Make Pomanders

In short, pomanders are oranges with whole cloves (or other spices) pressed into the rind. Often the spices are placed in patterns and designs, and the result is lovely to behold and delightful to sniff.

From what we gather, these special decorations date back to medieval times and were even thought to bestow good health and fortune in addition to adorning our table tops and sweetening our spaces.

Now that winter holidays are around again, get some citrus, some spices and join us in engaging kids in this long-loved way to transform fruit into sweet scented and stunning winter decorations.

This activity is featured in our December Activity Calendar. Need your free copy? Visit today!

The Guide

Gather Materials

We make our pommanders out of oranges and whole cloves. We have also experimented with lemons (skins can be a bit tougher) and other whole spices like cinnamon sticks and star anise.

Explore Materials

Whole spices and oranges are wonderful to feel, smell and even taste. Whenever we introduce play materials that dazzle the senses, I like to let kids first just explore them. Take an orange and peel it, cut it up, smell it or taste it. Rub a whole clove between your fingers and sniff. Ahh...

Poke Holes to Create a Design

You can use the pointed end of the whole cloves to poke holes in the orange. Or, you can use a toothpick, bamboo skewer or tip of a knife to pre-poke holes into which younger kids can more easily stick whole cloves.

It can be fun to start poking and see what kind of design emerges. Or, you can talk to kids about what they're thinking and pre-plan their design a bit.

Fancy Twists

If you have a potato peeler or rind peeler tools used for coctails handy, you can shave off stripes as well.

You can also use pins to secure, wire, ribbon or twine around your pommander to turn it into a hanging decoration. 

Why is this activity great for kids?

I can still remember the first time I made a pomander at a friend's house—how satisfying it was to push whole cloves into the rind and how long their mingled scents lingered in the air.

To the teacher and parent in me, they've become a wonderful way to stimulate kids' senses, calm their minds and bodies, hone those fine motor skills and elevate my home or classroom environment for Christmas, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or any wintery celebration. 

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