One of the many things my mother did with me and Chelsea when we were kids was make Applesauce Cinnamon Ornaments. I'm not sure that we made them every year...but it was often enough it's registered as an annual tradition in my memory.
As an adult, I have made these several times myself. And this year I made them with my children. I like to start Christmas activities early. That way we get them all in without feeling crazy by trying to cram them all into December. This particular batch of ornaments is going to be used as gift toppers and tags for teacher's gifts, etc.
Maybe you'll want to venture out and make these with your kids as well! Here's how...
To make the ornaments themselves you'll need:
- 46 oz. jar of unsweetened applesauce
- 3 c. of Ground Cinnamon, plus more for dusting
- Cookie cutters
- A few plastic drinking straws
Line a strainer or colander with a piece of cheesecloth big enough to cover the bottom and come up the sides. I used a double layer.
Pour the entire jar of applesauce into your strainer. Let the applesauce sit for 2-3 hours. I strained mine over the sink. Once it appeared to no longer be dripping apple juice, I decided it was ready.
Once your applesauce is done draining, find a "happy" child to help you mix it up. He was actually happy to help, but my camera was ticking him off. Also, let kids wear old clothes (or Daddy's old shirt). Cinnamon stains.
Mix the cinnamon in a 1/2 c. at a time. It flies in the air, so adding it in slowly helps reduce this. Clinton was screaming at me, "The smoke is getting in my eyes!" He's just a wee bit dramatic.
Before removing your mixture from the bowl, lightly "cinnamon" your work surface (just as you would flour it for cookies).
Dump your mixture out. Use your hands to mash it together, tossing out any pieces that are too dry and not mixing well.
Once it's all well mixed and mashed, split the dough in half. Using 1/2 at a time, sprinkle some more cinnamon on top and use your rolling pin to roll out the dough. I like mine to be about 1/4" thick.
Continue sprinkling cinnamon on top as needed to keep the pin from sticking to your dough.
Now it's time for the cookie cutters! Due to the consistency of the dough, I like to cut mine out but leave them in place for the time being.
Once I've cut out as many things as I can, I peel away the extra dough leaving behind my shapes.
Next, you'll need your plastic drinking straws. Use these to cut holes in the top where the ribbon will be strung through once they are complete. Each straw end can only be used a time or two, so I cut mine into thirds to give me more usable ends.
The ornaments will then need to be moved to a baking sheet using a thin spatula. I cover my baking sheets in parchment paper. The ornaments need to be baked on 200 for about six hours, flipping them every 2 hours. Keep an eye on them and flip them sooner if the edges are starting to curl. Flipping them makes them harden flat. And if yours are not feeling firm/crispy after 6 hours, feel free to cook them a bit longer.
Continue the previous steps until you have little to no dough left. I ended up getting 2 pans (21 ornaments) out of the dough, but this will differ depending on the size of your cookie cutters.
They don't look much different cooked....but they smell DIVINE. They smell like Christmas.
The decorating is always fun. This is kind of a free for all on how you want yours to look. I'm pretty laid back on how mine look these days seeing as my decorators are 1 and 3. I think the recipients appreciate the effort the kids put forth.
For our decorating we used the following supplies.
-Mod Podge (found at your craft store, I use Matte but Glossy would probably work fine as well)
-Fabric (I found some Christmas scraps I bought at JoAnn's, thin is better)
Clinton used Mod Podge to glue googly eyes onto his gingerbread man. I just pour some Mod Podge into a disposable or craft-only container and give him a paintbrush for application.
Heidi Sage opted to paint hers....
Clinton also painted his hands. They've both done some hand print artwork at school and now think painting their hands is acceptable. I asked Clinton what he was doing and he responded with, "It's okay...Ms. Kate told me to." Luckily we were using washable paints!
Seriously, thank goodness they were washable paints.
We finally came up with this. We didn't get through all 21 ornaments today...this is why we start early. Heidi Sage painted the two on the top. I used Mod Podge to apply fabric and glitter to my three in the middle (I still want to add to mine, but that'll be for another day!). Clinton used Mod Podge to apply googly eyes and rick rack to his "Monster Tree" and googly eyes, a button "nose", and glitter to his gingerbread man. He also painted an additional gingerbread man white to look like frosting.
There are all kinds of things you can use to decorate these with including buttons, pom poms, glitter paints, etc.
Some ideas for ways to use these...
-Gift Tags (write on them w/metallic paint pen)
-Gift Toppers (I like to decorate my packages with things other than bows)
-Class craft (if you're doing your kids Christmas party, whip these up and take them in for the kids to decorate)
If nothing else, these will make your house smell sooo good! I hope you and your kids try these...they bring back wonderful Christmas memories for me. And they smell good for years! Every year as we unpack them from the ornament boxes you can tell as soon as you open the lids which box holds the Cinnamon ornaments!
**NOTE for Future Reference-- I'll be using this technique for a daily advent craft I'm putting together. And save those applesauce jars...and all your other jars for another great craft coming your way!**
Merry Christmas Preparing,