Pomander Ball Christmas Gift

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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)
Ribbon
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!

1 Person Made This Project!

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42 Comments

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ToniV22
ToniV22

Reply 9 months ago

Cinnamon works very nicely too.

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anne.f.harper

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.

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ToniV22
ToniV22

Reply 9 months ago

Not good as stocking fillers because they are sticky for a long time until they dry out completely. ( a few months ).

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AdamC254
AdamC254

5 years ago

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.

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ToniV22
ToniV22

Reply 9 months ago

I use small round mandarins / tangerines instead of oranges.

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ToniV22
ToniV22

Reply 9 months ago

I use the small tangerines and cover them completely in cloves, which prevents them from rotting. Then I roll them in cinnamon which acts as a preservative and smells nice too. You can add a ribbon but I just place a few in a nice bowl. I've had them for years without them rotting.

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KerryD30
KerryD30

Reply 4 years ago

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.

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LukasB17
LukasB17

6 years ago

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. :)

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TortillaTortilla
TortillaTortilla

Reply 3 years ago

You know, I'm not sure who came up with this tradition in the first place, given that oranges weren't widely available to most people in history in European countries, and certainly not the Celts. Historically speaking, they'd have apples to work with, unless they were royalty, and I've never heard of a Celtic royal family making pomanders - perhaps a history buff can enlighten me; I'm not sure. Not to mention Wicca is itself a new age religion that is younger than Christianity (Witchcraft and Paganism are older than Christianity; not Wicca, which came into the mainstream around the 1940s). Did Christianity co-opt many of the older Pagan traditions into holiday celebrations? Yep. But if you're going to point that out at least be accurate about it... anyway pass me the oranges and cloves, I'm going to make a metric ton of these.

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msnipes
msnipes

Reply 6 years ago

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

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andymerrett
andymerrett

Reply 4 years ago

There's no need to be rude.

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wiccanman82
wiccanman82

Reply 6 years ago

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

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TomB361
TomB361

5 years ago

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

15844431_10154854552802433_13710505249868764_o.jpg
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roisin0501
roisin0501

5 years ago

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

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AlisonS48
AlisonS48

5 years ago

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

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DaveM247
DaveM247

5 years ago

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

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JoanF19
JoanF19

6 years ago

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

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Sagestar11
Sagestar11

6 years ago

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