Pomanders: a Festive Smelling Family Craft

Pomanders - an all-natural air freshener, moth repellent, and classic tradition with roots dating back to the Middle Ages. They're a snap to make, and can last for years. Plus, they're an ideal holiday craft the whole family can partake in.

Original pomanders were balls of perfume sometimes carried in globular cases hung on a necklace chain, and used as protection from evil spirits, diseases, and to mask the smells of offending BO.

Today's modern pomanders are typically made with clove-studded oranges. The only other supply you'll need is something pointy for puncturing the rind - say, a toothpick, nail, or wooden skewer. And if you're going to want to hang your pomander, use masking tape to mark off the areas where you'll wrap your ribbon when it's done curing.

Use your pointy tool of choice to poke through the rind of the orange, inserting cloves in the holes as you go. You can get as elaborate as you want with your design, or simply stab and insert cloves at random. The more cloves you use the better, since they'll act as a natural preservative. When you've finished, let your pomander cure by placing it in a cool, dry place for several weeks. As the orange begins to dry out, it will get leathery, and shrink to about half its original size. And that's all there is too it.

Some folks recommend dusting your pomander in a combination of cinnamon, all-spice, nutmeg, sandalwood oil, or orris root powder, for added smell and preservative power. But we've always skipped that extra step and they smell and turn out just fine.

Hang them as an ornament, or use them to freshen up a sock drawer. Just a whiff of these shriveled spicy citrus balls puts me in the holiday spirit.

Do you remember making these as a kid?

(Image: Ben Partridge)

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