How to make spiced orange pomander balls

The temperatures dipped once again yesterday and we chose indoor activities over snow games.

I tipped a tin of whole cloves into bowls, set out oranges and the boys and I made spiced orange pomander balls while listening to an audio book. This was a craft I can remember making as a child, sitting next to the wood fire, and deeply engrossed with a story tape on cassette.

How to make spiced orange pomander balls on #craft #tutorial #Christmas #oranges

Making spiced orange pomander balls is simple enough to do and yields both a pretty centerpiece and a natural air freshener. Best of all, it’s an all natural decoration and can be made with items around the house.

Let’s get started.

How to make spiced orange pomander balls on #craft #tutorial #Christmas #oranges

You will need:

  • Firm, fresh citrus fruit. If it is too shriveled or too mushy, it will be harder to poke with cloves.
  • A few toothpicks. A nail works well, too.
  • A jar of whole cloves.
  • A citrus zester or a sharp vegetable peeler.
  • An elastic or two.
  • Kitchen twine, if you decide to hang any pomanders.

Now put on some Christmas music, an audio book or your favorite Homefries podcast and let’s craft!

How to make spiced orange pomander balls on #craft #tutorial #Christmas #oranges

How to make spiced orange pomander balls

  • Use a corner of the citrus zester to make a few designs in the skin of the orange. A peeler works too, but will make wider strips.
  • Poke a row of holes in the orange with a tooth pick and push the cloves into the pre-made holes. You may not find this necessary, but if you are crafting with small children, as I was, the cloves hurt their fingers without the pre-made holes.
  • You can really make any design you like on the oranges. The ones we did are more time consuming, but we had lots of helping hands.
  • Martha Stewart places a rubber band around the citrus and uses it to make a perfect circle around the orange. She also gets out the glue gun, but I like to keep it simple.
  • If you like, you can finish by rolling the pomanders in ground spices for extra fragrance. Ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, and of course, cloves, would all be nice.

How to make spiced orange pomander balls on #craft #tutorial #Christmas #oranges

Now that you have your assorted pomanders – what can you do with them? Here are a few ideas.

  • Hang the smaller pomanders as fragrant ornaments on your Christmas tree.
  • Hang a few of the larger pomanders in a window.
  • Arrange them as a centerpiece, as I have done here.
  • Place them in bowls and set them around the house as natural air fresheners.
  • Give a few away in a cellophane bag as a festive gift.

To hang your citrus pomander, thread a large needle with string and run it through the orange; make a knot at the bottom and a loop at the top. Simple!

And if you fall in love with the smell of citrus and spice, Marisa’s created a jam based on her memories of making pomanders as a child.


I know you want to keep your pomanders on display, but first there are a few tricks to note for keeping them from getting moldy.

  • Display them in a bowl or on a plate for 3-4 days. After that you probably will see some mold.
  • Display them during the day, but tuck them into the fridge at night. This with lengthen their life by a few days.
  • Some spice shops sell orrisroot powder, which you can dust on the pomander as a preserving agent.
  • Suspend them with kitchen twine and hang them in a cool, dark place to try for about week. Then display them, just in time for Christmas. The dried pomanders are even more fragrant than the fresh ones!

I’m going to enjoy mine fresh for a day or two, then hang them to dry. Happy holidays and if you’ve found this tutorial helpful, please share it around. Thank you.

Did you make pomanders as a child at Christmas time?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. These look fabulous and I bet they smell amazing!

  2. We did pomanders last year for gifts. The ones that had a lot of holes and cloves in them dried out entirely and never went moldy at all. We learned more is better when it comes to cloves!! We love them and so did our friends and family. This year we did them with the small oranges, which is better for younger kids who don’t have the patience for the large oranges with many cloves!

    Love it!!

    • Help! We’ve just made 70 pomanders for our old folks Christmas party. How do we stop them getting mouldy ? Some people have mentioned orris root & cinnamon but how do you get it to stick? And when I tried with cinnamon alone it just looked messy!
      Any advice gratefully appreciated!
      Micki in a Mess. ?

      • Read somewhere you could place them in a paper bag with orris root and cinnamon and shake. Also read that sandalwood oil and cinnamon shaken together first and then the pomanders with it will help with mold.

    • That’s it! That’s the reason my more recent pomanders grew moldy! I was being stingy with the cloves :/ My only successful pomander (I just recently learned the name for these) was actually my introduction to them. At a birthday party when I was a young girl, we made these as gifts to bring home to our parents. The one I made last for years in their clothes closet, smelled wonderful and dried out perfectly. Of course I was cheap when I did them on my own as an adult and I understand why they didn’t dry but got moldy as there wasn’t enough holes for the moisture to escape! These are great hung in a closet, on a Christmas tree, over a doorway and beautiful in a centerpiece bowl for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Orange + Clove=the best combo ever and the frugal nature of these appeals to me when I don’t have much to spend but want something special.

  3. we used to make these with my mom when we were little- very nostalgic 🙂

  4. Gorgeous, Aimee! I saw these in a Barefoot Contessa photo years ago, and have wanted to make them ever since! Thanks for the how to!

  5. How fun are these!

  6. Cheri | Kitchen Simplicity says

    We are so making these today! We’re having an unofficial snow day since our car is in the shop getting fixed. More sledding, wrapping presents, holiday baking and these pomanders are all on the to-do list. Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. I can’t wait to make these!

  8. I made these last week with my nieces and they LOVED them. So fun 🙂

  9. So fun & pretty for the holidays!

  10. hi

  11. Hi Aimee , these balls looks dam beautiful,I will try these balls.Thanks for sharing


  12. I love how pretty and festive these are! I’d love to have some in my home 🙂

  13. What a simple but brilliant idea! It just looks like Christmas and I can just imagine the lovely festive smells. I wish I read this before the holiday season because now all I can think of is there’s no way I’m going to remember for next year. Thanks for sharing the idea.

  14. No need to buy orrisroot specially to help with preserving the orange.
    Cinnamon powder will do exactly the same job, and smells a lot nicer!

    • Alison Paris says

      Thanks Rick ~ I was about to search online for ” orrisroot powder ” ~ When I read you like ” Cinnamon Powder ” and you say it does the same job. Thank you so much ~ I love the aroma of cinnamon and if it performs just as well ~ I will be making my Gift from this Spice. { which is so easily available }
      Many thanks Alison Paris Bundaberg East Australia

  15. Beautiful!!!!

  16. rebeccabasset says

    We never made these (as far as I remember), but they look so pretty and sound awesome, thanks so much for the Post and the “to do” and the Recipe, I will definitely check this out!

  17. My grandchildren and I made Pomaranders today and they loved it we made them when their mothers were young. Great Christmas projects!! They are so “Christmas “!

  18. Lynette Christenson says

    I made these with my grandchildren every year while they were growing up…along with our traditional “gingerbread house” and although the youngest is now 17 she asked just the other day if we could make some for her to give her friends for Christmas. We have almost always used orrisroot (as we did when I was in Girl Scouts), but one year when I was out of it we tried “pumpkin pie spice” to roll them in and let them dry. Fabulous substitute! Enjoyed reading about them again! Thanks

  19. I was told to use desiccant and got silica gel as a drying agent

  20. Can you use a flower drying agent like silica gel?

  21. Karla rosser says

    You mix the cinnamon and orris root powder in a paper bag and add the Orange and shake it up, let them dry use them in your closets and drawers.

  22. We always had an orange in the toe of our stocking. It was told that fresh fruit in the past was a true luxury because it rarely was available. This year an orange pomander will be the last find in their stockings. I used an awl and it took 3 hours to cover the entire orange. A wonderful project that I thoroughly am enjoying.

  23. Marche Singh says

    I remember making these when i was a child. I put tulle around the orange snd a nice ribbon to secure the tulle at the top snd it in my closet. I gave a few fir gifts. Thank you for bringing back some good memories.

  24. I’ve made these every year since I was 5 I’m now 28 we always used the firmest oranges. We used a screw for the holes (screw in and pull out, that way you can see the hole easy because it leaves a jagged edge what the clove covers). And use a lot of cloves they dry better.

  25. We make them every year This year I’ve made 20 so far wonderful Gifts..if u cover the whole orange They dry much better we’ve used string to hang and different colour syle ribbons to decorate my girls love making them even tho my eldest has moved out has a baby of her own she came back this year made them with me ?

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