Over the past couple of years I have been drawn more and more to Gingerbread decor. It just makes me happy to see all their little smiles and I am LOVING the bright colors added to traditional gingerbread decor.
I started with a wee little gingerbread tree 3 or 4 years ago and supersized last year to a 7 ft tree. This change required me adding additional ornaments and I wanted to add more gingerbread accessories in the kitchen. On our recent trip to Gatlinburg we visited The Christmas Place (I seriously could live there) and I fell in love with a beautiful gingerbread themed wreath, but with a price tag over $200 I decided I could live without it.
I made it two weeks and then the yearn for that wreath was driving me crazy! Since I have literally no memory these days, I could remember only a few details of the wreath I had seen. After a bit of hand wringing I decided to just have some fun and do my own thing.
I started out with a willow wreath I painted red (this much I did remember). I knew the wreath had greenery tipped in snow (or frosting depending on your hunger level when you look at it) and 4 kinds of ribbon. So the quest began for greenery and ribbon.
I visted the usual haunts, Jo Ann, Michaels, and Jim Marvin Enterprises (a wholesale floral design company) and found NOTHING that was like what I had seen! Ugggggg. Don't you just hate it when you have something in your head and just can't find it!
After a week of searching I gave up on the ribbon quest temporarily and started looking for the greenery. Since I hadn't seen exactly what I needed at the craft giants I decided to hit my trusty Goodwill. I had in mind buying some random greenery or a wreath that I could dismantel and add to my willow wreath. I checked the Christmas aisle and found zilch. Frustrated, I started out of the store but happened to notice that each clothing rack featured a wreath on each end and as luck would have it, I saw a wreath with greenery that would be perfect.
The wreath was a half price item and I ended up paying $2.00 for it. The wreath was loaded with a weird mix of items. Dead lights, red velvet ribbon, tiny metallic packages, snowflakes and gummy candy ornaments. I figured it didn't matter since I would be cutting the wreath up anyway.
Once I removed all the stuff on the wreath I decided it would work better than the willow wreath I started with. I then added some additional snow/ "frosting" with some spray snow from Le Dollar Tree. Wreath total now $3.20.
The wreath I had seen featured lots of gingerbread people and ornaments but after a couple of trips looking for just the right ones I gave up on shopping and started baking.
I haven't made salt dough ornaments in years and truthfully when I did make them with the kids they ended up quite thick (i.e. they weighed 5 lbs each). So I dug out my old recipe and went to work. If you have never made these, they really are lots of fun.
Basically, you mix flour, salt and a bit of water and bake. I did add some cinamon and nutmeg hoping they would retain the aroma. The aroma didn't hang around but it seasonings added a nice color. I rolled them out to about 1/4 inch thick maybe a bit thinner. Remember if you are going to use these as ornaments instread of "cookies" to make a hole for your ribbon. I used a drinking straw and that turned out to be the perfect size. These ornaments stick very easily, so you really have to baby them when moving to a cookie sheet. I also lined my cookie sheet with a professional cooking mat (love that thing) but you can also use parchment paper. My recipe calls for baking at 200 for 1 hr. but I ended up baking for 2 hours. Halfway through the cooking time (sooner if you notice) the "cookies" may begin to curve. At this point I flip them over and use a toothpick to deflate any bubbles that are forming.
As usual, I remember to take photos after the fact. I then base coated all the ornaments with a gingy color and allowed them to dry.
After the base coat. Each ornament received its background color, tree for the trees, white on the candy canes, etc. Then the fun began with the decorating. I did all my decorating with paint simply because I love to paint. You could use fabric paints, fake frosting and or any cookie decor. I gave everyone a coat of polycrylic to finish them off. I loved the decorating part...making dots is so much fun!
After days of working on these guys in starts in fits, I finally had enough for my wreath. I drug out the glue gun and grabbed both Mini and her always willing to help me boyfriend and we went to work. We had sweet boyfriend act as our wreath holder (he was really good at standing still, fyi) First we put on the bow and the bow loops were scattered throughout the wreath. Then one by one we added the cookies. Ugggg...this took patience and a bit of talent to glue them just right on moveable greenery.
Finally I added a couple of oversized Gingerbread people to the center.
I love the way it turned out! It just looks fun and it makes me smile every time I pass it on my way to the kitchen......and it was so economical and more importantly FUN TO MAKE! Thanks for stopping by.