Holiday craft: pomanders

With autumn upon us finally, I’ve been looking for activities that Melody and I can do together to prepare our home for the season. While out shopping the other day, I noticed I could get an enormous jar of whole cloves for under $4 (Target!), and that reminded me of pomanders. I learned to make pomanders from my friend Pauline at a Renaissance Faire easily 15 years ago. Later, we made pomanders for the Lucy Lane House Museum at Calico Ghost Town during their Harvest Fair in late November, as they were a popular Victorian craft.


Citrus spice pomanders date back easily to the 15th century, when they were used as a home fragrance and air freshener. The can be hung in closets or displayed in a fruit bowl on a coffee table. The pomanders will dry but should not mold due to the preservative effects of the cloves. Here are the very simple instructions for how to make this lovely and traditional holiday craft. When teaching this craft to little ones, be sure to supervise the hole poking. Also, little fingers might be too tender to really press in the prickly cloves. You know your kids best, use your judgement.

Citrus spice pomanders

Orange, lemon or lime

Whole cloves


Implement for poking holes – I used a meat thermometer, some people suggest a clean 2″ nail

Pour a small bowl full of whole cloves.

Create a design on your fruit – spiral, stars, crosses, etc. – by poking holes into the skin of the fruit. Place the holes no closer than 1/4″ apart, otherwise the skin of the fruit could tear. Place a clove into the premade holes. If you are working with oranges or lemons, you may want to make a few holes, place the cloves, then make a few holes, place the cloves, etc., as the lighter colored fruit skins can disguise your holes and you may lose your pattern.

Proceed this way until your design is complete. Gently but not loosely wrap a ribbon around the fruit, tying it in a knotted bow at the top. You can also tie it in a loop to hang from a hook. We used boutonniere pins to ensure the ribbon did not slide off the orange.

Click the image to get to the Autumn Fun gallery and see more pomanders


2 thoughts on “Holiday craft: pomanders

  1. Okay, I’m liking the weird smushed smiley face pomander! I remember making those so long ago. I was pondering what I could do to dress up the Thanksgiving table and I just had the great thought that we could make a big bowl of these and then everyone could take one home.

    I’m actually rather glad I don’t work with you…there is WAAAAAAY too much stuff on my desk and in my office to wrap with foil. As much as I like the evil genius streak you have, I’m not sure I want to work with you. ;-)

  2. Our pomanders came out great! We used tangerines and the cloves were so easy to insert. The down side was keeping the ribbon on. I circled each tangerine with the ribbon and tied it like a present and used a corsage pin to keep it from sliding off. I’ll have to take some pictures (only have a few left) and send them to you. My camera is still in the shop, but my cell phone can fill in. Both girls enjoyed it was the perfect break we needed Wednesday evening after Thanksgiving preparations all day. The best part was Geneva asking people if they wanted a pomander and they had no idea what she was saying–her vocabulary was too advanced for them!

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