I’d completely forgotten about these until I came across a drawing in one of Odette’s illustrated books of a beautiful Christmas fireplace mantel adorned with old-fashioned clove-studded oranges. Could we make a fun activity out of making these together? Is this even achievable?? Google to the rescue and YES!
Turns out the word “pomander” comes from the French term “pomme de ambre” which means, eloquently, amber-scented ball. Centuries ago, citrus pomanders were pricked with cloves and rolled in other delicious smelling scents (cinnamon and nutmeg) then tied with ribbon and hung around the neck – the OG deodorant!
The combination of citrus and cloves really does smell amazing. It’s also incredibly easy.
What you need:
- Firm Citrus
- We used a mix of navel oranges, tangerines and lemons
- Whole Cloves
- I purchased 2 large jars (1.3 oz each) of cloves
- Ribbon and/or twine
- Drop-cloth for catching citrus drips
We covered the dining table with the drop-cloth and put the citrus in a pile in the middle with bowls of cloves and toothpicks in arms reach. The toothpicks are handy piercers as the citrus skins can be a little tough, then we pushed the clove stems into the pre-made holes.
You can make any design you like. I like to go with a pattern—lines or stripes of cloves around the orange or lemon are classic. Or throw in a perpendicular stripe and it looks like plaid! The kids are much better at creating modern art of their pomanders—they went for swirls and flowers.
To hang them, take a length of ribbon or twine and wrap it around the orange just as you would a present in a box and leave enough slack to suspend the pomander at whatever length suits you. I love to hang the smaller tangerines and lemons from the tree and garlands. The larger oranges can hang from a small nail tucked beneath whatever decorations you choose for your mantel. They’re beautiful alongside traditional Christmas stockings or from a peg rack in the dining room as you saw in my Insta post. You could even suspend them from your chandelier over the dining table.
Just beware that after about 4 days in a heated home the citrus will mold—the trick here is to tuck them into the fridge at night and hang them during the day. There is evidently a way to completely dry a whole citrus, but we (i.e. the kids) didn’t have the patience this holiday, so we’ll have to give it a try next year.
What are some of your favorite holiday crafts?
Let me know in the comments!