The Pomander

DIY yourself into a fragrant-licious holiday season!

One of my favourite parts of the holiday season is hanging out in my kitchen on a cold winter evening, listening to cheesy holiday music and making little ornaments, or cookies, or on a really perfect night, both, all while drinking some hot apple cider. It’s totally corny, totally sweatpants-friendly, and pretty much the best way to spend an otherwise uneventful Wednesday night.

Every year I make my own ornaments and décor. And every year these pomanders are on my to-do list. They take about 30 minutes from set up to clean up and make the room (and your hands!) smell like winter, and spicy fireside beverages.

Did you know?

Pomanders date back to the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages were a pretty stinky time: not awesome bathing skills, no refrigeration, no high tech sewage solutions, and funerary practices were less than ideal. Could you imagine all that on a hot, summer day?!? So, because the Middle Ages was a total stink fest, people began carrying sachets filled with flowers, spices and herbs, that they would hold up to their noses to mask the odors of filth and rot. Plus, many people believed that those little sachet pomanders, could repel illness, infection and, yup, even the plague. The pomander became even more popular during the Victorian Era, and citrus, studded with cloves could be found in homes as a part of floral arrangements, on holiday trees, and artfully arranged in cut glass bowls.

tablescape of pomander, candles, evergreen

Making your own pomanders

Thankfully, we don't need pomanders to mask the smell of rotting flesh and unwashed bodies anymore. Honestly, I don't think there'd be enough pomanders in all the world to really dull that smelly combination! Nowadays, pomanders can be used as a festive, natural potpourri that you can attach to your tree or string along your mantle. They take just a few minutes to whip up, but the end result is beautiful, fragrant, and so very worth it!

cloves and tangerines on a table

Here's what you need:

Any citrus. I usually use clementines or tangerines because they’re in season and not too large, but you can certainly use navel oranges, grapefruit, lemons or even apples.

Whole cloves. You can pick up cloves at your local grocery store or bulk store.

Skewer or toothpick. This isn’t necessary, especialy if you’re using tangerines or other thin-skinned citurs, but having a skewer to poke small starter holes in thicker-skinned fruit (like navel oranges), will make inserting the cloves much easier.

close up of inserting clove into tangerine

To make your pomander, simply insert whole cloves into the citrus of your choice, in whatever pattern you want!! That’s it!

The pomanders should keep throughout the holiday season, and if you want, you can dry them out completely, and save them for future holidays!