Easy Homemade Cornstarch Dough Ornaments

Easy Homemade Cornstarch Dough Ornaments

This is our first Christmas as a married couple, so Steve and I need ornaments for our tree. We’re going with a real tree FYI (here’s why that’s the more sustainable choice), and I’m so excited to decorate it. But why buy new ornaments when I can make them? So I set aside some time to make these easy, DIY, homemade cornstarch dough ornaments. Not only do they help save money (you probably already have the ingredients for them in your pantry), but they’re also low waste. If you use plant paints on them (as I did for the majority of them), you can compost them at the end of their life. These will last a few years though, with proper care. I can also see these being fun to make with kids! I did run into a few problems with plant paints (specifically with the colors red and yellow) but more on that later. If you want to create fun, stunning ornaments that the whole family will love, you’re in the right place!

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Easy Homemade Cornstarch Dough Ornaments

Easy Homemade Cornstarch Dough Ornaments


  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • Plant paints (for decorating – I used spinach to make green, cumin to make yellow, and cocoa to make brown)
  • Twine or ribbon (for hanging the ornaments)
Easy Homemade Cornstarch Dough Ornaments
The cornstarch dough ornaments right before they went in the oven. Don’t forget to poke holes in them!


  1. Begin by mixing the baking soda, cornstarch and water together in a saucepan on medium to low heat. In a few minutes, it’ll go from liquid to a mashed potato consistency.
  2. Let your mixture cool (I put mine in a bowl and placed it in the fridge for a few minutes to speed things up). Then, place it on a clean counter and use a rolling pin to roll it out. Using your favorite Christmas cookie cutters, start cutting out shapes. Repeat as many times as needed until all the dough is used up (compost any scraps left).
  3. Line a baking sheet with compostable parchment paper. Carefully place your clay ornaments onto it and use a toothpick, end of a paint brush, or a reusable straw to punch a hole through the top (this will later be used to tie up your ornament).
  4. Pop them in the oven for 1 hour at 200 degrees F. Or let them airdry overnight. Let them cool and then start decorating as you see fit! I used mostly plant paints, but had to use conventional red paint too, which I’ll talk about in a minute. Unless you have compostable glitter, avoid adding any of this as conventional glitter is plastic.
  5. Last but not least, don’t forget to put your twine or ribbon through the hole you created earlier. Then create a loop and secure it with a knot or two. Tada! You now have a cute cornstarch dough ornament to hang.
Easy Homemade Cornstarch Dough Ornaments
I used spinach, flour and water to make this lovely DIY plant paint. It turned out so nice!

My experience using plant paints on cornstarch dough ornaments

To decorate these ornaments, I went ahead and used mostly plant paints. I wanted to keep them compostable to reduce waste as much as possible. Unfortunately, I did run into some issues.

First, I’ll share what I used to make my colors:

  • Green: 1 big spinach leaf (crushed using a mortar and pestle), 1 tablespoon of flour, ~1 tablespoon of water
  • Yellow: I made several versions of this, but the one that worked the best by far was 1 tablespoon of cumin powder, 1 tablespoon of flour and ~1 tablespoon of water. This created the lightest yellow.
  • Brown: 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon of flour, ~1 tablespoon of water
  • Red: I was forced to use conventional red paint here…

So, there are two colors that didn’t want to cooperate with me: Yellow and red. For yellow I usually just use turmeric and it works wonderfully. But for whatever reason, this time it dried orange instead of yellow on my cornstarch ornaments.

For red, I usually use beetroot powder – but it dried such a deep purple/almost black color instead of red. Heck, I would’ve even taken pink!

Easy Homemade Cornstarch Dough Ornaments
The final result! It was so fun to create these and experiment with plant paints!

I have two theories as to why this happened:

  • I was making cornstarch ornaments, instead of salt dough ornaments. Usually I use these plant paints just fine on salt dough ornaments. It could be something in the cornstarch was creating a reaction.
  • I was combining the turmeric/beetroot powder with flour instead of arrowroot powder. In my previous plant painting experiments, I always used arrowroot powder. But this time, I only had flour on hand. It may have affected the result I got.

The reason I’m sharing this with you is to make you aware of the problems I encountered so you don’t have to experience them. It took me hours of experimenting to finally find that cumin powder works best with flour on cornstarch ornaments to create a yellow color. But I sadly never found a natural alternative to red (I tried crushed strawberry, raspberry jam, paprika powder, ketchup, even sriracha sauce. Nothing worked.)

But I’m still overall very happy with my cornstarch dough ornaments! And I hope this information helps you. Maybe next time I’ll get some arrowroot powder and see if that works better…

Of course, you could simply use regular paint if you already have it at home. This will simplify the process completely. Or, you could try natural paints like the ones from Beam Paints. Just remember, conventional paint is not compostable.

Would you give these cornstarch dough ornaments a try? Let me know in the comments!

For more fun Christmas ornament ideas, check out my blog post all about zero waste Christmas ornaments.

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By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

Ariana Storniolo is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.

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