, they’re family! Keepsakes of our pets are so special, and the paw print is an imprint of a moment in time that we should all be so lucky to document and cherish for years. I can’t wait to give my family members the priceless gift of holding their pet’s paw close to their heart forever with a paw print ornament!
- 1/2 Cup Cornstarch
- 1 Cup Baking Soda
- 3/4 Cup Water
You can add food coloring to this mixture if you want your dough to be colorful! I chose to keep mine white and paint it later.
Step 1: Mix Your Ingredients On The Stove
This recipe is truly so easy and quick: just plop the cornstarch, baking soda, and water into a pot on the stove! Stir the mixture over medium heat until the consistency begins to resemble mashed potatoes.
It will only take a couple of minutes before it begins to thicken. It should be fluffy and thoroughly mixed together with very little moisture left.
Once it resembles creamy mashed potatoes, remove from heat.
Step 2: Let The Dough Cool
Spoon your ball of dough out of the pot and cover it with a damp cloth to cool. I used a wet paper towel and completely covered the dough with it.
Step 3: Kneed and Roll The Dough
Once the dough has cooled, kneed it with your hands onto a smooth surface – I used my counter top. The dough will be extremely easy to work with and have a consistency similar to fondant.
It has a wonderful smooth texture that rolls out like porcelain which makes it fun for young children to work with, too!
Roll the dough with a rolling pin to get a smooth, even surface.
You should roll it as thick as you need for the size of your dog’s paw. Bigger dogs will require a deeper paw print, so you will need a thicker dough – approximately 1/4-1/2″ thick. Smaller dogs won’t require such a deep paw print, so you may only need 1/4″ or less thickness.
Step 4: Cut Your Dough Into The Shape You Desire
I wanted a round ornament to press my dogs’ paw prints into, so I used the rim of drinking glasses and pressed them down into the dough to get a perfect round shape.
You may also have cookie cutters that will get the job done, too. I needed to use a larger drinking glass for Jem’s paw print and a smaller glass for Zoey’s little paw.
Don’t forget to use a straw, chop stick, or some kind of round pin to poke a hole for hanging from the tree with a string.
I used a chop stick and wriggled it until I got a round hole big enough for the string I plan to use.
Step 5: Press The Paw!
Now for the fun, and possibly more challenging part of the process.
I let the dogs sniff and investigate the dough so they weren’t as scared of it.
Jem stretched her paws out nice and big to make sure her paws were going to fit!
Zoey’s paw print couldn’t be easier. She’s so laid back that she let me press her paw into the dough with no objection and was patient while I made sure I got ever pad pressed into the clay.
Zoey proudly looking at her paw print!
Jem on the other hand… hates her paws touched at all, so she was a little more challenging. The first couple tries were a fail because she pulled her paw away from me just as I pressed it down, and all we got was mush! It was easy to roll the dough flat again, and I kept trying until I got the paw print I wanted (3rd time was a charm!) If your dog objects at first, just be calm and patient with her. Eventually with enough tries you’ll get the paw print you want, even if you have to do it while she’s napping!
Step 6: Bake The Clay
Depending on the thickness of your clay, you may need to bake for more or less time than I did. I baked mine at 175 degrees for 1 hour, then flipped them onto their other side and baked for another hour.
Step 7: Decorate Your Finished Ornament!
I wanted to keep mine simple and elegant, so I kept the naturally white color of the clay (it even has a little shimmer to it!), and I just painted the paw print with a sparkly red gel paint pen.
I also added sparkly twine as my string to hang it from the tree. The traditional Christmas plaid bow was just what I wanted to give it that sophisticated, classic, timeless Christmas look to hang from our tree for decades to come!
Is There A Better Christmas Present?
These ornaments are so special to me not only because of the memory I have of making them with Zoey and Jem, but also because it’s something I’ll always have to cherish this memory and all of the others I have with my sweet girls. Once my family and friends saw the ornaments, they immediately asked me to make them for their dogs! That’s how I know for sure this is going to be a hit with everyone this Christmas and make the perfect gift. Zoey and Jem’s grandparents will also be receiving Jem and Zoey paw prints for their trees to honor their grand-dogters! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Everyone!
(Storing Unused Dough)
If you can’t use all of your dough in one day, that’s okay! You can store it in the refrigerator for awhile until you have time to make more. Store it in a zip lock bag. It will warm up when you kneed it with your hands. If it’s too sticky, just add a little more corn starch until it’s back to its smooth consistency.