I don’t know exactly when it started but I remember we used to make orange clove pomanders (we called them “orange balls” or “orange clove balls”) as kids and recently I got a bee in my bonnet to make some again. They are one of the easiest, best-smelling projects ever and they last a nice long time. They give off a delicate “orange and spice” scent that gives everyone the warm holiday fuzzies, but they’re also surprisingly adaptable to different seasons and uses (they work great for Halloween aromatherapy when decorated as little pumpkins). They’re also easy enough for kids to make, but rare enough that they feel special and thoughtful as gifts.
What is an orange clove pomander?
In its simplest form an orange clove pomander is an orange with cloves stuck in it. Super simple! (See more detailed instructions below, with ideas and tips.) You can also make lemon clove pomanders — any citrus fruit works (but oranges smell the best).
What can you do with an orange pomander?
Lots of things! They are a fancy, ornamental form of potpourri mostly, but they’re so unique and pretty and homemade that they also make great gifts. Also oranges come in all sizes so don’t be afraid to mix and match — for example very small oranges like Cuties make great mini orange clove balls.
Uses for orange ball pomanders:
– Teacher gifts, neighbor gifts, Secret Santa and/or office gifts
– Closet sachets (hang in the closet, don’t stuff into a drawer)
– Christmas ornaments
– Dining table or mantle centerpieces — mixed in as part of another arrangement or displayed as several pomanders together
– Home decor for almost any holiday or occasion. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the most common but use the cloves to create jack-o’-lantern faces for Halloween, or stars for New Years, initials for people’s names, or anything else you can imagine
How long do orange clove pomanders last?
It varies depending on the size and age of the orange used, as well as how many cloves (the more the merrier). The cloves are the ingredient that prevents mold and bacteria from forming, so don’t be stingy with them and your pomanders will last longer. Generally speaking pomanders last anywhere from 2 weeks to several months before their scent is gone and they aren’t pretty to look at any more, at which point you can just throw them away or toss in the compost.
I have read that one trick for truly long-lasting pomanders is to use cinnamon — either dust them with a light coating or age them in a bowl of it for a week or two before gifting or displaying (I’ve never tried this as it seems messy, but I’m sure it makes them smell even more amazing).
How to make an orange clove pomander ball?
Gather supplies. The ingredients for making an orange clove ball are simple: oranges and whole cloves. That’s it! You may also want toothpicks or bamboo kabob skewers to help the cloves go in easier, and ribbon/other embellishments to decorate the final orange ball.
Whole cloves are key. They look like this with a dried flower bud on one end and a pointy stick at the other. The concept is simple: just stick them into the orange’s skin, pointy end first. Depending on your orange and your cloves the cloves may go in easily by hand or you may need to make small holes first with a toothpick or bamboo kabob skewer. If you’re doing this project with kids it might also help to have an adult pre-punch the holes.
Make whatever pattern that you like — symmetrical designs always look nice — and aim to cover at least 1/3 to 1/2 of the orange’s surface with cloves (err on the side of too many cloves vs too few for a longer-lasting pomander).
So here’s the whole how-to breakdown:
What you’ll need:
- Whole cloves
- Ribbon (optional)
- Toothpick (optional)
What to do:
In its most basic form you simply stick the cloves, pointy end first, into the skin of the orange. You do that over and over until you’ve covered most or all of the orange’s surface, or made a pattern that you like. Keep in mind that the more cloves the merrier for both the aroma and the anti-mold properties.
I also added a random jewel embellishment that fell off a keychain awhile back.
FYI the pomander in these photos is about 2 weeks old and has a lot of life left. They really do last a long time!