Easy party favors: home-made play dough

IMG_0470This weekend, my son celebrated his fifth birthday (sniff, sniff) and each of his friends went home with a little bag of play dough as a party favor. The play dough was a much bigger hit than the clay pots and basil seeds I send kids home with last year, and it was even easier and cheaper to make.

My mom gave me this recipe and this is the play dough I grew up with. I still remember the lovely cinnamon and clove scent of Mom’s play dough and am happy to report that my children love it just as much as I do!

Note: Although everything in this play dough is edible, it is very salty and contains cream of tartar, which I have read is toxic in large doses. So a little nibble won’t hurt, but don’t let your children eat their whole play dough dinner! Of course, this doesn’t even approach the toxicity of commercial Play Doh, which has a fairly scary list of ingredients.

1 c flour
1/2 c salt
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 c water
1 T oil
1 T cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or ginger
food coloring or a couple of packets of sugar-free Kool Aid

Mix all ingredients together and cook over low heat until thickened. Cool slightly and knead until smooth and elastic. It’s easy to overcook this play dough, so err on the side of under cooking–it will be runnier than regular play dough when you pull it off the stove. The flour will soak up more of the moisture and the dough will continue to cook after you pull it away from the heat.

The batch I made at Christmas is still going strong 9 months later! The more diligent you are about putting back into its container when the kids are done with it, the longer it will last. And you can compost it if it does dry out.

This was the first time I’d tried Kool Aid to color the dough and I have to admit, I prefer food coloring (you can read more about my experiments with Kool Aid here). The Kool Aid gives the dough a fruity scent and I really prefer the cinnamon/ginger/nutmeg/clove flavors, plus I wonder if the Kool Aid will make it mold or dry out faster. Oh well. It did make a nicer purple than regular food coloring!

I made three double batches so that each child could go home with a plum-sized lump of three different colors of dough. That was plenty for 12 children, with tons left over for my kids. I put the dough into wax paper bags and taped them shut and although I didn’t do this, it would be pretty easy to decorate the bag with each child’s name and/or slip it into a larger goody bag. A great, earth-friendly, inexpensive present or party favor that is quick and easy to make–enjoy!

3 thoughts on “Easy party favors: home-made play dough

  1. Ever since I had children and my canine nose kicked into high gear, I have not been able to stand the smell of Play Do. I don’t know which of the ingredients causes the offense, but I do know that I’m much happier now that I’m making my own!

  2. I am going to have to try this recipe! I love the idea of adding a spice for scented dough (go mom!). I have tried a different “no cook” recipe and although it worked, it was not as pliable and or good for sculpting. I used India Tree food colors, purple of which, seems to be the color I am best at mixing. They are spendy, but a little goes a long way (as with any food coloring agent).

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