These old-fashioned favorites can be made easily by hand.

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Make Pomanders
Credit: Photo: Ralph Anderson

Before technicolor string lights, glittery garlands, and artificial flocked trees, Christmas decorations were made out of materials we found around the house. In early America, fruits, foraged greenery, and other natural supplies were used to deck the halls. Before the days of electricity and big-box stores selling shiny ornaments by the dozen, do-it-yourself decorating was the go-to way for dressing up a home for the holidays.

Clove-studded oranges (also called pomanders) are one of our favorite old-fashioned Christmas traditions. Back in the day, these fragrant balls were placed in drawers to freshen up clothing and linens, and some people also carried them to ward off infections. They naturally became aromatic pieces of holiday décor. Citrus fruits adorned with cloves were hung from tree branches or arranged in bowls as festive centerpieces.

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Pomanders have been so popular they’ve remained from colonial times to present day. Creating these natural, sustainable pieces of holiday décor is an easy DIY project the whole family can enjoy. Bonus points for the sweet scent these fruits emit as they dry out.   

How To:

Gather cloves and the fruits of your choice; stick with oranges or branch out with lemons, limes, and grapefruits. Spread newspapers or paper towels over your work surface (in case juice from the fruits escapes as you’re decorating). Use a pen to draw your designs on the fruit before adding the cloves. We suggest punching holes in the skin with a toothpick, pushpin, or another sharp object because the rind can be tough to pierce. Add cloves to the holes.

Arrange pomanders in a bowl for a festive centerpiece, add them to a holiday arrangement with florist picks, or hang them from the tree with pieces of ribbon or twine. The pomanders will become more aromatic throughout the season as they dry out.