4 Salt Dough Handprint Keepsake Ideas to Cherish (Step by Step)

Salt dough handprint keepsakes are a heartfelt and personalized way to capture cherished memories. These adorable creations are not only fun to make but also serve as a timeless memento of those precious moments that pass by all too quickly. 

Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, or simply a craft enthusiast, this article will help infuse both creativity and sentimentality into your salt dough projects. These salt dough handprint keepsake ideas will leave you inspired and eager to get crafting! 

Let’s explore 5 unique salt dough keepsakes that can be given as a gift for most occasions and would be a great addition to any home or living space!

Salt dough handprint keepsakes to cherish pin

The best salt dough recipe

The perfect salt dough recipe is smooth, pliable, and has just the right texture. It isn’t too grainy, too sticky, or too dry. I also prefer ones that can be left to air dry because it retains every delicate detail, just as you intended. Luckily, through experimentation, I’ve found the perfect recipe for our family, and you can both air-dry or bake it! 

Non-toxic and so simple to make, you can find all the details to make and use our favorite recipe by reading our post: No-bake salt dough recipe for crafts and play

But hey, if you’re already a salt dough pro and just need a quick refresher, here’s a quick summary for you:


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup fine salt
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (optional, for added pliability)

How to make salt dough:

  1. In a bowl, combine your dry ingredients and mix them together. If you’re using salt that has a coarse texture or if you’ve had issues with grainy dough in the past, you can opt to boil the salt with the water. This will result in a smoother dough. Remember to let the boiled mixture cool before adding it to the dry ingredients.
  2. Add your vegetable oil to the bowl, then gradually add the water little by little until you achieve the desired consistency. If the dough feels too sticky, add a bit more flour. If it’s too dry, add a little more water. Aim for a balanced texture that you find easy to work with.
  3. Knead the dough for a few minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic.
  4. That’s it! Roll, shape, or cut away. Once done, allow your project to cool in a well-ventilated space until fully dried. This can take a few days depending on how big or thick your craft is. 
  5. Once dried, you can paint, bedazzle, or seal your creation.

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Classic salt dough handprint ornament

1. Classic handprint or footprint imprint

Do you adore your baby’s little feet and hands? I always did with my little ones. Imagine perfectly capturing their adorable size, shape, curve, and wrinkles with a single press of a hand or a tiny foot. This classic handprint and footprint imprint craft with salt dough is the epitome of sentimental keepsakes. 

It’s a precious gift for godparents or grandparents, or a memento for yourself that will tug at your heartstrings for years to come. I repeat this craft every few years!

What you’ll need:

  • Salt dough (recipe above)
  • Knife or large enough cookie cutter
  • Letter stamps (optional)
  • Straw or skewer (optional)
  • Twine or ribbon (optional)

How to make a classic salt dough handprint or footprint

Step one: roll out salt dough to 1/4" thickness

Step 1: Roll out the dough

Flatten the dough with a rolling pin until it reaches a thickness of about 1/4 inch (0.6 cm). Make sure that the dough is big enough to fit a whole handprint plus some space around it.

Step 2: Make the handprint

Gently place your hand onto the rolled-out dough, pressing it down firmly but not too hard. Keep fingers slightly spread apart to create a clear handprint impression. Dusting a touch of flour onto the hand before pressing can help make sure there is no pulling or tackiness.

Step three: create a shape outline

Step 3: Outline your shape

By taking an object and creating a light imprint (I used the lid of a large tin of hot chocolate), or by free-handing, create the outline of the final shape you’d like your salt dough handprint craft to be. If you’re using a large cookie cutter, skip this step.

A circle around the handprint or footprint is a classic, but you can cut around the handprint itself or cut a heart. Leave some room around the handprint.

Step four: cut along the outline created to make your final shape

Step 4: Trim the excess dough

Carefully cut along the outline using a knife. Alternatively, if you have one and the size works, you can use an extra-large cookie cutter. After cutting, gently smooth out the edges where needed to remove any jagged or uneven edges.

Step 5: create a hole for hanging using a straw or skewer

Step 5: Create a hole for hanging

If you intend to hang the handprint, use a straw or a skewer to create a hole near the top of the dough shape. Make sure the hole is wide enough to accommodate the string or ribbon you’d like to use.

Step 6: Add extra designs or stamps needed before drying

Step 6: Add extra design elements

Add any extra design elements you’d like on your handprint before drying. I used stamps to add initials inside the palm of this salt dough handprint and I love how simple yet elevated it looks!

Step 7: bake or air dry salt dough handprint

Step 7: Bake or allow to air dry

There are two common methods for drying the salt dough handprint. You can either bake it in a preheated oven at a low temperature (around 200°F or 95°C) for a couple of hours until it hardens or let it air dry naturally over a few days.

Painting classic hand print

Step 8: Paint and seal (Optional)

Once the handprint is fully dry and hardened, you can decorate it using paint, markers, or other embellishments. To best preserve the handprint, you should apply a sealant or varnish over the surface (more on this below).

Step 9: Add string for hanging

Loop string, ribbon, or twine into the hole to allow your ornament to be hung.

3 piece salt dough hanging ornament

2. Three-piece dangling salt dough keepsake ornament

This beautiful textured rustic dangling keepsake can be personalized with any details or message. You could change the texture, or change the heart shapes to stars, circles, or whatever you prefer! Plus, it’s so pretty no one would hesitate to display it proudly on their wall.

Its three flat cut-outs gradually shrink in size, bearing a heartfelt stamped message that holds a special message. But the focal point of this charming project lies within the largest ornament—a beautifully imprinted handprint, capturing a precious moment frozen in time.

This one makes a stunning sentimental gift, or simply a treasured keepsake for yourself and your home.

What you’ll need:

  • Salt dough (see recipe above)
  • Floral stamps (optional)
  • Letter stamps
  • Knife or cookie cutters
  • Straw or skewer
  • Twine
  • A fabric or object with the desired texture

How to make a 3-piece dangle handprint keepsake

Step one: Roll out the salt dough

Step 1: Roll the dough

Flatten the dough with a rolling pin until it reaches an even thickness of about 1/4 inch (0.6 cm).

Step 2: Make the handprint

Gently place a hand onto the rolled-out dough, pressing it down firmly but not too hard. Keep fingers slightly spread apart to create a clear handprint impression. 

Step 3: Create your ornament shape

I used a cut-out paper guide to create my heart shape and traced the shape with my knife. Remove the excess dough and smooth newly cut edges to remove any jagged or unusual-looking edges.

Trim excess dough and create holes

Step 4: Create holes for hanging

Using a straw or skewer, poke holes where you would like your twine to weave through. I inserted 2 at the top and one towards the bottom.

Imprint designs and/or messages into salt dough ornaments

Step 6: Imprint with message or details

Using letter or design stamps, write your desired message or design details onto your ornaments.

Step 5: Repeat the steps for the next 2 ornaments

Next, using the original shape as a reference, carefully cut out a smaller-sized ornament from your dough using a knife. Ensure that it maintains a similar shape but is noticeably smaller than the first ornament.

Repeat the process one more time to create an even smaller-sized ornament. Again, use the same shape as a guide and carefully cut it out with a knife. Decorate each with imprints as you like.

Step 6: Bake or air dry

You can bake your ornaments in a preheated oven at a low temperature (around 200°F or 95°C) for a few hours until they become hard and fully dry. Alternatively, you can choose to let them air dry (my preference) naturally over a span of a few days.

Painting salt dough dangling ornament

Step 7: Paint and seal (Optional)

Once the handprint is fully dry and hardened, you can decorate it using paint, markers, or other embellishments. To best preserve the handprint, you should apply a sealant or varnish over the surface (more on this below).

Add string through ornament

Step 8: Connect your ornaments

Using your twine, fold it in half and insert the fold into the hole from the front of the ornament. Insert the ends through the loop and insert them into the hole on the next ornament, through the front of the hole as well. Hot glue the ends behind the ornament. Repeat these steps to connect the other ornament, too.

Salt dough fingerprint charm pendant

3. Fingerprint pendant charm keepsake

A beautiful homemade and personalized pendant for a necklace featuring two fingerprints, delicately overlapped, forming the shape of a heart. You can have two people shape each side of the heart with their fingerprints, or one person can use both fingerprints. Parents, grandparents, siblings, or even partners can join in to create a stunning keepsake worth cherishing.

What you’ll need:

  • Salt dough (see above for recipe)
  • Knife or cookie cutter
  • Straw or toothpick

How to make a fingerprint heart pendant

Rolled out salt dough for fingerprint pendant charm

Step 1: Roll out the dough

Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch (0.6 cm).

Step 2: Create the finger imprints

Gently press one of your fingers into the dough, making an imprint. Repeat the process with another finger, placing it next to the first imprint so that they slightly overlap, forming the shape of a heart. Make sure the imprints are clear and distinct.

Shape the fingerprint heart pendant charm

Step 3: Shape the charm

Carefully cut around the imprints using a knife or a cookie cutter. Remove the excess dough around the imprints, leaving the heart-shaped finger imprints as the centerpiece of your charm.

Step 4: Create a hole for hanging

Using a straw or a toothpick, make a small hole near the top of the charm. This will be used to attach the charm to a necklace.

Fingerprint heart pendant charm drying

Step 5: Bake or air dry

There are two options for drying the charm. You can either bake it in a preheated oven at a low temperature (around 200°F or 95°C) until it hardens, or you can let it air dry naturally over a few days, turning it occasionally to ensure even drying.

Step 6: Decorate (Optional)

Once the charm is fully dry and hardened, you can decorate it further if desired. Consider painting it with acrylic paints or adding a clear varnish to give it a polished look.

Step 7: Attach to a necklace

Once the charm is completely dry and decorated, thread a necklace chain or string through the hole you created earlier. Tie it securely to ensure the charm stays in place.

Salt dough garden stepping stone

4. Handprint garden stepping stone keepsake

The mother-child bond is beautifully captured in this simple and charming garden stepping stone. This stone is meant for display and not meant for actual stepping. With a gentle press of your hand and your little one’s tiny palm, you can freeze in time that precious moment of togetherness. And it doesn’t have to be just for moms! Make this with grandparents, siblings, or dad for a beautiful keepsake worth cherishing.

It’s a heartfelt keepsake that becomes a cherished memento for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or just a treasured memento for yourself! 

What you’ll need:

  • Salt dough (see above for recipe)
  • Knife or cookie cutter
  • Decorative stamps (optional)

How to make a handprint garden stepping stone

Step 1: Roll out the dough

Roll out your dough to your desired thickness. Slightly thick is better with a display garden stepping stone.

Press handprints firmly into salt dough garden stepping stone

Step 2:Add handprints one by one

Invite everyone involved to press their hands firmly into the dough. If it’s only 2-3 people, you can even overlap them as I did! Make sure they leave a clear handprint impression. alternatively, you can arrange the handprints in a pattern or position them randomly.

Garden stepping stone designed with stamps

Step 3: Cut to desired shape

Cut around the handprints into a shape you are happy with and remove the surrounding dough.

Step 4: Stamp and imprint extras

If you’d like to add some extra flair, consider decorating the stepping stone with phrases, your family name, or floral imprints. You can even press colored glass gems, mosaic tiles, or other decorative items onto the surface! Be creative and let your personal style shine!

Step 5: Air dry or bake

Air dry by finding a well-ventilated area in your home or outdoors where the dough can sit undisturbed. Let it dry naturally for several days or even weeks, depending on how thick and large it is.

On the other hand, you can choose to bake it for a few hours until fully dried. Place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and carefully transfer it into the oven at 200°F (or 95°C).

Painting garden stepping stone family plaque

Step 6: Finishing touches

Use sandpaper or a sanding block to smooth out any rough edges or uneven surfaces before applying any paint. Be sure to properly apply a high-quality outdoor sealant if you plan to leave it outside to protect the surface from the elements. Bring indoors for harsh weather to have it last many years.

Tips to care for and store your salt dough handprint keepsake

Keep it dry

Moisture can cause the salt dough to soften or break down over time. If it does get wet, gently pat it dry with a soft cloth and allow it to air dry completely before storing.

Avoid extreme temperatures

Keep your handprint keepsake away from direct sunlight, heaters, or any areas with extreme temperature fluctuations.

Display it safely

Display your keepsake in a safe location where it can be showcased without the concern of it being knocked over or damaged.

Store in a protective container

Opt for a container that provides ample space, allowing the handprint to rest comfortably without any worries of distortion or unwanted pressure on its delicate surface.

Use acid-free tissue paper when storing

Wrap your keepsake in acid-free tissue paper before tucking it away in its storage container to shield your creation from potential reactions or unsightly discoloration that can sneak in when it rubs against other materials.

Avoid exposure to chemicals

Keep your awesome handprint keepsake far away from any harsh chemicals, cleaning agents, or sneaky substances that could wreak havoc on the delicate salt dough or leave it looking less vibrant.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Do you paint salt dough before or after baking or air drying?

You can choose to paint your salt dough creation either before or after baking/air drying. Waiting until it’s dried gives you the advantage of working with a sturdy surface, making it easier to apply detailed designs or intricate patterns.

How do you preserve salt dough handprints?

Here’s the scoop in a nutshell: seal ’em up and keep ’em safe! To preserve your handprint masterpiece, make sure to apply a protective sealant once it’s fully dry.

What is the best sealant to seal salt dough?

While there are several options out there, one popular choice is a clear acrylic sealer. It’s like a magical shield for your masterpiece, guarding it against moisture, dust, and the wear and tear of time. Look for a sealer specifically designed for porous materials like salt dough, as it will provide the best protection without compromising the texture or appearance.

Does Mod Podge seal salt dough?

Absolutely! Mod Podge can indeed be used to seal salt dough creations. Mod Podge is a versatile crafting glue and sealer that works well on various surfaces, including porous materials like salt dough.

Can you seal salt dough with Elmer’s glue?

You bet! Elmer’s glue can work as a sealant for your salt dough creations. Just like how Elmer’s glue holds things together, it can also help seal and protect your salt dough from moisture and general wear and tear.

Is it better to bake or air-dry salt dough?

Baking is quick and efficient, taking just a couple of hours in a low-temperature oven. On the other hand, air drying requires more time and patience, taking a few days for the moisture to evaporate naturally. Both methods can yield great results, so choose based on your preference and available time.

How do you stick something to salt dough?

When sticking something to salt dough, you have a few options. You can use craft glue for lightweight items, epoxy or super glue for heavier attachments, or press the item directly into the fresh dough before it dries.

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