DIY on a Dime: Make a Playdough Kit

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Learn how to make homemade playdough and package it up as an inexpensive but FUN gift for kids from Life as MOM Contributor Janel.

diy gift, playdough kit, homemade playdough

Photo source: Janel Piersma

When I was a kid, my mom always made our playdough. She’d make a HUGE batch of it and then let us do the coloring. We’d each get a ball of uncolored dough and have to knead the food coloring into it. We loved it even though the kneading gave our hands quite a workout!

(Note from editor: The kneading also dyed our hands the same color as the food coloring! Janel and I are sisters, by the way.)

When my eldest was in preschool, I learned how to make playdough myself. It’s ridiculously easy. It makes a wonderful gift for little ones when you package it up with a few playdough tools like a rolling pin and cookie cutters. If your kids want to give it as gifts to their friends, get them involved and work side by side to make the dough. They’ll love helping you color it.

What you’ll need to create a playdough kit:

  • Playdough in various colors: We’ve provided an easy cooked playdough recipe below. You can either color your dough with liquid food coloring, Wilton Icing Colors, or powdered unsweetened Kool-Aid. If you use the Icing Colors, you can make hard-to-find colors like black and brown. It is easiest to make if you color it as you cook it — you don’t have to knead it very much at all this way. Also, you might want to include the recipe with the gift as well!
  • Small containers with lids: You can keep it simple and just store the playdough in ziptop bags. Or, if you want to get a bit fancier, buy small plastic containers with lids. The containers you see here were just $1 for a package of ten at The Dollar Store. Each one of these containers holds 0.29 cups. They hold about three times the amount of playdough as the mini Playdoh canisters do.
  • Rolling pin: A child’s rolling pin makes a fun addition to the kit. If you can’t find one, you can create your own by cutting a thick dowel into your desired length.
  • Placemat: A placemat that can fold up for compact storage works well. Make your own by cutting a rectangle out of vinyl that you buy off the bolt (I found some at Ace Hardware) or try cutting up a cheap vinyl tablecloth.
  • Cutting Utensils: Find some fun cookie cutters that your gift recipient will love, or just throw in a plastic knife. Check to make sure that the plastic knife isn’t too sharp for little ones to handle.
  • Storage Container: Find a container with a lid that is large enough to hold all of the playdough and accessories.

Janel is a stay-at-home mom of two daughters and a “law school wife” in Virginia. Raised in a budget-conscious and DIY-minded family, she blogs about motherhood, crafts, and living on a law school budget at Life with Lucie and Ella.

DIY on a Dime

This is part of the DIY on a Dime: Great Gifts series. For more easy and frugal gift ideas, check out the list.

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  1. This is perfect for this time of year! My newly-six-year-old son and I will enjoy playing with this during his vacation from school! Thanks!

    1. It’s funny…my kids saw the new kit that I made for this post and they didn’t want to give any away as gifts. They want them for themselves! There’s something about it being in little containers that they think is so cool.

  2. I’ve made it and added sparkles to it! Adds another dimension to it and a shake or two will do!

  3. Seriously brilliant! Oh, I am so tucking this in the back of my head for next May when the little toddler group that I watch at church are a little bit older. It would make a great end of the year gift for them. And I’m so going to look at the Dollar Store for those little containers.

    1. After I wrote the post, I realized that my “dollar store” is called The Dollar Tree. I’m sure most “dollar stores” carry similar containers. Hopefully whatever store you have will carry small containers. They really are perfect size and shape for these kits. I’m sure the kids you work with will love them…especially if you can give them multiple colors!

    1. Nope, I don’t think it is necessary. To be honest, when I made my new playdough this week, I started out with a Kool-Aid version (the “mango” colored one), and then forgot to put the vanilla in the other batches. They still turned out great.

      1. I tried a batch this afternoon and it worked perfectly. I’m making a kit for a birthday party we’re attending this weekend. The birthday boy is into dinosaurs so I ordered some dino cutters online and am tinting the playdough “prehistoric” colors – like brown and dark green and deep orange. A million thanks for the inspiration!

        1. Yea! That sounds so awesome! What a perfect way to really personalize the gift for the birthday boy. I hope he loves it!

  4. Thank you for this posting, what an easy way to make playdough, your mom was a good role model.