Orange Pomanders & Keeping Christmas Simple

Growing up, my Mother and I would make orange pomanders every year. This little tradition is perhaps one of my favorite Christmas activities for a few reasons.

One, I am a sucker for decorating with the natural elements – dried orange garlands and eucalyptus wreaths adorn my home well past the Christmas season. Decorating with the natural elements adds so much warmth & fragrance to your home, and the orange/ clove combo is a classic Christmas pairing. Second, making orange pomanders reminds me of my mother who I lost a few years ago.

Third (and this reason will probably make this your favorite holiday DIY too) – making orange pomanders is SIMPLE & INEXPENSIVE! Seriously. It’s even easier than making an orange garland. It only needs 2 items (with a few more optional items I’ll list), and best part is you might even have them on hand!

How to Make Pomanders

Pomanders are typically made with oranges, but I have seen them done with mandarins or grapefruits or even apples. The fruit is then studded with whole cloves. You can even roll it in seasonings to really “up” the fragrance. But I keep it simple & classic. Here’s what you’ll need.

  • Oranges
  • Whole Cloves (Quick tip: buy these in the bulk section – much cheaper!)
  • Toothpicks (optional – but helpful)
  • String, ribbon, or other pretty adornments to tie or hang (also optional, but can be fun!)
  • Extra ground seasonings, such as cinnamon or clove
  1. Gather ingredients & other items.
  2. Grab an orange or whatever fruit you are using
  3. Poke holes in the fruit with your toothpick. Or you can skip this and poke the clove straight into the rind. I used to do this, but then my fingers started to hurt. So I recommend using a toothpick first.
  4. From here you can be as simple or creative as you want! I have seen people score the rind to make their designs more intricate. Zig Zags, circles, diamonds, and other shapes would be fun. I remember my Mom would get really crafty with her designs. Martha Stewart, the OG fairy godmother before Joanna Gaines, hot glues stars anise onto hers (OF COURSE SHE DOES). I am too impatient, so I usually opt for stripes & adorn with ribbon.
  5. Optional step – roll in spices. Cinnamon and clove would be heavenly. But if you are doing this, I would do any sort of ribbons afterwards.

But guys – that’s seriously it! Take an orange or other citrus fruit & poke holes in them with whole cloves. Afterwards your house will smell amazing, and you’ll have a pretty centerpiece for your table or hanging for your window.

Preserving Your Pomander

If you leave your pomander in a centerpiece bowl, it will probably only last you about 3-4 days. I don’t mind this as I usually like to make them throughout the holiday season.

However, you can go the extra step and preserve them! One simple way to do this is to hang them. I am doing that this year to accent my orange garland (and to keep them away from my toddlers hands.) Hanging them prevents mold, plus the fragrance only increases as it dries out. Win win.

Another way to preserve your pomander is to shake them in a bag with orrisroot powder. I have read that if done properly they can last for a whole year!

Beauty in Simplicity

I am still a young Mom. And as a young Mom, I know I have a lifetime of things to learn. But two things I am learning so far, specifically about the holidays. First, behind every “magical event” or decoration is usually a tired Mom (or other parent). For myself as a work from home Mom who also LOVES Christmas, I know first hand how tiring creating all the “magic & wonder” can be. Getting the appropriate gifts within the budget, decking the halls, making the cookies, going to the events (well maybe not as much in 2020), seeing the lights, and creating the wonder can be so exhausting.

To be honest, I watched my Mother run & run & run this time of year. She worked tirelessly to make the holidays filled with wonder. She tried to do “all the things.” And she did many of them well for a long time. But I also remember that she wasn’t always present for the holidays. Frazzled, tired, late. One particular evening sticks out where I stayed up late to make pomanders with her, only to find her falling asleep on the couch. The holidays wore on her.

Look at baby Desiree & her beautiful Momma!

And this isn’t an indictment on my Mother by any means. She created so much beauty during the holiday season. I remember that making Christmas special was very important to my parents. My families’ Christmas’, for a long time, were marked with the joy and wonder I want for my girls.

However I am learning that I do want to be present, as much as I can be, during the holidays. Sure, I’ll probably fall asleep while one of my girls wants to do some sort of Christmas activity (just as my mother did). But I don’t want to pass through the season being frazzled.

So while I am learning that behind the wonder of a child’s Christmas is a Mom or other parent figure, I am also learning the beauty in keeping Christmas simple.

I know I am not the only person to say this – but I want simple for the holidays.

So while I am learning that behind the wonder of a child’s Christmas is a Mom or other parent figure, I am also learning the beauty in keeping Christmas simple.

Maybe it’s enough some years to have a small tree without the latest, trendy ornaments.

Maybe it’s enough to not go to ALL THE ACTIVITIES or do ALL THE CRAFTS. (As an extrovert & creative – this one is hard for me!)

Maybe it’s enough to look at Christmas lights in your neighborhood rather than hitting up every single “grand” light show out there.

And maybe it’s enough to have one, simple little holiday tradition you partake in every year. My families is orange pomanders. And while my daughters are still too young to partake in this activity, I am excited to pass along this tradition one day and tell them all about the woman who taught this tradition to me.

By keeping Christmas simple, we can focus on the present moment and the people around us. There is much beauty and joy to be found there.

So if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by Christmas this year, I hope you don’t feel alone in that. I do too. Take this as permission to try simple. Make an orange pomander, or whatever simple holiday activity feels like home to you.

Merry Christmas,

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