Smell the holiday decorations: DIY orange and clove pomanders

Guest post by Creepingminx

I noticed that Tribesmaid Creepingminx was using oranges to make cool holiday decorations. So I begged her for a tutorial, and she complied!

PomandersI’m not much of a baker, and during the holiday season I really miss the smells that were produced from my mother’s kitchen. Mince pies and mulled wine, cakes and cookies — citrus, cloves, cinnamon — they all conjure up a warming smile for me during the winter months.

When I first saw these pomanders, I loved how pretty they looked — but then the amazing smell hit me and I knew I needed to make some to help fill my house with awesome aromas.


You will need:

  • Oranges — as round as you can find and not too juicy.
  • Whole cloves
  • Skewer (or other poking device)
  • Pins
  • Ribbon or String (Optional)
  • Kitchen Roll
  • Scissors

You can do any designs you want and using ribbon is entirely optional. A quick Google search will return a number of fun designs to try out.

wrapping the orangesWrapping the ribbon can be difficult. Thinner ribbon works best and some colour combos look better than others. I just used what I had in the house and they turned out wonderfully. I used some pins to help hold the ribbon in place while I worked. I also used the pins in the spiral design to help hold the guide string in place.

poke holes for the seedsOnce the ribbon is wrapped and secured, use the skewer to create a hole. It can be difficult to push the cloves in with just your fingers so creating a guide hole will help a lot. I’ve read that some people use thimbles to push the cloves in but I would worry about crushing them. You may get attacked by juice, so keep your kitchen roll on hand. Don’t worry if the ribbon gets wet — it will dry up in no time.

decorating orange with clovesIn this design, I just followed the ribbon along in each of the quarters. Don’t make too many holes at one time — spacing can be difficult to judge and there is a surprising amount of variety in the size of cloves! Once I finished I decided to add a little diamond in the center of each one, just to make it look different from the others I’d made.

If you wish to hang your pomander, then leave a length of ribbon at the top to create a loop.

Once you have finished, it’s a good idea to check back over the cloves. Some of them may have got damaged while you were working on it. It’s easy enough to remove the damaged cloves and insert fresh ones.

omg so awesome
As the orange dries out, it will release the most amazing, warming aroma into your home. It’s a really easy and cheap project to try!

Comments on Smell the holiday decorations: DIY orange and clove pomanders

  1. Note that for those so inclined, it is fairly easy to make your own replica Holy Hand Grenade (a la “Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail”) using this technique. To make a Holy Hand Grenade, you’ll need to put a band (a few cloves wide works well) around the equator of the orange, then bands of cloves down from the north pole of the orange to divide the top half of the orange into quadrants. Finish with a cross made of toothpicks — some sort of gummy candy works well to hold these together — inserted right at the top of the Holy Hand Grenade. For instructions on casting the Holy Hand Grenade, see

  2. We used to make these at primary school but with a candle pushed into the top of it for a Christingle service.
    I had totally forgotten about them til now!!
    We also used to put small sweeties (Candy) on cocktail sticks pushed into them.

    we used to get told off for trying to eat the sweets before the church service and had to be very careful not to set fire to the hair of the person infront of you

  3. My brother and I used to make these as Christmas gifts for our extended family when we were children. It’s an easy activity kids can do and my aunts loved them! (We didn’t use a skewer, that probably makes this a little less kid-friendly.)

  4. My family does a pretty traditional drink using these (sans ribbon, of course). Mix 2 parts apple cider, one part cranberry juice, and simmer with one of these and some cinnamon sticks. Scrumptious!

  5. omg I remember making these as a girl scout! I completely forgot about them until now. We just covered the whole orange in cloves, but your designs look lovely!!

  6. I actually had some whole cloves I’ve had for ages, and some oranges in the fridge that were probably not going to get eaten, so I made some of these! I put them in a bowl under a lamp on the dining room table, so when the lamp is on they warm up and smell awesome.

  7. For the Jews among us– a variation is to use your etrog after sukkot. Then the finished product can be your “spice box” for havdallah. My husband had one that we used that way for about 2 years.

  8. I LOVE the smell of these. I haven’t made them since I was a teenager, but now I really want to try them again.

    They also, now, remind me of cloven apples. For those who don’t know about the Society for Creative Anachronism, it is a group that does medieval reenactments. Cloven apples sometimes get passed around at campfires during camping events. The person who gets the fruit determines which part of them they would like to have kissed by the passer. If you pull it out with your hand, you get a nice kiss on the hand. If you pull it out with your teeth, it means you want a kiss on the lips. If you take a bite out of the apple…well, that usually only happens after a bit too much mead. I’d pretty much forgotten about those too, so thanks for reminding me of two fun things tonight!

  9. I made two of these last night! They are very pretty, smell good, and cost me $0 since I had all of the supplies laying around the house already. They are very festive! Thank you for the great idea.

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