The Gift of Homemade Playdough

dough man

Homemade Dough to Play With

Many years ago, when my kids were very young, our extended family began drawing names for Christmas gift purchases for the following year. Aunts, uncles, cousins and everyone in between tossed their names into a hat the day after Christmas to draw names for the following year.

It was a tradition that allowed the families to participate in a tradition gift-opening even without breaking the bank. Although the name-drawing helped, many of us had a young marriage and were just beginning our lives so it left us with precious little in the way of money for gift purchases outside our immediate family.

One Christmas, I received a gift for my children from one of my cousins who at the time, seemed embarrassed at not having much to wrap up for them. Once handed their gift, my small children tore open the wrapping to find a very inexpensive, yet extensive set of plastic cookie cutters, rolling pins, and carving tools.

Having an extremely creative household, it turned out to be pretty¬† fun gift after all, but the best part hadn’t been discovered by my kids yet. In the top right-hand corner was a small note card.

My cousin had carefully written down a playdough recipe to go along with the cookie-cutter play set. Of course, I had mixed up homemade playdough before, but it was the simple salt & flour kind. The one that stays gritty and unpleasant feeling in your hands no matter what.

This was a stovetop recipe that I have used until this very day. It’s soft and smooth and lasts forever in a Ziploc baggie. I have never run across a better homemade playdough recipe since. So, this gift that was so embarrassingly given to our family all those years ago turned out to be one of the few Christmas gifts I remember 20 years later.

Share the simple things you’ve learned in life because these are the greatest gifts people will ever receive.

Stovetop Playdough Recipe


  • 4 Cups Flour
  • 2 Cups Salt
  • 2 TBSP. Cream of Tartar
  • 4 Cups water
  • 1/2 Cup Oil

Put all ingredients into a pot on the stove on low to medium heat. The temperature will depend on your particular stove, however, it works best for me at a medium heat. Stir the ingredients continuously until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pot.

Add food coloring while stirring. You can also add flavoring if you’d like such as vanilla or peppermint. The mixture gets really hard to stir, this is normal. You don’t want to stop stirring until it really pulls away from the sides, gets deeper in color and becomes a big ball.

If you’d like to make smaller batches so you have a variety of colors, try dividing the playdough into equal parts and punching down into the center of each one. Then add the food a different coloring to each part kneading it into the dough.

It’s best to use plastic gloves if you do it this way. Also, once the color is mixed in well (especially if you mix in the color while it’s on the stove, it doesn’t tend to come off on the kids’ hands).

This recipe stores for a long time in Ziploc baggies.

About Chris

Chris McLaughlin has written 35 posts in this blog.

Chris is a freelance garden writer, blogger, and author of six books including her latest project A Garden to Dye For (St. Lynn's Press, March 2014). She balances family, writing, and all things modern homesteading from their hobby farm in the Northern California foothills. Chris' pet project is the Mother Lode Seed Library that will launch in January, 2014. She's blessed with four fabulous kids and four darling sugar babies. Follow Chris on Twitter: @Suburban_Farmer and her website:


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