Christingle Play Dough - with Orange Scent

Looking for another way to explore Christingle with young children? How about Christingle Play Dough. This play dough recipe is super simple to make & smells fabulous too. Perfect for toddler groups, after school play, Messy Church or a Christingle Service, & a neat gift to take home & play with again.


Christingles are traditionally made during Advent, Christmas or Epiphany. Made from an orange & candle they represent Jesus as the light of the world. Cocktail sticks with sweets & dried fruit represent the 4 seasons & a red ribbon wrapped around the middle signifies Jesus' love & sacrifice

We wanted our Christingle play dough to not only look like an orange but to smell like one too, here's how we made it.

Simple No-Cook Christingle Play Dough Recipe

2 cups of plain flour
1 cup of salt
2 tablespoons of cream of tartar 
2 tablespoons of sunflower/vegetable oil
1 cup of boiling water
Red & Orange food colouring
Orange Extract (from supermarket food aisle)

To make the dough:

:: Add all the dry ingredients into a bowl & then added the sunflower oil. 
:: Add a few drops of orange food colouring to a cup of boiling water & then slowly pour it into the dry ingredients, mixing with a spoon as you do so. When it's looking like a dough knead the mixture with your hands onto a clean surface. 
(If the mixture is dry add a little more water, or if wet add a little more flour) 
:: Add the orange extract (we added 2 tablespoons) & knead well into the dough. 

We then made another quick batch of the same play dough recipe (minus the orange essence) using the red food colouring instead of the orange. Once both batches of play dough were cooled they were ready to use.


We rolled a large section of the orange play dough in our hands to create a ball. Taking a smaller section of the red dough we rolled a long thin sausage shape, this would become our ribbon. This is a neat way to encourage some fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, & to explore shape & texture.


We wrapped our red play dough ribbon around our orange & secured by pressing the doughs together.  

To represent the 4 seasons we used a brown pipe cleaner which we cut into 4 sections. I've always thought of these as 4 trees representing the seasons ready to be filled with different fruits.  


To decorate our 'trees' with fruit we used coloured wooden beads. You could encourage children to think of many different fruits as they add their beads to their pipe cleaners. What fruit could each coloured bead represent? I wonder which country those fruits come from? What is your favourite fruit or food? 

Children can be as eager or as sparing as they wish with the beads/fruits, we had a selection of different coloured beads in various shapes & sizes to choose from. This is a really neat threading exercise for little hands too, some children may find it easier to add the beads to the pipe cleaners before they push them into the orange. 


 If you're concerned about using small beads with young children you could make some larger 'beads' with pipe cleaners. I used coloured pipe cleaners which I cut into 4 sections & simply wound each section around my finger, looping over the excess wire to secure & make the beads. Super easy to make & a simple alternative. 



Finally, we added our birthday cake candle to the centre of the orange. This not only signified Jesus as the light of the world, but the birthday candle also reminds us to celebrate his birthday on Christmas Day! 

We created a flame for our candle by folding over a small section of a yellow pipe cleaner & moulding it over the top of the candle.


After you've made the Play Dough Christingles you could:

:: Sing "Happy Birthday to Jesus", "This Little Light of Mine" or "Away in a Manger"
:: Pretend to blow out your Christingle candle & then 'magically' re-light it by adding the pipe cleaner flame again. 
:: Read a simple version of the Nativity together
:: Pop your Christingle in an airtight container ready to explore & remake another day
:: Keep the birthday candle from your Christingle safe & light it for real with your family on Christmas Day to celebrate Jesus' Birthday 


Looking for more ways to explore the real meaning of Christmas?
Take a look at our Advent & Nativity ideas.