Pomanders were a big part of the holiday season for me as a kid. These clove studded oranges found their origin in the French Pomme d'Ambre of the 13th century. Originally made of solid perfume like ambergris or civet, these balls were worn, carried or set in vases to ward off bad smells and, more importantly, the pestilent diseases that people believed came with the the smells. You think we're into aromatherapy now, just imagine if you thought you could get the plague just by smelling a something stinky! By the 18th century, the pomander had transformed into the clove and orange combo we know today and had became a popular Christmas gift for Victorians. Making pomanders takes about five minutes and is a fun craft to do with small children and adults alike. I like to use clementines because they're cute and you get a lot of them in a bag, so you can make some into pomanders and snack on the rest.
Grab some whole cloves and stick them into the oranges or clementines in an artful or totally random pattern. It really doesn't matter as they'll smell delicious regardless of what they look like. Cloves are natural preservers, so they'll help the oranges dry out and keep them smelling great through the holiday season.
A handful of pomanders and cinnamon sticks tied up in a bag or a pretty holiday tea towel make for a lovely hostess gift!