Pomander Ball Christmas Gift





Introduction: Pomander Ball Christmas Gift

One whiff of the wonderful scent of a pomander ball is all it takes to get me humming Christmas songs and dreaming of going "home for the holidays." Pomander balls are a Colonial American Christmas tradition, and my mother had us make them for all of our relatives every year. They make very unique gifts, and are great conversation starters as well. So this year I am passing on this tradition by making pomander balls for my in-laws.

So what is a pomander ball? It is simply a piece of fruit, traditionally an orange, that has been pierced by cloves and dried so that it lets off a wonderful aroma. Pomander balls can be used in drawers and closets like a sachet, or used as decorations at Christmastime by hanging them from a mantel or tree, or even just set in an attractive bowl on a table. They will continue to give off their scent for years to come!

Step 1: Gather Supplies

You will need:

1 Medium-sized orange
Whole cloves (1-2 ounces per orange)
Piercing tool (a paper piercer or ice pick work well)
Paper towel or napkins

Note: whole cloves can be kind of expensive to buy in the spice aisle at a grocery store. I buy them from a health food store that sells bulk spices, or you can buy them online.

Step 2: Tie Ribbon Around Orange

Cross-tie the ribbon around the orange. The below directions to cross-tie coincide with the additional pictures for this step:

1. Center ribbon on the top of the orange
2. Hold ribbon in place and turn orange over
3. Cross the ribbon and pull it tight against the orange
4. Turn orange over and bring ribbon together at top
5. Tie a bow

Step 3: Poke Holes

Using the piercing tool, poke holes in the exposed skin of the orange. This might get a little juicy, so do it over the napkin or paper towel. Keep the holes spaced fairly far apart.

Step 4: Insert Cloves

Insert cloves into the holes. They don't need to be that close together, because the orange will shrink as it dries.

Step 5: Done!

The orange will dry out over the next week and will shrink, but it will continue to smell wonderful for years to come!



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Hello! Lovely tutorial, but there was something I wanted to mention. The "pomander ball" is actually an old Wiccan tradition as well, where the cloves and orange/apple would represent the Sun God and it's passing onto the next Sun God. They're special little gifts for Yule, and are of Celtic origin, not Christian. :)

3 replies

duh, Christianity has refitted pagan customs from day 1, moving on....

There's no need to be rude.

You read my mind...great ible though. forgot all about these. gonna make an with the kiddo today

It depends. If you live in a very humid part of the world, it probably will. Try putting in a cool dark closet in a paper bag and check on it every day or two. Some suggest a light coating with orris root powder and/or cinnamon. Hanging helps. Piling a bunch in a bowl is not a great idea.

Just got back from a Christmas Market Tour Down the Danube ... this is what they were selling in Bratislava, Slovakia


What kind of arranges did you all use? Navals? Valencias? ... Navals are bigger but can be oblong. Valencias are smaller but have thinner skin and are juicier. Thanks for the feedback! Excited to make these.

instead of ribbon at the start i put tape around the orange and the when i was finished i put the ribbon around

How do you dry them when you can't afford heating? Put it in window sill but I live in yorkshire!

I made 3 of these, just from seeing them for years, they smell very nice and the oranges are drying nicely too, Dave.

I made one for the first time in ages and for some reason the orange fermented. What happened?

Warning! I made this before and the smell gave me and my mom a migraine. If you easily get migraines do not make this!

Warning! I made this before and the smell gave me and my mom a migraine. If you easily get migraines do not make this!

Thank you for the instructions - will be making these as stocking fillers - a slight improvement on the traditional orange at the bottom of the Christmas stocking.

My parents (who live near Williamsburg and whose house is a copy of the Wythe House) always have these around at Christmas. This year our daughter wants to make them too, so thank you for the reminder about how to do it correctly!

Nice presentation!

Here's another version of the pomander with a complementary set of suggestions. Useful stuff in the comments, too.

3 replies

Oops! I suppose I should've checked to see if anyone had a pomander instructable posted already!

You should never worry about whether or not someone else posted the idea before you. I found that its great to have many different viewpoints because you can learn a little from each idea. Its like finding pieces of a large and beautiful puzzle in different places.

Your piece of the puzzle was using the punch to poke holes in the orange. I made the holes, with a handy wooden skewer, big enough in ones I am currently experimenting with that the cloves fit snug AND It doesn't require you to tape your fingers. That's a pretty awesome.

So thank you for posting this instructable. This helps me a lot.

Have a Fun and Happy Winter!