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How to Make Playdough for Holiday Gifts!

by Jean Van't Hul
July 1, 2021

Make candy cane playdough that looks and smells amazing! Our favorite homemade playdough recipe and tutorial on how to make playdough for fun holiday gifts.

This post contains affiliate links.

If you are looking for an easy and inexpensive holiday gift for friends and family, candy cane playdough is just what you need!

Even better, it’s a gift that your kids can participate in making. It’s easy and fun to make, inexpensive, and once given, encourages creative play.

As usual we use MaryAnn Kohl’s recipe for play clay from First Art. We LOVE this cooked playdough recipe the best, but if you are looking for other options, we also have a great no-cook recipe!

how to make candy cane playdough

First, we’ll share our recipe for homemade cooked playdough, and then we’ll explain how to turn it into a perfect holiday gift!

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The Best Cooked Playdough

  • Author: The Artful Parent
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Playdough


We really love cooked playdough the best; the texture is smooth and playdough rubbery and the batch makes a generous amount to play with. It also lasts just about forever.


  • 5 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups salt
  • 2 Tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 8 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Food coloring or liquid watercolors
  • 5 cups flour
  • Glitter and/or essential oils (optional)


1. Mix the water, salt, cream of tartar, and food coloring in a large pot.

2. Cook the mixture on medium-low heat, stirring regularly until it is hot.

3. Add the oil and mix.

4. Stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing between each addition with a wooden or other strong spoon.

5. Continue to mix until the playdough pulls away from the pan and is no longer sticky. Pinch it between your fingers to test it (but be careful because it’s hot!).

6. Place the dough on the counter, let it cool a bit, and then knead.

Note :: This is the time to add glitter or essential oils, if desired. Simply place the additions in a well in the center of the playdough, then knead the dough thoroughly to mix.

7. Store the dough in an airtight bag or other container at room temperature. It will keep for months.

candy cane play dough rolled out to twist

How to Make Candy Cane Playdough for Holiday Gifts



  1. Make your playdough

    Use our recipe, or your favorite playdough recipe, to make a batch of playdough. Then, divide it in half. Dye one batch red and leave the other one white. (Note: if you plan on giving this to many friends, you can also make a double batch of playdough and dye one red and leave one white.)

  2. Knead in the extras

    After cooling the dough, knead in some glitter for holiday glitz and glamour.

    Add peppermint essential oil (about 10 drops per batch) for the yummy candy cane smell.

  3. Roll out and twist your playdough

    Cut up playdough into individual portions – divide each batch into 12 or so – and roll each color into snakes and then twist one red and one white one together like a candy cane.

    twisted candy cane playdough

  4. Package up your gifts

    Once you have your candy cane twisted, put each playdough twist into a jar.

    candy cane playdough in a jar

    Then add the fabric, lids, and labels to turn the canning jar into the perfect holiday present!

Et voila! Candy cane playdough.

candy cane playdough for christmas

More Homemade Playdough Recipes and Ideas

Holidays Art and Crafts Bundle

Looking for even more holiday crafts for your family? Check out our Holiday Arts and Crafts bundle from the Kids Art Spot! 12 fun holiday activities, each with a step-by-step video tutorial and printable instructions, plus 12 fun and festive drawing invitations to encourage your kids to think and draw creatively.

Pin It For Later

candy cane playdough pinterest

2 Responses

  1. How long will this playdough last once in the jars? Does it need to refrigerated? Just thinking how long before Christmas can we batch process some gifts to later have at the ready ☺️

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