homemade inexpensive gift ideas– playdough sets

My children love to play with play dough.  It is a time when they can just create and play freely on their own.  Sometimes I do not like the mess that it makes, but I plan ahead and know that we are going to have a mess and then just clean it up.  For part of their Christmas gifts this year I decided to make them individual play dough kits.

For years I would buy them play dough sets from the store.  After using them a few times they grew frustrated with them.  The play dough would get stuck in all the cracks and the pieces were made poorly and would break.

Having a large family I know what we can keep and what we can’t keep.  I don’t have room for excess and I realize that when we had multiple play dough sets it was just an overwhelming choice for the children.  I finally just got rid of all that we had and kept just the basics for play dough.  Cookie cutters, rolling pins, food stamps, frosting squirters, and molds.  Everything else went.  Play dough time is enjoyable now as I hand each child a blob of play dough and a few pieces to create with.  Much easier time.

This is the recipe that I use for my play dough.  It makes a nice spongy dough.  Not a messy dough to play with at all.   I mix up double batches at a time.

  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 c salt
  • 2 T cream of tartar
  • 2 T vege oil
  • 2 c flour
  • flavorings or colorings

In a saucepan boil the water, salt, cream of tartar, and oil.  You can add your food colorings at this moment.  Sometimes I add a packet of Kool Aid.  Makes a great smelly playdough.  Then I add my flour.  I like to add it with a wooden spoon and stir it in as best as I can.  It will be quite chunky and sticky but will get spongy as it cools.  I then flop it onto the countertops and as I can stand kneading it, without scalding my hands, I knead.  As the dough cools it gets spongy.  As I am kneading it, I also add my scents and colors, depending upon if I didn’t already.


Since I was making different themes for my gifts sets, this was the type of play dough that I made.

For the first set I was making was a cupcake themed playdough set.2013-12-16_00017

I made pink playdough scented with vanilla extract.  The brown one is cocoa powder rolled into the playdough for chocolate cake dough.


I put them into recycled lunch meat containers and labeled them with cardstock.



I then put together items used for making and creating cupcakes.  I bought the muffin tin at the Dollar Store, added some doilies, included some cupcake liners, and added mini beads and glitter for sprinkles .  What cupcake wouldn’t be complete without birthday candles.  I am thinking they will have fun creating cupcake masterpieces with this one.

The next set that I made was an ice cream set.


I made vanilla and strawberry scented ice cream for one.  Chocolate and mint for the other set.

For the vanilla I added vanilla extract to the dough.  For the strawberry, I used strawberry flavoring and pink food coloring.  For the chocolate, I kneaded in cocoa powder.  For the mint, I used green food dye and get this—-toothpaste.  Yes  I know but I didn’t plan on making the mint one and the only thing I had that was minty was toothpaste:)


I then put an ice cream scoop, some glitter sprinkles, popsicle sticks, and homemade cardboard cones.    I think this one will be my favorite to play with.

Up next I made a cookie dough set.

2013-12-16_00019I added vanilla extract flavoring for my sugar cookie dough.  Then for my gingerbread dough, I mixed in some nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.



I put them into recycled lunch meat containers and added a label.2013-12-18_00039

For this set I included a cookie sheet, some cookie cutters, a rolling pin, some googly eyes, buttons and sprinkles.  All these should help decorate some gingerbread men and sugar cookies.


Under the sea playdough.



For this playdough I made bright blue and scented it with the vanilla extract.  That just makes it smell way to yummy.


This set was made to depict an under the sea playtime.  I included some shells, some glass beads, leftover from my tic tac toe game, and some pvc water animals.  2013-12-18_00041

One last set that we made but did not photograph was a construction set.  I made some green Kool Aid scented playdough.  My son’s favorite color is green.  Then I included some mini construction trucks.  It came with 6 construction trucks and cost around $5.  I then included containers of popcorn seeds, rigatoni noodles, and elbow macaroni.  I am hoping he will make a construction zone and scoop up the seeds and move the noodles with the scooper.  Whatever he decides to do should be a fun time.

There you have it.  Some last minute inexpensive Christmas gifts.  


Here is how I wrapped them up.


Some plain and not so plain creative fun gifts for children.






One response to “homemade inexpensive gift ideas– playdough sets

  1. What wonderful sets! My little girl just loves play-dough – and she loves to make it with me, too! But these sets would really charm her : )

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